Round-Up: GeForce GTX 980 and 970 Cards From MSI, EVGA, and Zotac Reviewed
Test System and Unigine Heaven v4.0
How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an EVGA X79 Dark motherboard powered by an Intel Core i7-4960X six-core processor and 16GB of Corsair DDR3-1866 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system UEFI and set all values to their "high performance" default settings and disable any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The memory's X.M.P. profile was enabled to ensure better-than-stock performance and the solid state drive was then formatted and Windows 8.1 Professional x64 was installed. When the installation was complete, we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist along with all of the drivers, games, and benchmark tools necessary to complete our tests.
|Relevant Software: |
Windows 8.1 Pro x64
DirectX April 2011 Redist
AMD Catalyst v14.30.1005 B2
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v347.25
Unigine Heaven v4
3DMark "Fire Strike"
Metro Last Light
Unigine's Heaven Benchmark v4.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform, real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion). It also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.
As you'd expect, the GeForce GTX 980 cards we tested took the top spots here. The MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G led the pack overall, but Zotac's offering wasn't far behind. Both were measurably faster than the reference model. The EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW also performed very well, significantly outpacing the stock GTX 970 and overtaking the Radeon R9 290X.