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EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW Graphics Card Review

Date: October 19, 2015
Author(s): Rob Williams

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.



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.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our test-bed specifications, but also a detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

Our Graphics Card Test Machine

The below table lists our testing machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all GPU testing, minus the GPU. Each card used for comparison is also listed here, along with the driver version used.

Graphics Card Test System
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-4960X – Six-Core @ 4.50GHz
MotherboardASUS P9X79-E WS
MemoryKingston HyperX Beast 32GB (4x8GB) – DDR3-2133 11-12-11
GraphicsAMD Radeon R9 280X 2GB – Catalyst 13.12
AMD Radeon R9 285 2GB (Sapphire ITX Compact) – Catalyst 15.5
AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB – Catalyst 13.12
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB – GeForce 340.52
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB – GeForce 331.93
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB – GeForce 331.93
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB (EVGA SuperSC) – GeForce 350.12
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB (ASUS Strix) – GeForce 344.11
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB – GeForce 352.90
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB – GeForce 352.90
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB (EVGA SC+) – GeForce 353.30
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB (EVGA FTW) – GeForce 355.98
NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12GB – GeForce 352.90
AudioOnboard
StorageKingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power SupplyCooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W
ChassisCooler Master Storm Trooper Full-Tower
CoolingThermaltake WATER3.0 Extreme Liquid Cooler
DisplaysAcer XB280HK 28″ 4K G-SYNC Monitor
Et ceteraWindows 7 Professional 64-bit

Important Note: Recent cards were tested using a different motherboard (ASUS X99-DELUXE) and processor (Intel Core i7-5960X, overclocked to 4GHz) than what’s listed here. We don’t ordinarily change test platforms without retesting everything, but overall, performance is extremely similar between the two platforms (based on 3DMark results). We’ll be overhauling the test suite soon and retesting all relevant cards.

Notes About Our High-end System

The goal of our performance content is to show you as accurately as possible how one product compares to another – after all, you’re coming to us for advice, so we want to make sure we’re giving you the best possible information. Typically, one major step we take in ensuring that our performance results are accurate is to make sure that our test systems are void of all possible bottlenecks, so for that, high-end components must be used.

In the case of our graphics card test system, the processor chosen has six cores and is overclocked far beyond reference clocks. Most games nowadays are not heavily CPU-bound, but by using such a chip, we feel that we completely rule it out as a potential bottleneck. The same can be said for the use of an SSD (as opposed to latency-ridden mechanical storage), and even our memory, which is clocked at the comfortable speed of DDR3-2133.

Why this matters to you: Our test PC is high-end, and it’s very likely that you’d encounter a bottleneck quicker than us. Our goals are to eliminate all possible bottlenecks, whereas yours is to build the PC you need. In our case, we need to go overboard to attain as accurate a representation of a graphic card’s performance as possible.

If your PC has at least a modern (~2-years-old) quad-core or better processor, and at least 8GB of fast memory (DDR3-1866+), that chances of you running into a bottleneck with today’s hottest game is admittedly low. If you’re using lower-end gear, you can absolutely expect that the rest of your system could be a bottleneck. It should be noted, though, that if you’re seeking out a lower-end graphics card, the importance of a bottleneck would of course be lessened.

Unfortunately, we’re not able to test a single card on multiple PC configurations; each single card we test takes at least 3 hours to test, with another 2 hours added on for each additional resolution, and at least another 1~2 hours for our Best Playable results (for up to 11 hours of mostly hands-on testing for a high-end model).

Please bear all of this in mind. If you’re unsure if your PC could prove to be a bottleneck, our comments section exists for such questions.

When preparing our test-beds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

General Guidelines

To aid with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing inaccurate test results. For example, disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

The services we disable are:

For further fine-tuning, we also use Windows’ “Classic” desktop theme, which gets rid of the transparency that can sometimes utilize a GPU in the background.

Vendor Favortism

Sometimes, either AMD or NVIDIA will work with a game studio to help their development process along. As history has proven, this often results in a game that is tuned better for one vendor over the other, although sometimes the tides can change over time, resulting in the competing vendor offering the better experience.

One of our goals is to provide as neutral a benchmarking suite as possible, so while it’s impossible to avoid games sponsored by either of these companies, we can at least make an effort to achieve a blended list. As it stands, our current game list and their partners are:

(AMD) – Battlefield 4
(AMD) – Crysis 3
(AMD) – Sleeping Dogs
(NVIDIA) – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
(NVIDIA) – Metro: Last Light
(NVIDIA) – Splinter Cell Blacklist
(Neutral) – GRID 2
(Neutral) – Total War: SHOGUN 2

With that, let’s move on to a quick look at the game settings we use in our testing:

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Benchmark Settings

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 Benchmark Settings

Note: The “High” preset is used for multi-monitor configurations.

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 Benchmark Settings
Crysis 3 Benchmark Settings

Note: The “Medium” preset is used for multi-monitor configurations.

GRID 2

GRID 2 Benchmark Settings
GRID 2 Benchmark Settings
GRID 2 Benchmark Settings

Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light Benchmark Settings

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Settings
Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Settings

Splinter Cell Blacklist

Splinter Cell Blacklist Benchmark Settings
Splinter Cell Blacklist Benchmark Settings

Total War: SHOGUN 2

Total War SHOGUN 2 Benchmark Settings

Unigine Heaven

Unigine Heaven 4 Benchmark Settings

Game Tests: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4

Given the sheer number of titles in the Assassin’s Creed series, it’s a little hard to believe that the first game came out a mere seven years ago. You could definitely say that Ubisoft hit the ball out of the park with this one. To date, we’ve never considered an AC game for benchmarking, but given the number of graphical goodies featured in the PC version of Black Flag, that trend now ends.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - 1920x1080

Manual Run-through: The saved game starts us not far from the beginning of the game under a small church which can be climbed to synchronize with the environment. To kick things off, I scale this church and rotate the camera around once, making sure to take in the beautiful landscape; then, I climb back down and run all the way to the water (the top of this small church and the water can be seen in the above screenshot).

Note: For some reason, Ubisoft decided to cap the framerate to 60 FPS in Black Flag even if Vsync is turned off. For most games, this would ruin the chance of it appearing in our benchmarking, but because the game is graphically intensive, I’ve chosen to stick with it, as at higher resolutions, reaching 60 FPS is a perk that will belong only to high-end graphics cards.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (3840x2160)

It’s with games like this that highlight the fact that we’re overdue on a new test suite. However, despite being an aging title, Black Flag still proves to be quite demanding at 4K, falling short of 50 FPS on the GTX 980. On EVGA’s FTW card, the Holy Grail of 60 FPS is attained.

Battlefield 4

Thanks to the fact that DICE cares more about PC gaming than a lot of developers, the Battlefield series tends to give us titles that are well-worth benchmarking. Battlefield 3 offered incredible graphics and became a de facto benchmark immediately, so it’s no surprise, then, that BF4 follows right in its footsteps.

Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080

Manual Run-through: The Singapore level is the target here, with the saved game starting us on an airboat that must be driven to shore, where a massive battle is set to take place. I stop recording the framerate once the tank makes its way to the end of this small patch of beach; in all, the run takes about 3 minutes.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Battlefield 4 (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Battlefield 4 (3840x2160)

Battlefield 4 might also be an aging game, but it sure does punish even high-end GPUs at 4K. At maxed-out detail levels, the FTW card hits 47 FPS. As we’ll see on the Best Playable page, it won’t take much tweaking to hit 60 FPS.

Game Tests: Crysis 3, GRID 2

When the original Crysis dropped in late 2007, it took no time at all for pundits to coin the phrase, “Can it run Crysis?“, almost to the point of self-parody. At the time, the game couldn’t have its graphics detail maxed-out on even top-of-the-line PCs, and in reality, that’s a great thing. I’d imagine few are opposed to knowing that a game could actually look better down the road as our PCs grow into them. As the series continued, Crytek knew it had a legend to live up to, and fortunately, Crysis 3 (our review) lives up to the original’s legacy.

Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: There’s no particular level in Crysis 3 that I could establish was “better” for benchmarking than another, but I settled on “Red Star Rising” based on the fact that I could perform a run-through with no chance of dying (a great thing in a challenging game like this one). The level starts us in a derelict building, where I traverse a broken pipe to make it over to one rooftop and then another. I eventually hit the ground after taking advantage of a zipline, and make my way down to a river, where I scurry past a number of enemies to the end spot beneath a building.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Crysis 3 (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Crysis 3 (3840x2160)

Like Battlefield 4, Crysis punishes any GPU that dares to render it. We are seeing better performance here than in BF4, though, with the FTW peaking at 54 FPS. Yet again, we’ll have a solution for fixing that on the Best Playable page.

GRID 2

For those who appreciate racing games that are neither too realistic nor too arcade-like, there’s GRID. In GRID 2 (review), the ultimate goal is to build a racing empire, starting from square one. Unlike most racing titles that have some sort of career, the goal here isn’t to earn cash, but fans. Whether you’re racing around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina or tearing through a gorgeous Cote d’Azur coastline, your goal is simple: To impress.

GRID 2 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: The track chosen for my benchmarking is Miami (Ocean Drive). It’s a simple track overall, which is one of the reasons I chose it, and also the reason I choose to do just a single lap (I crash, often, and that affects both the results and my patience). Unlike most games in the suite which I test twice over (save for an oddity in the results), I race this one lap three times over.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - GRID 2 (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - GRID 2 (3840x2160)

We’ve seen some beefier games punish these GPUs at 4K, and while GRID 2 manages to do the same, it’s to a lesser extent. Any 980 Ti will be able to hit 60 FPS here with full detail. The GTX 980, as we can see, falls a bit short (something that disabling AO will fix.)

Game Tests: Metro Last Light, Sleeping Dogs

Crysis has become infamous for punishing even top-end systems, but let’s be fair: The Metro series matches, if not exceeds its requirement for graphical horsepower. That was proven by the fact that we used Metro 2033 in our testing for a staggering three years – only to be replaced by its sequel, Last Light. I’m not particularly a fan of this series, but I am in awe of its graphics even at modest settings.

Metro Last Light - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: Because this game is a real challenge to benchmark with for both the reasons of variability in the results and the raw challenge, I choose to use the built-in benchmark here but rely on Fraps to give me more accurate results.

Note: Metro Last Light‘s built-in benchmark is not representative of the entire game; some levels will punish a GPU much worse than this benchmark will (namely, “The Chase”, which has lots of smoke and explosions). What this means is that while these settings might suffice for much of the game, there might be instances where the performance degrades enough during a certain chapter or portion of a chapter to force a graphics setting tweak.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Metro Last Light (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Metro Last Light (3840x2160)

We’ve seen a definite trend up to this point, and Metro Last Light doesn’t break it. The Ti is significantly faster than a 980, and doesn’t fall far behind the TITAN X. Meanwhile, EVGA’s FTW card rules the roost.

Sleeping Dogs

Many have called Sleeping Dogs (our review) the “Asian Grand Theft Auto“, but the game does a lot of things differently that helps it stand out of the crowd. For example, in lieu of supplying the player with a gazillion guns, Sleeping Dogs focuses heavily on hand-to-hand combat. There are also many collectibles that can be found to help upgrade your character and unlock special fighting abilities – and if you happen to enjoy an Asian atmosphere, this game should fit the bill.

Sleeping Dogs - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: The run here takes place during the chapter “Amanda”, on a dark, dank night. The saved game begins us at the first apartment in the game (in North Point), though that’s not where I begin capturing the framerate. Instead, I first request our motorcycle from the garage. Once set, I begin recording the framerate and drive along a specific path all the way to Aberdeen, taking about two minutes.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Sleeping Dogs (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Sleeping Dogs (3840x2160)

Sleeping Dogs is one of my favorite games to come out in the past five years, and despite it having come out a few years ago, it still proves demanding at 4K. 8 megapixels is strenuous – who knew? I’ll be testing out the Definitive Edition of the game on the Best Playable page.

Game Tests: Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Total War: SHOGUN 2

Tom Clancy is responsible for a countless number of video games, but his Splinter Cell series has become something special, with each game released having been considered “great” overall. The latest in the series, Blacklist, is no exception, and thankfully for us, its graphics are fantastic, and not to mention intensive. For those who love a stealth element in their games, this is one that shouldn’t be skipped.

RIP, Tom Clancy.

Splinter Cell Blacklist - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: From the start of the ‘Safehouse’ level in Benghazi, Libya, we progress through until we reach an apartment building that must be entered – this is where we end the FPS recording.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (3840x2160)

Blacklist isn’t crazy demanding, so anything GTX 770 or above will give you very playable framerates at 1440p. 4K, of course, is a different story. EVGA’s FTW 980 Ti is the only card in our lineup to help us breach 60 FPS.

Total War: SHOGUN 2

Strategy games are well-known for pushing the limits of any system, and few others do this as well as Total War: SHOGUN 2. It fully supports DX11, has huge battlefields to oversee with hundreds or thousands of units, and a ton of graphics options to adjust. It’s quite simply a beast of a game.

Total War: SHOGUN 2 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: SHOGUN 2 is one of the few games in our suite where the built-in benchmark is opted for. Strategy games in particular are very difficult to benchmark, so this is where I become thankful to have the option of using a built-in benchmark.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (2560x1440)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (3840x2160)

Wrapping up our gaming benches is SHOGUN 2 to reconfirm what we’ve seen up to this point: EVGA’s FTW card is the fastest in our lineup. It also offers a tremendous improvement over the GTX 980 in this particular title – it’s pretty unexpected.

Synthetic Tests: Futuremark 3DMark, 3DMark 11, Unigine Heaven 4.0

We don’t make it a point to seek out automated gaming benchmarks, but we do like to get a couple in that anyone reading this can run themselves. Of these, Futuremark’s name leads the pack, as its benchmarks have become synonymous with the activity. Plus, it does help that the company’s benchmarks stress PCs to their limit – and beyond.

3DMark
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike Default, Extreme & Ultra

Mimicking what we’ve seen through this review, EVGA’s FTW 980 Ti is faster than everything else in our lineup, including the even more expensive TITAN X.

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Unigine might not have as established a name as Futuremark, but its products are nothing short of “awesome”. The company’s main focus is its game engine, but a by-product of that is its benchmarks, which are used to both give benchmarkers another great tool to take advantage of, and also to show-off what its engine is capable of. It’s a win-win all-around.

Unigine Heaven 4.0

The biggest reason that the company’s “Heaven” benchmark is so relied-upon by benchmarkers is that both AMD and NVIDIA promote it for its heavy use of tessellation. Like 3DMark, the benchmark here is overkill by design, so results are not going to directly correlate with real gameplay. Rather, they showcase which card models can better handle both DX11 and its GPU-bogging features.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Unigine Heaven 4.0 (2560x1440 & 3840x2160)

Wrapping up, the FTW continues to dominate, and once again delivers a 50% gain over the GTX 980.

Best Playable: Single Display

For about as long as GPU-accelerated games have existed, an ideal performance target has been 60 frames-per-second. Owing thanks to this is the standard 60Hz monitor, which delivers its best result when the framerate matches its refresh rate. To make sure the monitor’s refresh rate and game’s framerate keep aligned, to avoid visible tearing, VSync should be enabled.

While I believe our Best Playable results will appeal to any gamer, they could especially prove useful to those intrigued by livingroom gaming or console replacements. The goal here is simple: With each game, the graphics settings are tweaked to deliver the best possible detail while keeping us as close to 60 FPS on average as possible.

In this particular matchup, all three 980 Ti cards in our possession are compared against each other. Given the similar performance of each card, the overall settings are going to be extremely similar. There will be some exceptions, however, as will be noted as we go along.

With that, let’s tackle this:

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW5160
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Environment:Very HighShadow:Very High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:HBAO+ (Low)Volumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+5360
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Environment:Very HighShadow:Very High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:HBAO+ (Low)Volumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti5762
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Environment:Very HighShadow:High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:Low
Ambient Occlusion:HBAO+ (Low)Volumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

The goal most people seem to have when purchasing a pre-overclocked card isn’t to increase detail levels, but instead get better framerates in general. Admittedly, there’s no surprise to that: most overclocks don’t allow people to actually crank settings higher. There are some exceptions here, though, since the FTW card sports clocks 19% faster than reference. Over the reference card, both the SC+ and FTW increase both the Shadow and God Rays detail in Black Flag, and still average out to 60 FPS.

Battlefield 4
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW4868
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:Ultra
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:OffAnti-aliasing Post:Off
Ambient Occlusion:HBAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+4266
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:Ultra
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:OffAnti-aliasing Post:Off
Ambient Occlusion:HBAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti3959
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:Ultra
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:OffAnti-aliasing Post:Off
Ambient Occlusion:HBAO
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Battlefield 4

Settings between all three cards were equaled here, with a notable gain of 9 FPS with the FTW card, over the reference one.

Crysis 3
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW4060
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:Very High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:HighPost Processing:Medium
Shading:MediumShadows:High
Water:MediumAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+4059
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:Very High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:MediumPost Processing:Medium
Shading:MediumShadows:Medium
Water:MediumAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti4159
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:Very High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:MediumPost Processing:Medium
Shading:MediumShadows:Medium
Water:MediumAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Crysis 3

As with Black Flag, the FTW card allowed me to bump some graphics values over even the Superclocked+ card. Those involve an increase to High for both Particles and Shadows.

Dying Light
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW5469
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Quality:HighShadow Map Size:High
Foliage Quality:HighView Distance:80%
Ambient Occlusion:OffNVIDIA HBAO+:Off
NVIDIA Depth of Field:OnMotion Blur:On
Antialiasing:On
Dying Light - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+5166
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Quality:HighShadow Map Size:High
Foliage Quality:HighView Distance:60%
Ambient Occlusion:OffNVIDIA HBAO+:Off
NVIDIA Depth of Field:OnMotion Blur:On
Antialiasing:On
Dying Light - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti4560
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Quality:HighShadow Map Size:High
Foliage Quality:HighView Distance:60%
Ambient Occlusion:OffNVIDIA HBAO+:Off
NVIDIA Depth of Field:OnMotion Blur:On
Antialiasing:On
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Dying Light

Yet again, the FTW allowed me to increase a detail setting here; this one being the draw distance from 60% to 80%. Even after that, there’s still a bonus 3 FPS topped on for good measure.

Grand Theft Auto V
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW5668
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
FXAA:OnMSAA:Off
NVIDIA TXAA:OffPopulation Density:100%
Population Variety:100%Distance Scaling:100%
Texture Quality:Very HighShader Quality:Very High
Shadow Quality:Very HighReflection Quality:Very High
Reflection MSAA:OffWater Quality:Very High
Particles Quality:Very HighGrass Quality:Very High
Soft Shadows:PCSSPost FX:High
Motion Blur:0%DoF Effects:Off
Anisotropic Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Normal
Tessellation:Off
Grand Theft Auto V - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+5264
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
FXAA:OnMSAA:Off
NVIDIA TXAA:OffPopulation Density:100%
Population Variety:100%Distance Scaling:100%
Texture Quality:Very HighShader Quality:Very High
Shadow Quality:Very HighReflection Quality:Very High
Reflection MSAA:OffWater Quality:High
Particles Quality:HighGrass Quality:Very High
Soft Shadows:PCSSPost FX:High
Motion Blur:0%DoF Effects:Off
Anisotropic Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Normal
Tessellation:Off
Grand Theft Auto V - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti4859
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
FXAA:OnMSAA:Off
NVIDIA TXAA:OffPopulation Density:100%
Population Variety:100%Distance Scaling:100%
Texture Quality:Very HighShader Quality:Very High
Shadow Quality:Very HighReflection Quality:Very High
Reflection MSAA:OffWater Quality:High
Particles Quality:HighGrass Quality:Very High
Soft Shadows:PCSSPost FX:High
Motion Blur:0%DoF Effects:Off
Anisotropic Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Normal
Tessellation:Off
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Grand Theft Auto V

I am not sure about you guys, but simply looking at that mammoth list of graphical settings gives me a headache. While both the reference and Superclocked+ card used identical settings, I was able to bump the Particles and Water quality to Very High with the FTW card.

GRID 2
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW6373
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Multisampling:8x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:UltraAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+6170
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Multisampling:8x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:UltraAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti5361
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Multisampling:8x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:UltraAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - GRID 2

Maxed out, GRID 2 runs perfect on either the reference 980 Ti or EVGA’s clock-boosted versions. It is worth pointing out, though, that EVGA’s cards manage to keep the minimum FPS at 60+.

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW6274
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Anti-aliasing:NormalHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:OnMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+5766
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Anti-aliasing:NormalHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:OnMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti5262
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Anti-aliasing:NormalHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:OnMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition

As beautiful as Sleeping Dogs is, it’s one setting in particular that obliterates performance: anti-aliasing. Once that’s dropped down to normal levels, all three cards deliver excellent performance. The FTW does come well ahead, though, proving that this game is really sensitive to clock boosts. And yes – despite being pretty random with where I take certain ingame screenshots, I managed to almost perfectly match the location of the screenshots taken with the FTW and reference cards. At first, I thought I had messed up a filename, but not so!

The Crew
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW5760
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Geometry:UltraShadows:High
Textures:UltraEnvironment Mapping:Ultra
Depth-of-Field:HighMotion Blur:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGrass:High
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO
The Crew - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+5560
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Geometry:UltraShadows:High
Textures:UltraEnvironment Mapping:Ultra
Depth-of-Field:HighMotion Blur:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGrass:High
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO
The Crew - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti5860
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Geometry:UltraShadows:Medium
Textures:UltraEnvironment Mapping:Ultra
Depth-of-Field:HighMotion Blur:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGrass:High
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - The Crew

Both the Superclocked+ and FTW cards enjoy a High Shadow setting over the reference card. It’s a pity Ubisoft deems it appropriate to cap the framerate in many of its games, as the scaling would be much more interesting otherwise.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
MinimumAverage
EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW5163
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:Ultra
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Field AO + HBAO+
Anti-aliasing:FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW
EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+4959
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:Ultra
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Field AO + HBAO+
Anti-aliasing:FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable (4K) - EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Superclocked+
NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti5772
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 3840×2160
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:Ultra
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Field AO
Anti-aliasing:FXAA
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Best Playable (4K) - Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist

With Blacklist, there are two routes to choose between: A) Keep full-on ambient occlusion, or B) Reduce ambient occlusion and gain 10+ FPS. With the SC+ and FTW cards, you can have both.

Power & Temperatures, Overclocking & Final Thoughts

To test graphics cards for both their power consumption and temperature at load, we utilize a couple of different tools. On the hardware side, we use a trusty Kill-a-Watt power monitor which our GPU test machine plugs into directly. For software, we use Futuremark’s 3DMark to stress the card, and GPU-Z to record the temperatures.

To test, the area around the chassis is checked with a temperature gun, with the average temp recorded. Once that’s established, the PC is turned on and left to sit idle for five minutes. At this point, we open GPU-Z along with 3DMark. We then kick-off a full suite run, and pay attention to the Kill-a-Watt when the test reaches its most intensive interval (Fire Strike GT 1) to get the peak wattage.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Temperatures
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - Power Consumption

Despite the far improved clocks on EVGA’s 980 Ti FTW card (over reference), it still manages to run 3°C cooler at load. At the same time, the card draws 29W more out of the power socket, which isn’t too much of a surprise given the performance boost.

Overclocking & Final Thoughts

When I first popped this FTW card into our testing PC, I expected some impressive things overclocking-wise. In hindsight, I’m not sure why. While the card one-ups the Superclocked+ by replacing a 6-pin with an 8-pin, allowing for an additional 25W of power, the fact of the matter is, this card is already clocked 19% higher than stock, and likewise, 88MHz higher than the SC+ edition.

While it might be possible to still achieve a great overclock on this card, I wasn’t able to – and believe me, I spent a lot of time on it (more than I’d like to admit.) I tried increasing the voltage, power and temperature targets, core clock, and memory clock all at once, and one-by-one, in conjunction with topped-out fan speeds. Temperatures were not the issue, as I purposely cranked the fan to never surpass 70°C. No matter what I did, I could not get what I felt was an overclock worthy of retesting our benchmarks with.

When all said and done, I achieved +30MHz on the core, and +350MHz on the memory.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW Overclock

I would like to point something out, though. To some, +50MHz might have been deemed stable, and in fact, 3DMark’s Fire Strike led me to believe that it was (even at 4K). However, an even better test of a stable overclock is the Sky Diver test. As I’ve discovered over the past few reviews, even if Fire Strike deems an overclock stable, Sky Diver might not. And in experience, that’s lined up with what I’ve seen in gaming (eg: if Sky Diver crashes, then so too will most games after about 10 minutes.)

Nonetheless, there’s nothing to discredit here since I did manage a boost beyond what’s already a really high clock. At 1,220MHz, this overclock is 22% higher than reference. While memory also saw a nice boost, it hasn’t revealed itself to me too well in benchmarks. If anyone out there picks up this card, I’d be interested in hearing about your overclocking experience.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW - Glamor Shot

While overclocking this particular model wasn’t as fun as it was with the reference 980 Ti, or even EVGA’s Superclocked+, it brings a lot to the table. It’s super-fast right out of the box, runs quiet and cool, and as of the time of writing, includes one of two AAA titles due out soon.

A nice perk right now is that the card also happens to cost the exact same as SRP at both Amazon and Newegg, although it should be noted that Amazon makes no mention of the Bullets or Blades promotion.

Those looking for an “ultimate” 980 Ti that are not looking for hardcore overclocking would do well to check out EVGA’s 980 Ti FTW. Seriously – I can’t find a real downside here. If you’re willing to pony up the cost of such a high-end card, you’ll be treated to a great one here.

Pros

Cons

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW - Techgage Editor's Choice
EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW

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