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There isn’t a whole lot we can say about EVGA that most PC enthusiasts don’t already know. They have been NVIDIA’s top selling graphics card maker for quite a while now, which is no big surprise given their history of providing top notch products. NVIDIA’s recent GTX 980 Ti release gives EVGA another chance to show their wares, and they’ve done just that by rolling out their new GTX 980 Ti Classified ACX 2.0+. EVGA’s Classified video cards have a long history of being top performers in their class, which makes them a popular choice among the hardcore gaming and overclocking crowd. Let’s go have a look and see what EVGA brings to the table this time around.
Specifications and Features
The impressive list of specifications below tells us we are dealing with a stout factory overclock compared to the reference design. The 1190 MHz base clock and 1291 MHz boost clock result in a 190 MHz and 216 MHz overclock respectively when compared to the reference design. As we normally find out, the actual boost clock is substantially higher than what’s advertised. During our stock testing, the actual boost clock held steady at 1391 Mhz with an occasional spike up to 1404 MHz. Impressive stuff there.
The 6 GB of GDDR5 should allow the card to easily handle multi-monitor or high-resolution gaming with ease. The GTX 980 Ti Classified is topped with EVGA’s revamped cooler known as the ACX 2.0 + (more on this later). Die hard EVGA users will be happy to learn this card supports EVGA’s EVBot, which is a hand-held overclocking and tweaking device. The card also features Dual BIOS support, a pair of 8-pin power connectors, a factory installed backplate, and a massive 14+3 power phase design. Specifications provided by the EVGA product page.
|Resolution & Refresh|
GPU-Z reports much of what we see above and a few other details. The GTX 980 Ti Classified has 2816 Unified Shaders, and the ROPs/TMUs come in at 96 and 176 respectively. The 6 GB of GDDR5 is reported to be Hynix brand and sits on a 384-bit bus. Total memory bandwidth is reported to be 336.6 GB/s.
Having a look at the features associated with the GTX 980 Ti Classified, we’ll start by letting the EVGA marketing folks have their say about the card.
Introducing the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified. Accelerated by the groundbreaking NVIDIA Maxwell architecture, and combined with enthusiast features such as 14+3 Power Phases, Dual BIOS support and more, the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified delivers unmatched overclocking and performance. With 2816 NVIDIA CUDA Cores and 6GB of GDDR5 memory, it has the horsepower to drive whatever comes next. In fact, the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti provides 3x the performance and 3x the memory of previous-generation cards. You can now take on even the most challenging games at high settings for a smooth, ultra high-definition, 4K experience.
This card also features EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooling technology. EVGA ACX 2.0+ brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 13%, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5 °C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.
The images below describe a few of the high-level features the GTX 980 Ti Classified offers. Just the ACX 2.0+ cooler alone has a lot of interesting things going on. Design-wise, it provides three 8 mm straight heat pipes (SHP), 0 dB operation, fans that use a 3-phase/6-slot motor, double ball bearings, and a unique fan blade design. The 0 dB feature keeps the fans from starting up until the GPU temperature reaches approximately 60 °C. The fan design is said to reduce power, improve efficiency, and offer a longer lifespan than competitor offerings. Additional cooling is provided by the Memory/MOSFET cooling plate (MMCP), which EVGA says can provide up to 15% cooler operation for those critical components.
We mentioned earlier that the GTX 980 Ti Classified comes with 6 GB of onboard GDDR5 memory, which will go a long way towards enjoyable high-resolution and multi-monitor gaming.
On the software side of things, EVGA provides PrecisionX and OC ScannerX. OC ScannerX allows you to perform artifact scanning, check GPU vitals, run a benchmark, and comes with a CPU burn-in utility. PrecisionX 16 is a full-featured desktop overclocking tool that gives you everything you need to get the most from your EVGA graphics card. Fan control, overclocking, monitoring, and much more are at your fingertips.
There’s much more to explore once we have a closer look at the GTX 980 Ti Classified, but for now let’s have a look at the retail packaging.
The retail box looks a little different than the EVGA Classified boxes of the past. It now displays a mostly solid black theme in place of the gunmetal color seen in the past. The Classified branding is still proudly displayed on the front, along with additional product branding. Around back, you’ll find a multilingual key features list, a view of the display port area, and a marketing blurb concerning the performance and gaming prowess of the card. The box sides are reserved for additional product branding.
Inside the box is a large foam container that houses the GTX 980 Ti Classified, accessories, and documentation. The card itself is held securely in the container and wrapped in an anti-static bag. Included in the retail package are the following items.
Before we take an up-close look at the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Classified, here are a few pictures taken from different vantage points. It’s certainly a very sharp looking video card that should easily integrate with a lot of different themed system builds.
The EVGA GTX 980 Ti Up Close
Available display connections include one DL-DVI, one HDMI, and three DisplayPort. Up to four monitors are supported. At the bottom of the card, we can see the standard PCI-E x16 connection area. At the top-front of the card, you’ll find the SLI bridge connectors that support up to 4-way SLI. The top-rear of the card has the two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors, the EVBot header, and the dual BIOS switch.
Removing the heatsink reveals just the right amount of TIM being used. Closer inspection of the ACX 2.0+ cooler shows us that five of the six heat pipes are straight, and one curves around to engage the forward-most aluminum fin stack. The straight heat pipes run the entire length of the cooler and travel through the cooling block and both the front and rear fin stacks. As we mentioned earlier, the fans offer several unique features that equal power saving that can then be used for better overclocking. Most of you are aware that NVIDIA implements a power target limit, and that limit includes the power used by the fans. So, any place a little power can be saved is a good thing! When measuring the fans across the blades, I came up with a little over 95 mm. So, they’re probably classified as 100 mm fans.
The factory installed backplate has a few pads and a plastic insulating sheet applied to it, which will prevent it from shorting on anything. The backplate provides a good deal of rigidity to the card and also adds excellent aesthetic value.
At the top of the card, the Memory/MOSFET cooling plate is loaded with thermal pads that cover those critical components. It too adds another layer of rigidity to the card, as well its cooling effect.
With the card reduced to a bare PCB, we can see the massive 14+3 power phase design. Other than the Kingpin Edition that EVGA will release soon, you’re probably not going to find a beefier power phase design anywhere. Voltage regulation duties appear to be handled by the International Rectifier IR3595A.
SKHynix is the memory manufacturer of choice on the GTX 980 Ti Classified. The H5GQ4H24MFR-R2C modules used here are rated at 1750 MHz (7000 MHz GDDR5) and run at 1.5 V.
The last picture below is of the Maxwell GM200-310-A1 GPU. It’s the same GPU core found on the NVIDIA Titan X, but it doesn’t have all 3072 shaders enabled like the Titan X does.
Performance and Overclocking
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VII Formula|
|CPU||Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon|
|Memory||G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB @ 1866 MHz 9-9-9-24|
|SSD||Samsung EVO 500 GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050 Professional Series|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 980 Ti Classified ACX 2.0+ (Driver 353.30)|
|Cooling||EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block/360 mm Radiator/MCP35X Pump|
|OS||Window 7 64-bit|
Our comparison samples include the MSI GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G, EVGA GTX 980 Superclocked, EVGA 780 Ti Classified, and a red team offering in the ASUS Matrix R9 290X. We’re hoping to get an AMD Fury or FuryX sometime soon, so we’ll have to wait for those comparisons.
Overclocking proved both easy and fruitful. For a 24/7 stable overclock, we were able to set the GPU core to 1300 MHz base/1401 MHz boost/1515 MHz actual boost. As is typical with Hynix memory, it too overclocked quite well and landed at 2000 MHz (8000 MHz GDDR5). If you’re wondering what PrecisionX and the Classified offers as far as overclocking options, the voltage can be set up to +50mv, power target to +115%, and temperature target to 91 °C. At the overclocked settings we used, we never ran into any throttling issues. We’ll run with this overclock for the purpose of our benchmark results and then see what’s left in the tank when we get to the pushing the limits section.
Beginning with our synthetic benchmarks, the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Classified leads the pack in all four tests. The closest competitor is the MSI GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G as expected. The MSI comparison sample is clocked a little under the Classified, hence the lower scores seen in the charts below. All of these scores scaled extremely well once the card was overclocked and threw out some of the best performance numbers we’ve seen to date.
Next is our suite of gaming benchmarks, again we see the GTX 980 Ti Classified leading the pack. The MSI card held close, but the higher clocked EVGA wins out by a small amount across the board. The GTX 980 Ti Classified again scaled nicely once overclocked and tossed out some crazy fast frame rates.
Using a few of our most popular game titles, we set out to check Surround performance. Four of the five benchmarks resulted in very playable frame rates with Crysis 3 being the only holdout. Keep in mind, all of the in-game setting were maxed out, which makes these results even more impressive. As expected, the GTX 980 Ti Classified held a slight advantage over the MSI offering; and the other cards in the sample group were substantially behind.
Temperatures and Power Consumption
The ACX 2.0+ cooler did an admirable job at keeping the GPU temperatures under control. The cooler does a pretty good job when it’s working passively as well, which keeps the card silent while performing less stressful tasks. It’s really the best of both worlds as far as that’s concerned. If you’re overclocking and raising the GPU voltage, we’d suggest manually adjusting the fan speed because it gets pretty warm when left on auto. Other than that scenario, just leave the fan on auto and let ‘er rip!
As far as noise level goes, up to about 65% fan speed is very quiet. Once ramped up to 100%, you’ll definitely hear the the fans, but not what we’d consider annoyingly so. All in all, the ACX 2.0+ is a very capable air cooling solution and is one of the best proprietary coolers out there.
Maxwell based GPUs have always impressed with their low power consumption, and that trend continues here as well. Fully overclocked and under load, the most wattage recorded at the wall was 438 watts total system draw. If you want to overclock this card and also do some CPU overclocking, a quality 600/650 watt PSU would be plenty.
Pushing the Limits
I typically like to see how far I can overclock a video card and complete a run of 3DMark Fire Strike. We pretty much topped out at 1325 MHz base/1426 MHz boost/1539 MHz actual boost on the GPU and 2050 MHz (8200 MHz GDDR5) on the memory. Couple that with a CPU overclock of 4.8 GHz and we get a 3DMark Fire Strike score of 17796. Incidentally, the online results page says that result is better than 99% of all results.
We think it’s safe to say EVGA has delivered an outstanding graphics card in the GTX 980 Ti Classified ACX 2.0+. Even though the card comes with a hefty factory applied overclock, it’s willing and able to go quite a bit further on both GPU and memory clocks. That massive 14+3 power phase design definitely helps! The dual BIOS switch, 0 dB fan feature, factory installed backplate, and the ACX 2.0+ are additional features that will appeal to a wide audience. Add the 6 GB of GDDR5 memory to the list, and you have the makings of a terrific multi-monitor/high-resolution gaming card that’s tough to beat.
Pricing on the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Classified ACX 2.0+ is right where we’d expect at $699 and can be found for that price at Newegg and EVGA’s store. They should be in stock and available for purchase any day now.
EVGA set the bar pretty high for other manufacturers with this release, and it may well be the fastest single GPU card available at this time. If you want the best, here it is.
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