Closer LookStarting with the cooler implemented on the ASUS variation of the NVIDIA Maxwell GTX 980, ASUS have gone with their traditional DirectCU II but with an added twist; a semi-passive design which only kicks in when the GPU needs it, fantastic stuff. Taking this into consideration, the STRIX GTX 980 OC will effectively be 100% silent when the card isn’t being pushed and for games that aren’t so intensive, this will surely please users. Obviously in games such as BF4, the card will be pushed and ASUS have implemented a quieter design at the supposed cost of a few frames to provide users with a more all-rounded option; offering top performance whilst not sacrificing on noise/temps.
In addition to the new design of the GTX 980, ASUS have included a back plate which not only adds to the design of the card, but also increases style and makes the card look more rigid. This also takes away the look of the PCB which some people think look unsightly; I actually agree with them. The ASUS DirectCU II logo is strewn across the back plate and it is one of the best looking so far in my opinion in terms of shape and due to the fact it actually covers up the entirety of the PCB.
As the ASUS GTX 980 STRIX OC features the DirectCU II cooler, this means that the card is a dual slot card; none of this triple slot nonsense is needed with Maxwell due to lower TDP which of course produces less heat than previous NVIDIA models. This particular model is 11” long (11.36” to be exact) meaning that this isn’t the longest card on the planet but if you intend to use this card in a system with a smaller form factor such as M-ITX, you will need to make sure your chosen case supports graphics cards of this length. It is also worth noting that this card is PCI-Ex x16 Gen 3.0 supported and for those with non-supported motherboards, it is also backwards compatible with revision 2.0.
Although from this illustration the STRIX GTX 980 looks like it only has 1 heat pipe, it actually features 4 with them culminating in 1 larger one which loops outside of the edging of the card; this doesn’t protrude in any way shape or form. These heat pipes are in direct contact with the GPU core thus enabling the DirectCU II cooler to dissipate heat effectively and efficiently.
Here we have the 1 x 8pin and 1 x 6pin power connectors which feed power from the PSU to the card itself; an obvious need. These connections offer up to 300w of additional power to the card which feeds it all the power it needs to deliver top quality performance; the recommended power supply rating for this particular card is around 500watts (providing it’s a good quality one) but I would go with a 550-650w just for overheads such as overclocking of the CPU/GPU/Memory etc.
The ASUS GTX 980 Strix OC 4GB graphics card comes with clocks of 1178/1753MHz clocks as standard which equates to 1279MHz boost on the GPU core. To keep this card cooled, ASUS have implemented a dual fan design in order to aid in the dissipation of heat. As previously mentioned, this revision of the DirectCU II cooler has a semi-passive design so expect slightly higher idle temps but with absolutely no noise whatsoever.
Last but not least we have the rear I/O which features all the ports needed to connect to video output devices. On this particular model, we have 1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI and 3 x DisplayPort; I am a huge believer that cards like this which don’t include DisplayPort adapters should come with a minimum of 2 x DVI ports as that is the most common monitor connection aside from HDMI. Will I get shot down for this? Perhaps but this is my personal opinion and from a professional standpoint, I don’t currently use DisplayPort on any of my systems or 6 monitors etc.
Overall the ASUS GTX 980 Strix OC 4GB graphics cards has the makings of a phenomenal card on paper and taking a closer look at it has gave me the impression of solid research and development on ASUS’s behalf and I am looking forward to finally put this card through its paces; how will it perform? Let’s find out…