4 Weeks with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI

What do you get when you take two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 video cards, configure those for SLI, and set those at your feet for four weeks? We give our thoughts and opinions about actually using these GPUs in our own system for four weeks with focus on performance, sound profile, and heat generated by these cards.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI Configuration

The install, as you might imagine, was extremely simple and straightforward. With the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard I was able to space the cards out a bit so that the primary GTX 980 could get better airflow to its fan. The case I am using is a SilverStone Raven RV03. The RV03 has two 180mm fans that intake air from the bottom of the case and exhausts through the top.

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Both of these GTX 980 cards have "reference" coolers installed, but rest assured this cooling system is very robust and is one of my personal favorites that I have ever used. These coolers work perfectly with the vertical airflow characteristics of the Raven case in that these cards pull cool air in at the bottom of the case and exhaust the hot air from GPU through the IO panel. The GPU coolers exhaust little if none of the hot air into the case.

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I also reached out to NVIDIA and got one of these snazzy SLI bridges as you can see pictured above. In all honesty I am not sure there is a technical reason for the custom bridge, but these look very nice in a case window. And the NVIDIA fish head logo lights up as well.

I am running a Windows 8.1 OS with up-to-date patches, etc. During this hardware install I was moving to Windows 8.1 as well, so I did have a fully fresh OS install to work with. Everything went exactly as it should and I was able to set up SLI and NV Surround without any problems. I am currently using GeForce driver version 344.16, which is not the latest, but more about that on the following pages.

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Desk Enclosure

I think it is important to outline that the way my desk is setup is likely the worst possible configuration there could be for the enthusiast user. The desk and shelves above are built onto the wall behind it, and there is literally no means of airflow from the back of the desk area at all. All heat that is exhausted by the computer flows primarily up and out through the keyboard tray or across my lap. This makes it extremely easy to tell whether or not anything is running "hot."

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Also there are no "soft" surfaces to absorb any sound under my desk. This makes it easy to notice even the smallest changes in the sound profile from fans spinning up or down.

I did not design the desk. It is a legacy from the original home owner. Suffice it to say that he was not a gamer.