ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum Review

Today we review the ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum, a gaming enthusiast centered video card which boasts enthusiast air cooling and an enthusiast overclock on air cooling. This high-end video card features DirectCU II cooling, making it the perfect comparison to the MSI GTX 980 TI LIGHTNING in class, price, performance and cooling.

Introduction

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is one of the largest and most successful computer hardware manufacturers in the world. A Taiwan-based company, it manufactures a wide variety of computer hardware, including motherboards, video cards, optical drives, notebooks, networking equipment, barebones desktop, and server systems, among many others. In 2008, it sold over 24 million motherboards, grossed 8.1 billion U.S., and won 3,056 awards from various enthusiasts and IT related outlets.

On our test bench today is the ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum (MATRIX-GTX980Ti-P-6GD5-GAMING) video card.

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The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum joins a list of custom video cards we have evaluated based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU. Also from ASUS is the ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX DCIII, however the Matrix Platinum is a higher-end and more expensive model than the STRIX DCIII model. In addition to this video card we have also evaluated the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING. From MSI we have seen the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition and the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING which has LN2 or liquid nitrogen cooling capabilities similar to the MATRIX Platinum, however both video cards are primarily air cooled.

We also evaluated a liquid cooled MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK which sustained extremely cool temperatures with virtually no noise. We also evaluated this video card at 4K here. The MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK is a little too expensive to use in comparison with the ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum, and the unfair advantage of liquid cooling would produce cooler temperatures, less noise, and a much faster overclock. As the SEA HAWK is more expensive and better equipped, it would not be a fair comparison to the MATRIX Platinum.

The single video card that makes the most sense to compare the ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum to is the MSI GTX 980 TI LIGHTNING as both are air cooled. Both video cards are air cooled and have built in support for LN2 and additional fail safe BIOS profiles to ensure safety while overclocking. Each of these two video cards have great potential for overclocking to extreme frequencies. The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum can be yours for $709 which is currently below the MSRP of $719.99, while the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING has a base price of $699, however since writing this review supply has diminished causing a large price inflation at the moment to $804.


ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum Video Card

The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum is the highest-end video card from ASUS, also branded with the Republic Of Gamers or ROG stamp. This means it is one of the highly customized and improved pieces of hardware compared to lower-end reference models. This video card has several features that set it aside from the rest of the ASUS lineup, and help it compete with other video cards on the market.

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The first feature that really stood out to us the most was the frequency out-of-box. ASUS has taken the liberty of applying a massive overclock to the GPU, boosting it from the reference speed of 1GHz core and 1075MHz boost up to 1216MHz core and 1317MHz boost. This is tied for the highest operating speed with ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX DCIII OC model, however there are many other features that distinguish it. The memory is also overclocked from 7GHz up to 7.2GHz by default.

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One big factor that sets the MATRIX Platinum apart from the STRIX DCIII OC model is that the MATRIX Platinum is designed with two fans using the DirectCU II cooling system, while the STRIX DCIII OC model uses the DirectCU III cooling system with three fans. The MATRIX Platinum has a large heatsink with five heatpipes with direct contact on the GPU. Four of the heatpipes are 8mm while the fifth heatpipe is 10mm, allowing a much greater flow of heat away from the processor. While there may be a minor advantage to the STRIX DCIII OC model in terms of air-cooling, the MATRIX Platinum also features LN2 cooling capabilities.

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Liquid nitrogen or LN2 cooling requires a unique setup and is geared towards extreme enthusiasts and hardcore overclockers. LN2 cooling and extreme overclocks have a higher chance of destroying the video card, while air cooling ensures the video card enjoys a long lifespan. We will not be able to utilize this feature in our evaluation, however it is a major advantage of this video card. The luxury does come with the counterpart of a price premium over other GTX 980 Ti video cards without LN2 cooling capabilities. It also includes a memory defroster to clear up the back of the video card under freezing temperatures. This entire feature will probably never be utilized by the majority of users.

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ASUS also equips the GeForce GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum video card with a one-press VBIOS reload that allows you to restore the MATRIX’s default frequencies and voltages. This can be helpful for extreme overclockers and even for those of us overclocking on air cooling. After finding the video cards maximum overclock with ASUS GPU Tweak II, you can burn the operating frequency and voltages to the BIOS for instant activation which would be indefinitely set to the video card until the Clear VBIOS button has been hit.

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The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum is equipped with the Super Alloy II components which improve consistency, reliability, performance and the lifespan of the video card. These high quality components include MOSFETs, capacitors and chokes. The video card is also designed using a 14-phase power grid that helps increase the maximum GPU voltage and improves overclocking headroom. The DIGI+ VRM or voltage regulation module works in unison with the other components to ensure a direct and precise power flow for ultimate performance stability.

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To top it off, this video card has been designed with ASUS’ AUTO-Extreme technology. This is the first 100% automated board production process constructed around the highest quality video card components to remove human error and build video cards on the most consistent basis possible.

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The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum can be yours for as low as $709 at amazon. The official MSRP from ASUS is $719.99, so currently this price is actually below MSRP, so get it while the getting is good. ASUS also offers a 3-year limited parts and 3-year limited labor warranty. You can read more about the ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum here.


ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum Pictures

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The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum ships in a large red box. Our review sample was shipped in a non-retail, reviewer sample box, so ignore the fact the box doesn't say GeForce GTX 980 Ti, there very much was a GeForce GTX 980 Ti inside our box. The video card is extremely well packaged. The accessory package includes two 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power cables, a ROG metal sticker to decorate the outside of your case, ASUS GPU Tweak II and an outdated driver installation CD.

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The ASUS GTX 980 Ti MATRIX Platinum has a black heatplate on the back, and is printed on a black PCB. The heatsink and copper heat pipes are also painted with a matte black which delivers an intriguing visual appearance. The fan housing fits the two wing-blade fans. The fan housing is a platinum color with shiny reddish-orange highlights. Along the top edge of the video card is a ROG color-coded load indicator. The video card can light up one of four colors to show at a glance approximate GPU loading.

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The rear I/O panel houses a dual-link DVI-I connector, an HDMI connector and 3 display port connectors. ASUS recommends a 750 watt power supply or greater to properly operate this video card and requires two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. It is a larger video card measuring 11 and 3/4th inches in length, 2 inches wide, and 5 and 3/4th inches in height. It will take up 2.5 PCIe slots in your computer. Additionally the LN2 defroster switch and additional power hookup, as well as the safe mode button are located on the back edge of the video card.