GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING Video Card Review

Today we have the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING, which features the WINDFORCE 600W cooling system and a high factory overclock. We will make comparisons to the competition, find out how fast it is compared to a GTX 980, and you won't believe the overclock we achieved! We will make both performance and price comparisons.

Introduction

GIGABYTE is a hardware manufacturer and one of the most respected PC component builders in the business today. The company was established in 1986 in Taipei, Taiwan, and is best known for its motherboards. Gigabyte has a vast product line, including motherboards, graphics cards, notebooks, LCDs, mobile devices, tablet computers, computer cases, and many other PC peripherals.

On our test bench today is the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING (GV-N980G1 GAMING-4GD) video card. This is GIGABYTE's highest clocked GTX 980 with a Boost clock of 1329MHz.

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In this evaluation we are looking at another GeForce GTX 980 GPU from NVIDIA. This is the Maxwell architecture that has developed a reputation for producing overclocks near 1.5GHz while maintaining a high performance to wattage ratio. Today we focus in on the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING. GIGABYTE offers four other models. Aside from the similarly clocked GTX 980 3-way SLI water cooling system, this is the highest-end model from GIGABYTE.

The GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING is geared for high-end gaming at 1440P and other similar high resolutions. This video card does support 4K resolution if you have a capable monitor, and it can be arranged in a 4-Way SLI formation. This video card contains 2048 CUDA cores and 16 SM units. The memory is 4GB of 3GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus configured to run at 7GHz. There are 64 ROPs on this video card, 128 texture units, and the board has a TDP of 165W. It is priced at $578 with Free Shipping at Amazon.

To provide a realistic performance comparison, we will run the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING against a reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980. This will show us any benefit from the factory overclock, and our manual overclock compared to a reference GTX 980. AMD's most aligned performance comparison is an overclocked R9 290X. We will be using the SAPPHIRE TOXIC-X R9 290X TRI-X which features a custom cooler and factory overclock. We are using this video card for the sole purpose that it is one of the highest overclocked R9 290X cards we have and we want to see how that compares to the very high overclock we got out of the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1.

A reference R9 290X video card is much less expensive, often selling for around $300. Since two of these will be similar to the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING in price, we will also show a few comparisons against an R9 290X CrossFire setup. With all these comparisons in this evaluation we cover the best "performance comparison" and we cover the best "price comparison" hitting on all purchasing decision points.


GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING Video Card

The GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING ships equipped with a factory overclock. A reference GeForce GTX 980 operates with a boost clock of 1216MHz. The GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING's boost clock operates at 1329MHz out-of-box. This is 113MHz faster. Let it be noted that the in-game frequency increases even higher, in our case up to 1354MHz. The memory was not altered, and operates at the standard 7GHz.

GIGABYTE titles this overclock the "Super Overclocked Version." The "Super Overclocked" video cards are simply GPUs that are cherry picked to handle higher frequencies. GIGABYTE puts its video cards through its own GPU Gauntlet sorting, to ensure the SOC video cards can handle the more extreme overclocks, and relative power switching needs.

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The cooler is one of the more interesting features. The WINDFORCE 3X 600W cooling system can effectively remove heat up to 600W. Just holding this video card we can feel an immense weight to it. The heat sink is extremely dense, which will help pull heat off the GPU and evenly disperse it. There are also five 8mm and one 6mm copper heat pipes extending from the GPU to all areas of the heatsink. On top of these heat pipes is GIGABYTE's "Triangle Cool" technology. The heatsink on the side of the board covering the GPU and heat pipes has a triangular shape, which helps dissipate heat in multiple directions, instead of straight down onto the board. To top it off there are three specially designed fans aimed at maximizing airflow.

The WINDFORCE 3X 600W cooling system will play a crucial role in overclocking. We will want to generate the most favorable conditions so that GPU boost can push the video cards frequencies to the limit. GIGABYTE offers its own overclocking utility, OC GURU II, which is fully compatible with the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING. This program features an easy to understand GUI and helps to make overclocking a simple process.

GIGABYTE also has a new "Flex Display" technology built in to this video card. This will automatically detect and configure up to four connected monitors, to achieve multi-display gaming. This improves the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING's options, by allowing up to 4K resolution on a single display, or a variety of multi-display configurations.

The GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING can be yours for $578 at Amazon. This includes a 3-year limited parts and labor warranty. You can read more about the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING here.


GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING Pictures

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The GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING's box does a good job highlighting the key features we just covered in the section above. The video card is well packaged and secure inside, with minimal room to move around while packaged up. There is a driver installation CD and quick start guide. There were also two dual-Molex to 8-pin PCIe connectors.

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If you are looking for flare, this video card does not have a lot of flashy colors or standout visual features. The fan casing is made of aluminum in anodized black. There is also a back plate to keep the rear mounted components safe. All of the copper heat pipes run inside of the fan housing, none are sticking out away from the board. As we mentioned the video card is heavy in hand and feels sturdy and durable.

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GIGABYTE recommends 600W additional power for this video card to run properly, and it requires two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. There is a WINDFORCE logo along the top edge that illuminates when powered. The rear I/O panel houses a dual-link DVI-I connector, a dual-link DVI-D connector, an HDMI connector, and 3 display port connectors. It measures 11.75 inches in length, 1.5 inches wide, and 4.5 inches in height.