NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6 GB Review 102

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6 GB Review

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There is a strong push within the display industry to take 4K Ultra HD to the masses, especially with 4K monitors being sold deep under the $500 mark. A pair of any of today's $300-ish graphics cards in a multi-GPU setup can set you up for gaming at this resolution with reasonably high eye-candy. Back in March, NVIDIA launched the first single-GPU graphics card that lets you play any of today's games at 4K with high eye-candy, freeing you from the quirks of multi-GPU setups; it, on the flip-side, cost $1000, and you could only buy and use its noisy reference design if you didn't have a liquid-cooling loop. Competition from AMD in the form of its upcoming "Fiji XT" graphics card and the rush for pre-summer builds and upgrades have now prompted NVIDIA to fill the vast gorge between the GeForce GTX 980 and the GTX Titan X with the cheapest 4K-worthy single-GPU graphics card before the season's hottest games come out. Enter the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

The GeForce GTX 980 Ti is being launched at the $650 mark, the traditional price point at which NVIDIA sold its high-end single-GPU products before it started asking $1000 for its fastest single-GPU graphics cards. The GTX 980 Ti is also a true successor to the GTX 780 Ti based on NVIDIA's biggest silicon for the "Maxwell" GPU architecture, the GM200. Unlike its predecessor, it does not feature the full complement of CUDA cores on the silicon and is hence positioned a notch below the GTX Titan X. NVIDIA probably did so to avoid the repeat of the GTX 780 Ti cannibalizing the GTX Titan Black; buyers with deep pockets are lured with the prospect of buying a GM200 card with all its cylinders unlocked in the GTX Titan X.

The GeForce GTX 980 Ti, which we are reviewing today, still has a serious lot going for it. It features 2,816 of the 3,072 CUDA cores on this silicon, which NVIDIA achieved by enabling 22 of the 24 SMM units. The TMU count is 176 (compared to the 192 on the GTX Titan X), and the ROP count is confirmed to be 96. NVIDIA seems to have learned from the GTX 970 ROP-count and memory-configuration drama. The chip is wired to 6 GB of GDDR5 memory across its 384-bit interface and can address all of it at a consistent bandwidth. The clock speeds are similar to those of the GTX Titan X.

The best part about this SKU is that NVIDIA will allow its board partners to innovate custom-design boards with factory-overclocked speeds, so the inadequacy of NVIDIA's reference cooler and its PCB could be overcome. Along with launching the GTX 980 Ti at $650, NVIDIA repositioned the GM204-based GTX 980 at $500. In this review, we will deal with the reference-design GeForce GTX 980 Ti to give you have a crystal-clear idea of whether NVIDIA managed to fill the gap between the GTX 980 and the GTX Titan X.

GTX 980 Ti Market Segment Analysis
R9 290
GTX 970
R9 290X
GTX 780 Ti
GTX 980
GTX 980 Ti
GTX Titan X
R9 295X2
Shader Units25601664281628802048281630722x 2816
ROPs645664486496962x 64
Graphics ProcessorHawaiiGM204HawaiiGK110GM204GM200GM2002x Hawaii
Transistors6200M5200M6200M7100M5200M8000M8000M2x 6200M
Memory Size4096 MB4096 MB4096 MB3072 MB4096 MB6144 MB12288 MB2x 4096 MB
Memory Bus Width512 bit256 bit512 bit384 bit256 bit384 bit384 bit2x 512 bit
Core Clock947 MHz1051 MHz+1000 MHz876 MHz+1126 MHz+1000 MHz+1000 MHz+1018 MHz
Memory Clock1250 MHz1750 MHz1250 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz1250 MHz
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