MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4 GB Review 33

MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4 GB Review



MSI Logo

GeForce GTX 980 is NVIDIA's latest high-end single-GPU graphics card, made possible by the company's new Maxwell architecture. The GM204 graphics processor, which powers the GTX 980 in this review, comes with amazing power consumption improvements that are the foundation behind the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 taking the enthusiast market by storm.

The GeForce GTX 980 is carved out of the 28 nm GM204 silicon with all its shaders enabled, resulting in a shader count of 2,048. There are 128 available texture units and the ROP count is a massive 64, with a 256-bit bus connecting 4 GB of GDDDR5 memory.

MSI's GTX 980 Gaming is a full custom variant of the GTX 980 with a new dual-fan MSI TwinFrozr cooler and a custom board design with new voltage regulation circuitry. The card is also overclocked to a base clock of 1216 MHz out of the box.

Currently retailing at $580, the card is relatively affordable, being just $30 more expensive than the reference board.

GeForce GTX 980 Market Segment Analysis
GTX 680
GTX 780
R9 290
GTX 970
R9 290X
HD 7990
GTX Titan
GTX 780 Ti
GTX 980
980 Gaming
Shader Units153623042560166428162x 20482688288020482048
ROPs32486464642x 3248486464
Graphics ProcessorGK104GK110HawaiiGM204Hawaii2x TahitiGK110GK110GM204GM204
Transistors3500M7100M6200M5200M6200M2x 4310M7100M7100M5200M5200M
Memory Size2048 MB3072 MB4096 MB4096 MB4096 MB2x 3072 MB6144 MB3072 MB4096 MB4096 MB
Memory Bus Width256 bit384 bit512 bit256 bit512 bit2x 384 bit384 bit384 bit256 bit256 bit
Core Clock1006 MHz+863 MHz+947 MHz1051 MHz+1000 MHz1000 MHz837 MHz+876 MHz+1126 MHz+1216 MHz+
Memory Clock1502 MHz1502 MHz1250 MHz1750 MHz1250 MHz1500 MHz1502 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz


Package Front
Package Back

Package Contents

You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Driver CD (not pictured) + Documentation
  • PCIe power cable
  • DVI adapter

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

MSI has refreshed their TwinFrozr cooler design to be more colorful, using red highlights. I like the change because it makes the card look more stylish. Dimensions of the card are 28.0 cm x 14.5 cm.

Graphics Card Height

Installation requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include one DVI port, one mini-HDMI port, and three mini-DisplayPorts. You may use all outputs at the same time, so triple-monitor-surround gaming is possible with one card. With three DP outputs, you can build yourself a triple-monitor G-Sync-surround setup with only a single card!

The GPU also includes an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 2.0 compatible, which includes HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies support.

Multi-GPU Area

You may combine up to four GTX 980 cards in a multi-GPU SLI configuration. AMD recently switched to transferring CrossFire data via the PCI-Express bus in order to handle 4K frames. NVIDIA's SLI suffers from no such limitations, so there is no reason for NVIDIA to use PCIe.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back).
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