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Nvidia's Board Partners: GTX 980 And 970 Card Roundup

Yesterday, Nvidia launched its Maxwell-powered GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards, and after giving most of the big vendors a few hours to reveal their cards, we’re bringing you a roundup of a boatload of them.

The reference Nvidia GTX 980 has a GPU that carries 2048 CUDA cores which run at 1126 MHz and can boost up to 1216 MHz. The GTX 970’s GPU has 1664 CUDA cores and runs at 1050 MHz and boosts up to 1178 MHz. Both of the cards feature 4 GB of GDDR5 memory that operates at an effective speed of 7.0 GHz over a 256-bit memory interface. For more details about the reference board or the new Nvidia features you can have a peek at the launch article or our full review.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the board partner’s cards.

Asus

Asus announced a single variant of each card. Both the cards are Strix-branded cards and thus come with the accompanying feature set, which includes a DirectCU II cooler, Digi+ VRM circuitry, a factory overclock and more.

Arguably the best feature of the Strix cards is the 0 dB fan. This doesn’t mean that the fans make no noise at all, but it does mean that they switch off when the GPU temperature is below 65 C. This means that for desktop workloads -- or older, less demanding titles -- chances are that you won’t have any fan noise at all from the GPU. What’s the best part of all? Asus has priced the GTX 980 Strix and the GTX 970 Strix just $10 over the reference solutions.

EVGA

EVGA has done what it normally does with graphics card releases and announced a whole heap of different SKUs. These range from reference solutions, to solutions using the new ACX 2.0 cooler, to overclocked ‘FTW’-branded cards. Take for example the GTX 980 SuperClocked ACX 2.0 card: It is clocked at a staggering 1266 MHz, and it will boost all the way up to 1367 MHz if there’s enough thermal headroom. That makes for a very fast GTX 980 card.

The new ACX 2.0 cooler comes with a number of changes over the older model, which include a new fan blade design, more total fan blades, a dual-ball bearing and a higher RPM limit. According to EVGA, this is the world’s most efficient air cooler.

EVGA also just announced that overclockers K|NGP|N and TiN managed to already break a world record with the GTX 980, overclocking it to 2067 MHz and scoring 19040 points in 3DMark Fire Strike and 9191 points in the Fire Strike extreme test.

ModelBase ClockBoost ClockMemory SpeedCoolerPrice (USD)
GTX 980 SC ACX 2.01266 MHz1367 MHz7010 MHzACX 2.0TBA
GTX 980 SC1241 MHz1342 MHz7010 MHzNVTTMTBA
GTX 980 ACX 2.01126 MHz1216 MHz7010 MHzACX 2.0TBA
GTX 980 (Reference)1126 MHz1216 MHz7010 MHzNVTTMTBA
GTX 970 FTW ACX 2.01216 MHz1367 MHz7010 MHzACX 2.0TBA
GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.01190 MHz1342 MHz7010 MHzACX 2.0TBA
GTX 970 SC ACX 2.01165 MHz1317 MHz7010 MHzACX 2.0TBA
GTX 970  ACX 2.01050 MHz1178 MHz7010 MHzACX 2.0TBA
GTX 970 SC1140 MHz1279 MHz7010 MHzCustomTBA
GTX 9701050 MHz1178 MHz7010 MHzCustomTBA
GTX 970 SC ACX1165 MHz1317 MHz7010 MHzACXTBA
GTX 970 ACX1050 MHz1178 MHz7010 MHzACXTBA

Gigabyte

Two of the SKUs that Gigabyte is introducing are the GTX 980 G1 Gaming and the GTX 970 G1 Gaming. Both of these cards come with a custom PCB design, feature additional display outputs over the reference design and come with the new 600 W WindForce 3x cooler.

Of course, mounting a 600 W cooler on a card with a TDP well below 200 W seems a bit pointless, but it will ensure that the GPUs will always have the thermal headroom to boost up to higher frequencies, and it’ll mean that the cooler doesn’t need to run all that fast to do its work, giving you a more silent gaming experience.

MSI

Upon launch, MSI is first releasing a reference GTX 980 along with a GTX 970 Gaming 4G. The latter card comes equipped with the awaited TwinFrozr V cooler, which provides even more cooling power than its predecessor with an updated design. This card comes at a slight premium over the reference card, costing $20 more. The company will release its GTX 980 Gaming 4G with the TwinFrozr cooler sometime in the coming few weeks.

ModelBase ClockBoost ClockMemory SpeedCoolerPrice (USD)
GTX 980 Gaming 4G1190 MHz1291 MHz7010 MHzTwinFrozr VTBA
GTX 980 (Reference)1126 MHz1216 MHz7010 MHzNVTTM$549.99
GTX 970 Gaming 4G1140 MHz1279 MHz7010 MHzTwinFrozr V$349.99

PNY

PNY is taking it easy with this launch; it’s initially only introducing reference-class cards. The GTX 980 that the company is launching is a complete reference card, while the GTX 970 is built with a custom blower-style cooler. Both of the cards run at reference frequencies and come with Nvidia’s MSRPs.

Zotac

For each card, Zotac has three different classes – the standard class, the middle Omega class and the higher Extreme class. Initially, the company is only launching a reference GTX 980 along with a fairly standard GTX 970. The latter comes with a dual-fan cooler, and has a slight factory overclock, but it does come in at a reference price tag. For the AMP! Omega and the AMP! Extreme the company has yet to determine pricing, although we don’t expect to have to wait too long before they hit shelves. The AMP! Extreme cards come with a large triple-fan cooler, along with a bunch of lighting effects.

ModelBase ClockBoost ClockMemory SpeedCoolerPrice (USD)
GTX 980 (Reference)1126 MHz1216 MHz7010 MHzNVTTM$549.99
GTX 980 AMP! Omega1202 MHz1304 MHz7046 MHzDual-fan IceStormTBA
GTX 980 AMP! ExtremeTBATBATBATriple-fan IceStromTBA
GTX 9701076 MHz1216 MHz7010 MHzDual-fan$329.99
GTX 970 AMP! Omega1102 MHz1241 MHz7046 MHzDual-fan IceStormTBA
GTX 970 AMP! Extreme1203 MHz1355 MHz7200 MHzTriple-fan IceStromTBA

Conclusion

You probably noticed that the GTX 980 will come in both reference and custom flavors, while there is no sign of a reference GTX 970 being sold. The reason for that is likely that the NVTTM cooler from Nvidia is more expensive to implement than the partner’s custom coolers, and at a $329.99 price point it simply doesn’t make sense to use.

Also note that the above are Nvidia’s Authorized Board Partners. There are other vendors that carry GTX 980 and GTX 970 SKUs, but we’ve opted to cover the major players.

So, which GTX 980 or GTX 970 are you interested in buying? Or will you be waiting for more exclusive variants?

For more details on the cards you can read our review of the GTX 980 and GTX 970.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • StintheBeast
    The Asus strix 980 and 970 are supposedly going to be available today. Right now, only the strix 970 is listed but out of stock on newegg and amazon. Will be buying the strix 980 as soon as it's available.
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    I'm an MSI guy from way back and have yet to be disappointed. MSI offers what is arguably the very best aftermarket cooling solution available in their "TwinFrozr" design as well as some of the highest overclocks around. Style and design are also top notch.
    Reply
  • Pavel Pokidaylo
    Sigh... why in the hell did I buy an MSI 780 ti a few months back =/ Now I want a 980 or hell even 970s would give nearly twice the performance of my 780 ti and more efficiently
    Reply
  • From the few reviews I've seen, the 970 looks like the real winner out of the 2, especially at it's price point. It is slightly slower than a 780TI while it appears almost identical in performance to the 780, while the 980 is slightly faster than the 780TI, but is also extremely expensive, double what the 970 costs. Also, it looks like the 980 has higher frame time variances at times than the 780 TI, but puts out higher frame rates. If I were buying a single card now, I'd get the 970. The 980 doesn't offer enough of a boost over it for the $300 extra it costs.
    Reply
  • Drejeck
    I have a 770 Phantom. I'll wait the release of the next Phantoms. But not going to buy until I get a G-sync monitor.
    Reply
  • Drejeck
    I have a 770 Phantom. I'll wait the release of the next Phantoms. But not going to buy until I get a G-sync monitor.
    Reply
  • HKILLER
    could you add Inno3D and Gainward?
    Reply
  • Slipperss
    Dear Tomshardware, any chance you will be doing a after-market cooling benchmark comparison on the GTX 970 and 980?
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    14210498 said:
    The 980 doesn't offer enough of a boost over it for the $300 extra it costs.

    Where do you see a $300 cost difference between the 980 and 970? At most, it's maybe $220. Is it worth it? Not really, but I'm certain that some clearly will seeing as it's still cheaper than a competing 780Ti.

    Reply
  • educalifa
    Wonder what the hardware difference is between the 970 SC and FTW, if any... Then again, I'm yet to see a FTW for sale anywhere which sucks a lot since that's the one I'm more interested in atm, followed close by the MSi
    Reply