EVGA GTX 980 Classified: Review

This is one expensive graphics card. Let’s get that out there before we go into the rest of this review. This graphics card is ridiculously priced and this isn’t a South African economy issue. It is expensive everywhere else in the world as well commanding up to $200 over a reference GTX 980. We don’t feel it is worth that much more but then again it is the best in the business. If you have the best in the business, you may charge what you want. That’s how it works.


That aside, you should also know that this is the fastest GTX 980 on the market. Not by 10MHz, but something around 50MHz on the GPU clock. That is huge in today’s market where vendors are outgunning each other with small and meaningless overclocking differences. This is not the case with the GTX 980 Classified. This one is almost over-engineered with a better power delivery system than what the GTX 780 Ti Classified had. Consider that for a moment, as that was a massive power hungry 7 billion gate GPU. It ran hot and had plenty of processors and was massive by all measurements.

One would imagine that EVGA would take the power efficiency of the Maxwell GPUs to make more cost effective, cheaper, and simpler GPUs. Instead they have gone the opposite direction. To illustrate to you how aggressive an overclock this GPU has, it was initially sold as a 1,404MHz clock speed GPU, however just before mass availability that changed to 1,393MHz. There’s nothing that was discovered about the GPU at this clock speed to warrant the decrease in frequency. We suspect this has to do with NVIDIA’s restrictions for partners or, if not, has everything to do with the competition not taking too kindly to EVGA marketing such ridiculously high clock speeds.

The surprising thing in all of this is that the GPU clock isn’t that important when it comes to the GTX 980. It’s already clocked very high, and yes, we can always use more performance, but in this particular case the limitation is in the memory bandwidth afforded to the GPU. The biggest bottleneck is the memory bandwidth and this is where the EVGA engineering efforts become very apparent. It’s no secret that every GTX 980 uses Samsung GDDR5 memory (we do wonder what will happen with that contract seeing as NVIDIA and Samsung are embroiled in several lawsuits against each other) at 7GHz. Any GPU that manages to clock that up to 8GHz even for the purposes of synthetic benchmark scores is considered impressive. If you’re not sure what 8GHz translates into when you use your favourite overclocking program, it’s “+500” in Afterburner or the like. On the EVGA card we could easily go to “+650” which means the clock speed was a sizzling 8.3GHz. If you plug in the EVGA EVBOT you can go even further.

In our case we reached an unprecedented “+1000” or if you will 9GHz. That is by far the highest memory clock speed we’ve ever seen and all this from a regular retail card.

If that doesn’t speak to the engineering efforts of the EVGA card, then nothing else will. The GPU is undoubtedly the fastest and best made GTX 980 you can buy. Sure others may have “better” GPU coolers, but they aren’t really beneficial because the GTX 980 GPU operates at relatively low In our case we reached an unprecedented “+1000” or if you will 9GHz. That is by far the highest memory clock speed we’ve ever seen and all this from a regular retail card.

If that doesn’t speak to the engineering efforts of the EVGA card, then nothing else will. The GPU is undoubtedly the fastest and best made GTX 980 you can buy. Sure others may have “better” GPU coolers, but they aren’t really beneficial because the GTX 980 GPU operates at relatively low temperatures. Even if there are GPUs that supposedly have better coolers, they are only so by way of being quieter than what EVGA has produced. Temperature wise they are not likely to be any better as we recorded maximum temperatures of 78'C under maximum load with practically no air flow.

There’s not much else we can say about the EVGA GTX 980. It is made for extreme overclocking as it’s ready for this right out the box with not one but three BIOS settings. If that doesn’t interest you in the least, you’ll appreciate just how fast it is in games. There’s nothing else that’s faster.

CORE : GM 204 (28nm) 1,291MHz (1,442MHz Boost)
PROCESSORS : 2,048
RENDER OUTPUTS : 64/128
MEMORY : 4,096 MB GDDR5 7GHz (224GB/sec
API : DirectX 12 / OpenGL 4.5 / OpenCL / PhysX / CUDA

10/10

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