Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming Windforce Review

How We Test

Test System

In order for us to compare results between cards reviewed by any of our reviewers, Tom's Hardware standardized the test bench that we all use. By doing this, each of our locations can have different sets of cards and still compare from the pool of results that any of us have obtained. Starting with an MSI X99S XPower motherboard, each test bench has an Intel Core i7-5930K overclocked to 4.2GHz, 16GB of Crucial Balistix Sport DDR4, two Crucial 500GB SSDs and an 850W power supply from be quiet!.









Software And Drivers

After a number of high-profile AAA game releases and corresponding driver updates from AMD and Nvidia, we ran all of the cards in today's comparison through a fresh set of benchmarks rather than pulling data from older reviews. The Nvidia cards are tested using the 358.91 build (except for the Titan X, which employs 358.87). We started testing AMD GPUs with the Catalyst 15.11.1 beta beginning Nov. 14. The one exception is Sapphire's R9 Fury Tri-X; that card was only here for a week, so we had to pull its numbers from the original review using Catalyst 15.15 Beta.

Comparison GPUs

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Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a formidable card; add a factory overclock and it becomes hard to find suitable comparisons. We dug out our VisionTek CryoVenom R9 295X2 to see if AMD's dual-GPU flagship is still the fastest solution available in one PCIe slot.

As a more value-oriented comparison, we tested two EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC cards in SLI, which come close the price Gigabyte asks for its GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming.

The next-fastest boards in our lab are Asus' GTX 980 Matrix Platinum and PowerColor's R9 390X Devil. They're both overclocked models, and each is priced significantly lower than Gigabyte's premium GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

Results from a GeForce GTX Titan X are included in our 4K results. We didn't test it at QHD due to time constraints. Also, we didn't have a reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti on-hand, so results were lifted from our launch coverage.

Direct XDirectX 11
Graphics DriversPowerColor Radeon R9 390x Devil: AMD Catalyst 15.11.1 Beta
VisionTek Radeon R9 295X2 CryoVenom: AMD Catalyst 15.11.1 Beta
Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X: AMD Catalyst 15.15
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming: GeForce Driver 358.91
Asus GeForce GTX 980 Matrix Platinum: GeForce Driver 358.91
EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC ACX2.0: GeForce Driver 358.91
Zotac GeForce Titan X: GeForce Driver 358.87

Benchmarks

Benchmarks
Middle-earth: Shadow of MordorBuilt-in benchmark, 40-sec Fraps, Ultra preset
Battlefield 4Custom THG Benchmark, 100-sec Fraps, Ultra preset
Metro Last LightBuilt-in benchmark, 145-sec Fraps, Very High preset, 16x AF, Normal motion blur 
Tomb RaiderVersion 1.01.748.0, Custom THG Benchmark, 40-sec Fraps, Ultimate preset 
Far Cry 4Version 1.9.0, Custom THG benchmark, 60-sec Fraps, Ultra preset
Grand Theft Auto VBuild 350, Online 1.26, In-game benchmark sequence #5, 110-sec Fraps, FXAA: On, MSAA: 2x, Texture Quality: Very High, Shader Quality: Very High, Shadow Quality: High, Reflection Quality: Very High, Water Quality: High, Particles Quality: Very High, Grass Quality: High, Soft Shadows: Softer, Post FX: Very High, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x 

Noise

To test for noise, a handheld decibel meter records acoustic output two inches behind the graphics card's I/O bracket. The instrument has a floor of 35dB; anything lower and it registers 0dB. To represent a recording that comes back as 0dB, but clearly isn't silent, the graph is made to indicate 34dB. When no sound is generated (such as when the fans stop spinning in a semi-passive mode), the graph shows 0dB.

Power

To test power consumption using our reference platform, a bit of creative math is needed. Since Haswell-E processors don’t have integrated GPU cores, we can’t boot the system without a discrete board installed to get a baseline. We are able to estimate consumption based on the approximate power draw of the test bench, though. In our observations, we’ve found that the approximate power draw from everything other than the GPU is 120W. By deducting that from the recorded wattage reported on our in-line power meter, we can calculate the approximate draw of the GPU.

Gaming

Because this is an ultra high-end card, we found no reason to test at 1920x1080. Our benchmarks instead emphasize QHD (2560x1440) and 4K (3840x2160).

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94 comments
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  • red river
    just wati for the Pascal cards peeps!
  • Myrmidonas
    I agree. Buying a GPU now is a waste of money.Just wait for the Pascal cards.
  • Gam3r01
    I am mostly interested to see how it would stack up against an MSI Lightning or the ASUS Strix cards.
  • ern88
    Can't wait to see how Pascal and Polaris cards to come to market.
  • dstarr3
    Ehh, if you keep waiting for the next best thing, you'll be waiting an eternity, because something newer and better is always just around the bend. Don't buy the next flagship Pascal card, wait for the Ti version. But don't buy that, wait for the next generation of Pascal because that'll be even more powerful and efficient, while being quieter. But don't buy that either, wait for the Ti.

    I picked up a 980 Ti last month and I love it, and I won't need a new card for several years now. There's a lot to be said about waiting, but you gotta take the plunge eventually.
  • beshonk
    That's because it's a dual GPU card...You just proved you have no idea what you're talking about.
  • Yuka
    Quote:
    That's because it's a dual GPU card...You just proved you have no idea what you're talking about.


    The Nissan GTR puts less than 3 seconds from 0 to 60 using a twin turbo V6 and beats exotic cars using V10s that cost 2 to 3 times more.

    Unless you're brand loyal or actually care about multi GPU issues, dismissing the 295 just because is a dual GPU card is weird in my eyes.

    --

    I kinda missed the Fury X in there and nice showing by that 390X. Beating the 980 in a lot of tests. Too bad the consumption numbers are so bad.

    Nice card none the less. I'll wait for the new batch of cards though to replace my lovely 7970Ghz.

    Cheers!
  • artk2219
    696345 said:
    Lol at the R9 295x2 winning most of the benchmarks handily.


    Thats what happens when its going against two 290X's, but the 980 TI doesn't have to deal with micro stuttering, it uses a whole lot less power, and puts out less heat. But, the 295's were priced really nicely when they were readily available. I saw one new open box at microcenter for $495 a few months ago, and I didn't pick it up... I still kind of regret that, I had it in my literal hands and everything :-/.
  • Epsilon_0EVP
    Quote:
    Ehh, if you keep waiting for the next best thing, you'll be waiting an eternity, because something newer and better is always just around the bend. Don't buy the next flagship Pascal card, wait for the Ti version. But don't buy that, wait for the next generation of Pascal because that'll be even more powerful and efficient, while being quieter. But don't buy that either, wait for the Ti. I picked up a 980 Ti last month and I love it, and I won't need a new card for several years now. There's a lot to be said about waiting, but you gotta take the plunge eventually.


    The difference in this case is that we're having a massive die shrink for the first time in 4 years. Pascal and Polaris cards are likely to completely wreck the current cards in performance per watt, which could mean ridiculous performance gains as well. In this specific scenario, waiting is not a bad idea.
  • ael00
    looks like a beastie. I especially like the fact that it shares the tank constructions of the 980/970 g1 series.

    Im sure if it wasn't 6 months late it would have dominated the 980ti/R9 fury market segment. No rgb fans will stop people hoarding cash for pascal tho ...
  • derekullo
    Quote:
    Lol at the R9 295x2 winning most of the benchmarks handily.


    A fair comparison would be to compare the 295 to 2 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming in sli at 4k.
  • thor220
    Quote:
    Ehh, if you keep waiting for the next best thing, you'll be waiting an eternity, because something newer and better is always just around the bend. Don't buy the next flagship Pascal card, wait for the Ti version. But don't buy that, wait for the next generation of Pascal because that'll be even more powerful and efficient, while being quieter. But don't buy that either, wait for the Ti. I picked up a 980 Ti last month and I love it, and I won't need a new card for several years now. There's a lot to be said about waiting, but you gotta take the plunge eventually.


    Waiting is a virtue they say and sometimes it really pays off. For example, remember the Titan X? $1,000 on launch and a $600 cards comes out two weeks later that's pretty much the same thing. $400 for doing nothing but waiting a measly two weeks probably paid off for those that waited.
  • kcarbotte
    316517 said:
    Quote:
    Ehh, if you keep waiting for the next best thing, you'll be waiting an eternity, because something newer and better is always just around the bend. Don't buy the next flagship Pascal card, wait for the Ti version. But don't buy that, wait for the next generation of Pascal because that'll be even more powerful and efficient, while being quieter. But don't buy that either, wait for the Ti. I picked up a 980 Ti last month and I love it, and I won't need a new card for several years now. There's a lot to be said about waiting, but you gotta take the plunge eventually.
    Waiting is a virtue they say and sometimes it really pays off. For example, remember the Titan X? $1,000 on launch and a $600 cards comes out two weeks later that's pretty much the same thing. $400 for doing nothing but waiting a measly two weeks probably paid off for those that waited.


    nearly 3 months later actually.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-geforce-gtx-980-ti,4164.html
  • kcarbotte
    215066 said:
    The GTX 980 Ti is getting old in the tooth. Why is it still being reviewed?? Last Christmas season there was a sale on these cards every day if you looked on "reddit build a pc sales". Seems like there is an oversupply. As everyone else has stated...wait for Pascal. I can't wait to read about the clueless teen who buys this card the day before the Pascal release. Happy Robert E. Lee day


    The GTX 980 Ti launched on May 31 2015.
    It's been a long time, but the card is hardly getting long in the tooth.

    Custom partner cards started coming out a few months ago, and admitedly, this review is a little late, the card is hardly irrelivent at this point.

    We're still likely several months away from seeing Pascal in the market, and even when it launches, the first cards could be in the Titan X price range.
    If you have the money now, and the need for a high end graphics card, there's no reason not to consider a 980Ti right now.
  • ammaross
    Nice beast of a card. But I'm sitting on my hands until Pascal and Polaris are out and benched. Should give a decent (albeit small) bump in performance for a moderate wattage drop.

    However, the lack of Fury X benches in this lineup is almost appalling, as it is the direct price-competitor to the 980 Ti.
  • kcarbotte
    444610 said:
    Nice beast of a card. But I'm sitting on my hands until Pascal and Polaris are out and benched. Should give a decent (albeit small) bump in performance for a moderate wattage drop. However, the lack of Fury X benches in this lineup is almost appalling, as it is the direct price-competitor to the 980 Ti.


    I really wish I had a Fury X to compare it to.
    The samples of those cards have been very hard to get our hands on, and without partners having the ability to change the design in any way, we can't even do a custom board review to compare.
  • Wrought
    Sorry, I'm with the crowd that thinks it's hilarious that 2 year old AMD tech is tromping on the current nVidia flagship card. "Bu-bu-but it has 2 GPU's!!" Yeah, and you could buy those 2 GPU's last spring for cheaper than the Ti is selling right now. Your point again?

    Props to nVidia though for doing it efficiently and on air.
  • iam2thecrowe
    Quote:
    Quote:
    That's because it's a dual GPU card...You just proved you have no idea what you're talking about.
    Unless you're brand loyal or actually care about multi GPU issues, dismissing the 295 just because is a dual GPU card is weird in my eyes.

    Maybe you have never owned a dual gpu setup then? Sure it may bench well on the few tests in tom's suite, but there will be one or two games that you really want to enjoy, only to find out they either scale poorly with dual gpu, have stuttering or fps dips to lower lows than an adequate single card, late dual gpu support with patches or it never gets dual gpu support and the game only plays well with one gpu disabled. You also don't get double the vram by adding a second card/gpu, each gpu must have its own ram. I have owned a crossfire and sli setup and had all the fore-mentioned problems. So......I am totally weird for not wanting these problems..........
  • thundervore
    I look at this card and do not understand why its being released. Honestly, who out there is still looking for a 980Ti card this late into its life cycle? Most who wants a 980Ti already have on or they are waiting for NVidia HBM like me with Pascal.

    The game changer is die shrink and high bandwidth memory on the GPU, we do not want the same rehashed chips with just more juice pumped through them. We need less heat. smaller PCBs, and higher speeds. The R9 fury is a right step in that direction with its speed and size, NVidia needs to get on board.
  • Epsilon_0EVP
    2097149 said:
    Sorry, I'm with the crowd that thinks it's hilarious that 2 year old AMD tech is tromping on the current nVidia flagship card. "Bu-bu-but it has 2 GPU's!!" Yeah, and you could buy those 2 GPU's last spring for cheaper than the Ti is selling right now. Your point again? Props to nVidia though for doing it efficiently and on air.


    On the other hand, though, it's kinda sad to see Nvidia be so conservative when they could be clearly delivering a better product. I mean, practically every 970 can run at 1300MHz, even though the official boost clock is under 1200MHz. It makes you wonder what kind of a beast we could have if they decided to throw power restrictions out the window and release a 500W monster with liquid cooling like AMD did.
  • Gam3r01
    627667 said:
    I look at this card and do not understand why its being released. Honestly, who out there is still looking for a 980Ti card this late into its life cycle? Most who wants a 980Ti already have on or they are waiting for NVidia HBM like me with Pascal. The game changer is die shrink and high bandwidth memory on the GPU, we do not want the same rehashed chips with just more juice pumped through them. We need less heat. smaller PCBs, and higher speeds. The R9 fury is a right step in that direction with its speed and size, NVidia needs to get on board.


    It is exceedingly worth noting this card was released November 11th of last year, while this review comes in 3 months late.
    While thats not a long time, it was before people began recommending the wait for pascal.
  • rhysiam
    RE the wait for Pascal, it's probably worth remembering that the GM200 inside a 980ti is an absolute monster of a chip (size wise). I suspect it'll be a long wait before we see decent yields on chips that size at 14/16nm. Pure speculation on my part, but I think the first high end Pascal will be a similar situation to the GTX 980 launch. That's to say, a smaller chip that provides a big jump in efficiency but a relatively small jump in performance over the previous flagship - in the case of the 980 that was a 780ti.

    No doubt we'll see a Titan successor and genuine big-Pascal GPU released at some stage, but I suspect it'll be much later. There was almost 9 months between 980 and 980ti.
  • rolli59
    What I like about this review is how well the GTX970 SLI setup comes out and does not hurt from lack of Vram.
  • Ahmedivx
    Well it's so close to the results of The G1 Gaming Edition, I'm not sure about the sample you tested here but other than the cooler (as far as I know the Xtreme Edition cooler is rated @ 700 watts dissipation while the G1 Gaming cooler is rated @ 600 watts), are these two cards really that different, I have the G1 Gaming but with a different OC of course and it fared pretty well against those scores, even beating it in some tests