Hands-On Preview: GTX 980 Extreme OC Edition

By Published October 06, 2014 at 2:36 pm
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After reviewing the GTX 980 a few weeks ago, we had the chance to get hands-on with MSI's 4G GTX 970 and ZOTAC's GTX 970 Omega video cards. At the time, we had the specs for the GTX 980 “Extreme” video card, but didn't have one available.

Now we've got two.

ZOTAC GTX 980 Extreme Hands-On, Unboxing, & Overview

GTX 980 Extreme Specs vs. GTX 980 Omega, GTX 980 Reference

  GTX 980 Extreme GTX 980 Reference
Core CLK 1291MHz 1126MHz
Boost CLK 1393MHz 1216MHz
Memory Config 4GB @ 256-bit
7200MHz CLK
4GB @ 256-bit
7010MHz CLK
GPU GM204 GM204
MSRP $610 $550

As many of you know at this point, nVidia develops a “reference card” for all of its flagship GPUs and most of its mid-range and high-end options. They sometimes skip low-end units (like the GTX 750 Ti), but the GTX 980, 780 Ti, Titan Z, and similar cards have all received reference models.

These reference cards use a specific board and cooler that manufacturers can source and reuse for aftermarket models. Manufacturers often sell the reference model under their own branding and under the same MSRP (~$550, in the case of the GTX 980). As for aftermarket units, it's largely up to board partners whether or not they'd like to use any of the reference design.

Zotac has opted for a custom cooler and PCB for the GTX 980 Extreme, a $610 version of the GTX 980 we've already reviewed. The increase in cost largely comes from the cooler, a triple-fan solution (“IceStrike,” if you're into marketing names) that uses a central fan to inject air and two flanking exhaust fans for better cooling. The idea is that using three intake fans wouldn't improve cooling noticeably, since air has historically had issues getting trapped in the heatsink when using such a design for video cards.

The GTX 980 Extreme is massive, though, and consumes a full 2.5 slots. This could potentially make SLI difficult or overly warm, but we'll know shortly.

Stay tuned for more information.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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