Test Configuration – Hardware

Test Configuration – Hardware

  • Intel Core i7-4790K (reference 4.0GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 4.4GHz; DX11 CPU graphics), supplied by Intel.
  • ASUS Z97-E motherboard (Intel Z97 chipset, latest BIOS, PCOe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
  • Kingston 16 GB HyperX Beast DDR3 RAM (2×8 GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz, supplied by Kingston)
  • GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 6GB reference clocks and overclocked, supplied by Nvidia
  • GTX TITAN X, 12GB, reference clocks and overclocked, supplied by Nvidia
  • Two GeForce GTX 980s, 4GB reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • GTX 780 Ti, 3GB, reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • GTX 680 2GB, reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • PowerColor R9 290X PCS+, 3GB at uber reference speeds and clocks; fan at 100% max to prevent throttling.
  • VisionTek R9 290X, 3GB at uber reference speeds and clocks; fan set to 100% max to prevent throttling
  • Two 2TB Toshiba 7200 rpm HDDs; one for AMD and one for Nvidia.
  • EVGA 1000G 1000W power supply unit
  • Cooler Master 2.0 Seidon, supplied by Cooler Master
  • Onboard Realtek Audio
  • Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius
  • Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
  • ASUS 12X Blu-ray writer
  • Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K

Test Configuration – Software

  • Catalyst 15.5 Beta used for the 290X, and 15.4.1 Beta drivers mostly used for 290X CrossFire (with the very newest games updated with 15.5).  High Quality; all optimizations off, use Application settings.
  • Nvidia GeForce 352.86 WHQL drivers for the GTX 980 and GTX 980 SLI.  352.90 Launch drivers used for the other Nvidia cards except TITAN X launch drivers mostly used for the overclocked figures only. High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display.
  • vSYNC is off in the control panels.
  • AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied; 16xAF forced in control panel for Crysis.
  • All results show average frame rates except as noted.
  • Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
  • Windows 8.1 64, all DX10 titles were run under DX10 render paths; DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.  Latest DirectX
  • All games are patched to their latest versions

The 32 Game benchmarks & 2 synthetic tests

  • Synthetic
  • Firestrike – Basic & Extreme
  • Heaven 4.0
  • DX9
  • The Witcher 2
  • DX10
  • Crysis
  • DX11
  • STALKER, Call of Pripyat
  • Max Payne 3
  • the Secret World
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Tomb Raider: 2013
  • Crysis 3
  • BioShock: Infinite
  • Metro: Last Light Redux (2014)
  • Battlefield 4
  • ArmA 3
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Thief
  • Sniper Elite 3
  • Watch_Dogs
  • GRID: Autosport
  • Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor
  • Alien Isolation
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity
  • Civilization Beyond Earth
  • Far Cry 4
  • Dragon’s Age: Inquisition
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • The Crew
  • Evolve
  • Total War: Attila
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
  • Project CARS
  • the Witcher 3 

Before we get to the GTX TITAN X performance charts, let’s look at overclocking, power draw and temperatures.

Overclocking, Power Draw & Temperatures

Overclocking the GTX 980 Ti is just as easy as overclocking any other Maxwell GPU with the same features.  We were able to overclock our evaluation sample, adding +220MHz offset to the core with complete stability over all 32 games, even though we did not adjust the voltage nor our fan profile.  None of the games required us to either add voltage or drop the overclock one notch as we had to do with the TITAN X’ +200MHz offset for a few of our benchmarks.

We finally settled on a +220MHz offset to the core clocks and +500MHz offset on the memory clocks with very good stability, higher than the (almost) +200 offset to the core and +400MHz memory offset we achieved with our TITAN X.  Our GTX 980 Ti also ran slightly cooler although the fan spun up slightly higher than with our TITAN X.

Using maxed-out Heaven 4.0 looped in a window at 2560×1440, with all settings at stock values (Power and temperature targets are always maxed out), the Peak Boost that we observed was 1177MHz to 1202MHz.  Even with temperatures in our testing room approaching 80F, temperatures never reached over 87C under full load, and the fan was somewhat audible at 3350 rpm under full overclocked load.  Voltage for the GTX 980 Ti ranged from 1.162 to 1.193V, somewhat higher than the TITAN’s 1.13V to 1.143V over a full range of clocks.

Adding +220MHz to the core brought the peak base clock up to 1119MHz and it stabilized there when the temperature exceeded 80C.  Our stock boost clock reached 1419MHz although it generally stabilized at 1397MHz – higher than the TITAN’s overclocked boost. The fan needed to ramp up to 3300 rpm to keep the core temps below 86C.  The highest temperature blip we observed was 87F as the fan spun up to 3350 rpm.  Boosting the memory clocks +500MHz brought the temps up to our maximum ovserved, although the fan needed to ramp where it became more audible although it is not loud nor irritating as it is with the reference 290X cooling fan.

We finally settled on +220MHz offset to the core and +500MHz offset to the memory as stable for our overall benching and games that we tested on a series of warm Summer-like California days.


Like the GTX TITAN X, the GT X980 Ti is reasonably quiet for a high-end flagship card and in stark contrast to the reference version of the R9 290X.  The GTX 680 and the reference GTX 770 are already quiet for powerful cards, but the GTX 980 along with the GTX 780/Ti are noticeably quieter although our GTX 980 Ti is noisier under full load.  The automatic fan profiles worked well and they needed no tweaking even while benching using our maximum overclocks.

It appears that Nvidia has especially tuned the GTX 980 Ti to be less quiet than their other recent high-end cards, but not at the expense of cooling.  It will be interesting to see what cooling designs their partners may implement.

Let’s head to our performance charts.


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