Card Layout and Photos
Before I get into the card itself I wanted to include a few photos of the packaging that the card came in. The GTX 980 shipped in a similar box but this one included an Nvidia Claw logo on the side as well.
So unlike the Titan X for the GTX 980 Ti Nvidia went back to the silver finish on the card like the GTX 980. Really the only difference on the fan shroud design from the GTX 980 is actually just the Ti molded into the card alongside of the GTX 980. That means we have the same all metal design that I have loved in the past. Around the intake fan is a little black trim along with a machined bit around the fan that matches the machined cap on the fan itself.
I think the best part of this design and the main reason they keep going back to it is the inclusion of a transparent window that gives us full view of the heatsink inside of the card. To match the rest of the black trim the heatsink is anodized black as well. I like it though because it lets us see when the inside of the card is in need of a cleaning. Typically for me personally the fan itself collects most of the dirt because we have cats, but a lot of cards can get packed full of dust and hair and start to run hotter. With these cards specifically when the cooling performance drops the actual performance drops as well.
Being a reference card also means that Nvidia designs the card to push most of the air out of the back of your case where most aftermarket coolers are able to get better performance by letting the hot air go inside of your case in order to be able to fit larger fans and larger heatsinks. The GTX 980 Ti reference card is sealed on the top and bottom but does have a small heatsink and opening on the end that lets out some of the airflow. The fan design itself is designed to pull air in and push the air across the length of the card where aftermarket coolers use a more traditional fan design that pushes air down onto the PCB/heatsink.
Using Nvidia’s photos we can get a better look inside at the cooling design as well. Not only is the external fan shroud all metal but the baseplate is as well. The design is split up into two parts. The small heatsink on the back handles the keeping the power circuitry cool and the large heatsink that runs the length of the card and is under the transparent window is mounted on top of the GPU itself. The baseplate does also pull a little heat from the vRAM and that heat goes into the main heatsink as well.
Up on the top edge of the card we have the same black trim around the backlit Gefore GTX logo as well as the silver trim around that like on previous GTX cards. Just like I said on our Titan X coverage I’m really hoping that Nvidia moves to an RGB backlit logo in the future so that everyone can match the logo to their build. I know a few people who have avoided the reference cards specifically because the green logo would stand out against the theme in their builds. Also up on the top of the 980 Ti we have double SLI bridge connections that will let you run the GTX 980 Ti in up to a quad SLI configuration if you are looking for even more performance. For power, just like the Titan X you will need an 8 pin and a 6 pin cable to power the card. This is expected given the 250 watt TDP of course.
For display connection options we have the same layout as the GTX 980 and Titan X. You get three full sized DisplayPort connections, one DVI, and one full sized HDMI. For cooling the rear PCI slot cover has triangle shaped openings in nearly every possible spot.
Like the Titan X the GTX 980 Ti moved away from the backplate they used on the GTX 980. This does allow us to see the black PCB better but part of me will still miss the backplate simply because it looked even better and protected the card better. That said I’m sure it was related to keeping everything cool, some backplates hold heat in and in the case of the GTX 980 the backplate was also thick and made things a little tighter when running multiple card configurations.