Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review

August 25, 2015 // 11:35 a.m.

Tags: #best-gtx-980-ti #graphics-card #gtx-980-ti #maxwell

Companies: #gigabyte #nvidia

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming 6GB Review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK price (as reviewed):
£569.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $689.99 (ex Tax)

We've seen one of Gigabyte's G1 Gaming cards previously, specifically the GTX 980 edition, and came away impressed. As such, we had high hopes when the company's GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming landed on our desks. Of course, practically any GTX 980 Ti is a desirable piece of kit, but the very best ones need to excel in every area to justify their immoderate price tag. We've seen some impressive hardware from both Asus and MSI; let's see if Gigabyte's offering is up to scratch as well.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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One of the key differentiators on custom cards is of course the clock speed, and Gigabyte isn't pulling punches here. The G1 Gaming card has a massive 19 percent overclock applied and ships with a base clock of 1,190MHz (boost 1,279MHz). There are only a handful of cards on the market that match or beat this, so it's sure to impress in the charts and pull away significantly from the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X. Unfortunately, the 6GB of GDDR5 memory has been left at 7GHz effective in both modes. This is still fast, but more memory bandwidth is never bad, especially when costs are so high.

However, it's worth noting that these are its speeds in OC Mode – it actually ships running in Gaming Mode (1,152MHz base, 1,241MHz boost), and you need to download Gigabyte's OC Guru II software for a quick way to flick between the two modes. The difference between the modes is so slim as to be meaningless – we'd have preferred the card to just run at 1,190MHz base clock out of the box, especially as this is the speed you'll see advertised on retailer websites. In OC Mode, the card was happily running at around 1,380MHz under prolonged load – there's no question that this is an exceptionally fast GPU.
*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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In support of the higher clock speeds, Gigabyte has equipped the G1 Gaming card with dual 8-pin PCI-E connections (on the reference model, one of these is just a 6-pin), and suitably also includes a dual 6-pin to single 8-pin PCI-E power adaptor cable. The minimum recommended wattage PSU for this card is 600W.

The GTX 980 Ti measures in at 309mm long, so you'll need ample space in your chassis to house it. That said, it sticks to a true dual-slot form factor and this means, along with the standard pair of SLI connectors, that 4-way SLI won't be an issue if you're mad and rich enough to go that route.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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The card's build quality is also high. Metal is used for the shroud of the Windforce 3X triple-fan cooler and similarly the card is equipped with a solid metal backplate that's tattooed with the G1 Gaming logo and has holes punched through it – perhaps for airflow or perhaps just for looks. Either way, it certainly looks the part and will protect the card against bending under its own considerable weight too.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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As with the GTX 980 card we saw, Gigabyte has implemented its Flex Display solution here. This basically means it has added a DVI-D port to the usual display output selection. You can still only output to a maximum of four screens at once, as this is a GPU limit. One consequence is that there is very little room for air to escape through the rear I/O panel; practically none, in fact. As such, the card will almost exclusively dump heat back into your chassis, so good exhaust airflow is key.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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The Windforce 3X cooler is a beastly contraption to say the least. A massive copper baseplate makes contact with both the GPU and all 12 memory modules (via thermal pads) before dissipating the heat through six heat pipes (five 8mm, one 6mm) and two aluminium fin stacks. Thermal pads are also used to draw heat away from the main MOSFETs as well, and everything is then cooled by the trio of fans, which are semi-passive and will switch off entirely when the GPU dips below a certain temperature. The Windforce logo along the top is backlit and lights up when the fans start spinning. What's more, you can customise the colour of it using the OC Guru II software – it looks nice and vibrant through a window and is a nice addition. Gigabyte has plenty more info about the various technologies it employs with its cooling solution on its microsite if you're interested, but suffice it to say that it should trump the reference cooler in every regard, as you'd hope.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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Gigabyte also boasts of its GPU Gauntlet binning process, claiming that only chips with good electrical characteristics are used in the G1 Gaming cards so as to ensure higher overclocking capability. Similarly, the company employs the full range of its Ultra Durable VGA components, including additional copper within the PCB and better performing capacitors, chokes and MOSFETs for the card's eight power phases. Lastly, it also promises that only Tier 1 GDDR5 memory is used. The end result is claimed to be a combination of lowered GPU temperatures, better overclocking and improved power efficiency – again, more information is available on the dedicated microsite.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review *Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Review
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With a binned GPU running at a very high frequency out of the box, plenty of power on tap, upgraded power delivery components and a hefty cooler sat on top of it all, the GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming is, on paper at least, well placed to deliver impressive results across the board. Let's see how it tallies up.

Specifications

  • Graphics processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 1,190MHz (boost 1,279MHz)
  • Pipeline 2,816 stream processors, 176 texture units, 96 ROPs
  • Memory 6GB GDDR5, 7GHz effective
  • Bandwidth 346GB/sec, 384-bit interface
  • Compatibility DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5
  • Outputs/Inputs 3 x DisplayPort 1.2, Dual-Link DVI-D, Dual Link DVI-I, HDMI 2.0
  • Power connections 2 x 8-pin PCI-E, top-mounted
  • Size 309mm long, dual-slot
  • Warranty Three years

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