By now, it's no secret that the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 are about to launch, but that doesn't mean rumors aren't interesting, especially considering that we now have a preview of the reference GTX 980. The images come from VideoCardz.com.
At first sight, the GTX 980 looks exactly like some older Nvidia cards, as it's using the same NVTTM cooler – with a couple of changes.
First off, part of the metallic shroud now also covers the I/O connectors from the interior, but more notably, the card will come with a backplate. This backplate has the same design as that of the GTX Titan Z, although it's been adapted for a single-GPU card.
Nvidia might have made some changes to the cooler's performance, but in all honesty, we don't think that happened. The GTX 980 is expected to carry a TDP of 180 W, which is much less than the 250 W TDP of the older GPUs that this cooler used to handle, so there really is no incentive for Nvidia to improve the cooling performance – if anything, it will run more silently.
There have been a few rumors about the display connectivity on the card, and an image from the ChipHell forums appears to settle that debate by showing that the card will have not one, not two, but three DisplayPort outputs, as well as a single HDMI port and a single Dual-Link DVI port. We do not know which versions of the interfaces these connectors are. What we do see is that the expansion bracket will have the same exhaust grille design as the GTX Titan Z, which appears to be a wee bit less restrictive.
As far as specifications go, VideoCardz.com also posted that the GTX 980 will carry 2048 CUDA Cores, and will have 4 GB of GDDR5 memory running over a 256-bit memory interface with a bandwidth of 224 GB/s. Calculated benchmark scores predict that the GTX 980 will perform right between the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti.
The GTX 970 and GTX 980 are expected to launch on September 19th.