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08-11-2014


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ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC graphics card: review and testing

We are going to continue the introduction with graphics cards based on the top-end design NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980. At this time we will learn a model of ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5). This card belongs to a new lineup ASUS STRIX, the main feature of which is the cooling system ASUS DirectCU II with technology 0dB FAN. Due to this it can operate both in active and in passive mode, which is determined by the degree of the current load.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Let's move on to the study of the characteristics of the new item, but before this let’s consider a table of its characteristics.

The specs:

Model

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (ASUS STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Graphics core

NVIDIA GM204-400-A1 (Maxwell)

Technology process, nm

28

Quantity of universal shader processors (CUDA-core)

2048

Technologies and API support

DirectX 12 (Shader Model 5.0), OpenGL 4.4, NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround, NVIDIA PhysX, NVIDIA TXAA, NVIDIA FXAA, NVIDIA MFAA, NVIDIA 3D Vision, NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync, NVIDIA SLI, NVIDIA CUDA, NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0, NVIDIA GameWorks

Nominal/dynamic frequency of graphics core, MHz

1178 / 1279

Memory capacity, GB

4

Memory type

GDDR5

Memory bus, bit

256

Internal interface

PCI Express 3.0 x16

Screening  interfaces

1 х DVI-I

3 x DisplayPort

1 х HDMI 2.0

Minimal PSU capacity, W

500

Dimensions taken from official website (according measurements in own test lab) , mm

289 х 134 x 41 (303 x 145)

Drivers

Drivers can be download from  ASUS or GPU

Website

ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

According to the table, this graphics accelerator has a factory overclocking: nominal GPU frequency is increased to 52 MHz, and dynamic up to 63 MHz.

Packaging and content

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The graphics card is shipped in a large cardboard packaging, decorated in dark shades. The front side has a stylized image of an owl which is a symbol of a new series of graphics cards ASUS STRIX. Also here are the marks about the factory overclocking and 4 GB of video memory GDDR5.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The reverse side of the box contains a more detailed description of the features which has ASUS STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5:

  • Cooling System ASUS DirectCU II with technology 0dB FAN, which runs on 30% more efficient than standard cooling system and can to move in a completely passive mode;
  • Digital 10-phase power subsystem DIGI+ VRM and improved circuitry Super Alloy Power (solid and POSCAP-capacitors with longer life and ferrite chokes optimized for operation at high load) for a more stable and reliable operation of the graphics adapter;
  • Proprietary software for overclocking and monitoring (ASUS GPU Tweak) with the support of the control not only of the frequencies but also the supply voltage of main components.

Also there is a schematic image of the cooling system and all connectors of interface board in graphics accelerator. A separate block is a short description of the product which is represented in different languages.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The side of the packaging has specified minimum system requirements for optimal performance graphics card. The manufacturer recommends to use of the power supply with capacity of at least 500 W with a minimum load capacity +12V line at 38 A. The capacity of installed RAM must be at least 4 GB.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Below the top decorative boxes is another one that is made of cardboard and is designed to protect delicate electronic components of graphics accelerator from damage during transportation.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Package of ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC includes:

  • power adapter;
  • CD with software and drivers;
  • brief instructions;
  • a set of stickers to add a graphics card the individual appearance.

This set includes almost everything that you may need to install the graphics accelerator in the computer case. The only thing that may require the users of analog displays is adapter DVI↔D-Sub, which should be purchased separately.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

To connect a monitor or LCD TVs the interface panel provides the following set of connectors:

  • 1 x DVI-I;
  • 3 x DisplayPort;
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0.

The simultaneous connection of up to four displays which allows you to create enough performance gaming or convenient working configuration is available.
The following resolutions are supported:

  • Digital up to 4096 x 2160;
  • Analog up to 2048 x 1536.

Please note that the manufacturer claims about the support of standard HDMI 2.0, that means that 4K Ultra HD-content can be displayed at 60 fps.

Design and circuitry

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

ASUS STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5 is performed on the circuit board, the design of which is a proprietary ASUS company. Its height is 145 mm and the front part with connectors for bridges NVIDIA SLI is slightly protruding in comparison with the rest of the PCB. Also it should be noted that the graphics chip is equipped with a protective frame, which can to prevent the chips of crystal during removal and installation of the cooling system.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Digital power subsystem with design DIGI+ VRM is made according a reinforced 10-phase scheme. This is two times higher than in the reference pattern that will have a positive effect on the stability of operation at elevated load. Also it uses qualitative circuitry Super Alloy Power, which includes solid and POSCAP-capacitors and inductors with ferrite core, which increases the reliability of the whole system.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The controller is chip DIGI+ VRM ASP1212 produced by company International Rectifier. It supports active control of the eight phases, has a special overclocking mode «Gamer Mode», and can also work with three NTC-thermistors.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Extra power is supplied via two connectors: 6-pin and 8-pin. Together with the capabilities of slots PCI Express 3.0 x16 they can provide 300 W. The casing of the cooling system is located next to and slightly complicates the connection and disconnection of the connectors.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

For operation of technology NVIDIA SLI there are two connectors for the connection of respective bridges that allow you to combine up to four graphics cards to be shared computing graphical effects.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The reverse side of the printed circuit board is covered with a protective metal plate which not only strengthens the PCB, protects it from damage and deformation, but also participates in the process of heat transfer. The PCB manufacturer has only a few elements of the power subsystem.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The base of new item is the graphics chip NVIDIA GM204-400-A1, which is produced according the 28-nm process technology. It consists of 2048 nuclei CUDA, 128 texture units and 64 ROP units. Rated frequency of the graphics core is increased by 52 MHz with respect to the reference value and is 1178 MHz. At the same time the dynamic frequency is higher by 63 MHz and equals to 1279 MHz.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Graphics card ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC is equipped with 4 GB of memory type GDDR5 collected by 8 chips Samsung K4G41325FC-HC28 with capacity of 512 MB each. The connection with graphics core is realized through a 256-bit bus, which has a bandwidth of 224.4 GB/s.

Cooling system

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Cooling system of model ASUS STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5 takes two slots for expansion cards. According to the measurements in our lab, its length is 303 mm, and height 145 mm. The outer part is covered with a metal casing, which is much better than a similar plastic, because it allows the radiator to dissipate heat more efficiently.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The blow-off is performed due to use two fans Everflow T129215SU, which are equipped with sleeve bearings. Rated voltage of their operation is at the level of 12 V with current 0.5 A. The diameter of the blades is 95 mm.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The removal of heat from the GPU is performed using five nickel-plated heat pipes, two of which have a diameter of 6 mm, two - 8 mm and one - 10 mm. They have direct contact with the GPU, uniformly distributing the heat over the entire area of the radiator for its rapid dissipation.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

Heat pipes are firmly soldered to the copper base as well as to the edges of the radiator, which substantially increases the efficiency of the heat removal.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

An additional element of the cooling system is a metal frame, which protects the PCB from deformation, as well as a small radiator, which is mounted on the power components of the power supply subsystem.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

The reading of the sensor during testing cooling systems uses the utility ASUS GPU Tweak. During automatic fan speed control, at maximum load the GPU temperature did not exceed 61°C. Cooler operation was quiet, just 32% of its maximum power, which corresponds to 733 rpm.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

After forced setting of the rotation speed to the maximum (2989 rpm), the GPU temperature dropped to 43°C. But the noise level was not very comfortable for extended use of the computer, so this mode is useful only if the acceleration or to run stress tests.

ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)

In idle mode the frequency of graphics processor was automatically lowered up to 135 MHz, while the temperature was at 43°C. The cooling system began to operate quietly, due to the support of technology 0dB FAN (allows the cooling system to pass in a fully passive mode at low load).


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