EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ 6 GB Review 38

EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ 6 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ currently retails online for $670.
  • Overclocked out of the box, which makes the card faster than the GTX Titan X.
  • Better price/performance than the GTX 980 / 980 Ti
  • Much quieter than the GTX 980 Ti reference design
  • Fans turn off in idle and light gaming—no noise!
  • Great efficiency
  • Backplate included
  • HDMI 2.0
  • Quad-SLI support
  • New software features (MFAA and DSR)
  • Could be a little bit quieter during gaming
  • Memory not overclocked
Today, we are posting our second review of a custom GTX 980 Ti, this time from EVGA. The company's GTX 980 Ti SC+ ACX 2.0 comes built on a NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti reference PCB, but uses the company's dual-fan ACX 2.0 thermal solution and higher clocks. This combination effectively cannibalizes the GTX Titan X, which is definitely slower in our testing despite having twice the video memory.
Compared to the GTX 980 Ti, we see a 6-12% performance increase depending on the resolution. The Titan X is defeated as it is up to 8% slower than EVGA's GTX 980 Ti. The R9 390X, AMD's fastest single GPU card, is roughly 30% behind and even AMD's dual-GPU R9 295X2 is only 8% faster at 4K, but slower at all other resolutions, and it requires proper CrossFire driver support. Compared to Gigabyte's GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming, EVGA has overclocked their card by 50 MHz less (when looking at average real clocks), so I do wish they had overclocked memory as well for some extra performance.
We complained about the GTX 980 Ti's reference cooler and the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ does much better here. Thanks to the new cooler, the card never even gets close to the 84°C temperature limit at which NVIDIA Boost will start lowering clocks to keep temperatures in check. EVGA also included the fans-off-in-idle feature that lets you work, watch movies, or play light games without any fan noise at all. Fan noise during serious gaming is also much lower than the NVIDIA reference design, although still well audible with 35 dBA. I think there is still some potential for other vendors like MSI and ASUS to get closer to the magical 30 dBA range for a nearly noiseless gaming experience. Don't get me wrong, EVGA has done an excellent job with their cooler, and the fan settings are quite good, making full use of the capabilities of the cooler, but I just feel as though there is more potential. Another thing we criticized on the reference design was the lack of a backplate. EVGA addressed the issue by including a metal backplate on their card.
NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture introduced amazing power efficiency improvements, which the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ benefits from. Built on the reference design with just an overclock, we didn't expect power consumption to surprise us, which it didn't. The card uses slightly less power in non-gaming states and slightly more in gaming due to high clocks, but overall power requirements are similar. With additional performance because of EVGA's increased clocks taken into account, the GTX 980 Ti SC+'s performance-per-watt ratio is better than the NVIDIA reference card.
The EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ is currently available for $670, which is a $20 price premium over the NVIDIA reference board, a reasonable increase that is definitely worth it. The card is not only much faster, it also runs cooler and quieter. At its price point, the card's price/performance ratio is also better than that of the GTX 980 Ti and GTX 980. We've now reviewed AMD's R9 390X, which doesn't even get close to GTX 980 Ti performance. Later this week, AMD's Fury X gets reviewed as well, and we'll finally know how it stacks up against the GTX 980 Ti. You definitely shouldn't rush your buying decisions now to, rather, wait another week until all the details are known.
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