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Asus Matrix Platinum GeForce GTX 980 Review

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.

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.
  • damric
    I like when reviewers say MT/s instead of MHz :)
    Reply
  • fatboyslimerr
    I don't get how this card can be meant for water-cooling or LN2 but then you void the warranty by removing the cooler......????
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    I believe this is really designed for liquid overclocking. This review compares the air overclock vs liquid cooled overclock. You can see the difference but is it worth the $100 premium?
    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2015/03/03/asus_rog_poseidon_gtx_980_platinum_video_card_review/4#.VP6eCvmUe2Y
    Reply
  • loki1944
    Owning two ROG Matrix 290Xs and two ROG Matrix Platinum 780Tis I'll say they are good cards overall and look great, but neither is impressive cooling wise, 290Xs still hit 95C under max load and the 780Tis reach around 85C (my room is around 55-60 degrees F). This looks pretty much the same here on single card cooling, so not exactly impressive for air cooling. Great build quality though and best looking cards ever made in my opinion. I wish more cards were made this solid, but for a lot less $$.
    Reply
  • ohim
    Sapphire with Vapor-x has the best cooling solution out there, not only that they keep the GPU chip cooled the VRMs are also cool, only Gigabyte gave attention to VRM cooling as well.. the rest like to run those guys hot.
    Reply
  • Damn_Rookie
    15453974 said:
    I believe this is really designed for liquid overclocking. This review compares the air overclock vs liquid cooled overclock. You can see the difference but is it worth the $100 premium?
    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2015/03/03/asus_rog_poseidon_gtx_980_platinum_video_card_review/4#.VP6eCvmUe2Y
    I agree that this card is really designed for the more extreme overclockers out there (using either H2O or LN2), but just to note, the link you provided is for a different model of card; the ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum, as opposed to the ASUS Matrix Platinum GTX 980 reviewed here. The Poseidon is the one possessing a hybrid air/liquid cooler, letting you watercool while keeping your warranty.

    While both cards carry the "Platinum" moniker, they're built on very different underlying boards, with differing power delivery (10-phase for the Poseidon vs 14-phase for the Matrix); the Poseidon being designed for "normal" use, so to speak, and the Matrix designed for breaking LN2 based overclocking records. Honestly, if someone plans to only run it on air, the Matrix is simply overpriced. If they already have a water cooling setup, for the same cost they could get the Poseidon and have a warranty supported liquid cooled 980.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs
    The EVGA ACX 2.0 model (1266MHz core) would have been a better comparison
    than the Zotac. I've seen lots of people on forums with the EVGA listed in their sig,
    but hardly anyone with this Zotac. The EVGA @ stock gives 14512 gfx score for
    Firestrike, beating the Matrix Platinum.

    Btw, 1329MHz for an oc is really low. I've seen numerous people on forums going
    well over 1400 (check the techpowerup Unigine threads). I was able to get 1366
    in just a couple of minutes, without any real effort as regards optimisations or
    seeing what the voltage limits were. Some people are getting 1500+ with their 980s.

    Ian.

    PS. Can you confirm whether the Matrix Platinum is genuinely a 2 slot card?
    By that I mean, earlier models of some cards of this type are often fractionally
    wider than 2 slots, eg. the MSI GTX 580 3GB LX. For mbds with normal 2-slot
    spacing, it can make fitting more than one card a real pain (rear fan clash).

    Reply
  • Memnarchon
    15453974 said:
    I believe this is really designed for liquid overclocking. This review compares the air overclock vs liquid cooled overclock. You can see the difference but is it worth the $100 premium?
    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2015/03/03/asus_rog_poseidon_gtx_980_platinum_video_card_review/4#.VP6eCvmUe2Y
    This was ROG Poseidon card. It has liquid cooling system built in.
    This GPU managed in max overclock (25%) to beat a max overclocked (18%) Sapphire TriX 290X by 25%!!! in their tests.
    Well I think this worth $100 premium...
    15454066 said:
    Sapphire with Vapor-x has the best cooling solution out there, not only that they keep the GPU chip cooled the VRMs are also cool, only Gigabyte gave attention to VRM cooling as well.. the rest like to run those guys hot.
    Indeed Gigabyte did a great work on their latest coolers.
    I think Galax HOF cards have VRM cooling too.
    Reply
  • Eggz
    Cool (literally)

    Also, I think there's an error on the second page (How we Tested Asus' Matrix Platinum GTX 980), under the "Graphics" section. It lists the stock GTX 980 as having only 2 GB of VRAM, but I think it has 4 GB.
    Reply
  • animalosity
    Hrmm...ROG GTX 980 or R9-295x2 for the same price, and still runs cooler with hybrid cooler. You do the math. As much as I think ASUS is an awesome company, they tend to get a bit overzealous on the price. Why not just buy a reference 980. Slap a water block on it for cheaper and still achieve higher overclocks? Dozen ways to skin a cat at $640 bucks...
    Reply