GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING Video Card Review

Today we review a custom built retail factory overclocked GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING video card. This video card is built to overclock in every way. We'll take this video card, compare it to the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and overclock the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING to its highest potential. The overclocking potential is amazing.


OC GURU II - Overclocking

OC GURU II is the application provided by GIGABYTE for overclocking and one-button clock control. You can download it here we used version 1.88.

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Before we can begin overclocking we first have to see where we are starting from. OC GURU II shows the Base clock at 1152MHz and the Boost clock at 1241MHz in "GAMING" mode. The memory is at 7GHz and fans, voltage and power target all at default.

We see that the actual in-game clock frequency is 1367MHz while gaming. Therefore, 1367MHz is our baseline clock speed to compare the overclock to. The default voltage is 1.1800V.

Overclock No Voltage

The very first test we do when overclocking is to first overclock without touching voltage. We do increase the power target, but other than that we leave everything on auto and overclock the core frequency. In this way we see how much headroom the GPU has before applying voltage. Sometimes adding voltage hampers performance, it may negatively impact performance if the video card is near the TDP limits. In other cases, when the TDP is high enough, it may help clock speed. Every video card is going to act differently with voltage.

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To our surprise, and delight, the power target is able to be raised from 100% to 139%! This therefore gives us high hope of achieving a high overclock. We are happy to see a power target finally give us some leg room to work with.

By only pushing the GPU offset clock speed upwards we managed to hit +130 at the default voltage. That resulted in a Base clock of 1282MHz and a Boost clock of 1371MHz. However, in-game, the actual frequency was running at 1497MHz. You will note we had the fan at 100% for this test, but we did try auto fan and that works just fine as well. Ignore the Power Consumption reading, our mouse ran over the field and messed up the number in the box.

Therefore, without changing voltage we managed to go from 1367MHz to 1497MHz, an overclock of 130MHz or 9.5%.

Overclock With Voltage

Now it was time to add some voltage and see if we could get the GPU clock speed any higher. Adding voltage is a tricky proposition. If you do not have enough TDP headroom, or power target, you will hit a performance wall much quicker adding voltage, which adds power and heat. Doing that will cause performance degradation, or performance throttling.

You will only notice it in-game as you watch the clock frequency. Once you see the frequency start to bounce back and forth, and start to get inconsistent, that is when you know you have exceeded the power limit. It is a fine balance of voltage, temperatures and power to find a consistent and stable overclock. We analyze the clock speed live in every game to ensure it is consistent and know exactly what it is, remember, the base and boost clocks do not tell you the real clock speed.

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As you can see, we were able to increase the voltage with an Offset MAX of 0.075V. This doesn't sound like a lot, but it does translate into a nice boost to voltage. Kudos to GIGABYTE on the voltage control of this video card. When we set this voltage in OC GURU II we fully experienced this increase in voltage in every game, consistently. Sometimes, with some other video cards and their application, you will set the voltage but it doesn't actually change it in-game. It still relies on GPU Boost to auto control the voltage, and you can't manually make it what you want. Well, with OC GURU II on the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING we certainly could. When we set it here, it was actually running at 1.2430V in-game.

Now, you will notice we did not change the GPU clock offset at all. We still found +130 was the highest setting we could use. It also still reveals the same Base and Boost clock. However, while actually gaming, the real-time in-game frequency was higher with the added voltage and 100% fan speed. Don't worry about the dips in the GPU Clock at the end there, it was a lot of menu switching we were doing in-game where the clock speed drops down when you bring the graphics menu up. It was consistent in-game.

The reason is simple, though the Offset is the same, the voltage is able to allow GPU Boost to run the GPU at a higher value in-game. Yes, you cannot really get rid of GPU Boost, even with voltage control as such as GIGABYTE has implemented, GPU Boost is still going to affect your end-result in-game clock speed.

What happens is that even with the same GPU Offset, just increasing the voltage has made the in-game frequency go up. To what you say? Well that would be 1535MHz! What's more, we were able to increase the memory to 8GHz!

The final overclock therefore is 1535MHz with 1.2430V and 100% fan which is a 168MHz overclock from the default "GAMING" mode out-of-box. This is a 12.2% GPU clock speed overclock from the out-of-box frequency. Now, compared to a reference GTX 980 Ti this is a 333MHz increase and 28% clock improvement. The temperature was 60c at its highest at 100% fan speed with this voltage increased overclock.

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Here is a screenshot in-game showing the in-game voltage and real-time in-game frequency. The thing to understand about this clock speed is that it was consistent.

Here are the final overclock clock speeds compared.

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