GeForce GTX 980 Ti Reference
There isn't a whole lot to say about the GTX 980 Ti reference design, honestly. If you have seen the style and design of GeForce cards since the GTX 690 then you know exactly what you are going to find. NVIDIA chose to stick with what works; and most people still agree that the design and look of the cooler on the GTX 980 Ti is leaps ahead of anything AMD has done with reference cards. In reality, I do think that even NVIDIA's partners (or AMD's for that matter) struggle to come up with something that is as classic and as accepted as what NVIDIA has here.
Fans of the silver style can rejoice as it returns on the GTX 980 Ti reference boards, moving back to it from the black color used on the Titan X earlier this year. The GPU name is marked along the top of the card. Rivets are decoratively dispersed along the edges of the card in order to make it feel like this baby was put together inside a machine shop. Well, maybe it was, what do I know?
You still have an acrylic window into the heatsink covering the GPU to add some flair though over time you might instead see a bit of dust build up from the blower-style fan integration. Blower style coolers are typically more effective and help to remove the hot air from the chassis rather than just move it around inside the case, but it comes at the cost of additional noise.
Along the top you'll find the GeForce GTX logo with green LED back lighting that comes on with system power. You can control this light's brightness and even implement a pattern of flashing, breathing, etc. in order to customize it to your liking. You'll also find a pair of SLI connections that allow the GTX 980 Ti to run in 2-Way, 3-Way and 4-Way multi-GPU configurations if you find that a single card doesn't provide enough performance for your needs. Or if you just want to show off, either way.
For power delivery, the GTX 980 Ti requires both an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe power cable, the same that were needed for the GTX Titan X before it.
Display connectivity also remains unchanged from the Titan X, with the GTX 980 Ti providing a dual-link DVI connection, three full-size DisplayPort connections and a full-size HDMI port. This layout offers the most options I believe, though some others would appreciate the return to having a pair of DVI connections on the card. But with the push to DP-based monitors, G-Sync, 4K, etc., having more DisplayPort is more important.
NVIDIA once again did not include a back plate on the GTX 980 Ti by default, just as it left it off with the Titan X. I'm sure some enterprising add-in card builders will fix that.
I might be one of the few, but even though I really appreciate the design of the GTX 980 Ti and all the cards that came before it from this reference type, I can't help but wonder if and when NVIDIA is going to make some more dramatic changes in this area. If the rumors about AMD's Fiji card are true, and we have to believe they are, then NVIDIA will definitely have some competition at the very least in terms of look and style!