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PNY GTX 980 XLR8 Review

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PNY GTX 980 XLR8 Closer Look:

If nothing else, PNY makes a good looking card. The aluminum shroud is part of the dual fan XLR8 cooling solution and has some heft to it that eliminates the vibration-related rattle you inevitably get with a stamped steel or plastic shroud. At 11.5 inches long, its easily not the largest card out on the market, allowing it to fit in just about any recent chassis. The back side of the card has a pre-installed shroud that improves the stiffness of the card to prevent it from developing a case of the bends. Something certainly possible with the size of the cooling solution. As robust as the cooling solution is, it stays as a two slot solution, allowing you to stack them like cord wood in a board that supports NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU configurations. Designed for use in motherboards that feature a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot, you can still use the card in earlier revisions. Looking at the side of the card you can see how large the cooler actually is.

 

 

 

Display connectivity includes up to four concurrent dispalys thanks to the display configuration of one dual-link DVI port, three DisplayPort 1.2 ports, and a mini HDMI 2.0 port that allow the end user to connect three monitors in a 3D Surround configuration. By keeping all the display connectivity on a single plane, PNY was able to open up the venting on the mounting bracket to improve cooling. The back end shows how the shroud wraps around as a way to clean up the back end of the card. A look that is rarely employed, but looks great.

 

 

The back end of the card also features a series of voltage measurement points close to the bottom of the card. A feature that will allow the enthusiast to monitor the critical voltages of the card without having to mod the board. A single 8-pin and single 6-pin PEG power connections help provide up to 300W of power when you add in the 75W from the PCIe slot. Even though the board power is rated at 180W, overclocking will increase that number. PNY recommends a power supply with a minimum rating of 500W and a minimum 12V current rating of 42A. SLI is supported on this card with up to four card configurations supported with a motherboard that supports the configuration.

 

 

PNY equipped this card with what looks like a 10-phase power circuit to provide excellent control over the power delivery system for the GM 204 core and 4GB of GDDR5 memory. Once you pull the heat sink off the card, you can see where all the heft comes from when picking up the GTX 980 XLR8.

 

PNY has equipped its version of the GTX 980 with the XLR8 cooling solution. This impressive cooling package consists of a series of flattened 8mm heat pipes soldered to the aluminum fin array. The thermal load is pulled from the GPU core through the copper contact plate, while the heat load from the power circuitry is carried up directly from a contact plate up to the fin array over the back end of the card. Up top, a pair of 90mm sickle bladed fans push the airflow through the card, keeping the thermals and noise in check.

 

 

PNY's GTX 980 XLR8 is built around NVIDIA's 28nm GM 204 Maxwell core. Maxwell's architecture is based around four Graphics Processing Clusters, each with its own raster engine. Each GPC has a total of four Maxwell Streaming Multiprocessors units, each with a Polymorph engine, 128 CUDA cores, and eight texture units. A quartet of 64-bit memory controllers are used to manage 4GB of 7000MHz rated GDDR5. Each of the four memory controller comes equipped with 16 ROPs and 512KB of L2 cache. Doing the math, we get 2048 CUDA cores, a unified shared 2048KB of L2 cache, 64 ROPs, and 128 texture units. Core clock speed on PNY's XLR8 card comes in at 1228MHz with a Turbo Boost 2.0 clock speed of 1329MHz, both over 100MHz higher than the reference card specification of 1126MHz and 1219MHz. Base memory speed on the 4GB of GDDR5 is 1800MHz or an effective rate of 7200MHz running through the 256-bit bus. PNY laid down big overclocks for the core and even bumped up the memory speed to drive gaming performance.

 

 

Much like the GTX 960 XLR8 I looked at from PNY, the GTX 980 XLR8 offers improvements across the board to improve the overall gaming experience within all the aspects of NVIDIA's ecosystem. Let's see how well all that extra work pans out!




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