Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming Windforce Review

Overclocking, Noise, Temperature And Power

Overclocking OC Guru II

To unlock the full potential of Gigabyte's graphics cards, the company supplies its own overclocking utility called OC Guru II. This software allows for adjustment to a number of the graphics card's parameters.

For instance, the GPU core clock can be adjusted in 1MHz increments. Same goes for the memory frequency. Target Power and Target Temp can also be adjusted in a granular manner. The power maxes out at 130 percent, and the temperature can be set as high as 91 degrees Celsius. Core Voltage is adjustable in 0.0125V increments.

OC Guru II is also used to manage the card's fan profile. By default, the fans switch off any time the GPU temperature falls below 60 degrees. Choosing a manual profile lets you keep the fans running all of the time to bring temps down even further.

Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming includes a set of RGB LED fan lights and an illuminated WindForce logo, controlled through OC Guru II. The lights have seven preset colors, and the software includes a mode to cycle between all of them. There is also an option to select any color you wish with a slider bar. In addition to picking a color, you can choose between static, breathing, flashing and a dual-flashing behavior.

Overclocking

Gigabyte's GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming is already aggressively overclocked from the factory. But the company wouldn't have binned its GPUs, engineered a custom PCA, installed an oversized cooler and developed a LN2-specific firmware if it didn't expect enthusiasts to push the hardware even further. There's even a special overclock setting to increase the core clock another 25MHz.

That became our starting point for manual tuning. Before embarking on our own overclocking journey, we ran a baseline in 3DMark. From there, we increased the core clock another 25MHz and maxed out the power limit.

We increased the GPU clock rate in 5MHz intervals up to 1276MHz, at which point the system encountered a lock-up during the second test in 3DMark. Ultimately, 1266MHz proved to be the highest stable GPU frequency.

After locking in an optimal GPU overclock, we shifted attention to the memory. Gigabyte configures its GDDR5 modules to operate at 7202 MT/s, which is already one of the highest transfer rates we've ever seen. As it turns out, the memory doesn't want to be pushed much harder. Beyond 7222 MT/s, the GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming doesn't make it through 3DMark.

Ultimately, we were able to increase the core clock rate by 40MHz and the memory by 20MHz, though that proved to be of little value in our benchmark suite.

Temperature

We took two temperature measurements for the Gigabyte GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming card. The automatic fan profile and the default settings when switching to manual were tested as well. As you can see, both profiles demonstrate dramatically different patterns, which interestingly mirror the results of two configurations used for comparison.

The automatic profile ramped up with almost the exact pattern used by EVGA's GTX 970 SC. Meanwhile, the manual profile showed similar temperature levels compared to the water-cooled PowerColor Devil R9 390X. 

These tests were run in one sitting, and the GPU was manually cooled down between them to speed up the process. Several days later, after the GPU had been sitting idle with its fans disabled, we saw the GPU temperature at 58 degrees. If you don't have much airflow in your case, consider a manual profile that keeps the fans spinning.

Noise

Gigabyte's GTX 980 Ti Extreme Gaming may share a similar temperature profile as EVGA's GTX 970 SC, but it certainly doesn't output the same sound levels. This is truly one of the quietest cards in our lab. Sapphire's Tri-X cooler manages a slightly lower ceiling, but at 38.5 decibels the Gigabyte card is still very quiet.

The automatic profile shuts the fans off completely at idle, resulting in silent operation. After about 10 minutes of game play, the fans spin up to audible levels. But in a room with other ambient noise, you're not going to hear them.

Power

Nvidia's Maxwell architecture is famous for its efficiency, delivering incredible performance per watt of power consumption. Gigabyte's take on the flagship results in one of the fastest single-GPU boards you can buy, so it's no surprise that this card uses more power than its lower-end competition. 

It was somewhat surprising to see just how much power the card uses at idle, though. Drawing 26.2W puts it in the same range as PowerColor’s overclocked R9 390X, a card well-known for posting big consumption figures. Under full load, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti Xtreme Gaming draws practically the same amount of power as Sapphire's R9 Fury Tri-X. Still, two GTX 970s in SLI and the VisionTek R9 295X2 show that this single-GPU card is far more efficient than two processors working cooperatively.

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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