Pascal is out and we are missing the final piece of the puzzle, the 1080ti – if it ever comes, for that matter, because already there are rumors about Pascal refresh. Anywho, until then let’s revisit the former king – the 980ti. We are looking of the best implementations for its series, the MSI Twin Frozr V. Not to mention it’s sexy as hell.


MSI is a Taiwanese electronics company, founded in 1986, based in New Taipei City.
It is one of the world’s largest information technology manufacturers for motherboards, video cards and also makes a range of other products including laptops, all-in-one computers, servers, industrial computers, household appliances, barebones systems, and multimedia devices.

Price when reviewed: ~ £ 300 – via

*As of the time of the review, this is an EOL (end of life) product so you will only find it second hand. But the point here is that you will get GTX 1070 performance for 2/3 of the price.





Let’s talk about the Maxwell architecture which composes the GTX 9xx family, being the latest (2nd) iteration to date.
It introduced several new technologies:

Dynamic Super Resolution


It renders the game at a higher resolution and shows it in a lower one, this brings more quality to that lower resolution.
In general DSR works like downsampling, but it has simple user on/off control. Textures will now be sampled at higher resolutions that equates to more pixels being sampled.

Nvidia VXGI (Real-Time-Voxel-Global Illumination)


VXGI is the next step in lighting for gaming and, in simple wording, a new real-time global illumination engine technology. Global illumination is often used in the movie industry to produce CG scenes. VXGI is based on using a 3D structure (Voxels) to capture coverage and lighting information at every point in a scene. This data structure can then be traced during the final stage of rendering to precisely determine the effect of light bouncing around in the scene. VXGI provides improved performance for global illumination. This software algorithm will only work with Maxwell GPUs.

Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing(MFAA)

However support for Coverage-Sampling Anti-Aliasing(CSAA) was removed.
It gives the same quality as 4x MSAA but has only the performance costs of 2x MSAA. It is based on a Temporal Synthesis Filter with coverage samples per frame and per pixel

HDMI 2.0 support

HDMI 2.0 is the successor to the HDMI 1.4a/b standard that we pretty much all use in this day and era. The primary reason to bring 2.0 support to Maxwell is that 4K Ultra HD televisions require more bandwidth to operate at their full potential. 4K Ultra HD is four times the resolution of 1080p and therefore UHD needs more throughput to manage that extra data going back and forth

DirectX 12

The DX12 release of DirectX will introduce a number of new features for graphics rendering. Microsoft has disclosed some of these features, at GDC and during NVIDIA’s Editor’s conference. Conservative Raster, discussed earlier in the GI section of this paper, is one such DX graphics feature. Another is Raster Ordered Views (ROVs,) which gives developers control over the ordering pixel shader operations. GM2xx supports both Conservative Raster and ROVs. The new graphics features included in DX12 will be accessible from either DX11 or DX12 so developers will be free to use the new features with either the DX11 or DX12 APIs.

Others include:

VR Direct
Multi-Projection Acceleration
Third Generation Delta Color Compression
Multi-Pixel Programming Sampling

Maxwell second generation has an upgraded NVENC which supports HEVC encoding and adds support for H.264 encoding resolutions at 1440p/60FPS; 4K/60FPS compared to NVENC on Maxwell first generation GM10x GPUs which only supported H.264 1080p/60FPS encoding.

Moving to the the GTX 980ti.

GM200 is the GPU name for the GTX 980ti which has 8 billion transistors, on a 600mm² die size.
Then 2816 CUDA/Shader/Stream processors are used, there are 128 CUDA cores (shader processors) per cluster, 22 SMM, 96 ROP units, and a 384-bit bandwith bus.
It packs a 6 GB of GDDR5 VRAM buffer that should suffice for many years of gaming a 1080p at least.

Regarding frequencies for the MSI implementation we have:

Boost Clock / Base Clock / Memory frequency

Silent mode:
1076 MHz / 1000 MHz / 7010 MHZ

Gaming mode:
1228 MHz / 1140 MHz / 7010 MHZ

OC Mode:
1279 MHz / 1178 MHz / 7100 MHZ

For a better view, here it is compared with other Nvidia GPU’s and generations.


MSI claims that with their new Twin Frozr V design which has a more advanced dispersion blade design, it generates 19% more airflow without increasing drag for supreme silent performance.

Then the GPU is cooled by a massive nickel-plated copper base plate connected to Super Pipes (8mm heat pipes) on the MSI GAMING series graphics card. Additionally, the new heat pipe layout increases efficiency by reducing the length of unused heat pipe and a special SU-form design.

MSI’s Twin Frozr V Thermal Designs are equipped with ZeroFrozr technology which was first introduced by MSI back in 2008. ZeroFrozr technology eliminates fan noise in low-load situations by stopping the fans when they are not needed. Compared to other graphics cards, there is no continuous hum of airflow to tell you there’s a powerful graphics card in your gaming rig. This means you can focus on gaming without the distraction of other sounds coming from your PC.

And in this short clip we have all the Twin Frozr generations and all the above summarized.

MSI states that is incorporates MILITARY CLASS COMPONENTS.


– MIL-STD-810G certified components for its Gaming cards
– HI-C CAP are tiny, and super-efficient capacitors. Their small footprint allows the installation of heat sinks and their high efficiency (93%) actually reduces the total thermal footprint of the card.
– SUPER FERRITE CHOKES – Ferrite core that is Super-Permeable. This allows the Super Ferrite Chokes to run at a 35 degree Celsius lower temperature, have a 30% higher current capacity, a 20% improvement in power efficiency and better overclocking power stability.
– SOLID CAP – With their aluminum core design, Solid CAP’s have been a staple in high-end design mainboard designs and provides lower Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) as well as its over-10-year lifespan.

MSI also offers their own proprietary control app called the MSI Gaming App which allows you to overclock your MSI video card via the quick pre-tuned profiles, change the LED effects, toggle on OSD mode etc.


Can be downloaded from here.

Let’s move into the next chapter.


Packaging, content & visual inspection


MSI do like to refresh their designs proportionally to the products. The main theme for their Gaming series is still the Red Dragon and the red/black theme. The front of the box has all of this plus the important information regarding the video card like the VRAM size (6 GB), that is supports PCI-E 3.0 protocol, DX12 and that it is the OC edition.


The back of the box show all the new (updated) features of the 980Ti Twin Frozr V as seen in the previous clip.


And on the top they proudly state that it is the “Nr.1 Solution in Gaming”. We shall see about that.


Inside we have an all black box which has 2 parts.


The top section houses the accessories.


And these are :

– CD with drivers
– Documentation
– PCI-Express power cable adapter
– DVI adapter


Then second section nicely nests the MSi 980ti Twin Frozr V OC Gaming video card.


So here it is. This elegant monster of a GPU. It is a dual slot card, measuring 269 x 140 x 40 mm and weighs 1068 g.


The cooler section as well is defined by the red/black theme. It has dual “Torx” 100 mm fans.


Display connectivity options include:

– 1x DVI-I port – Dual link with max resolution 2560 x 1600 @60 Hz
– 1x HDMI port – version 1.4a / 2.0 with max resolution 4096×2160 @24 Hz (1.4a) and 3840×2160 @60 Hz (2.0)
– 3x DisplayPorts – version 1.2 with max resolution 4096×2160 @60 Hz


It requires dual 8 pin PCI-E connectors to power it.


Comes with a white LED dragon logo. Very nice. Although red should have been used to conserve the theme, nonetheless white also fits.


It is the last generation of GPUs from NVIDIA that supports 4-way SLI out of the box. With Pascal things have changed.

As you can see the back is very well protected by this full covering backplate. Also with the dragon logo etched on half of the surface.


The other half has breathing holes for better heat dissipation. The backplate sits with ~ 2 mm clearance over the PCB.


Moving onto the cooling design. Here is the LEGO perspective.


From this side we see 3 out of the 4 heatpipes and the secondary heatsink (in black) that cools the VRM and most of the circuitry.


The same heatsink ends with some fins towards the right of the card.


From the top angle we see the 4th pipe (big one on the left) and the other 2 from the bottom end continuing their route.


And to wrap the photo session here is the MSI GTX 980ti vs the MSI GTX 770 (same exact cooling and dimension minus the strut top bar as the MSI GTX 780ti).



We must say, the MSI 980ti is one good looking video card. Now let’s see if it will perform as good as it looks.


Testing methodology


All games and synthetic benchmarks set at 1920 x 1080 resolution with maximum settings applied, V-Sync Off / where needed will point out any changes

Sound Meter: Pyle PSPL01 – positioned 1 meter from the case, (we will include +/- 2-3 % margin for error) with ambient noise level of 25-30 dB/A

Power consumption: measured via our wall monitor adapter: Prodigit 2000MU

Hardware used:

Processor: Intel i7 4790k @ 4.0 GHz – HT and Turbo Boost Enabled up to 4.4 GHz
CPU cooler: Cryorig C7
Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus Impact VII Z97 mITX
RAM: 16 GB (2x 8 GB) DDR3 Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracers 1600 Mhz CL8 LED
SSD : M.2 Samsung 950 Pro 512 GB MLC
Case: Thermaltake V1 Core mITX
Case Fans: 1x 200 mm Thermaltake PWM
PSU: Corsair SFX 600W
Display: Samsung 32″ FHD TV LED 100 Hz – UE32F5000

Other video cards – all at factory/stock settings:

– MSI GTX 780 Ti TF IV

The card installed:



Ah and let’s not forget the eye candy.



– Windows 10 Pro x64 Build 1511.10586
– NVIDIA GeForce WHQL 376.19
– GPU-Z v1.6.1
– MSI Afterburner v4.11 – To OC and to record the FPS and load/temperatures (a room temperature of 20 degrees C)
– Valley Benchmark v1.0




* Red bars – Max FPS
* Blue bars – AVG FPS











The MSI 980ti is the most powerful video card we have ever tested and thus the numbers show exactly that.


* One run of Valley Benchmark @ 1080p 8xAA Extreme HD DX11
* Both the EVGA GTX 970 SSC and the MSI GTX 980Ti TF V will turn off their fans under 60 degrees


The temperatures are excellent for the MSI 980ti considering it is a flagship GPU with an OC from the factory.

Noise output

* Since all tested cards have aftermarket implementation regarding cooling, it will be a close fight.
* One run of Valley Benchmark @ 1080p 8xAA Extreme HD DX11


The new (5th) generation of the Twin Frozr Cooling has improved noise-wise over the previous one as see here versus the MSI GTX 780ti (the former flagship).

Power consumption

* One run of Valley Benchmark @ 1080p 8xAA Extreme HD DX11
* Values show total system consumption.


Again the newer architecture of Maxwell shows improvements over the Keplar GTX 780ti.


* One run of Valley Benchmark @ 1080p 8xAA Extreme HD DX11
* Values for total system draw regarding the Wattage

Stock settings and results:



Overclock settings and results:

– Core voltage: 87 mV
– Power limit: 109 %
– Temp limit: 91°C
– Core clock: +100 Mhz
– Memory clock: +400 Mhz
– Fan speed: Auto %




Let’s centralize our findings:

– The boost went from 1342 Mhz to 1455 Mhz (+ 8.42 % increase)
– The memory went from 7012 Mhz to 7812 Mhz (+ 11.40 % increase)
– The 3D Performance in Valley benchmark went from 94.6 FPS to 102.2 FPS (+ 8.03 % increase)
– In witcher 3 we saw the AVG FPS go from 75 to 81 FPS (+ 8.01 % increase)
– All of these at the cost of only 2 extra degrees in core temp, 1 extra decibel and ~ 30 W

Not to shabby. The fan curve was on auto and the video card performed superb. We will push its limits in OC further and update our results because we fell it has even more potential to discover.




One of the best aftermarket implementation for the 980Ti Maxwell generation.

The good:

+ Extremely well built
+ Excellent price/performance – the card to buy vs any Titan X Maxwell (equivalent to a GTX 1070) or any reference 980ti
+ Total upgrade on all fronts versus the GTX 780Ti
+ Fans turn off in idle up to 60 C
+ Very quiet
+ Very good temperatures
+ Very good looking design
+ Highly efficient even with the increased clocks
+ Really good overclocker

The bad:

– EOL product
– Should have used red LED for the dragon to keep the OCD public (including me) happy


Glob3trotters “Max Wise Performance” Award – 5 out 5


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