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MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G – MSI’s Flagship Maxwell Model Makes Its Debut!

Testing Methodology

The OS we use is Windows 8 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.

Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear pre-fetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows Vista occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.

We ran each test a total of 3 times, and reported the average score from all three scores. Benchmark screenshots are of the median result. Anomalous results were discounted and the benchmarks were rerun.

Please note that due to new driver releases with performance improvements, we rebenched every card shown in the results section. The results here will be different than previous reviews due to the performance increases in drivers.

Test Rig

Test Rig
Case Level 10 GT
CPUs Intel i7 4770K @ 4.7GHz
Motherboards ASUS Maximus VI Formula
Ram Patriot Viper 32GB (4x8GB) 2133Mhz 11-11-11Quad-Channel Kit
CPU Cooler Custom Liquid Cooling
Hard Drives 8x Western Digital RE4 2TB 7200RPM 3Gb/s Hard Drives (Raid 5)
SSD 3x Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA III 6Gb/s SSD
Optical ASUS DVD-Burner
GPU MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4GB Video Card


Synthetic Benchmarks & Games

We will use the following applications to benchmark the performance of the MSI GTX 980 Gaming video card.

3DMark 11
3Dmark 2013
Sleeping Dogs
Tomb Raider
Metro 2033
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Batman Arkham City
Batman Arkham Origins
Dirt 3 Showdown
Metro Last Light
Sniper Elite V2

3DMark 11


3d11 3d11X

3DMark 11 the gaming 980 blasts past well pretty much everything to take the top spot on our charts.

3DMark 2013

Firestrike Firestrike Extreme

In 3DMark Firestrike and extreme the gaming 980 pulls once again very easy wins in regards to this benchmark even beating out the dual GPU 690.

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.


Heaven shows the GTX 980 Gaming putting every other card to bed and easily walking away with top honors.

Sleeping Dogs

sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is a lil tougher as the Gaming 980 takes top spot with only the 690 besting it by a couple FPS average.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Even after many years, Metro 2033 is still one of the most demanding DX11 video games available to really push the limits of your system. The Gaming 980 once again bested by the 690 but easily surpassing every other card including the reference 980.

Batman Arkham City

batman AC

Batman Arkham City is a fun game and utilizes FXAA fully. It is nice to see the full screen anti-aliasing getting picked up by popular titles. Here the gaming 980 sits at a dead heat with the reference 980 and close to every card around it so i have to wonder if regardless of the VSYNC disable option if there is not some arbitrary limit being imposed on it.

Batman Arkham Origins

batman AO

This is the newest installment to the Arkham series Batman games and in order to ensure an even playing field I disabled Nvidia Physx and Nvidia based AA sticking with a standard high AA variant to ensure as equal loading as possible. The Gaming edition 980 Jumps far ahead once again only being bested by the 690 by a few FPS.

Tomb Raider

tomb Raider

Tomb Raider a heavily pushed AMD title is topped on the charts by the 690 with the Gaming model 980 right behind besting every other card. This was a surprise to see it beat out the reference card by a few FPS as this title has always been a closer race.

Metro Last Light

metro LL

Here we have Metro Last Light which is a brand new game added to our testing platform as it just came out. If you thought Metro 2033 was stressful you have seen nothing yet. The particles and lighting, as well as the PhysX effects all add up to an amazing looking game that can put a stun even the most powerful system in its tracks. Once again we disabled the Nvidia technology PhysX to ensure even results and playing field. the Gaming edition 980 tramples even the 690 for top honors and it does so by 3FPS besting the reference 980 by 4FPS giving it once again the top marks on our charts thus far.

Sniper Elite V2

sniper elite v2

Sniper Elite V2 is a fun game which, when first released, was quite stressful but still playable on most higher end cards. By now, most cards have surpassed it, and the Gaming edition 980 pulls in once again at the heels of the 690 with the reference 980 trailing almost a full 10 FPS behind.

Dirt 3 Showdown

Diret showdown

Dirt 3 Showdown is a visually beautiful game with excellent lighting and overall motion blurring creating a real visual spectacle of a game. The Gaming edition 980 jumps ahead in a big way again taking the top spot pulling a 6FPS lead over the reference model and a 5FPS lead on the dual GPU flagship 690.

Review Overview

Performance - 9.5
Value - 9.5
Quality - 9.5
Features - 9.5
Innovation - 9


The MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G is an amazing card with performance, thermals and acoustics all taken into consideration for an amazing gaming experience!

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)

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