MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti Lightning Review

December 10, 2015 // 1:57 p.m.

Tags: #best-gtx-980-ti #fastest-gtx-980-ti #gtx-980-ti #maxwell #msi #msi-geforce-gtx-980-ti-lightning-review

Test Setup

Our GPU test rig uses Intel's X99 platform. Specifically, we use the Asus Rampage V Extreme paired with an Intel Core i7-5960X. This combination gives us 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes to play with, meaning that even if we test 4-way SLI set-ups, we'll have available the maximum possible bandwidth. With eight cores and 16 threads via HyperThreading, the CPU ensures even the most multi-threaded games won't be bottlenecked, and we've overclocked it to 4.2GHz as well with a baseclock of 127.3MHz, a multiplier of 33 and a vcore of 1.25V, further alleviating CPU bottlenecks. The CPU is paired with 16GB (4 x 4GB) of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 clocked at 2,800MHz and cooled by a Corsair Hydro Series H75.

The rig is powered by the Corsair AX1500i, which has enough wattage and 8-pin PCI-E power connectors to deal with any multi-GPU set-up we care to throw at it. It's all housed inside a Corsair Graphite Series 760T, which is spacious enough for 4-way set-ups with any card. The final component is an OCZ Vector 180 960GB SSD, giving us plenty of space for game installs.

Our results come from are a mix of built-in benchmarks and custom, manually-played sections, depending on the game. We use FRAPS to record the average and minimum frame rates, with all benchmarks repeated at least three times to ensure consistency. We test at 1,920 x 1,080 (1080p) and 2,560 x 1,440, as well as at 3,840 x 2,160 (4K) with higher end cards. The operating system is an up-to-date copy of Windows 8.1 64-bit.

Test System


AMD Graphics Cards

  • AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4GB - 1,050MHz GPU, 1GHz HBM (Catalyst 15.15)
  • Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Tri-X 4GB - 1,040MHz GPU, 1GHz HBM (Catalyst 15.15)
  • AMD Radeon R9 Nano 4GB - up to 1,000MHz GPU, 1GHz HBM (Catalyst 15.201.1102.0 Beta)
  • Sapphire Radeon R9 390X Tri-X 8GB - 1,055MHz GPU, 6GHz GDDR5 (Catalyst 15.5 Beta)
  • Sapphire Radeon R9 390 Nitro 8GB - 1,010MHz GPU, 6GHz GDDR5 (Catalyst 15.5 Beta)
  • Asus Radeon R9 380X Strix 4GB - 1,030MHz GU, 5.7GHz GDDR5 (Catalyst 15.11.1 launch driver)
  • Sapphire Radeon R9 380 Nitro 4GB - 985MHz GPU, 5.8GHz GDDR5 (Catalyst 15.5 Beta)
  • Sapphire Radeon R7 370 Nitro 4GB - 985MHz GPU, 5.6GHz GDDR5 (Catalyst 15.7.1)
  • AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB - 1,000MHz GPU, 5GHz GDDR5 (Catalyst 15.5 Beta)

Nvidia Graphics Cards

  • MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti Lightning 6GB - 1,203MHz GPU (1,304MHz boost), 7.1GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 359.06)
  • Asus GeForce GTX 980 Ti Poseidon Platinum 6GB - 1,114MHz GPU (1,203MHz boost), 7GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 355.98)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB - 1,000MHz GPU (1,075MHz boost), 7GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 353.06)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 4GB - 1,126MHz GPU (1,216MHz boost), 7GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 353.06)
  • Asus GeForce GTX 970 DirectCU Mini - 1,088MHz GPU (1,228MHz boost), 7GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 355.82)
  • Palit GeForce GTX 960 Super JetStream 2GB - 1,279MHz (1,342MHz boost), 7.2GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 355.60)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC 2GB - 1,102MHz GPU (1,279MHz boost), 6.6GHz GDDR5 (GeForce 355.65 launch driver)

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