EVGA has a new graphics card specifically designed for virtual reality gaming rigs and it’s more than just a marketing gimmick. EVGA’s new $700 GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition comes with a 5.25-inch drive bay adapter with one HDMI 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports that sits on the front of a PC.
The card itself still goes in an empty PCIe slot, with rear-facing connections for HDMI, DisplayPort, and dual-link DVI. There’s also an internal HDMI port that connects via a cable to the adapter’s HDMI port sitting on the front of your PC. The USB ports, however, are independent of the graphics card and require a USB header on your motherboard, as EVGA product manager Jacob Freeman recently confirmed on Twitter.
Why this matters: EVGA is the first to roll out a VR-friendly graphics card package like this, but it likely won’t be the last. With front-facing HDMI and USB ports, hooking up your virtual reality headset is as easy as plugging in a game controller. It also means you won’t lose precious cord length, and thus mobility, connecting to the back of your machine.
980 Ti VR with front HDMI/USB pic.twitter.com/3NflwmVgLz— Jacob Freeman (@EVGA_JacobF) February 10, 2016
EVGA’s VR card comes in two flavors: the regular GTX 980 Ti VR Edition Gaming and the VR Edition Gaming ACX 2.0+. The essential difference between the two is the latter's use of EVGA’s ACX 2.0 cooling system, a memory MOSFET cooling plate, and straight heat pipes. EVGA says its cooling system makes cards 26 percent chillier and gives them a 400 percent longer lifespan.
Besides the extra HDMI port to connect to the adapter, EVGA’s virtual reality version of the 980 Ti is pretty much what you already get in a GTX 980 Ti design.
The standard VR edition package is on sale now directly from EVGA, while the ACX 2.0+ edition is not yet available.