MSI has taken a totally different approach to NVIDIA’s new flagship graphics cards. Instead of using the more expensive magnesium reference cooler, the company has decided to go ahead with the cheaper plastic shrouds. MSI GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 will not attract users who love the luxurious feel of the magnesium cooler but they are ideal for users on a tight budget or willing to get rid of that plastic cooler and replace it with a waterblock. This is a nice approach because the ones who want to water cool their GPUs will refrain from spending extra on a cooler which they do not need. Secondly, consumers who have spent the last year saving money to get a taste of the raw power of these flagship GPUs will ignore the more expensive cooler.
MSI GeForce GTX 980
MSI GeForce GTX 980 reminds me of GTX 680 which is two years old and came with the same cooler. The card certainly does not justify the $550 price tag of GTX 980 but hopefully it will be available for less than $500. In terms of specifications, MSI GeForce GTX 980 is equipped with GM204 GPU featuring 2048 CUDA cores, 128 TMUs and 64 ROPs. It comes with 4 GB GDDR5 memory spread across a 256-bit memory interface. The GPU core is clocked at 1126 MHz with GPU Boost up to 1216 MHz while the memory clock is 1750 MHz or 7 GHz effectively. GTX 980 is a very power efficient GPU with just 165 W TDP rating requiring two 6-pin PCIe power connectors. The plastic vapor chamber cooler with blower fan should be capable enough to keep MSI GeForce GTX 980 cool during gaming but overclocking is be a question mark.
MSI GeForce GTX 970
MSI GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are 100% identical when it comes to physical appearances. The changes are made under the hood which makes GTX 980 more powerful than GTX 970. MSI GeForce GTX 970 is equipped with GM204 GPU featuring 1664 CUDA cores, 112 TMUs and 32 ROPs. It also comes with 4 GB GDDR5 memory spread across a 256-bit memory interface. We cannot confirm the clock speeds of the GPU so you have to wait a day for the official numbers. MSI GeForce GTX 970 comes with less than 150 W TDP thanks to the power efficient Maxwell architecture.
MSI GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 will launch in less than 12 hours at NVIDIA’s Game24 event which is scheduled for 6 p.m PDT. You can watch the live stream here.