MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G Review

If gaming is high on your list of favorite computing activities, then you need a graphics card with some serious mettle. MSI’s GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G is certainly a top-tier card that can handle whatever you throw at it. Let’s start with the heart of this beast, a 28nm NVIDIA Maxwell GPU code-named “GM204.” Although this is the same GPU as in the GTX 970, it’s fully unlocked on the GTX 980, with a total of 16 SMMs populated with 2,048 CUDA cores, 128 texture units, and 64 ROPs. The card also features a 256-bit memory bus that lets the GPU access a 4GB GDDR5 frame buffer. The memory is clocked to 1,753MHz and the core clock defaults to a 1,190MHz base clock and 1,291MHz boost clock. These are considered the Gaming Mode clocks. When you install the MSI GAMING app, however, you can drop the card into Silent Mode for a base and boost clock of 1,140MHz and 1,241MHz or put it into OC Mode, which raises the base and boost clocks to 1,216MHz and 1,317MHz, respectively.MSI’s Twin Frozr V cooler seems to be the company’s go-to option for virtually any GPU they offer these days, but when a cooler is this good at dissipating heat at nary a whisper, we don’t see a downside. This cooler features a block of nickel-plated aluminum fins, a handful of 8mm SuperSU copper heatpipes, and a pair of Torx fans specially designed to maximize air intake and push it over the heatsink faster. The shroud consists of red and black plastic and there’s a backlit dragon logo on the top edge of the card. This card also supports MSI’s ZeroFrozr technology, which shuts the fans off when the card is idle to keep it running silently. In addition to the high-performance cooler, MSI also populates the PCB with a range of its Military Class components. MSI’s Hi-c capacitors take up less space and operate at 93% energy efficiency. Super Ferrite Chokes allow for more stable overclocking by running at a mere 35 degrees Celsius, supporting a 30% higher current capacity and a 20% boost in energy efficiency. The card also features aluminum-core solid-state capacitors, which support reduced ESR (equivalent series resistance) and lifespans up to a decade or longer. On the back bracket, you’ll find a dual-link DVI, HDMI 1.4a, and three full-sized Display Port 1.2 outputs. This card requires two 8-pin PCIe power connectors to function, and it’s rated as a 165-watt graphics card. NVIDIA recommends you connect it to a 500-watt or better power supply. MSI’s OC Mode is pretty capable, but if you think you can do better, MSI Afterburner software is one of the best overclocking suites you can find. It lets you monitor fan speeds, clocks, and temperatures as well as tweak clocks, fan duty cycles, and even voltages. Gamers looking to max out settings in virtually any game will find that the MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G is more than up to the challenge.SPECS

GPU: Maxwell GM204Gaming Mode Core Base/Boost Clocks: 1,190MHz and 1,291MHzMemory Clock: 1,753MHzMemory Bus: 256-bitFrame Buffer: 4GB GDDR5Factory Overclocked: YesPorts: dual-link DVI, HDMI, 3 DisplayPortAuthor

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