November 29, 2014

Unboxing & Review: ASUS STRIX GTX 980 OC Edition

The lower end Maxwell GPU first hits the market with GTX 750 Ti and GTX 750 in early February of 2014 with a promising performance yet low power consumption which sparked our interest in the possible up coming GTX 800 series. Instead of a GTX 800 series GPU, NVIDIA launched the high end GTX 900 series (GTX 980 and GTX 970 based on the Maxwell GM204) on the 19th of September 2014 on their regional briefing held in Bangkok.

ASUS Malaysia was kind enough to send us their latest GTX 980 under STRIX brand for today's review, the second STRIX branded graphics card reviewed here on Tech Critter since our last review on the STRIX GTX 780 OC Edition. ASUS took the name STRIX, which means owl in Greek; known to be an adapt nocturnal hunter capable of silent flight and attack its prey without being noticed - silent is the keyword to ASUS's total silent cooling solution.

Model Name
Graphics Engine
 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
Bus Standard           
PCI Express 3.0
Video Memory
Engine Clock
GPU Boost Clock: 1279 MHz
GPU Base Clock: 1178 MHz
Memory Clock          
7010 MHz
Memory Interface
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (HDMI 2.0)
Display Port : Yes x 3 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
1 x Power Cable
ASUS GPU Tweak & Driver
288.6 mm x 134.4 mm x 40.9 mm


The retail packaging has gotten a new look this time as ASUS has decided to replace the notable ripped metal design with the new design which is the head of the STRIX owl. You'll get a preview of the STRIX cooler at the middle left of the box, looks pretty much the same as the other directCU II coolers except for the shroud and fans that comes with stickers the resembles a pair of glowing red eyes of an owl. The features of the card can be clearly seen across the bottom of the box:

  • 4GB GDDR5 Memory
  • 0 dB Fan silent cooling solution
  • DIGI+ VRM and Super Alloy Power for stable overclocking
  • GPU Tweak for overclocking

Aside the small image of how the card is going to look like, there's brief but detailed description of the ASUS STRIX GTX 980's prominent features printed at back of the box as well. Similar to any graphics card from ASUS, the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 comes with a limited 3 year warranty - as stated at the bottom right of the box.


The ASUS STRIX GTX 980 comes with a user's guide, driver CD, a Dual 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe adapter and a sticker set in red and black (it's up to you to decide which to stick on to the graphics card's shroud).

There isn't any notable changes in terms of design, pretty much the same as its predecessor - the STRIX GTX 780. The rest is assured, that the same 0 dB fan technology is implemented where the fan remains stationary when the temperature is below 65°C and will only spins when the temperature hits above 65°C.

You'll find 4 shiny nickel plated copper heatpipes at the side of the card, these heatpipes plays a very important role in heat dissipation.

The ASUS STRIX GTX 980 is powered by a 6-pin PCIe and 8-pin PCIe power connector.

At the bottom of the ASUS STRIX GTX 980, you'll find an awesome looking backplate that provide extra protection to the card by improving the rigidity of the card itself, reducing the common sagging or PCB bending issue.

SLI fingers for multiple NVIDIA GPU configuration - up to 4 GPU.

The ASUS STRIX GTX 980 comes with a total of 5 output display connector to satisfy your needs for multiple display monitor - 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI and 1 x DVI-I.

Performance Test

Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Nepton 240M
Intel Core i7 4790K
ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark S
Corsair Vengeance Pro 8GB@1600MHz
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power Supply
Cooler Master V1200
Vector Bench Case

We've conducted our test by installing the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 to our test bench as above and each and every benchmark is conducted in a room with 31C° ambient temperature.

We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmark in our possession at the resolution of 1920 x 1080, 4x Anti-aliasing.The final result of each benchmark is presented in the form of the graph below:

Overclocking and Temperatures
Due limited voltage adjustment, we've only managed to push the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 to its highest stable clock that is able to complete each game benchmark with the following values:
  • 1367 MHz on the base clock (Maximum boost clock of 1469)
  • 7880 MHz on the memory clock
  • 1.2V on the voltage for GPU

Although the overclocking result in numbers looks pretty impressive, but the performance gain we're seeing here is a little odd for certain benchmark. Here's the difference that we've observed in each benchmark after overclocking the ASUS STRIX GTX 980:

  • Unigine Valley: 5.9%
  • Unigine Heaven: 5.1%
  • Tomb Raider: 8.3%
  • Battlefield 3: 10.4%
  • Battlefield 4: 13.0%
  • Crysis 3: 22.2%
  • Far Cry 3: 14.8%

Temperature wise,  the idle temperature hovers around 48°C to 50°C which we consider unpleasant to our eye but still acceptable as it's unlikely to damage any component with that temperature. What impressed us is that the highest temperature achieved through FurMark stress test utility only reaches 73°C on single GPU and 76°C on dual GPU (SLI) setup. 

Final Thoughts
Currently the highest end offering from ASUS, the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 displays great potential for overclocking as going for 1367 MHz on GPU clock and 7880 MHz on the memory clock doesn't gives us any issue at all. On top of that, not only that the benchmark results overpowered the higher end NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 and AMD Radeon R9 290X we've tested previously, the highest temperature hit on full load is much lower that we've expected - the idle temperature is rather high, due to the 0db fan design where the fans won't budge before the GPU hits temperature more than 65°C.

Down to the price tag, unless one is planning for a dead silent build, the 0db fan silent cooling solution is definitely not everyone's cup of tea especially when it cost RM 2199, RM100 extra compared to GTX 980 of other brands. Personally we think that the extra RM100 worth to pay for as the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 is really a good graphics card with excellent overclocking potential and powered by NVIDIA's latest power efficient Maxwell architecture GPU that could save some figures on your electricity bill.

  • Aesthetic appearance
  • Factory overclocked
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Comes with a metal backplate for enhanced rigidity and protection against PCB sagging
  • Able to maintain a decent idle temperature even without cooling support from fans
  • Low temperature on full load
  • Limited overclocking capability due to NVIDIA's Green Light Program
  • higher idle temperature due to the fans that only spins when the temperature hits above 65°C