This Card Is Awesome, But It's Not For Everyone.
The Asus ROG Matrix Platinum GTX 980 is undoubtedly one of the fastest graphics cards you can buy. But with its completely custom PCB built for extreme overclocking, we expected breathtaking results from the DirectCU II cooler. Unfortunately, our test sample doesn’t quite live up those expectations, which, in retrospect, may have been unrealistic. Yes, it features out-of-box performance that's hard to rival. But a 1430MHz maximum GPU Boost frequency, overclocked, puts it in the same ballpark as other 980s selling for considerably less. This is a $640 card, after all. It costs about $100 more than entry-level factory-overclocked models.
To be fair, the Matrix Platinum is designed with extreme cooling in mind. Limiting it to an air cooler doesn't truly do the hardware justice. This is made even more apparent when you consider that we achieved more stable clock rates with a lower power limit. Given beefier cooling, we may have achieved higher clocks without more effort.
There’s always the silicon lottery to consider, too. It may simply be that we didn’t get the best GPU. As they say, your mileage may vary.
On the other hand, the memory on our card is something special. An overclocked data rate of 8150 MT/s, up from 7010 MT/s, is staggering. And that didn't require any adjustments to memory voltage.
Considering these cards are made in limited numbers, they command a significant price premium. At the time of writing, you can buy one for between $650 and $750. That’s $100 or more over Asus' less expensive Strix model. This is Radeon R9 295X2 territory. With that in mind, unless you're planning to really exploit this board's extra features, there are better values out there to think about. The Matrix Platinum is clearly designed for dedicated overclockers who want to extreme methods to get the best benchmark runs.