Asus Preparing Gold Edition Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Matrix Graphics Card – And Why Such Cards Don’t Make Much Sense For Most Gamers


Asus is teasing a new 20th anniversary ROG Matrix Gold Edition Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card with a yet unannounced but undoubtedly eye-wateringly high clock speed and a price to match.

Asus GTX 980 Gold Edition render by VCZ

Frankly I'm slightly surprised that Asus is attempting to make an even higher end version of their established super faster Repulic of Gamers GTX 980 Matrix Platinum. After all a new GM200 powered monster that's allegedly faster and cheaper than the GTX TItan X is on the horizon. In fact according to our good friends from Sweclockers.com the GTX 980 Ti is coming this summer.

Asus Preparing Gold Edition Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Matrix

Asus teased its fans on its facebook page, asking "how fast do you think our GTX 980 is ?"

How fast do you think our new GTX 980 is?
Stock GTX 980: 1126MHz
Matrix Platinum GTX 980: 1342MHz
20th Anniversary Edition GTX 980: ?

If I had to guess I'd say very fast... The original GTX 980 Matrix Platinum boosts to a blistering clock speed of 1342Mhz. That's a significant jump from the reference 1216Mhz making the Matrix Platinum one of the fastest, and coolest, air cooled GTX 980 cards out there.

Asus did not stop there they have also published a teaser image of the new graphics card. Asking their fans to "guess" the core clock speed.

Why Such Cards Don't Make Much Sense For Most Gamers

This is all well and good but frankly speaking the established GTX 980 Matrix Platinum already carries a hefty price tag of $639. That's just $60 shy of the R9 295X2 which is more than 50% faster on average and still the fastest graphics card in the world. $639 is also $90 over the MSRP of the standard GTX 980 which is already too expensive compared to the significantly more popular $330 GTX 970. There's a number of fantastic custom cooled GTX 970 options for $330-$340 right now. The MSI Gaming and the Gigabyte G1 Gaming for example can be overclocked past 1500Mhz without too much effort.

So I personally can't see how I'd justify paying double the price for the 980 Matrix, or even $220 more over the GTX 970 cards mentioned above for the standard GTX 980. All just to get a 15% performance improvement. The value proposition looks especially disappointing when you consider that the GTX 980 Ti with 3072 CUDA cores and the R9 390X with 4096 GCN cores are allegedly just a few months away. And will undoubtedly be introduced at a price point that's significantly below the GTX Titan X making the GTX 980 an even harder sell.

Even for higher resolutions where the GTX 970 may need to access its slower 0.5GB memory segment I'd still be hesitant to recommend the GTX 980. In that case I'd consider looking at the R9 290X from AMD. Which can be had for as low as $309 and is just 6% behind the GTX 980 in 4K gaming. And if you feel particularly adventurous about taking your 4K gaming experience to the next level. 8GB R9 290X cards can also be had for $409, $140 less than the standard GTX 980.

All in all, while I do appreciate the effort companies like Asus, EVGA and MSI put into the top end cards. I'd really like to see more love thrown at the more popular bang for buck graphics cards like the GTX 970. Which to a great extent MSI has in fact payed attention to. They released the 100ME GTX 970 and the Gold Edition GTX 970. My hope is to see other companies follow suit and concentrate on the cards that make the most sense for the gamer.