The GTX 980ti was launched earlier last year but that's the reference model, it was only later in 2015 that Asus rolled out their much anticipated Strix GTX 980ti and the reason for the anticipation is quite simple....Its arguably one of the best GTX 980ti out there until date.
Before we start off a few points are worth noticing, the GTX 980ti at its heart has the same GM200 Maxwell GPU that powers its big brother the coveted GeForce Titan X but obviously has some corners trimmed off to save cost but that doesn't make the card any lesser in terms of real world and gaming performance. Asus over here has tweaked the Strix GTX 980ti with 1216Mhz base and 1317Mhz boost clock speeds which are not only substantially higher than the reference model's 1000/1075Mhz but are also the highest out of the box clock speeds that we've seen on any card till date. To seal the deal Asus even has bumped the massive 6GB DDR5 memory on this beast to 1800Mhz (7200Mhz effective) which is a 50Mhz increase but makes a world of difference in reality if not on paper.
Packing and Closer Look
The Asus GeForce GTX 980 Ti comes in the traditional Strix packing with the terminator like Strix owl occupying most of the real estate on the front. The Strix Gaming logo and GeForce GTX 980 Ti are clearly mentioned on one side of the box and some key features such as the 0dB gaming etc on the bottom end.
Opening the box you'll find a generous amount of accessories since its a graphics card after all. The big black box inside contains the GTX 980 Ti seated carefully inside a thick foam depression protected by an anti-static bag. Other accessories include the installation DVD with the GPU Tweak II software and drivers, a 2 x 6-pin to 8-pin power adapter, Strix product catalog, user’s manual, and a super hip Strix sticker you can slap on your case!
Take a good look at this beast of a beauty! The Strix GTX 980 Ti comes with the latest DirectCU III cooler from Asus which is exclusive for some very specific cards right now. The Asus Strix Radeon R9 390X 8GB DDR5 which we reviewed a few months back even comes with this same cooler. The shroud is made out of high grade plastic and decorated with three colors: black, silver, and metallic-red, both the silver and red have a very smooth metal-like feel to it, while the black has a rugged texture.
At the back you find a thick aluminum back-plate which, Asus like to call the fortifier, to impart rigidity & effective cooling experience to the card. For a card measuring in at over 11' this is must to avoid it from warping under its own weight. I'm kind of impressed by the GPU retention bracket clearly visible through a cut out and coated in red metallic paint.
Near the bottom you'll find four of the five massive industrial grade chrome coated copper heat pipes turning inwards towards the GPU and a PCIe gen 3.0 connector for installation. The locking notch has Asus printed on it, yeah yeah we know its your card don't worry *wink*
The Strix GTX 980 Ti is four way SLI compatible through a SLI connector located on top left. But for best compatibility its advised that one sticks with two of these power houses.
A LED backlit Strix logo is present on the extreme top right. Its pulsation pattern can be controlled via the GPU Tweak II utility. This will be visible from your case's transparent side panel so a nice little touch I'd say.
This beast feeds upon two 8-pin PCIe power connectors and is said to consume 250W tops which is way off the actual mark and can reach all the way upto 300w+ under full load! Two white LED are located near the connectors and light up once the connections are done properly and the card is powered on.
On the card you’ll find all the latest connections required to get your setup up and running whether single or multi-display, those include: one Dual-Link DVI, one HDMI 2.0, and three DisplayPort 1.2, so in total you can configure up to four monitors to run at the same time (three in 4K).
Unscrew the six spring loaded screws at the back and you have the GTX 980 Ti popped open. Now you can easily see how massive the heatsink on this card is and gives it is humongous size of 12 inches in length, 5.5 inches in height and 1.5 inches in width.
Looking at the heatsink first we realize that its an arrangement of five copper heat-pipes out of which two are 10mm in diameter, two are 8mm and one is 6mm. Each of these pipes are twined and twisted strategically through the aluminum fin stack for optimum heat dissipation.The two 10mm ones and one of the 8mm one makes direct contact with the GPU. A thermal pad on one side is also present to keep the MOSFET cool.
The DirectCU III features triple 0dB fans engineered with a patented, new wing-blade design that delivers maximum air flow and improved 105% static pressure over the heat sink, while operating at 3X quieter volumes than reference cards. These fans by default don't spin at all until the card doesn't hit 60°C or more so don't get worried if they don't spin upon turning powering on the system.
Coming over to the PCB we find the Maxwell based GM200-310-A1 chip that powers the GTX 980 Ti and imparts 2816 CUDA/Shader/Stream cores.
From the power point of view the Strix GTX 980 Ti Asus had employed a 12+2 phase power design. Twelve are for the GPU and two are for the memory chips. This is a beefy arrangement but a definitely needed one to keep a card this powerful stable under load or while overclocking. Super Alloy Power II components greatly enhance efficiency, reduce power loss, provide 2X reduced component buzzing while under full load, and achieve thermal levels that are approximately 50% cooler than previous designs.
Due to my camera's focal limitations I can't show you clear pictures of the voltage regulators but voltage regulation for the GPU is handled by an ASP1500U controller, and the memory uses a uP1641P controller.
The memory chips for the GTX 980 Ti are SKHynix H5GQ4H24MFR-R2C and are rated at 1750Mhz (7000Mhz effective) at 1.5V.
Test Setup and Benchmarks
The Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti comes out of the box at 1216Mhz on the base clock and 1317Mhz as boost frequency which is already quite high from the reference GTX 980 Ti but that doesn't mean the card cannot be overclocked. The product comes bundled with the Asus own GPU Tweak II utility but we like to stick to the conventional MSI AfterBurner for overclocking almost every card that hit our bench.
By increasing the power limit to 110% and increasing the core clock by 51Mhz and memory clock to 425Mhz we reached a stable over clock with a whopping 1267Mhz on the base clock and 1368Mhz on the boost! This is still less from the card's true overclocking potential so you are free to go ahead and try your luck any further.
In the gaming benchmarks we'll be using the the default out of the box speed aswell as the overclocked speed for comparison.
CPU: Intel Core i7 5960X 3Ghz octacore processor
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 SLI
RAM: Kingston HyperX Predator 16GB DDR4 (4x4) 3000Mhz Memory Kit
Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX 240mm Liquid Cooler
Graphics Card: Asus Strix GTX 980ti 6GB DDR5
Storage: SK Hynix SL300 500GB SSD || Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
GPU Driver: NVIDIA ForceWare 355.60
AIDA64 Extreme Edition GPGPU
Unigine Heaven 4.0
3D Mark Fire StrikeFire Strike by 3D Mark is a test suit that plays a cinematic scene to determine the FPS, GPU temperature and CPU temperature scaling everything via a cumulative score. It is a great tool to benchmark your GPU since the render is GPU dependent.
3D Mark 11 Professional EditionAnother variant of the Fire Strike by 3D Mark, used mainly for scoring the GPU performance.
Tomb Raider 2013
Batman Arkham Origins
In this case I dared to set hardware acceleration physx to high and even anti-aliasing to GeForce TXAA high!
Far Cry 4
Assassin's Creed 4 - Black Flag
Noise & Temperature
My VerdictWhen the Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti landed on my desk I had high expectations from the product from the get go itself, since its a top dog in the consumer graphics card market leaving very little margin for disappointment of any sort. The card indeed performed well and not only did it surpass the reference model by steads but also justifies every penny spent on it.
But all good thing come at a price and the Asus Strix GTX 980 Ti is no exception with a hefty price tag of $670 or Rs. 62,000 in India making it a card only for the power users who want nothing less but the very best for their gaming or visual editing experience.
I give it a 9.5/10