Date: Monday , December 29, 2014
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 GTX 980 STRIX DirectCU II OC (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5) video card.
In today's evaluation we are looking at a GeForce GTX 980 GPU from NVIDIA, which is the current generation Maxwell architecture. This is a high-end custom version of the GTX 980 from ASUS.
The ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC is "designed for gaming at 1600p" and other high resolutions. This video card contains 2048 CUDA cores and 16 SM units. The memory is 4GB of 3GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus configured to run at 7GHz. There are 64 ROPs on this video card, 128 texture units, and the board has a TDP of 165W.
ASUS has equipped this video card with a 63MHz overclock to the GPU boost, increasing its boost speed to 1279MHz. This video card is currently available for $569
The only video card that AMD that makes sense in comparison is the Radeon R9 290X. We are going to use a heavily customized and overclocked R9 290X from ASUS. The ASUS ROG R9 290X MATRIX-P has custom cooling and performs well at high-end settings in today's most demanding games. It is currently much less expensive at a price of $439.
As we mentioned ASUS has taken the GeForce GTX 980 video card and applied its own twist to it, adding in several features that improve our overall gaming experience. The ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC ships with a factory overclock, which increases the GPU boost clock to 1279MHz, which is 63MHz higher than the reference model. The 4GB of memory operates at the reference speed of 7GHz. We look to push these frequencies much higher when we begin overclocking.
This video cards wears the STRIX title. This title is taken from the ancient Roman and Greek word for owl. STRIX means the keenest hearing and sharpest eyesight. The picture describes ASUS's ideology behind its design and the video cards capabilities.
ASUS takes great pride in its overclocking utility, ASUS GPU Tweak. This program features a simple user interface, with all of the controls necessary to get the most from overclocking your hardware. We will use this to our advantage with the other features ASUS has equipped to improve our overclocking and overall gaming experience. ASUS GPU Tweak is also configured with this video card, to allow direct and instant online streaming. This is a great utility to showcase your game to all of your friends.
This video card is outfitted with the DirectCU II cooling system. This features 5 copper heatpipes that directly contact the GPU, spreading heat across the finned heatsink that runs the length of the board. These heatsinks are cooled by the two 0dB fans. These are extremely quiet under normal operation, and actually turned off (hence 0dB) when the temperature demand is low. Gaming at lower resolutions will create this type of environment.
ASUS has also implemented its DIGI+ VRM, part of a 10-phase power design to the ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC. This helps to reduce power noise by up to 30% and enhance power efficiency by 15%. That means better stability and consistency when overclocking at high frequencies. This digital voltage regulator also helps to improve longevity of on-board components, meaning a longer life and more value.
The ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC can be yours for $569 and includes a free game. Choice of games include Far Cry 4, Assassins Creed Unity and The Crew. ASUS also offers a 3-year limited parts and labor warranty. You can read more about the ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC here.
The ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC ships securely packaged in a box that highlights the video cards features. There is a driver installation CD and quick start guide. We also received a dual 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe connector. ASUS also included badges to place on the video card, allowing you to pick between grey and red.
The ASUS GTX 980 STRIX DC II OC is mostly black with the aluminum front fan housing covering the front of the board. Some of the heat pipes are noticeable running along the bottom of the board, and the larger one on top. There is also a backplate that covers all rear mounted components and keeps the hardware extremely safe. This video card has a very durable build.
At the back edge of the video card is a small voltage monitoring port. This allows you to read the GPU, memory, and PLL voltages directly from the board with voltage readers. ASUS recommends 300W additional power for this video card to run properly, and it requires an 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connector. There are two LEDs that are red without proper connection, and turn white when connected. The rear I/O panel houses a dual-link DVI-I connector, an HDMI connector, and 3 display port connectors. It measures 11.5 inches in length, 1.5 inches wide, and 5.75 inches in height.