Card Layout and Photos
The Asus GTX 980 Strix looks a lot like the two other Strix cards I have taken a look at in the past, only larger. This means you get the angular fan shroud and the somewhat tribal looking designs on the fans and in between the fans (that you apply yourself in your choice of colors). Unlike the GTX 960 and the GTX 750ti this Strix card’s fan shroud is made out of a thick aluminum giving the card a very solid feel. The backplate helps with that as well giving the card a well build/quality feel when you handle it.
The GTX 980 Strix is designed with Asus’s DirectCU II cooling. This means they run heatpipes from all across the heatsink to directly on top of the GPU. This is similar to CPU heatsinks that have the heatpipes touching the CPU. This direct contact design helps pull the heat away as quickly as possible. The heatpipes (one up top and three on the bottom of the card) spread the heat out across the heatsink for more efficient cooling. This way you don’t have a single hot spot. The cooling then uses the two large fans by blowing air down onto the heatsink and then out the bottom, top, and ends of the card. This is the best way to get high end cooling. Using a design similar to the reference design is great for keeping the hot air out of your case but there is a limited amount of room so the heatsink surface area is small. Speaking of that, as you can see, the GTX 980 Strix is a tall card, Asus extended the cooling over an inch taller than the top of the PCI slot, so fitment in skinny cases could be an issue.
Up along the top edge of the card there might not be a GTX 980 logo but you do get a Strix logo. It is machined and does not light up or do anything special.
I love the two different trim options that Asus gives you. The badges go in between the two fans. I was a little up in the air for our build because we were going for a black and red theme so both options looked good but I ended up going with the black. Here is a shot of the reds sitting in place to give you an idea of what they would look like as well.
Being Nvidia’s flagship card you do get two SLI bridge connections. This way you can run up to four GTX 980 Strix’s together.
For power the FTX 980 Strix requires an 8-pin connection as well as a 6-pin. Between the two there is more than enough power to cover the cards TDP of 165 watts. Asus installed both plugs backwards so the lips face away from the heatsink. This should prevent any cuts when unplugging them and it also means they have more room for the heatsink to make it as large as possible. Asus also slipped in small LEDs under each connection. These will light up red if your computer has power and the cable isn’t plugged in and green if it is plugged in. It is a small detail but it is nice to have a visual conformation that you have the power cables hooked up correctly.
For the back of the GTX 980 Strix Asus did cover the entire PCB with a large backpanel made of aluminum. We can see the four screws needed to quickly remove the DirectCU cooling. They also put holes in the backpanel to give it good ventilation to help keep things cool. It also has the Asus logo as well as the DirectCU logo. I would have preferred it to say GTX 980 or something similar to show off what you have in your computer but they at least put it on upside down so that when you have the card installed it is readable.
Back on the PCI slot cover we have a whole selection of connection options on the GTX 980 Strix. You get one DVI, one HDMI, and three DisplayPort connections. The HDMI and DisplayPorts are both full sized connections to make finding cables the easiest.
The blacked out GTX 980 Strix went so well in our D-Frame Mini build that at first glance a lot of people don’t even see it.