Zotac GTX980 Ti Arctic Storm Review
Published: 29th June 2015 | Source: Zotac | Price: £689 @ OCUK |
Such is the universal belief in singularity of purpose that every single language and culture on earth has an idiom that means "the Jack of all trades and the master of none". i.e you should do one thing very well rather than attempt to cover all bases. Don't try and please all the people all the time. We're sure that, being such a worldwide site, you've got an expression of your own. This belief is so ingrained in us as a species that even our first emergings held true to it. We are the hunter-gatherers, but some of us hunted and some gathered. Singularity of purpose.
So you can imagine the worries that greeted us once we realised what Zotac were trying to do with the Arctic Storm. Why not go with an AIO if you're determined to put the GPU under water? Or why not commit to an air-cooler? Surely this way it will be the master of none?
Actually, with a couple of caveats, it works perfectly.
With the air cooler we managed to push the card as hard as any GTX980Ti we've reviewed. The result bore this fruit too with the card very much amongst the thick of the action at the top of our graphs. Whatever we threw at it we saw results that would please even the most demanding user. As a water cooled card we couldn't extract any more performance. The GPU wasn't thermally limited and although we're sure you could pump more volts through it and test to destruction, what's the point when the scores and overclock are already so high? The temperatures and ease of installation are what this side of the card are for, and it makes light work of them.
There are a couple of clear caveats though, that it would be remiss of us not to mention. Firstly there is that price. Yes you're getting a GTX980Ti that is at home in your regular rig. It's the best single-GPU on the market at the moment and any of them you buy will be brilliant. That does mean that you can, if air is your bag, get one for a lot less money and equal levels of performance. You're also getting a card with a factory fitted water block, so if you plan to upgrade to a water loop in the future but don't want to disassemble your expensive graphics card then this has you covered. Or maybe you already have a water loop and want a card that will fit right in, this has you covered. So the main negative is one of a niché audience. How many people would be comfortable building their own water loop but uncomfortable with home-installation of the cooler? Very few. Yet if you fall to either side of the air/water divide then you can save a hill of cash by buying one that is dedicated to that and hasn't got either three fans or two barbs that you don't require.
The second, and perhaps even bigger, issue is that of weight. This thing weighs a ton. It's over-engineered - usually very much a positive thing - but to the point it needs a walking stick to stop it potentially snapping your PCI Express solder points. Aesthetically it's unpleasing, and not helped by the love it/hate it backplate.
The Zotac GTX980Ti is a graphics card aimed at an extremely specific audience. The amount of people for whom this is the perfect solution probably numbers in the dozens. Everyone else can get more for less money. It's the negative of the consistency of the GTX980Ti that almost any of them you pick are brilliant. However, if you require the particular talents of the Arctic Storm you wont be disappointed with your purchase, as it's excellent both as an air-cooled card and a water-cooled one. For that reason it wins our OC3D Innovation award.