Conclusion

Untitled-6Our GTX 980 Ti did very well performance-wise comparing it to the the GTX 980 where it brings much higher performance. We are totally impressed with this high-performance Maxwell GM220 flagship chip that has such outstanding overclockability and a good price considering its ultra performance at 4K.  It slots well above the GTX 980 and far, far above the R9 290X or the GTX 980, and it offers more advantages since it is priced at $650, about what a pair of GTX 970s would cost for SLI.

We see good overclockability with quietness at stock voltage and fan profile from the reference design GTX 980 Ti and we look forward to Nvidia’s partner designs. Although GTX 970 SLI at approximately 700 dollars may be a better value overall than the $999 GTX TITAN X, it’s probably not such a good value compared with the $650 GTX 980 Ti.

Pros

  • TDP and power draw is superb at 220W for such a large high-performance GPU.
  • Overclockability is excellent – GPU Boost works as advertised
  • The reference design cooling is quiet and efficient; the card and well-ventilated case stay cool even well-overclocked on a hot Summer-like day.
  • It is possible to use two to even four of these cards for extreme Quad-SLI performance.
  • 3D Vision 2 and PhysX enhance gaming immersion and Nvidia has made PhysX available free of charge to devs.  And more affordable VR becomes possible with the GTX 980 TI.
  • GameWorks brings new features to gaming.
  • New MFAA allows for high performance than MSAA, without jaggies
  • DSR allows 4K crispness to come to 1080p
  • New ShadowPlay allows live streaming uploads to 60fps for 4K resolutions
  • G-Sync displays reduce and eliminate stuttering while retaining the advantages of minimizing tearing.
  • The GTX 980 Ti along with the TITAN X are the fastest single-GPU video cards. And the aftermarket GTX 980 Tis may overclock better than the TITAN Xes for considerably less money.   At $650, a GTX 980 Ti will represent a better value for most gamers than the TITAN X at 1000 dollars.

Cons

  • There is no backplate; not even a removable optional plate for non-SLI users.
  • The cooler is a little weak for the overclocked GM220 and it would be good to get a new reference design from Nvidia after 3 years.

 

The Verdict:

  • If you are buying the ultimate flagship video card right now and looking for the highest performance, the GTX TITAN X is no longer the only choice.  For $650, or about $350 less, the GTX 980 is slightly below halo status, but built to run in the fastest systems.  At this point, a pair of GTX 970s will probably no longer be chosen by the more budget conscious since SLI will come with the issues that are common to multi-GPU systems that are not inherent to a single card.  Also, a GTX 980 TI’s 6GB of vRAM appears to be the sweet-spot for 4K gaming; 4GB is insufficient for high details and added MSAA.
  • We would like to award the GTX 980 Ti the BabelTechReviews “Kick Ass” Award.  It is nearly as powerful and much less expensive than a GTX TITAN X.  The TITAN X should be picked for multi-monitor 4K gaming over the GTX 980 Ti by virtue of its 12GB of vRAM, and possibly for upcoming VR applications.  The GTX 980 Ti will be fine for just about every other intensive gaming situation, even at 4K.

We do not know what the future will bring, but the GTX 980 Ti brings a superb top-performer to the GeForce gaming family.  With great features like GameWorks and the GeForce Experience, you can be assured of immersive gaming by picking this card for 1080P, 1600P, 4K, or even higher 5K resolutions including for Surround, 3D Vision Surround, and especially for VR.

If you currently game on any other video card, you will do yourself a favor by upgrading. At less than half the performance of a GTX 980 Ti, the GTX 680 class of card with only 2GB of vRAM is starting to show its age when playing the very latest games. Even a GTX 780 Ti is about 1/3rd slower than a GTX 980 Ti.  The move to a GTX 980 Ti will give you better visuals on the DX11 and DX12 pathways and you are no doubt thinking of SLI or of even Tri- or Quad-SLI if you want to get the ultimate gaming performance.

AMD offers their own set of features including Eyefinity, GCN 2.0, and Mantle. However, Hawaii is relatively old and less power-efficient architecture and AMD has already had to drop pricing on the reference and stock-clocked R9 290s when the GTX 970 was released.  AMD and their fans are pinning their hopes on a 390X successor to the 290X which would have to make up a lot of ground to be competitive with the GTX 980, nevermind with the GTX 980 Ti or with TITAN X.

Besides new cards, the other major thing that AMD currently lacks is a good multi-GPU solution.  Hawaii GPUs run hot, and reference versions are the only reasonable choice (except expensive water cooling) for multi-GPU, but the noise that is produced by more than one 290X reference card is intolerable for most gamers.  Aftermarket open-design 290Xes are fine for single GPU, but there is too much heat produced by more than one card that will quickly overwhelm the cooling abilities of most cases.

Stay tuned, there is a lot coming from us at BTR.  Don’t forget to check out BTR’s tech community!  You can feel free to comment there or in the comments section on the main site.

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