EVGA GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ ACX 2.0+ Review
The GTX 980 Ti caught many by surprise. Its launch may have been a foregone conclusion since it follows NVIDIA’s cyclical naming conventions but very few expected it to match blows with the TITAN X while boasting a price of $649. Naturally, board partners are trying to capitalize upon the resulting popularity and today’s review highlights one that will likely make its way into many enthusiasts’ systems: the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ ACX 2.0+. Yeah, it’s a mouthful but once you see what this card can do, it could be called Purple Unicorn Bunny yet still sell like hotcakes.
With the GTX 980 Ti being such a hot commodity, one would think that NVIDIA’s board partners would have a wide variety of overclocked, custom cooled solutions ready to go. That isn’t happening quite yet and EVGA has thus far been one of the only non-reference options here in North America. Things may change now that AMD”s Fury X has launched. Another possibility is that NVIDIA effectively moved forward their launch date in an effort to preempt Fiji so most alternate designs just weren’t ready in time. With that being said, this is our first of many reviews of custom GTX 980 Ti’s as they begin tricking into the market.
EVGA’s GTX 980 Ti lineup runs the gamut from reference cards to options that include All in One water coolers (the Hybrid series) and water cooling blocks (Hydro series). Currently, the Superclocked+ ACX+ is the highest clocked air cooled card EVGA has, though there will be a Classified version that includes even higher frequencies and features that directly target the extreme overclocking crowd. It basically sits above the standard Superclocked version but below the water cooled cards.
On-paper specifications put the Superclocked+ at about a 10% overclock over the reference card but as with all of NVIDIA’s latest cores, the GM200 residing within the GTX 980 Ti has more under its hood than what first meets the eyes. With GeForce Boost we already saw the reference GTX 980 Ti easily hit the 1200MHz mark despite its stated Boost clock of 1075MHz. Since this EVGA card has one of the best coolers on the market (more on that later), we expect the 1200MHz number to be easily eclipsed.
It seems like the hesitation to avoid memory overclocks has made its way over to custom GTX 980 Ti’s as well. We understand that it takes some serious binning to find GDDR5 modules that consistently run beyond spec without smashing into the error correction routines but it would still be nice to see a board partner move the goal posts here.
With all of this being implemented into a single card, we expect the GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+ ACX+ to at the very least be tied with the TITAN X, if not pull out ahead in pretty much every test scenario. Given EVGA’s card goes for $679 or a mere $30 more than the reference version, we certainly have some high expectations here. Given how AMD’s Fury X performed, we may also be seeing an excellent price / performance addition to the flagship lineup.
At first glance the EVGA’s 980 Ti with its ACX 2.0+ heatsink may not look all that much different from the GTX 980 version but there are some subtle differences here. The slightly revised heat shroud includes champagne-colored highlights and sits a bit lower to the PCB, giving the whole affair a sleeker look than previous generations. Despite the changes, the card is still 10.5” long and compatible with almost every non-ITX enclosure on the market.
EVGA’s ACX 2.0 cooler is arguably one of the better custom solutions around but in order to ensure low temperatures for the hot-running GM200 core while still offering room for overclocking, some revisions were necessary. The “+” in ACX 2.0+ is derived from the Memory MOSFET Cooling plate (MMCP), a new fan design and newly optimized straight heat pipes which all combine to provide about 5°C lower temperatures than the standard ACX 2.0. Naturally, there’s also an updated heatsink topping things off.
The fans utilize double ball bearings for significantly improved lifespan and their dB Noise Inverter which powers them down when the GPU’s temperature is below 60°C. Another interesting feature is the high efficiency of these fans which allows them to consume up to four times less power than competitors’ solutions. This may not seem important but since NVIDIA’s Power Target takes into account all onboard components, saving some current here could hypothetically boost overclocking headroom.
EVGA has also included a full-coverage backplate to this card, something that isn’t included on their other GTX 980 Ti SKUs. Not only does this addition give a much cleaner rear-facing look but it should also improve component temperatures.
Power input is done through a standard 8+6 pin layout which should provide more than enough power for a heavily overclocked GM200 core.
Meanwhile, the main I/O area utilizes a reference layout with a single DVI, an HDMI 2.0 output and three DisplayPort connectors.
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