Asus GeForce GTX 980Ti Strix Gaming review

Despite the “980” denomination, a GeForce GTX 980Ti bears closer resemblance to Nvidia’s current flagship graphics card, the Titan X, than it does to a standard GTX 980. The Titan X is admittedly faster, but also includes features such as a massive 12GB of RAM which far exceeds the requirements of today’s entertainment software - it’s also prohibitively expensive for most. Here's our Asus Strix GTX 980Ti review.

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By taking the Titan X Maxwell G200 architecture, trimming down the number of cores by a little less than ten per cent, and then halving the amount of available memory to a still-spacious 6GB, Nvidia has managed to produce a graphics card close in performance to the Titan X, yet with a price point nearer to the standard GTX 980. The 980Ti also retains the same memory and core clock speeds as the Titan X.

However, this level of performance is just a starting point for the Asus GTX 980Ti Strix OC, which makes many significant improvements over Nvidia’s reference design.

Compare the Asus Strix design to a standard board and you’ll immediately notice the size difference. The Asus card is bigger, taller and heavier and also comes fitted with three fans and a seriously beefy dual 10mm heat pipes. Asus calls this design Direct CU III and boasts 30 percent cooler operation while operating three times quieter than the reference model. This is achieved using a new patented “triple-wing blade 0dB” fan design.

The card is constructed using Asus’s new entirely automated process which removes all human involvement from the production line. Asus claims this has greatly improved manufacturing tolerances, which should lead to more efficient and consistent overclocking from board to board.

Of course, our eyes can’t actually see these manufacturing tolerances but, holding the board in our hands we can certainly say that it looks and feels like a premium product, both in terms of its styling and it’s excellent build quality, you’re also treated to a pulsating light display from the illuminated Strix logo on the side of the board. Two 8-pin PCI-Express power connectors are required, each which cause an LED to glow white when connected. If the correct power connections are not made, you get a red LED instead.

Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti review: Performance

Of course, none of these modifications are of any value unless they provide performance to match, and here the Strix GTX 980Ti doesn’t disappoint. Flip the Asus card into its high-performance OC mode and it increases base and boost clocks from 1000MHz and 1075MHz, to 1,216MHz and 1,317MHz respectively. That’s a performance boost of around 22 percent. Even in its default ‘Gaming’ mode it runs around 20 percent faster than the reference design. It’s 7,200MHz memory clock also outruns the competition, albeit by a lesser percentage.

As you might expect, this level of performance results in some very impressive frame rates. Gaming at 4K resolution is a tall order for most single-card setups, but the Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti has a jolly good stab at it. Alien Isolation, for example, runs with a convincing average frame rate of 71fps with ultra quality settings on our test rig. Zotac’s GeForce GTX 980 Ti Amp! Edition also turned in an average frame rate above 60fps, but the extra headroom afforded by the Asus card gives you more flexibility with quality settings and fewer frames below that threshold speed.

The most demanding 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra test recorded a score of 4591 points, more than 500 points clear of the Zotac card. You won’t be able to play everything at 4K, but this card will let you play at higher resolutions and at higher quality settings than just about anything short of a GeForce TITAN X. Even those without Ultra High Definition displays can benefit from the increased performance of this card as it will provide the increased frame rates necessary to drive 144Hz gaming monitors with high quality settings, while standard monitors can benefit from Nvidia’s Dynamic Super Resolution technology to scale down 4K frames to lower resolutions, resulting in improved image quality.

Despite its blistering speed, the Asus card remains very quiet. Even under torture the conditions, the fans never exceeded 47% of their maximum speed while holding the GPU temperature at a maximum 80C.

Even better, the cooling fans won’t spin at all until the core temperature reaches the mid sixties Celsius, rendering the card completely silent. Asus claims that even some games such as League of Legends and Starcraft can be run with only passive cooling, giving you that rare combination of a powerful gaming PC which is also quiet.

Being high-end enthusiast product, the board also comes with software to help you fine-tune the performance. Using Asus GPU Tweak II, you can select from three preconfigured performance modes or create your own profile. Here you can adjust clocks and fan speeds as you wish. The software also comes with a 1-year licence for XSplit Gamecaster, which allows you to record and stream your gaming sessions while applying annotations and overlays. It also allows you to adjust your clock speeds on the fly without leaving your game.

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Asus GeForce GTX 980Ti Strix Gaming: Specs

  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU Codename: Maxwell G200 Process: 28nm Core clock: 1216MHz (base) 1317MHz (boost) Gaming mode (default): 1190MHz (base) 1291MHZ (boost) Memory clock: 7200MHz Memory bus width: 384-bit Processor cores: 2816 Texture units: 172 ROPs: 96 APIs: DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5 Memory type and capacity: GDDR5 6GB Cooling system: DirectCU III 3 fans + heatpipes Power connectors: 2x 8-pin PCIe Ports: 3x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DVI-D Simultaneous outputs: 4 Card width: 2 slots Dimensions: 305 x 152 x 398mm Cosmetic enhancements: Pulsating Strix LED Software: GPU TweakII, APRP, Xsplit Gamecaster Accessories: 1x power cable, 1x Strix laser sticker Warranty: 3 years
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU Codename: Maxwell G200 Process: 28nm Core clock: 1216MHz (base) 1317MHz (boost) Gaming mode (default): 1190MHz (base) 1291MHZ (boost) Memory clock: 7200MHz Memory bus width: 384-bit Processor cores: 2816 Texture units: 172 ROPs: 96 APIs: DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5 Memory type and capacity: GDDR5 6GB Cooling system: DirectCU III 3 fans + heatpipes Power connectors: 2x 8-pin PCIe Ports: 3x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DVI-D Simultaneous outputs: 4 Card width: 2 slots Dimensions: 305 x 152 x 398mm Cosmetic enhancements: Pulsating Strix LED Software: GPU TweakII, APRP, Xsplit Gamecaster Accessories: 1x power cable, 1x Strix laser sticker Warranty: 3 years

OUR VERDICT

Despite the high price, the GTX 980Ti Strix Gaming offers considerable value for money to those who can afford it. It may costs over £100 more than many other cards based on the same GPU, but its tangible performance benefits and superb build quality make it quite obvious where that extra money is going.