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Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review

Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review

We always like it when a manufacturer goes that extra mile… or six… to give us something different from a market already saturated with options. The subject of todays article very much falls into the 2nd category. With watercooling system, significant overclock  and enhanced build quality we take a look at a high end GPU in our Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review (Xtreme Gaming series).

Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review – Packaging and Bundle

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Gigabyte go with a fairly large box for the Waterforce version of their GTX 980 and inside it we find the card, pre-assembled and encased in loads of foam. There is a small bundle of extras, a cloth, power cable, case badge, product leaflet and software disc. Speaking of software, shown below is the free utility that allows us to monitor and tweak our card, including overclocking profiles which are enabled in one click.

NOTE: Currently NVIDIA are running a promotion for a free copy of The Division at select retailers. This card is included in that promotion. More info here.


Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review – The Card

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With this being a liquid cooled card Gigabyte have been able to put some thought into the card design rather than sticking with the familiar fan cooler. They have been able to keep the card to a two slot design and underneath the windowed plastic cover we can see our GPU block/pump as well as some of the internal components. This includes the large copper plate which extends from the GPU out to the RAM and MOSFETs. Flipping the card over we find a nice chunky backplate and some status LEDs next to the power inputs.

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Up on the top edge of the card we find the Gigabyte logo which lights up when on (effects such as breathing and 16.8million colours), as does the windowed section (see below). The two FEP tubes which extend from the top of the card end up a the radiator, a standard 12cm model with pre-installed fan. To install this in our case we simply use four screws, just as we would a normal case fan.

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Round at the card outputs we find three DisplayPort, one HDMI and a DVI. The opposite end of the card has a button for enhanced BIOS, ideal for enthusiasts/overclockers. Gigabyte also enhance the product by hand selecting quality GPUs, proiding a dust/moisture/corrosion proof PCB and building the card with Ultra Durable branded components. Those include solid capacitors, metal cokes, Lower RDS(on) MOSFETS and Samsung GDDR5 (the same components used on their higher spec Titan X card). The card also goes through an enhanced build process which results in a higher quality of finish (less sharp edges) and has a 12+2 phase power design for enhanced stability…as does that extra 6pin power connector on the end of the card which is in addition to the two 8pin on top.

All key NVIDIA/Industry features are also supported including DirectX 12, CUDA, DirectCompute, 4K, Audio over DisplayPort/HDMI, PhysX, G-Sync and Dynamic Super Resolution.

As far as specifications go, this card runs at 1241MHz out of the box with boost up to 1342MHz. Memory sits at 1800MHz. Past that the standard GTX 980 Ti specifications remain. So 2816 CUDA cores, 96 ROPs, 176TMUs, 384bit memory bus and 6GB of GDDR5.


Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review – Performance

Testing was performed on the Intel Core i7-5960X running on an X99 board with 16GB of DDR4 and a Samsung 850 Pro SSD. Windows 10 was the OS and all games along with the OS were patched.

NVIDIA Driver: 361.91
AMD Driver: Latest Crimson Edition

NOTE: The Waterforce card was tested in its OC profile. We believe this reflects the mode that consumers who buy a liquid cooled card will use.


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Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the Waterforce card we have a product which impresses. As noted above Gigabyte make use of good manufacturing processes, high quality components and advanced coating on the PCB. We’ve used a number of their Ultra Durable products in the past and found them to be stable and reliable over time, just as this model should be. That said there are a few minor tweaks we would have liked to see. Firstly it would be good if the cover used on the front of the card was at least part metal, just to add a premium feel. The wiring inside the window could be a bit tidier and if we are being really picky the LEDs when they cycle jump a bit. A smooth transition would be great. Maybe slightly longer pipes too, just to make sure all fan locations are available to those using massive cases.

As far as pricing goes, the Waterforce sits at £629 which is equal with EVGA’s option and that lacks aspects such as the extended copper block found in the Gigabyte model. The bundle doesn’t really add any value and OC Guru is functional. So all in all, fairly priced.

Looking at performance, this is the strongest aspect of the card. It is near silent at all times and you will struggle to hear it in any decent case. Temperatures are excellent, idle at less than 30c, increasing to around 60c at load which is a good amount cooler than the air cooled competition. Despite the high factory overclock there was a decent amount of manual overclocking headroom, so a lot of potential for enthusiasts to have fun and framerates are great. In every one of our tests the Xtreme Gaming Waterforce offered significantly better performance than a standard GTX 980Ti and also outperformed AMD’s high end Fury X card (which is also liquid cooled).

Summary: An impressive version of the GTX 980Ti which easily wins our Performance award due to its high framerates and low noise/temperatures.

Performance Award

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980Ti Waterforce Xtreme Gaming
Author Rating

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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