No, it’s not gold, its just gold-coloured. Well, there probably is some gold in there. Maybe, like, an ounce of it, and it won’t be horribly outdated in a year’s time. Now that’s out of the way, look at this beauty! To celebrate 20 years of making graphics cards for the desktop PC market, ASUS has decided to take one of their best-looking cooler designs to date and mate it to an extremely highly-strung custom GTX 980. Expect this thing to break world records pretty soon.
The card is loosely based on the Geforce GTX 980 Matrix Platinum, ASUS’ most recent high-end card based on the GTX 980 GPU. The black-and-gold colour scheme is a first for ASUS, but it matches up nicely with their more understated motherboard designs that have been released in the last three years. It comes with a gold-coloured backplate and has a new version of the DirectCU II cooler, although this is more like the Poseidon cooler than any regular design they’ve had before. While the card takes up two PCI slots in the back of your case, the cooler itself is slightly higher than that, so some SLI pairings with some motherboards might be an issue.
The fans are two 80mm units with rather thick blades. With the fan profiles ASUS has pre-loaded on the GTX 980 Gold, they will stay off until you hit a temperature of 65° Celsius. There are four heatpipes on the sizeable cooler, which are powdercoated black to match the colour profile. The connectors on the card are also gold-plated to reduce any chance of rusting.
Speaking of the connectors, the card has the usual compliment seen on recent Maxwell-based cards – one dual-link DVI port, one HDMI 2.0 port and three Displayport 1.2 connectors. If you have three G-Sync monitors, you can run them all off this one card.
On the circuit board side, it is heavily customised. There is a 14-phase Digi+ VRM power design that dominates the board, extending it a bit above the standard ATX specifications by quite some margin, so make sure your case is deep enough to handle such a monster inside. There are two 8-pin power connectors to increase the overhead available for overclockling and there’s a Molex power connector that heats up an anti-frost circuit around the card’s components, a necessary feature when ASUS expects this card to be taken to insane overclocks under liquid nitrogen.
Clock speeds are 1317MHz for the GPU and 1431MHz at the highest Boost setting, although this can go higher if you cool it down enough. Memory is clocked at 7.0GHz yielding 224GB/s of memory bandwidth. That is a 256-bit memory bus, so while this card is suitable for gaming at 1440p and possibly UHD4K (if you lower the settings enough), two of these puppies will be needed for gaming on UHD4K or 5K monitors without compromise.
ASUS didn’t announce pricing or availability of the GTX 980 Gold Edition (yes, they’re poking fun at Apple’s “Watch Edition”), but you can bet that it’ll be snapped up almost too quickly for us mere mortals to grab one.