ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum Video Card Review

The highest overclocked GeForce GTX 980 based video card just landed. If the ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum video card with a hybrid air and liquid cooling system doesn't impress you, we are not sure what will when it comes to GPU. We push the Poseidon clocks and pit it against the AMD Radeon R9 290X for an ultimate showdown.

Introduction

ASUS is known for developing and engineering some unique video cards in the GPU world. If your goal is silence, or overclocking, or even liquid cooled video cards, ASUS has you covered. There are several different product lines of video cards in the realm of high-end ASUS custom video cards.

ASUS has the MATRIX product line consists of video cards where ASUS has thrown in everything and the kitchen sink into a video card meant to appeal to the extreme overclocking enthusiast. The ASUS STRIX series of video cards culminates efforts to create more quiet running video cards, yet still packed with high-end custom hardware and circuitry that can certainly overclock well.

Then there is its most unique, the Poseidon product line which is a hybrid of air cooling and liquid cooling to provide the coolest running GPUs in an all-in-one easy to install package. We've evaluated a Poseidon video card in the past. Almost exactly this time last year we evaluated the ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Platinum video card. That video card is of course based on NVIDIA's Kepler GPU the GeForce GTX 780. Well, one year later, ASUS has another Poseidon video card ready to show the world and it is based on NVIDIA's latest Maxwell GPU architecture using a GeForce GTX 980 GPU.


ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum

Today we are evaluating the ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum video card. Platinum means the GPU is factory overclocked and binned for goodness, so if you want the most overclockable variety from ASUS make sure the box says "Platinum."

While the video card is currently out-of-stock at Amazon and Newegg as of this writing, when it is available you will find it priced at $639.99 which is the ASUS MSRP. At this price, it is an expensive GeForce GTX 980 video card, but it is priced high for a reason.

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The ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum gives you the choice between running it on air solely, or a hybrid configuration of air and liquid. The goal of running liquid through the video card is to achieve lower GPU temperatures and provide a very quiet full-load gaming scenario. It may also help the chances of overclocking to higher frequencies. When the liquid cooling is used, the fan speed doesn't need to ramp up as much, making it a practically silent video card under liquid cooling.

Here is what you need to keep in mind about the ASUS DirectCU H2O hybrid cooling system. Just like the Poseidon GTX 780 this is a unique ASUS design. It is not a full water block in terms of how and where the water flows. Water does not fill the entire block, covering a large surface area. Instead, the liquid simply gets pumped through a "U" shaped section of tubing inside the vapor chamber. It is almost like a super hybrid heatpipe in a sense, but with liquid being pumped via your radiator.

As simple as this design is, it does work and does provide much better temperatures as you will see. The fittings are standard G1/4 inch threaded fittings accepting multiple barb sizes.

Even when liquid is being run through the pipe the fans on the video card will still spin. However, those will run at a lower RPM, especially while running at full-load gaming. In fact, we never saw the fans ramp up past idle speed while the GPU was under liquid cooling. When the card runs without liquid the fans spin up as needed and we experienced about a 50% fan speed at full-load.

Naturally, because this is a Republic of Gamers aka "ROG" version, all the special and high-end components are there. You will find Super Alloy Chokes, Japanese-made 10K black metallic capacitors, and Super Alloy MOS. ASUS also includes is DIGI+ VRM circuitry for better overclocking and power efficiency. Dedicated SAP CAPs too. The entire PCB is customized and engineered from the ground up by ASUS. This is a prime example of a completely custom video card in every way.

This model is overclocked with a base clock of 1178MHz and a boost clock of 1279MHz but it runs much faster in games than the boost clock by default.