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Heading into this week, I eagerly anticipated reviewing the most powerful single-GPU graphics card to ever grace PCWorld’s test bench—and I wasn’t disappointed. But the card that claimed that title wasn’t the one I expected! While AMD’s new, hotly anticipated Radeon R9 Fury X is a beast in its own right, the title of new heavyweight champion instead lies with EVGA’s $680 GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ with ACX 2.0+ (whew!), a custom-cooled, overclocked variant of Nvidia’s ferocious GTX 980 Ti.
EVGA sent me this card out of the blue on the same day I received the Fury X—a coincidence, I’m sure. But the GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ doesn’t just triumph over AMD’s new flagship, it outpunches Nvidia’s own $1000 Titan X in raw firepower.
What’s more, even though AMD’s dual-GPU Radeon R9 295x2 still manages to outrun EVGA’s beast, the GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ illuminates a key advantage the 980 Ti family holds over all other 4K-capable graphics cards.
Let’s dig in!
EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ under the hood
For the most part, EVGA’s card rocks the same basic tech specs as the reference GTX 980 Ti, which we covered in full in our initial review of Nvidia’s gaming goliath. You find the same 2,048 CUDA cores, the same 6GB of GDDR5 memory with a 7Gbps clock speed and a 384-bit bus, the same port selection, et cetera. You can find more details about Nvidia’s GM200 chip itself in our earlier review. The chart at right has the basic technical information specifically for the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Superclocked (henceforth to be referred to as the GTX 980 Ti SC+).
So what makes the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ so special? The (full) name gives it all away. The card ditches the GTX 980 Ti’s reference cooling in favor of EVGA’s respected ACX 2.0+ cooling system, which has made an appearance on several Nvidia GPUs at this point. Rather than talking about its dual fans, custom heat pipe, MOSFET cooling pipe, and quiet operation yet again, here’s an EVGA-supplied diagram showing it all. You’ll see the end results in our benchmarking section.
The other tell-tale in the name is “Superclocked+”. The drastic cooling enhancements provided by ACX 2.0+ let EVGA positively crank the core clock speed on this bad boy, a tweak that helps it beat both the Fury X and the Titan X out of the box. While the stock GTX 980 Ti is clocked at 1,000MHz base clock/1,075MHz boost clock, EVGA’s managed to coax those numbers up to 1,102MHz base/1,190MHz boost in the GTX 980 Ti SC+—a sizeable jump.
Getting that kind of overclock out of the box, with full 3-year warranty support, is no joke.
If you want to push things even further—or boost the memory speed, which is left untouched from stock on the GTX 980 Ti SC+—you can turn to EVGA’s stellar PrecisionX overclocking software, which is available as a free download on EVGA’s website or via Steam. It’s a great solution, blending user-friendliness with the fine-tuning features power users demand. Need a primer? PCWorld’s overclocking guide refers to MSI’s competing Afterburner tool, but the same basic overclocking principles apply with PrecisionX.
One final design tidbit: EVGA’s GTX 980 Ti SCi+ comes with an eye-catching custom backplate installed. Unlike the vanilla GTX 980, the reference GTX 980 Ti eschewed a backplate, ostensibly to facilitate better airflow in multi-GPU setups, but I’m a sucker for a nice backplate. Who wants to stare at exposed circuit boards?
Continue to the next page for EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ benchmarks and our final conclusions about the graphics card.