KFA2 and, outside the EU, GALAX are back in full attack mode with the new HOF. Combined with intense looks and a very nice factory clock this product ranks high in the Guru3D performance charts. It is a bit bulky in its near 3 slot size width, but the thermals are excellent with this relatively in-audible card. The grand total is that the GeForce GTX 980 Ti HOF edition can get your performance upwards in an extra 15% to 20% region on top of the reference cards due to the increase in base and boost clock frequencies. It does so while running at much colder temperatures opposed to what Nvidia is offering with the reference coolers and runs a lot more quietly as well. Armed with 6 GB of graphics memory and combined with the sheer rendering muscle this card has, you'll be future proof for a while. Now make no mistake, value for money wise you are way better off with a card like the GeForce GTX 970 or 980, there is no doubt about that. But this is enthusiast grade graphics hardware, and yeah it kinda rules. Plus you are a little more future proof with Ultra HD and the nice 6 GB graphics memory of course.
So the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 Ti HOF is certainly a looker with that White PCB and cooling deseign. The new chrome gliiter glamour reflective elements on the cooler are a bit too much bling for my taste. Other than that the shielding covering the cooling area is plastic. But hey, it all works and looks great. So overall it is an aesthetically pleasing product. Looks however are personal, that I have to mention. Oh and let me not forget to mention the cooling back-plate, great to see.
Cooling & Noise Levels
The reference design of the GTX 980 Ti is set at an offset threshold of 80 degrees C. Once the GPU gets warmer the card will clock down and lower its voltage. KFA2 however throws in a cooler that manages roughly 600W of cooling performance. You can expect to hover around the 65~70 Degrees C marker with the card under full gaming load, and that's with hefty games. Obviously temps will vary if you have got crappy airflow inside your chassis. Remember that one guys and gals, aiflow... so important.
Expect sound pressure values in the 39~40 dBA range at max under load. That's measured 75 cm away from the PC. This means you can hardly hear the card while using it. We have been able to hear a tiny bit of coil noise / whine, it however is at a level that you will need to place your ears in close vicinity of the card. In a chassis, you will have a hard time to hear it.
Much like the GM200 Maxwell GPU harbored in Titan X, this GTX 980 Ti is rated as having a 250~260 Watt TDP, our measurements pass that number by a great degree as we measured roughly 305 Watts. It likely is due to the overclock, which requires additional voltage. We remain comfortable advising a 650 Watt power supply if you do not go crazy overclocking wise. If you go with 2-way SLI, a 950 Watt power supply is recommended. Remember when purchasing a PSU, aim to double up in Wattage as your PSU is most efficient when it is under 50% load. Here again keep in mind we measure peak power consumption, the average power consumption is a good notch lower depending on GPU utilization. Also, if you plan to overclock the CPU/memory and/or GPU with added voltage, please do purchase a power supply with enough reserve. People often underestimate it, but if you tweak all three aforementioned variables, you can easily add 200 Watts to your peak power consumption budget.
We can't be any clearer about it, all ranges from 1080P to Ultra HD are very playable for the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Up-to WQHD (2560x1440) this card seems to be in a true sweet-spot, however it is really capable of rendering games in that whopper of a resolution Ultra HD as well. You'll be in the 40 FPS domain on average with decent settings and the latest titles mostly, and that's ok. This much game rendering horse-power versus the nice 6 GB graphics memory helps you in Ultra HD, hefty complex anti-aliasing modes, DSR and of course the latest gaming titles. And that makes this the second viable single GPU solution that allows you to game properly in Ultra HD with some very nice eye candy enabled with a single GPU. Drivers wise we can't complain at all, we did not stumble into any issues. And with a single GPU there's no micro-stuttering to fight off. Performance wise, really there's not one game that won't run seriously good at the very best image quality settings. You must do gaming with a nice 30" monitor of course, at 2560x1440/1600 or Ultra HD.
The boost modes can be configured with temperature targets relative to maximum power draw and your GPU Core frequency offsets. Saying that; I realize it sounds complicated but you'll have your things balanced out quite fast as these products are easy to tweak. Our GPU sample could take a 1,265 MHz base clock, add to that the dynamic boost clock and you'll see your games rendering in the 1,400 to 1,500 MHz domain. The memory you'll be able to get close or at 8 GHz effective. This card uses Hynix memory btw. Don't push memory too far though, and we certainly do not recommend adding voltage to that memory. The overclock potential is good, albeit it already has a fantastic factory clock frequency of course. And bump up the fan RPM a little, the card remains silent enough yet you can shave off another 10 degrees C under load. Pretty cool stuff (literally).
The HOF edition of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a very teasing card to look at. Performance wise it however sits in the middle of the competition, and yeah... air-based overclocking these days all yield roughly the same similar results due to the Nvidia limiters in place. Regardless, this has been one of the more sexy and fastest GTX 980 Ti cards we've had in our hands. While I would agree that at three slots it's a bit thick, everything else about the HOF is top notch. The cooler simply does its magic really well, it's a fast card with a nice factory tweak (albeit a little shy compared to the competition). The most impressive thing however is how quiet the card is, you need to weigh in the overclock and the sheer size of the GPU before you realize that this noise level is quite remarkable. Nothing but props from me for that, very nice. The card is a little bulky with its 2.5 slot design so will be a no-go for some of you, whereas other folks simply won't be bothered. Other than that there's nothing to complain about or nitpick. Well, of course pricing remains a bit of a topic with the GTX 980 Ti in general. The PCB is 100% custom, the GPU is kept at very acceptable temperatures, the components on-board remain at decent temperatures, the looks are good albeit bulky, the board design is sturdy and the backside is covered by a back-plate. The performance is faster than a GTX Titan X, yet pricing is much better as the MSRP is at the $700 USD marker plus tax. In the end this product will offer you a AAA gaming experience in any monitor resolution, as even Ultra HD now becomes a viable resolution for single GPU setups. The card does so while keeping itself at nice temperatures. Compared to a reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti at 2560x1440 you can expect an increase of up-to say 25% performance and overclocked you can add another 10%. Though a lot of money, you can certainly tell where the investment goes, it is something very unique overall. For gaming at Full HD and WQHD anno 2015 it really is a top notch product. We like the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 Ti HOF edition, but honestly we like all other brands just as well. Each brand has its own small advantages, overall the performance and OC results are roughly almost the same for all of them. But if you want something fast and impressive looking, this card comes recommended. It will not disappoint.
Boom, back to you KITT
There, I made it. The entire review I managed to stay away from mentioning David Hasselhof.
...ah crap I just did.