EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW Graphics Card Review

by Rob Williams on October 19, 2015 in Graphics & Displays

NVIDIA’s GeForce 980 Ti is a seriously compelling high-end graphics card, so it’s not too hard for vendors to make their offerings tempting. With its FTW edition, though, EVGA does have one trick up its sleeve: a bumping of the reference clock speed to 119%. There’s more than just that to the card, though, so let’s dive right in.

Page 1 – Introduction

A couple of months ago, I took a look at EVGA’s GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+, a card that proved to be a good deal faster than reference, and happened to run cooler, as well (despite drawing an extra 6W at load). Overall, a great card, and one I slapped an Editor’s Choice award on.

The 980 Ti remains one of the hottest high-end GPUs going, so now I’m going to be taking a look at what’s effectively the next step up in EVGA’s 980 Ti lineup, the FTW edition.

FTW doesn’t stand for Flapping in The Wind or Frogs That Wink (I know, I thought it was the latter, too), but instead “For The Win”. It’s a cool way of saying that this card is at the top-of-its-class; one that offers a great overall package. In the case of this 980 Ti, that package involves EVGA’s ACX 2.0+ cooler, dual 8-pin power connectors, and some of the highest clocks in the company’s 980 Ti lineup.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW - Overview

Given that this FTW model is so close in design to the Superclocked+ one I took at look at a couple of months ago, it’s not hard to understand what we’re going to get with this one. For those just tuning in, the 980 Ti is the second-from-the-top card in NVIDIA’s current Maxwell-based line, with the TITAN X being the top dog. That card offers a huge 12GB framebuffer, as well as some additional cores, and is priced at $999. It’s a card that’s best-suited for those planning to go with multiple cards, either to crank up the detail at 4K, or become immersed with a 3x1440p setup.

That’s not to say that the 980 Ti can’t be teamed up for the same purpose, though, and in fact, since I have three such cards kicking around now, I’ll be taking a look at multi-GPU performance with them soon. It’s a good thing the cool weather is beginning to hit here!

NVIDIA GeForce SeriesCoresCore MHzMemoryMem MHzMem BusTDP
GeForce GTX TITAN X3072100012288MB7000384-bit250W
GeForce GTX 980 Ti281610006144MB7000384-bit250W
GeForce GTX 980204811264096MB7000256-bit165W
GeForce GTX 970166410504096MB7000256-bit145W
GeForce GTX 960102411262048MB7010128-bit120W
GeForce GTX 95076810242048MB6600128-bit90W

EVGA’s 980 Ti line can be seen in the table below. At the absolute top is the K|NGP|N edition, one that’s targeted at hardcore overclockers, and slotting in right beneath that is the Classified, also an OC-focused model. The FTW model I’m looking at here settles in right beneath that. The Hydro (includes liquid cooling block) and Hybrid (includes liquid cooler) cards would be ideal for those looking for the lowest temperatures possible, and perhaps noise levels, too.

Besides the difference in clock speed, the two biggest differences between the Superclocked+ and FTW models is that the latter adds two more power phases to the mix (for 8+2) and also offers dual 8-pin power connectors rather than an 8- and 6-pin. Overall, EVGA says this will avail an extra 25W for the sake of overclocking.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 TiCoresCore MHzBoost MHzMemoryMem MHz
GTX 980 Ti K|NGP|N28161203 MHz1304 MHz6 GB7010 MHz
GTX 980 Ti Classified28161190 MHz1291 MHz6 GB7010 MHz
GTX 980 Ti FTW28161190 MHz1291 MHz6 GB7010 MHz
GTX 980 Ti Hydro/Hybrid28161140 MHz1228 MHz6 GB7010 MHz
GTX 980 Ti SC/SC+28161102 MHz1190 MHz6 GB7010 MHz
GTX 980 Ti Gaming28161000 MHz1076 MHz6 GB7010 MHz
K|INGP|N & Classified models are targeted at serious overclockers. Hydro & Hybrid are liquid-cooled solutions.

We’ve talked about EVGA’s ACX 2.0+ cooler in the past, but let’s take a moment to reiterate a couple of its biggest features. As any vendor will tell you about their respective cooler, EVGA’s adamant about its ACX 2.0+ being the most efficient, and quietest, on the market. It’s also said to draw the least amount of power, too, although that’s something hard to measure in the real-world due to other variances.

The fans in the ACX 2.0+ cooler are dual ball bearing, which EVGA says will increase their lifespan by 4x versus competitor sleeve bearing fans. As you can see in the final shot in the slider below, this cooler is effectively one mammoth fin array that sits between the memory cooling plate and the fans and shroud. It’s a solid design, though I admit its aesthetics still don’t grab me like NVIDIA’s reference design does (granted, NVIDIA’s reference isn’t as effective, either.)

In addition to 3 DisplayPort ports, EVGA's GTX 980 Ti FTW includes an HDMI and DVI port
This card can be paired with up to three other 980 Ti cards through SLI.
For improved overclocking ability, EVGA's 980 Ti FTW features dual 8-pin power connectors
For improved cooling efficiency, this card includes a backplate
This card has a lot of room to push air around.

For the brawniest of PC builds, the 980 Ti can be used in configurations of up to 4 GPUs. As I mentioned above, I’ll soon be taking a look at the performance of dual- and tri-SLI with the cards I have on hand. This testing will take place as soon as I wrap-up our test suite overhaul, which is admittedly overdue (thanks to Windows 10’s launch.)

At the back of the FTW card are three DisplayPort ports, as well as an HDMI and DVI port. Also as mentioned above, this card requires dual 8-pin power connectors. If your PSU doesn’t happen to have two such cables, EVGA includes an adapter in the box that will allow you to repurpose two of your 6-pin PCIe connectors or two Molex connectors.

Not pictured, EVGA includes various leaflets in the box, as well as a large sticker that can be affixed to the side of your case, your notebook, or a family member.

It’s also worth noting that as of the time of writing, NVIDIA’s Bullets or Blades promotion will let you choose between a free copy of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege or Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. You’ll want to make sure that the e-tailer you purchase from lists this promotion. Currently, Newegg (US) and NCIX (CAN) do.

On that note, let’s talk pricing. NVIDIA’s SRP for the 980 Ti is $649.99, and as of the time of writing, that’s exactly what this card is being sold at Newegg for. That makes it a no-brainer; this FTW card is 190MHz faster than reference, and will run cooler, too. Plus, it has other perks I talked about above. With the Canadian dollar feeling the pain in a severe way right now, the same card costs $890 CAD at NCIX.

With all of that covered, let’s get right into testing.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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