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MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Review

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MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Testing:

Testing of MSI's latest Maxwell-based video card, the GTX 980 Gaming 4G, will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will be testing the cards at their stock speeds to see how they stack up and will test each one to find the maximum stable overclock. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. Resolutions of 1920x1080, 2560x1440, and 3840x2160 will be used. The GTX 980 will use the latest 344.07 drivers, while the rest of the NVIDIA comparison cards using 340.52. AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 14.7 beta drivers, while the R9 285 will be using the beta release driver.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

  • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G : Core 1525MHz,  Memory 2025MHz

 

After seeing what the reference GTX 980 was capable of in our launch review, I was really looking forward to working on the non-reference designs. That wait was worth it considering the clock speeds attained by simply pushing the sliders to the right in MSI's own Afterburner application. To reach the maximum clock speeds that this card would deliver on air, I set the power limit to the max level and started pushing the clock speeds. It's really as simple as bumping the speeds and then testing stability with a significant 3D load.

I use a combination of looping Unigine's Heaven 4.0 test with the maximum settings at 1920x1080, then following up with some 3DMark testing. Using this slimmed down approach, I was able to bump the core clock speed turbo boost speed to 1525MHz, or about 75MHz higher than the reference card's overclock on both the memory and GPU core. Thanks to MSI's custom build and component selection, we get even higher clock speeds capable if you push the limits, and with cooler temperatures. By overclocking this card, I saw a nice 800+ point boost in 3DMark's Fire Strike Extreme test.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.

 

 

  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro: Last Light
  2. BioShock Infinite
  3. Crysis 3
  4. Far Cry 3
  5. Battlefield 4
  6. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  7. Batman: Arkham Origins
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  9. 3DMark

 

  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption



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