This is the video card you've been waiting for: the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti. I have a few friends who have been waiting to upgrade their GeForce GTX 780 Ti video cards, who skipped the GTX 980 when it came out, salivated over the Titan X when it was released, but ultimately waited for the GTX 980 Ti.
We are weeks away from being introduced to AMD's next-gen Radeon R9 390X, the world's first video card to use the truly next-gen High Bandwidth Memory, or HBM. The Fiji XT-based card is sure to heat things up for the video card market, but is the GeForce GTX 980 Ti NVIDIA's answer to the R9 390X? Only time will tell.
At the time of the review, I have 72 hours before I get on a plane for Taipei for Computex, where all rumors have pointed to AMD teasing its Radeon R9 390X. Other rumors have AMD pegged for E3 2015 which is the week after, but NVIDIA is pulling the trigger on the GM200-powered GTX 980 Ti now, and for good reason: it kicks ass, big time.
I think one of the biggest things that the GTX 980 Ti has for it, outside of its performance, is that NVIDIA is allowing add-in board partners to use aftermarket coolers. The Titan X only arrived in the reference cooler with a handful of waterblocks made for it by various companies.
Everything changes with the GTX 980 Ti, as NVIDIA is allowing for aftermarket coolers which is going to really change things when it comes to offering consumers a bevy of options with the GM200-powered GTX 980 Ti. I'm positively buzzed with excitement to see what the likes of ASUS, MSI, EVGA, ZOTAC and all of the other AIBs can offer.
One of the key differences between the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 980 Ti is that the GTX 980 Ti is based off the GM200 core, the same GPU that powers the Titan X. The GTX 980 on the other hand is powered by the GM204, which is a cut down version of the GM200 core.
Thanks to NVIDIA using the GM200 core, we're effectively receiving a cut down Titan X with half of the framebuffer, with 6GB of GDDR5 instead of the 12GB of GDDR5 found on the Titan X. 12GB of VRAM is completely overkill for 99.9% of gamers at this point in time, which is where the GTX 980 Ti steps in.
Availability & Price
NVIDIA is pricing the GeForce GTX 980 Ti at $649, which is quite competitive as there's no real competition from AMD just yet. The nearly two-year-old Radeon R9 290X is expected to be replaced by the Radeon R9 390X, but with rumors of an MSRP of $849, NVIDIA could have a real star on its hands.
The company has pushed down the price of its GTX 980, too, down to $499. This means you're paying a $150 premium for the 980 Ti, but with the Titan X still at $999 - you're going to want to read on to find out why you will be so tempted to grab the GTX 980 Ti.
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