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EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN - Review


EVGA and Kingpin. These are two names synonymous with very, very fast graphics cards. We don’t even want to lock those two names into just very, very fast NVIDIA graphics cards. Together, EVGA and Vince “K|NGP|N” Lucido have been able to create some of the fastest graphics cards around. While they might only do NVIDIA based graphics cards, they continue to break records outscoring both NVIDIA and AMD offerings. Now, they’re doing it all over again, but what makes it so special this time is that it’s not even with the top NVIDIA model. Instead it’s with the new and highly popular GTX 980 Ti that launched just before Computex this year and sits below the 12GB GTX Titan X.

Since its short time on earth, the GTX 980 Ti has been accepted widely with open arms. The GTX 980 Ti did almost everything the new AMD R9 Fury X didn’t. With plenty of supply, samples ran rampant. Come launch day your favorite review website had a review showing just what the card could do. It was followed up by a retail launch that didn’t have problems with stock and was rounded off by the fact that partners could go crazy with the model, new coolers, new PCBs and massive out of the box overclocks to name just a few of the things partners could do. All this is opposite to what we saw came out of the AMD R9 Fury X. Limited samples and websites being told they had been dropped from the launch, limited supply that still leaves “Out of Stock” labels all over and a closed design that means we’ve seen nothing but reference cooled models.

Starting at $649 the GTX 980 Ti lines up almost perfectly against the AMD R9 Fury X. While both cards carry the same MSRP, we say almost because a number of R9 Fury X offerings are above the MSRP. Already, though, we’ve seen NVIDIA partners really jump outside this price point. Zotac and its Arctic Storm comes in at $769.99. The ASUS STRIX we looked at just yesterday? While we don’t have an exact price point, based on the euro price of both the ASUS and Zotac offering it’s safe to assume that the ASUS STRIX will hit at the mid-$700 price point.
The price on the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN? Well that starts at $849.99 and climbs to $1049.99. With pre-Binned cards offering ASIC quality of 72%+, 74%+, 76%+ and 80%+, EVGA has launched this new model in four varieties that come in at $849.99, $899.99, $999.99 and $1049.99. Which one is best for you? The chances are the $849.99 one. If you’re going to be overclocking and just making use of the air cooler, all cards should perform extremely similar to each other. With that said, the 80%+ should yield the highest overclock. For air cooling, though, the value of the card drops significantly as you move up in ASIC quality. If you’re aiming to break world records and use LN2, Dry Ice or extreme Water Cooling setups you’re going to want the one you can afford. The higher quality ASIC means a higher chance of a record breaking overclock.

Key Architectural Data

Before we compare the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN with the reference model, we want to say a quick few words about the GPU. The GTX 980 Ti is based on the GM200-GPU with “Maxwell” architecture of the 2nd generation. This offers 2816 shaders, 176 texture units and 96 ROPs. The 6GB of GDDR4 graphics memory is connected via a 384-bit wide memory interface. Unlike AMD, NVIDIA haven’t made use of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) yet, instead we’ll see that next year with their new “Pascal” GPU.
The technical specifications of the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN at a glance
Model EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
Street Price from $849.99 from $649.99
Technical Specifications
GPU GM200 (GM200-310-A1) GM200 (GM200-310-A1)
Manufacturing Process 28 nm 28 nm
Transistors 8 billion 8 billion
GPU Clock Speed (Base Clock) 1,203 MHz 1,000 MHz
GPU Clock Speed (Base Clock) 1,203 MHz 1,000 MHz
GPU clock (Boost Clock) 1,304 MHz 1,075 MHz
Memory Clock 1,750 MHz / 1,775 MHz (OC Mode) 1,750 MHz
Memory Type GDDR5 GDDR5
Memory Size 6 GB 6 GB
Memory Interface 384 bits 384 bits
Memory Bandwidth 345.6 GB / s 336.6 GB / s
DirectX version 12 12
Shader Units 2,816 2,816
Texture units 176 176
ROPs 96 96
Typical Board Power 250 Watt 250 Watt
SLI / Crossfire SLI SLI
Comparing the reference version of the GTX 980 Ti and the EVGA version we’re looking at today you can see the major changes as you’d expect come in the clock speeds. Along with overclocking both the GPU and the memory, EVGA offer two modes when it comes to the memory clock. While EVGA indeed offer an extremely strong out of the box overclock. You don’t buy these cards to run them at stock speeds. If you’re simply interested in having a GTX 980 Ti with a fast out of the box clock, you’d be better off looking at something like the Classified or Superclocked+ version from EVGA.
GPU-Z screenshot of the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN

Looking above we can see the default clocks are just as we mentioned in the previous table. As we mentioned just earlier, though, you don’t buy the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN to run at its stock speed. Instead you’re better off buying something like the upcoming Classified model or the Superclocked+ version.
So with that in mind, we’ll be testing the KINGPIN offering overclocked across all our benchmarks. Looking above you can see we managed to push the core to 1310 MHz which pushes the minimum boost clock to 1411 MHz. As for the 6GB of GDDR memory, we managed to bring that up to 2021 MHz.
Before moving forward to look at the card it’s worth noting that EVGA has opted to make use of Samsung memory here instead of Hynix. Speaking to Vince himself he mentioned that clock for clock the Samsung memory is faster than the Hynix.
EVGA offer a grand total of nine different GTX 980 Ti offerings that include everything from the reference cooler to an All-In-One Water Cooling solution. Depending on just what you want out of your GTX 980 Ti, it’s safe to assume that EVGA have an offering for you.
Length of PCB 280 mm
Length with cooler 280 mm
Slot height 2 Slots
additional power connectors 2x 8-pin 1x 6-pin
Fan Diameter 2x 100 mm
Display Connections 1x Dual-Link DVI
1x HDMI 2.0
3x MiniDP 1.2
Fan off at Idle Yes (from 60°C)
Looking above at some of the main details we can see that the PCB of the EVGA offering comes in a little longer than the standard 265mm reference card. Looking above, though, we can see both the card and cooler come in at 280mm. What really stands outs here, though, is the power connector setup which includes 2x 8-Pin PCIe and 1x 6-Pin PCIe power connector. We’ll cover this and the other major details above moving forward.
Comparison of temperature and clock
Game Temperature Clock
Grand Theft Auto 5 65°C 1,550 MHz
DiRT Rally 65°C 1,550 MHz
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor 64°C 1,550 MHz
Project Cars 65°C 1,550 MHz
Evolve 65°C 1,550 MHz
Dying Light 64°C 1,550 MHz
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 65°C 1,550 MHz

Looking above we’re able to see the temperature and boost clock behavior. As mentioned earlier our boost clock hits 1550MHz across the board. This is also done at a very low temperature. This isn’t a huge surprise with the decision for EVGA to use an all copper heatsink.


The first thing you notice when looking at the card isn’t the two 100mm fans that are installed but the massive amount of copper that is present. Looking above you can see that EVGA has swapped the normal ACX 2.0+ Aluminum heatsink with an all Copper one. This adds a bunch of weight to the card which is the first thing you notice when pulling it out of the package. It’s a heavy card at 1.49kg. This shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the amount of copper that is present, though.

Looking at the back of the card it comes as no surprise that EVGA has opted to install a backplate. Looking throughout you can see a number of gaps that allow some of the taller components to sit comfortably. We’ll move in a little closer later to cover some of the highlights here.

As we mentioned earlier the card consists of two 100mm fans. While large, you can’t help but be drawn to the copper heatsink that’s sitting behind the two fans. Everything looks even better with this small window that sits in the middle of the card letting us see the heatpipe setup. Since we won’t have the opportunity to remove the heatsink today we’ll quickly cover the heatpipe setup. Sitting behind our two 100mm fans are six heatpipes with one bent and five straight (straight heatpipes are said to improve heat dissipation by 6%). Four of these come in at 8mm while the other two are slightly smaller at 6mm.
Like most modern day graphics cards the fans do switch off when idle. In the case of the EVGA GTX 980 TI KINGPIN, that happens at 60c.

Moving to the back of the card again and closer to the front we can see our two mandatory SLI connectors are present. Being a dual slot card means that running four of these together won’t be an issue….

…what may be an issue is the 12 PCIe power connectors that you’ll require. Combined with the PCIe slot our graphics card is capable of drawing up to 450w thanks to 2x 8-Pin and 1x 6-Pin PCIe power connectors. While we don’t expect to get anywhere near that today, the setup is aimed for the most extreme overclockers.

Looking towards the back of the card we see a few things going on here. Towards the right and closest to our PCIe power connectors we can see a plug that is used for people who want to make use of the popular EVGA EVBot. Here we can see a plate that covers almost the entirety of the card. As we move around the card we’ll see the front plate cover a large portion of the card. We also see that five of the six heatpipes head directly to the back of the card.
Let’s continue our look at the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN:

With the card turned over and looking towards the back of the card we can see the rear of the voltage and current setup. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that EVGA have chosen to upgrade this. Instead of the standard 6 + 2 setup that is seen on the reference design, the KINGPIN offering here uses a massive 14 + 3 setup.

Moving towards the front of the card we can see three little LEDs that let us know which BIOS we’re making use of. Knowing which mode you’re in is easy thanks to the LED lighting up. As for the differences between the three BIOS modes, Normal offers up to a 130% power target and standard memory clock. OC mode bumps the power target option up to 150% while also giving a slight boost to the memory clock. LN2 mode sees the same memory clock boost but a power target option of 172% can be selected.
EVGA GeForce GTX 988Ti

Looking across the bottom we can see the heatsink covers almost the entire card. The only gap is seen in the middle. Looking across the very bottom we can also see the large front plate that covers almost the entire card.

Looking at the top of the card we again see how the heatsink design sits while we again see the front plate running across the top of the card. Here we also see a few other connectors that stand out aside from the power connectors. We’ll look at them below.

Moving in a little closer we can see the Probe it connector which gives us the ability to measure the voltage of a number of areas. To the left of this and right next to the power connector we can see a BIOS switch that lets us choose between Normal, OC and LN2 mode. We covered what the difference was just a few images back.

EVGA has done something a little interesting when it comes to the I/O side of things. While most companies use both slots to spread out the connectors, EVGA has chosen to swap the three DisplayPort 1.2 connectors we normally see with three MiniDP connectors. Combined with the standard size HDMI and Dual-Link DVI connector this allows all our connections across the bottom. While we don’t have the bundle, we can tell you that a single slot bracket is included in the card. If you want to move away from the standard cooling solution and use something that doesn’t need the exhaust ports, you’re able to install the single slot I/O plate.

Test System

In order to remove any form of CPU limitation, our Core i7-5960X is overclocked to 4.4GHz. Below you can see the rest of the components used along with the graphics cards and drivers:
Testing System
CPU Intel Core i7-5960X 3.5 GHz overclocked to 4.4 GHz
Main Board ASUS ROG Rampage V Extreme
Main memory Corsair Dominator 4GB PC4-25600 3200MHz Platinum DDR4 4x DDR CL 16-18-18-36
Hard disk SEAGATE 480GB SSD 600 and Corsair Force GT 240GB SSD
Power Supply Seasonic Platinum Series 1200 Watt
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
Graphics Cards
NVIDIA EVGA GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN 6GB @ 1550 / 2021 (ForceWare 353.30)
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB (ForceWare 352.90)
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB (ForceWare 352.90)
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (ForceWare 352.90)
AMD AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB (Catalyst 15.4 Beta Apr 9)
  Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB (Catalyst Beta)
Our test system parts are provided by ASUS, Intel, Corsair and Seasonic.



AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB
EVGA GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN 6GB @ 1550 / 2021
Degrees Celsius

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EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN - Review - Continued 

Benchmarks: 3DMark
Fire Strike
3DMark Points
Higher is better
Fire Strike Extreme
3DMark Points
Higher is better
Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark Points
Higher is better
Cloud Gate
3DMark Points
Higher is better
Sky Diver
3DMark Points
Higher is better

What is ASIC Quality?

Before we wrap everything up, one of the major features that needs to be covered is the pre-binned chips and ASIC quality. For most, this gets a bit confusing and looking at the price jump, you may wonder why you should pay extra for a higher quality ASIC. So what is it and why are you paying $849.99 for an ASIC quality of 72%+ and $1049.99 for 80%? ASIC isn’t anything new but thanks to GPU-Z we’ve been able to start telling what kind of ASIC we have on hand.

ASIC is basically the performance ability of the GPU that’s installed. Basically, it’s a combination of two values, the first is the performance of the GPU at a given voltage while the second measurement refers to the leakage. Combining these two scores you get an ASIC score. A higher ASIC means that a card is able to run at its default clocks at less voltage. This in turn means the card is also creating less heat.

If you’re air cooling what does a higher ASIC mean? Using overclocking software like EVGA Precision you’ll be able to achieve a higher overclock without the need to increase the voltage too much, or at all. This means that you’re able to run a card faster, at a lower temperature.

One of the disadvantages to a higher ASIC is that it carries with it higher leakage. For LN2 overclockers, though, this isn’t an issue. Thanks to the extreme cooling, the leakage is able to be controlled. This translates to more MHz. Higher ASIC also translates to a better memory controller. Again, thanks to the extreme nature of LN2, the ability to overclock the memory extremely high becomes much probable.
The higher ASIC has both its positives and negatives. The biggest negative to the higher ASIC is that it carries with it higher leakage. This means if you’re pumping a ton of voltage through the card, more heat will be generated. For air cooling this isn’t the best thing. For LN2 overclockers, it’s not such an issue. Because they can combat the heat and can enjoy the strong scaling that is offered as you increase the voltage.

If you’re making use of air cooling your best bet would be to opt for the cheaper 72%+ option. While it’s hard to talk about value when discussing a $849.99 GTX 980 Ti, it does hold the most value for people who are using air. If you’re an LN2 overclocker, you want to buy the best card you can afford. Because you can deal with the added heat that comes with the higher leakage, you’re able to make use of the solid scaling that’s provided by the fact the card requires less voltage to run at certain clock speeds.

With two cards on hands with two different ASIC qualities (77.8% (used here) and 80.9%), keep an eye out in the coming days as we explore the direct overclocking difference of both cards. These cards clearly have a target audience. We’ll discuss that further when we wrap everything up on the next page.


I think the first thing we need to do is talk about the giant elephant in the room. The price point! At $200 above the MSRP of the reference model and $80 higher than the most expensive GTX 980 Ti we’ve looked at to date (Zotac GTX 980 Ti Arctic Storm), the $849.99 starting price point is a serious investment. While the models above this do hold value for people making use of air cooling, the value of the card drops substantially. If you’re using a solid water cooling solution the $899.99 version holds value but after that the $999.99 and $1049.99 options are best suited for LN2 overclockers.
The price point isn’t probably much of an issue for EVGA, though. This is a Limited Edition card and EVGA are a company that are known for creating expensive graphics cards that people buy. Using some justification that most people won’t be able to understand, each of the four models hold value to a certain clientele. With that said, this isn’t a model that’s going to see any kind of “Value Award” from anyone.
If you had to explain the GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN in two words, two that perfectly fit it would be “Excellent Hardware”. That’s what this card is. It’s excellent hardware. The only thing higher than the price point of the top model is the bar that EVGA has set. For LN2 overclockers, the top two models are going to be what you’re after, water cooling people are better off looking at the second version while air cooled people are best to stick with the cheaper $849.99 version.


For the LN2 overclocker? None, yet! The direct competition to the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN will most likely be the MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning and ASUS GTX 980 Ti Matrix. Both will be expensive cards and both will have a number of features that cater to LN2 overclockers. When it comes to people with serious water cooling solutions as well, the options are similar while the almost $100 cheaper Zotac Arctic Storm can be thrown into consideration. This EVGA offering, though, is another level when it comes to PCB design and features, though. As for people who are going to make use of the stock cooler. You’ve really got a ton of options that are going to cost less. However, this is an amazing card that looks great, performs exceptionally well and is bound to be a lot of fun. I just wouldn’t move past the $849.99 option if you’re using air cooling.

Positive aspects of the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN:

·         Fantastic performance at higher resolutions including 4K
·         Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering through possible
·         UltraHD / 4K with a few drawbacks
·         6 GB of graphics memory
·         DirectX 12
·         Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR)
·         HDMI 2.0
·         High factory overclock
·         Strong cooler that looks and performs extremly well
·         Truly gorgeous looking
·         Great overclocking performance

Negative aspects of the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN:

·         Really quite expensive
·         Need to be overclocking or it’s pointless

Personal Opinion

If Justin Timberlake was bringing sexy back in 2009, Vince “K|INGP|N” Lucido and EVGA are bringing it back again in 2015 with the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN. This is just a truly gorgeous graphics card. The amount of copper is what really makes it stand out from everything else we’ve seen lately.

Underneath, though, this is just a true beast of a graphics card. It’s not just a fast GTX 980 Ti….it’s a fast graphics card period. This comes at a cost, though. At $849.99 this card sits $200 above MSRP and around $80 more than the most expensive GTX 980 Ti we’ve seen to date. The card jumps even higher after that. While you can have some awesome fun with air on all the models, the price jump of moving past the cheapest version is just too much to justify it.

While not cheap, the one thing that the EVGA GTX 980 Ti KINGPIN does better than most graphics card is make overclocking and benchmarking so much fun again. Crank that fan up to 100%, turn the air conditioner right down and jump on your local forums and go head to head with those air cooled graphics cards

Last edit: by meankeys

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