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MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Review

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MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Conclusion:

I have looked at a lot of MSI's video cards over the years and have truly been impressed by the GTX 980 Gaming 4G. From the first start, it does nothing but impress in so many different ways. The first thing you notice, or fail to notice, is the lack of noise coming from the chassis while gaming. That's nothing really new or special at first glance, as many cards are tuned to minimize the fan speeds in 2D mode or when idle. However, when you throw a 3D load on the card, the result is (impressively) the same. I even had to resort to feeling the fan hubs to see if the fans were spinning. Each time they were; proof positive that MSI's new Twin Frozr V cooling solution is every bit as robust as advertised. Equipped with the Zero Frozr feature set, the fans are dynamically managed individually and will even shut down fully as long as the thermals are kept in check. It's as close to a no-noise solution as I have tested in some time. Couple the silent cooling with outstanding gaming performance and you have a winning combination on your hands.

By using Military Class parts, along with a custom PCB and VRM circuit, MSI builds these cards to deliver excellent performance right out of the box. In addition, the card is factory-overclocked to provide 100MHz above the reference card's core clock speeds and another 100MHz over the Turbo Boost clock. Even with a boost clock that high, there is still an adequate amount of clock speed margin available for some spirited overclocking on air. The final Turbo Boost core clock of 1525MHz and memory clock speed of 2025MHz are both the highest clock speeds I have been able to pull out of any card to date. The memory clock speed pushes the memory data rate up and over 8000MHz. Overclocking potential? I'll say so.

Thankfully, MSI has a series of applications that make performance tuning easy for everyone. Pretty much everyone has heard of MSI's Afterburner video card overclocking and tuning tool. This tool was used to manage the performance tuning on this card. However, MSI also makes its Gaming application available. This tool is centered around a series of distinctive profiles that allow the novice to choose profiles that are set up for max clock speeds in OC mode. The result is a solid overclock in Gaming mode and impressive noise reduction in Quiet mode.

As a Gaming series card, MSI has maximized the core clocks for the best user experience and it shows in the testing. In just about every single game test, MSI's GTX 980 Gaming 4G delivered the highest average FPS in-game when compared to the best single GPU in AMD's arsenal; and of course bested the reference GTX 980. This kind of performance is going to cost you $579 from several e-tailers; a price point that is more than competitive, as some reference cards are still selling for more than that. As good as the performance is, moving up to a GTX 980 is going to be a stretch move if you have a GTX 780 Ti. Now that some of its feature set, including DirectX 12 support and Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), is available on Kepler-based cards with the latest Game Ready drivers, that upgrade path is a little less appealing.

All that being said, it's hard to find anything wrong with this card. It looks great in red and black and will appear right at home in any of MSI's Gaming series motherboards. MSI includes a decent bundle of accessories to get the card installed and running. And run it does, right away with the title of fastest single-GPU card I have tested. I could not be happier with MSI's offering. It's got great cooling properties, no noise, and certainly has Game.

 

Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Overclocking 
  • Looks
  • Performance
  • Military Class Components
  • Twin Frozr V
  • DirectX12 Support
  • New Technologies

 

Cons:

  • Sideways Move from GTX 780 Ti


 

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