Since gaming performance is basically a wash one of the most important things when picking out a GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB will be the noise, temperature and power consumption numbers and the temperatures and noise levels on these cards does vary greatly.
ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB STRIX Gaming Idle and Load Temps:
MSI GeForce GTX 980Ti Gaming 6GB Idle and Load Temps:
Zotac GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition Idle and Load Temps:
When it comes to temperatures all three cards didn’t have the fans spinning at idle and were around 50C. When we started gaming all the fans kicked on a few seconds later and kept the cards from overheating.
When it comes to peaking gaming temperatures during a 30 minute gaming session on each card in an open test system the massive cooler on the Zotac GeForce GTX 980 Ti kept that particular model from exceeding 69C, but we should note that the fan was the loudest and was ‘sluggish’ to get going. For some reason the fan surges a few times before kicking in and staying on when gaming. The GPU cooler on the MSI GTX 980 Ti was solid and the GPU ran just 2C hotter than the Zotac card. The ASUS GTX 980 Ti card that we are testing hit 78C, which was the hottest of the group, but still a respectable temperature and low enough not to impact gaming performance.
We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with ‘A’ frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.
All of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards have no fans spinning at idle, so the idle noise is the same on all of the cards. The only reason the system is above ambient noise levels is due to CPU’s water cooler fans and pump noise. The Zotac GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! Extreme Edition is hands down the loudest of the three GTX 980 Ti cards, the ASUS GTX 980 Ti Strix Gaming was the queitest and the MSI GTX 980 Ti was right in the middle. None of the cards are obnoxiously loud by any means, but you’ll certainly hear the Zotac model inside your case while gaming, so hopefully that won’t bother you.
** The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X reference card that we are using was the original model with a loud water pump that whines. AMD changed the pump design before the cards hit the retail market, but wasn’t willing to replace ours. We expect retail cards to perform quieter for this and hopefully AMD will send us a replacement card for proper noise testing. **