EVGA GTX 980 SC ACX 2.0+, A Closer Look
We are going to take a look at the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC with ACX 2.0+ Cooling and we feel the need to tell you right up front that it’s hard as nails to impress a hard core reviewer. You can generally beat on one of us with a 3 foot long fence post made out of various GPU’s and we’ll yawn and wonder what flavors the Keurig coffee maker station has today.
Then there is that rare time when the photos are done and edited, the information is gathered, tables full of numbers and comparisons are built and ready for digital paper, when we finally fill a test rigs PCI-E 16x slot with the GPU. We run a few well known oft used benchmarks that we know the numbers from various models of GPU’s by heart. Then we see numbers insanely high and move that cup of coffee to a side table away from all hardware and re-run those most familiar tests again and again then switch test rigs and run them yet again as we stare in disbelief.
This is one of those times when phone calls were exchanged at odd hours of the night verifying numbers were in line with other cards. Copious amounts of RockStar consumed as we listened to that little voice coming from our shoulders. “Yes you are looking at the impossible made possible, the dream GPU fallen from your slumber and cranking out test rig numbers.” In that fleeting moment you realize you are in GPU Nirvana that mystical place born of hairs standing up on your neck.
Arriving in a Typical EVGA black box there was little on the box to alert us of such a ground shaking mind bending experience inside the box. It did prompt us to go looking for ACX 2.0+ information which we will cover in a short while.
We got one look at the dual fans on the EVGA GTX 980Ti SuperClocked ACX 2.0+ and almost drove to Vegas to find a drive through wedding chapel but when we ask the GPU to marry us we go no answer so we settled in for some intensive photo shooting.
We put a standard PCI-E connector cover in front of one of the two fans to give you an idea of exactly how large the ACX 2.0+ cooling solution. The fans are double ball bearing with 4x the lifespan of standard fans. The lab here is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert in the Phoenix West Valley area, we call it Death Valley 2 and you can trust us when we tell you these EVGA double ball bearing fans can cut the mustard. We have a supply of replacement fans from EBAY and friendly donations that fills a tough tote and replace GPU fans on a regular basis on older model GPU’s. We’ve never had to replace an EVGA aftermarket fan and in the hot dusty desert environment that should tell you a lot about the dedication to quality EVGA has for their fans.
Without going to the graphic well it’s near impossible to describe the depth of the ACX 2.0+ cooling system so we borrowed from EVGA to better detail the depth of this superior cooling solution. Each Fan will stop spinning when the GPU is under 60°C providing 0dB operation. It might take a minute for the reason for this to sink in but EVGA uses a 3-Phase / 6 slot Motor to power the fan which typically uses 250% lower power. The double ball bearings provide double duty and 4x the lifespan with 20% better efficiency. The fan blades are 7 times as strong as typical fan blades yet 25% lighter so we suspect some magical fan blade composite material or a hybrid material, we’ve speculated that they use a radioactive spiders silk to add strength. EVGA has been using a MMCP (Memory Mosfet Cooling Plate) that provides 15% cooler memory and 13% cooler Mosfets. (Trust us when we drop the overclocking bomb you’ll see why this cooling solution deserves more air time than it gets. Along with the superbly engineered fans EVGA uses a SHP (Straight Heat Pipe) setup to gain another 6% cooling advantage. With this improved cooling you get a 20% cooler GPU.
While there is no doubt that EVGA makes some of the best GPU’s on the planet in our opinion they have engineered the best all in one cooling solution with ACX 2.0+.
Peeking down in the GPU’s depths you can see EVGA went with two separate blocks of heatsinks with two distinct sets of cooling veins. Now take a look at the cooling vanes, each and every vane is perfectly aligned and allows heated air to exhaust evenly avoiding those pesky hot spots.
Laying down looking at the top you get a peek at the SHP (Straight Heat Pipes), the dual vane sub-cowling heat sinks and the 8 and 6 Pin PCI-E power connectors.
While the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked ACX 2.0+ features a reference board design that’s where the resemblance to a reference GTX 980 TI stops. The devil is in the details with video cards and if you believe a reference card design plain Jane is as good as an aftermarket modified card you need to re-evaluate your thoughts. The solid 100MHz Factory overclock will give you an advantage over a non-overclocked retail card. The big advantage to a factory OC is the warranty remains intact and the card boots to the OC every time. Of course there is plenty of OCing headroom on the EVGA GTX 980 Ti no matter the model you pick so you can pick one and OC it yourself. You will see a little later that there’s still plenty of headroom for OCing on the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked, so much so that we spent an enjoyable 6 hours playing with the OC.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the Power Target Concept, at maximum (100%) power the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked ACX 2.0+ is rated at 250w TDP but with EVGA PrecisionX 16 you can up the ante to 110% or 275w. The Power Target concept places all the GPU’s power into one large pool and much like a pool it can’t be overfilled. Push to much water into the pool and it overflows, push too much power into a Maxwell GPU and it simply throttles to protect itself.
Well EVGA fond a small way to cheat the anti-overclocking Power Target by reducing the sub-systems power consumption. Where a non ACX 2.0+ GPU might draw 3.83w for fan usage the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked ACX 2.0+ shaves almost 3w off fan power usage which returns that 3w back into the Power Target Conglomerate pool. Why do we care, well that’s an additional 3w for overclocking without triggering the internal Power Target safeguard throttling? Now do you see why the excellent engineering of the fans and ACX 2.0+ cooling solution gives you an edge, more OCing power with less chance of throttling?
To utilize the extra power saved by the ACX 2.0+ cooling solution EVGA provides PrecisionX 16 their flagship OCing software. Were not going to spill the beans on best OC just yet but here’s a shot of EVGA PrecisionX 16 at work,
We were running Kombuster for Stability testing and had the core clock at 1205 MHz WITH NO ADDED VOLTAGE. EVGA PrecisionX 16 is built for DirectX 12 and shows you Power Target, GPU Temp Target, GPU Core Clock Offset, and Memory Clock Offset. You also see boost clocks, GPU Tempretures, and current GPU Core Voltage. There’s a Fan Control Profile and you can add a few mV over on the top right hand corner. As you can see we are at Power Target of 100% so we haven’t even tapped the additional 10% (25w) available and added 0.0 mV.
Old habits die hard and we were using TechPowerUp GPU-Z to verify Core speed and track thermal properties. While we trust EVGA PrecisionX 16 implicitly the interface is a little busier than we like and the information is crammed very close together so we’d rather over monitor and over check than loose track of any info during crucial overclocking testing.
We would suggest to EVGA to add a +(plus) and -(Minus) sign to each adjustment that refines adjustments to 1 increment per click. In the world of 10,000 DPI mice sliders add a little frustration to the already stressful OCing arena. We would also suggest doing away with the OffSet method and showing the true core / memory speed / Voltage without having to do mental math to figure out values. OCing can be time intensive and EVGA PrecisionX 16 is as fine an OCing utility as we’ve seen but spend some time with the interface and learn it, don’t just jump in assuming you know everything, go through the interface point by point. Once you’ve accustomed yourself to the interface it’s quite rich and deep and when combined with EVGA OverClock Scanner X you have a comprehensive OCing suite that is entirely self-contained and has all the features you need for a killer OC.
OC Scanner X Has A new look but familiar feel and we found it to be a complete Stress Testing Suite and one of the better choices for stress testing. So why are we using Kombuster for stress testing you ask. Again we trust OC Scanner and EVGA implicitly and it’s not from fear of giving their GPU an edge using OC Scanner, we use Kombuster on all GPU’s for stress testing because using different stress testers for reviewing might skew some number for thermals or skew some data so we stick to Kombuster for main testing just like we use GPU-Z for additional monitoring.
Say the system gets a little jacked from OCing either the CPU or GPU and the Temperature reporting portion freezes but the thermal graph keeps on moving. You’ve lost monitoring on a vital system pulse so using multiple monitoring and stress testing software’s gives us conglomerate information which is better than relying on a single software.
We suggest you do the same and monitor with 2 or 3 software’s, after all the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked is a rare and valuable treasure that will set you back $669.99 so protect your investment with multiple monitoring software’s.
Back to our EVGA GTX 980 TI SuperClocked ACX 2.0+ closer look. The EVGA SuperClocked has a DVI-D, 3 Display ports and an HDMI. We remember years back Display port was fighting for its existence and it was rare to see a DP port or monitor and if you saw one it was at a premium price. Flash forward to today and it looks to be gaining the Display interface of choice and one of the two that supports the full resolution of the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked. DVI-D only supports up to 2560 x 1600, HDMI 1.4 supports up to 3820 x 2160, HDMI 2.0 supports 3840 x 2160 (4k) and Display port supports 4k as well.
Doesn’t it seem that having to know all these things would make a person’s head explode? We have an area for that it’s out back by the concrete block head explosion bunker, you can’t miss it its cherry pie colored stains are the result of Lab interns heads exploding. Those of us in the know wear specially designed tinfoil brain covers that prevent heads from exploding.
Looking top down you get the full picture of the massively powered EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked, The SHP (Straight Heat Pipe) with its two blocks of heat sink / cooling vanes and the 8 and 6 pin PCI-E power Connectors.
We did one thing we didn’t like about the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked ACX 2. 0+ and that’s the fan connector by the 6 pin PCI-E power connector. That little but vital wire is the power cable to the rear fan and it’s very close to the 6 Pin PCI-E power connector and its locking clip. Now 999 times out of a thousand it won’t be a problem but be aware the wire is there and ensure its tucked neatly away and doesn’t interfere with the 6 PIN PCI-E Power Clip otherwise you may be searching for a new fan or doing some impromptu soldering. Trust us impromptu soldering isn’t where you want to find yourself at 2am we’ve been there on other hardware.
We’ve seen a big trend of vendors providing dust covers and we have to say we are all for it. If you aren’t using that port then cover it The EVGA GTX 980 Ti SuperClocked comes with a full complement of covers, one DVI-D cover, 3 Display port covers, one HDMI Cover, an SLI cover and a PCI-E connector cover. Props to EVGA and all the dust cover providing vendors.
This Model EVGA GTX 980 Ti doesn’t have a backplate but it does have the part Number and Serial number of your GPU on the sticker.