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::>Graphics cards > 2014 > 12 > MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G

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Republish review

11-12-2014


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Graphics card MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G: review and testing

The one of the main partners of NVIDIA the company MSI could not ignore such an important event as the release of flagship graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 providing some own options. One of them is a model MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G, with will be described in this review. The manufacturer positions it as an excellent option for gamers. It will provide a high quality reproduction of graphics of the virtual world, as well as appreciate by productive and quiet cooling system.

Note that the new product is based on the microarchitecture NVIDIA Maxwell. Its basic features can be found in a proper article. Therefore we will immediately proceed to a more detailed study of the graphics adapter.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The specs:

Model

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

Graphics core

NVIDIA GM204-400-A1 (Maxwell)

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, NVIDIA GameStream

Nominal/dynamic core frequency, MHz

Mode «Silent»

1140 / 1241

Mode «Gaming»

1190 / 1291

Mode «OC»

1216 / 1317

Memory frequency (effective), MHz

1753 (7010)

Memory capacity, GB

4

Memory type

GDDR5

Memory bus, bit

256

Memory carrying capacity, GB/s

224,4

Bus type

PCI Express 3.0 x16

Max resolution

Digital up to 4096 x 2160

Analog up to 2048 x 1536

Screening  interfaces

1 x DVI-I

1 x HDMI

3 x DisplayPort

Support for HDCP and decoding of HD-video

Yes

Minimal PSU capacity, W

500

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

2 x 8-pin

Drivers

279 х 140 x 36 (280 x 141)

Website

Download from company website MSI or producer website GPU

Minimal PSU capacity, W

MSI

MSI has paid much attention to the improvement of standard graphics card, because in fact it has got only the graphics core and video memory subsystem from the reference option. Judge for yourself, it includes: the original circuit board, corporate cooler, enhanced power subsystem and a very interesting possibility to switch between three modes that allow you to flexibly control the performance and power consumption depending on the current task.

Packaging and content 

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The packaging color style of MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G is performed in a typical design for series of MSI GAMING: red and black colors are dominated, and here is a logo of series (stylized dragon). In addition to the name of the graphics card and the manufacturer, here is the logo «OC Edition» which indicates the factory overclocking of key parameters.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

All relevant information is located on the back of the box. Most of the space takes the description of the key advantages:

  • Gaming App the delivery set includes proprietary software, with which has a function to quickly switch between three different operating modes of graphics adapter: «Silent», «Gaming» and «OC». Each of them will be relevant depending on the current user's tasks.
  • Torx Fan is a new production technology of fans, replacing Propeller Blade. It provides a 19% greater air flow, 75% higher structural strength, and 5% less noise compared with coolers Twin Frozr IV. The design uses two rows of blades with different designs, which helped to achieve such impressive results.
  • SuperSU Pipe is the usage of four copper heat pipes (two 6 mm and two 8 mm) with a 40% increased efficiency of heat removal.
  • Hybrid Frozr - this technology allows you to control fan speed independently of each other. In automatic mode, the speed of rotation of each fan depends on the temperature sensors on the circuit board.

We also note a number of advantages which did not fit the description on the packaging:

  • Military Class 4 - new products uses high quality circuitry with a high level of efficiency and reliability (ferrite chokes, solid and tantalum capacitors).
  • Twin Frozr V is a new proprietary cooling system that provides lower noise and better cooling compared to the reference cooler.
  • Zero Frozr - cooling fans stop spinning when GPU temperature is below 50 degrees, eliminating the occurrence of minimum level of noise during idle or at low loads, and significantly extend the life of fans.
  • Dual 10 cm Fans - 10 cm diameter fan generate less noise at a similar temperature than the 8 and 9 cm analogues, as well as provide a lower temperature at the same speed of rotation.
  • Predator - using a proprietary utility you can save any gameplay in full screen mode. MSI has positioned its utility Predator as a free alternative to the highly popular program Fraps, for the licensed version which you have to pay about $ 37.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

A list of system requirements for the computer also is placed on the back of the packaging. Based on these recommendations, the power supply should have a capacity of at least 500 W (with a load capacity of +12V line at 42A or above) as well as support the two 8-pin power cables PCIe.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

In the box with the graphics card we found not only the standard instructions and a CD with software, but also adapter DVI-D-Sub, and the power cable (6-8-pin connector). Of course, one can be indignant with the lack of a second similar adapter, because the new product requires the connection of two 8-pin cables. However, it belongs to the premium segment and is unlikely to be used in tandem with budgetary power source.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

To display the picture the following set of interfaces is provided:

  • 1 x DL DVI-I;
  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 3 x DisplayPort 1.2.

The following resolutions are supported:

  • Digital up to 4096x2160;
  • Analog up to 2048x1536.

Design and circuitry

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

Graphics card MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G is performed on the original black PCB with a matte finish. Despite the large width, the logic of key components location remained the same: all memory chips are soldered on the face around the GPU, and power system components are located on the right side of it.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The power of the tested solution is performed on the video accelerator according to reinforced 10-phase scheme (eight phases for the GPU and two for memory chips). Recall that the reference design uses only five phases (four phases in the chain GPU and one in the chain of video memory). Circuitry is collected in accordance with the company's concept Military Class 4 and includes only high quality components: ferrite chokes (SFC), tantalum (Hi-C) and solid (Solid) capacitors with improved efficiency and longer life.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The power subsystem is implemented on a digital PWM controller NCP81174 produced by ON Semiconductor, which has a number of protections against excessive supply voltage, as well as energy efficiency. Due to the fact that it supports the control of up to four phases, the adjustment requires the doubling of eight phases of GPU.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

In addition to the PCI Express x16 slots, power supplying of the product is provided through two additional 8-pin connectors. Recall that the reference card has two 6-pin connectors.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

To provide the operation of technology NVIDIA SLI MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G uses two connectors for connecting the respective bridges. They allow to combine from two to four graphics cards for joint calculation of graphic effects.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The reverse side of the printed circuit board is remarkable by the presence of mounting screws of the cooling system and several components of the power subsystem. One of the screws has a special sticker of the warranty.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The heart of new item is the graphics chip NVIDIA GM204-400-A1, which is produced by 28-nm manufacturing process. It consists of 2048 cores CUDA, 128 texture units and 64 ROP units. In nominal mode (which is the mode «OC») base frequency of the graphics core has been enhanced from reference 1126 MHz to 1216, and thanks to the support of the technology NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0 in turbo its speed was 1317 MHz instead of 1216 MHz as in reference sample.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

Memory of test card (4 GB) is collected using eight chips Samsung K4G41325FC-HC28 with capacity of 512 MB each. According to the documentation, their nominal effective frequency is 7000 MHz. Data exchange between the graphics core and memory is realized through a 256-bit bus, which is capable of passing 224.4 GB of information per second.

Cooling system

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

New product with installed cooling system MSI Twin Frozr V takes two expansion slots and has a total length of 279 mm according to the official website of the company MSI (280 mm as measured in our lab).

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The cooler consists of a sufficiently large heatsink assembled from 56 of aluminum nickel-plated plates; two fans with design Torx Fan and blade diameter 96 mm, and a plastic housing, which covers the entire structure.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

The fans are manufactured by Power Logic and labeled «PLD10010S12HH». They are based on sliding bearings with increased service life. Their nominal operating voltage of 12 V, and the current strength is 0.4 A.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

To improve the efficiency of heat exchange are used four heat pipes: two 8 mm and two 6 mm. They are covered with a layer of nickel, which is used to minimize the less effective due to the oxidation of copper. As you can see, the contact of heat pipes with copper base is improved by using solder. Also it is used in the pints of pipes contact with fins.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

Also the cooler uses two additional radiators. The first is used for cooling the video memory chips, while the second removes heat from the FET's power subsystem.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

During automatic fan speed control and the maximum load the GPU temperature was 59 degrees while cooler worked only 12% of its maximum capacity. At the same time the noise level can be described as "very quiet." It does not stand out against other components and does not prevent you in the use of graphics card. We were pleased that high squeak of chokes was absent. Do note that it was noticed during testing MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

Under the maximum speed of the fan blades, the GPU temperature dropped to 49 degrees. The noise level can be characterized as "below average". It was quite acceptable for everyday use.

MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

In case of load absence the frequencies of the graphics core and memory are automatically lowered, providing lower power consumption and heat generation of graphics card in general. In this mode, the GPU temperature dis not exceed 42 degrees because fans generally top to rotate and the cooling system operates in a fully passive mode. Here is active the above-mentioned technology MSI Zero Frozr, which provides silent mode at low loads.


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