KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 "8Pack Edition" Graphics Card Review
   
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KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” Graphics Card Review

July 22nd, 2015 Mike Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

Now we’ve seen a few of the non-reference Nvidia GTX 980 Graphics Cards here at pcG and we’ve liked them a lot, but here we have something a little different. A little something more special and more extreme and it also happens to be the very first Graphics Card to bare the name of the not so little Ian “8Pack” Parry. Why is this so important? Well 8Pack having been on the overclocking scene for some time now and has broken and held numerous world records, so who better for KFA2 to work with in order to produce one of the worlds fastest air cooled Graphics Cards?

So here we have the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” (98NQH6DND2EH). A non-reference Nvidia 980 Graphics Card build with a fully redesigned PCB layout from the ground up, using a ten layer manufacturing process, extended PCB width, completely new “Triple Force” cooler comprising of a trio of fans (2x80mm & 1x90mm), seven nickel-plated heatpipes (4x8mm & 3x6mm) and copper heatsink, a next generation IR3595 Digital PWM controller provides 2X switching frequency vs. previous generation, 8 phase GPU + 2 phase memory power, dual BIOS, aerospace-grade “KFA2 Extreme Power Inductors” provide Ultra Long Life, Long Endurance and Low Noise than normal power inductors, Hyper Boost technology which increases fan speed and maximum power delivered to the GPU with the push of a button, an anodised aluminium backplate to protect components and reinforces PCB, oh a it ships with a rather healthily overclock straight from the factory with 1304MHz(Core) / 1418MHz(Boost) / 7012MHz(Memory) vs the 980 reference cards 1127MHz(Core) / 1216MHz(Boost) / 7012MHz(Memory).

Which all boils down to me needing to get some Gaming in quick! I might even get some testing done on the way. 😉

 

KFA2 logo ‘KFA2 Hall of Fame edition cards are born from top quality components and exemplary innovation to achieve one sole objective—to break records. The KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8PACK HOF Edition continues this proud tradition of world dominating performance as the fastest GTX 980 on earth.

The true advantage of the KFA2 HOF series cards, however, lay in their completely unbridled potential for overclocking—and the GeForce GTX 980 8Pack HOF Edition delivers with advanced power systems, 7 heat-pipe triple fan cooling, and KFA2 Hyper Boost hardware overdrive technology. Dual BIOS allows for risk free updates and customization, and now with the 8PACK signature Black PCB and cooler with anodized aluminum backplate holds a commanding presence wherever hardcore gaming enthusiasts gather.’

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - box front KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - box back

 

The KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition is packaged a little differently to many Graphics Cards today, not because it’s box is bright pink or fluffy, but because its photographically styled black and white box design features a rather large image of the master of Overclocking and endorser of the GPU itself, Ian ‘8Pack’ Parry. Surrounding this image we find logos for both KFA2 and 8Pack and that the card inside is a GeForce GTX 980 HOF (Hall Of Fame) Edition.

Then over on the back of the box, we find a list of box contents, along with the usual Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 marketing material we’ve often seen on the packaging of other 980 variants previously.

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - unpacking KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - inner box

 

With the outer box removed, we find the package contains a slightly more rigid matte black box. It looks a little unremarkable and features no branding whatsoever, not even a logo, but it is certainly up to the task at hand.

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - unboxing stage 1 KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - unboxing stage 2

 

Upon opening the black inner box we find a few of its contents safely resting upon the top layer of foam. These include the Drivers disk, Quick Installation Guide, User Manual and a Hall Of Fame door hanger. With these removed we find a soft foam tray in which the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” is held safely within an anti-static bag along with two Molex to 8-pin PCI power converter cables and a DVI to VGA adapter .

 

At the time of review the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” is retailing for approximately £469.99 at Overclockers UK, whilst offering a 3 year warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of KFA2

GPU Engine Specs:
CUDA Cores 2048
Base Clock (MHz) 1304
Boost Clock (MHz) 1418
Memory Specs:
Memory Speed (MHz) 3505 (7010 )
Standard Memory Config 4096MB
Memory Interface Width 256-bit GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 224
Feature Support:
OpenGL 4.4
Bus Support PCI-E 3.0
Certified for Windows 8 Yes
Supported Technologies DirectX 12
SLI Options 4-WAY
Display Support:
Multi Monitor Four displays
Maximum Digital Resolution 4096×2160
Maximum VGA Resolution 2048×1536
HDCP Yes
HDMI Yes
Standard Display Connectors Dual Link DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 x3
Audio Input for HDMI Internal
Standard Graphics Card Dimensions:
Length 308 mm
Height 129.1 mm
Width 49 mm
Power Specs:
Maximum Graphics Card Power (W) 165W
Minimum System Power Requirement (W) 500W
Supplementary Power Connectors Two 8-pin
Model:
Product Code 98NQH6DND2EH
UPC Code

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - angled front KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - angled back

 

Seeing the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” for the first time and the very first thing you notice is how damn big it is! Measuring in at 308mm(L) x 129.1mm(H) x 49mm(W) this dual slot GPU is one of the biggest we’ve ever come across here at pcG and quite a lot larger than our regular Test Rig Graphics Card, the XFX R9 290X DD Black Edition which isn’t exactly a minnow measuring in at 295mm(L) x 129(H)mm x 42mm(W). Surprisingly though, this gargantuan size doesn’t convert into a bulky weight as the slightly industrial looking GPU shroud is a rather lightweight plastic. Do I like its styling? If I’m entirely honest, the jury is still out on this particular monster of a card.

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - front KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - back

 

From the front of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition”, we can clearly see the new and completely redesigned KFA2 “Triple Force” cooler. The shroud of which is made from an anthracite black plastic which also features a rather pleasant metallic sparkly effect. The central 90mm nine bladed fan is made from a smoked semi-transparent plastic with a Hall Of Fame sticker on the hub, while framed by a premium die-cast aluminium surround again showing the HOF hallmarks. The smaller 80mm fans either side again consist of nine blades and made from the same material, but instead of the HOF hub sticker, we find an 8Pack at the center of each. Both of these feature slightly different frames lending the front of the GPU a more a slightly industrious but aggressive look. Oddly if looked at from a distance, the fans and their frames kinda resemble the letters SOS.

Looking at the back of the card, we find a huge and dominant black anodised aluminium backplate. Which given the shear size of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” is certainly welcome as not only will this help to protect the components, but will also reinforce the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and help to prevent the card from sagging once installed. To the left and nearest the cards outputs we find the Hall Of Fame logo, whilst towards the rear 8Packs own logo, then nearest the front edge we find a warning label just to caution us of the possibility of a hot surface. A rather nice touch on the rear end of the backplate, is that rather than typical venting to help keep the components cool, KFA2 have chosen to punch out them out and make the shape into the HOF initials.

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - side KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - PCIE connector

 

On the nearside of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” (or the bit you’ll most likely see once installed), we find the Hall Of Fame name in large white lettering. Unusually instead of using plastic, KFA2 have opted to use some sort of rubber or silicon material. Once the card is installed the name will illuminate in white, which through using the LED Visualizer with the Nvidia GeForce Experience suite, can have the brightness adjusted or the lighting style changed to a number of different effects. On the far left we find the card features two SLI headers and over on the far right that the card is powered using two 8-pin power connectors. Just over half way along the length of the card and just above the “Of”, we find a small white four pin socket. What is this for? Well I’ve honestly no idea and couldn’t find any information on it, but it does look very similar to a fan header.

The PCIE connector side of the GPU shows us a little more than most Graphics Cards (only a little). We find the HOF initials in the dead center of the shroud and made of the same rubbery material as on the opposite but given the proximity to the motherboard once installed, I couldn’t say if this also lights up white (although it is unnecessary and highly unlikely).

 

KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - outputs KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - end

 

The selection of outputs KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” consists of a single DVI-D, one HDMI and three DisplayPort, which is more or less the same as every other GTX 980 Graphics Card we’ve seen so far (apart from the Palit Super Jetstream, which bizarrely featured mini DisplayPort and HDMI). Where the “8Pack Edition” differs is where we’d normally find a large vent, we instead find a rather small two slot vent and a mysterious black button. This is part of the KFA2 “Hyper Boost technology” which acts like a hardware turbocharger, increasing fan speed and maximum power delivered to the GPU with the push of a button.

On the opposite end we find the GPU shroud itself to be open ended and this helps us to get a clearer look at the cards huge nickel plated aluminium heatsink along with the ends of the three 6mm heat pipes and three of the four 8mm. Beneath this and to the right of the PCB we find the cards dual BIOS switch, something that is always handy should you wish to play around with a custom BIOS or for if a future BIOS update goes a little wrong. Over on the left we find another mysterious 4-pin header with no readily available description.

 

I may have initially been a little unsure about the aesthetics of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” at the very beginning of the cards First Impressions, but now I have to admit I’m rather taken by the rather beastly looking card. Yes it’s big, in fact I don’t think I’ve come across anything bigger over the last few years, but it is incredibly solid and well built, with no flex whatsoever across its entirety. It’s also worth noting that because of the cards thickness of 49mm it isn’t quite a dual-slot card either, it encroaches over an additional slot making it more of a triple-slot GPU.

 

Hardware Installation

 

Installing the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” into our Test Rig was on the whole very simple as you’d expect. The card simply slotted straight into the top PCIE x 16 lane, the two expansion bracket thumb-screws replaced, then hooked up via the two 8-pin power connectors and connected to the monitor using one of the three available DisplayPort connectors.

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer CPU Intel Core i5-4690K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - installed side KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - installed below KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - installed angled KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 8Pack Edition - installed front

     

    The installation of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” into our Cooler Master HAF XB test case went without a hitch, even despite its beastly 308mm(L) x 129.1mm(H) x 49mm(W) measurements. More importantly now the card is in, any reservations I previously had during the First Impressions about the cards aesthetics have simply faded away and let’s us it, who doesn’t like white LED illumination peering out at them? Now all I need to do is persuade pcG James that perhaps we might need another test card to complement it! 😉

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    Our Test Rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional N 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers also installed. The latest Nvidia Driver (353.30) was then downloaded and installed and used throughout testing.

    For testing purposes we use MSI Afterburner (here), to help us with our testing and overclocking.

     

  • Overclocking the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” using MSI Afterburner (Version 4.1.0)
  •  

    KFA2 980 8Pack Edition - Overclocked

    As we’re already aware, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 is already a pretty fast Graphics Card with a stock GPU clock of 1127 MHz, Boost Clock at 1216MHz and its 4GB GDDR5 clocked at 1753MHz (7012MHz effective). The KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” however is shipped with an already hefty overclock and the GPU Core set at 1304MHz (+7%), giving the card a whopping Boost Clock of 1418MHz (+16%), but the Memory curiously remaining the same. Of course with a little overclocking via MSI Afterburner, we not only gain a further boost in performance, but we do so for free. By increasing the Core Voltage (mV) to +30 and raising the Power Limit to 116%, we help to stabilise our overclock and really start to push the limits of this air cooled cards capabilities. To which it certainly impresses giving us an additional 100MHz (1404MHz / +8%) on the Core Clock 100MHz (1518MHz / +7%, seen raised to a maximum of 1550MHz at times) to the Boost Clock and a whopping 550MHz (2030MHz / 8120MHz effective / +16%) increase to the Memory Clock. Which is staggering, even more so when compared to the reference 980.

    One downside to this immense overclock is that in order to help prevent the GPU reaching its thermal throttle limit, I enabled the KFA2 “Hyper Boost” technology. So by a simple press of the button, the three fans on the “Triple Force” cooler ramp up to 100% and do a fantastic job at keeping the card cool, but at the cost of noise…

     

    Hardware Performance

     

  • KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” – STOCK (Core: 1304MHz / Boost: 1418MHz / Mem: 7012MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 24.00 76.00 52.50 246.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 24.00 75.00 51.00 112.3 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 23.50 76.00 52.50 89.00 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 23.50 75.00 51.50 1856
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 24.00 75.00 52.50 11901

     

  • KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” – OVERCLOCKED (Core: 1404MHz / Boost: 1518MHz / Mem: 8120MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 24.50 72.00 47.50 261.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 24.50 72.00 47.50 137.2 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 23.50 72.00 47.50 98.67 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 24.00 71.00 47.00 2071
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 24.00 62.00 38.00 12922

     

    Comparative Test Results (at stock):

    NOTE: Please note that all of these benchmarks are valid and correct at the time of review and we do not use historical data. Each benchmark is re-run every time (against our Test Cards) for each new GPU review using the latest Drivers at that time. Therefore the scores may fluctuate between reviews as Driver optimizations come into play…

     

  • BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS
  • TOMB RAIDER
  • Tomb Raider - Benchmark Settings
    Results measured in FPS (average)
    KFA2 980 “8Pack Edition”
    112.3
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    109.7
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    90.6
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    87.1
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    69.0
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    60.1
    XFX 270X Black OC Ed
    49.3
    All Graphics Card Results 2015
  • METRO: LAST LIGHT
  • Metro: Last Light - Benchmark Settings
    Results measured in FPS (average)
    KFA2 980 “8Pack Edition”
    89.00
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    87.33
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    81.33
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    74.67
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    58.33
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    55.33
    XFX 270X Black OC Ed
    43.33
    All Graphics Card Results 2015
  • UNIGINE HEAVEN 4.0
  • 3DMARK (Firestrike)
  •  

    As you can clearly see from the results above both at stock and whilst overclocked, the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” is certainly one fast card and easily the fastest solo GPU we’ve tested straight out of the box here at pcG. Although despite these very impressive results taking the GPU to the top of the table against the pcG Test Cards, it doesn’t quite blow the likes of the excellent Palit GeForce GTX 980 Super Jetstream or Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP! out of the water at all. In fact the only benchmarks where the “8Pack Edition” really gains any significant lead are within Batman Arkham Origins and the synthetic due of Unigine Heaven 4.0 and the 3DMark Firestrike benchmark.

    Why is this? My guess it’s the slight reduction in the maximum Power Limit imposed by KFA2 within the GPU BIOS. Netting us a gain of 16%, where as the aforementioned non-reference 980 Graphics Cards will allow up to an extra 25%. Which means despite being amongst the highest overclocked 980 cards directly from the factory, the “8Pack Edition” doesn’t have quite the same amount of overclocking headroom. Even with the heavy workload supplied by the Unigine Heaven benchmark, the “8Pack Edition” kept cool under load even when overclocked, with a maximum temperature recorded at 71.00C, where as thermal throttling occurs at 80.00C. So it would seem this GPU might even have a little extra untapped potential under the hood.

    When it comes down to sound, throughout the stock benchmarks the maximum noise produced by the “8Pack Edition” was a non too intrusive 38dB, but when taking advantage of the KFA2 “Hyper Boost” technology which pushes the trio of fans up to 100%, we suddenly find the noise jumping up to a rather noisy 56dB! Certainly too loud for my dainty little ears, even when Gaming with a headset on.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    In recent years we’ve seen plenty of high-end Graphics Cards, but the pinnacle for some would be the Extreme Overclockers endorsed EVGA “K|NGP|N” series, now we have competition from KFA2 with the UK’s very own King of Overclockers, Ian “8Pack” Parry. Introducing the OverclockersUK exclusive KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition”. A Graphics Card that as you’d expect, is pretty damn good!

    The KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” arrived at pcG within a rather surprisingly subdued looking box. With very little bar an image of the man himself on the front. Once inside, we found the GPU to be well protected within a soft foam tray as to be expected, with very little in the way of additional accessories (of course being a Graphics Card is there really any need for anything else?).

    Once released from its cardboard prison, the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” leaves you in shock and awe… measuring in at 308mm(L) x 129.1mm(H) x 49mm(W), the Graphics Card is an absolute monster in size alone! In fact the “8Pack Edition” is quite possibly the biggest Graphics Card card we’ve ever seen here at pcG. The card and its “Triple Force” cooler are very nicely made with an incredibly solid feel and very little in the way of flex across its entirety. Luckily it is also a bit of a looker too. The slight sparkle of the high quality anthracite black plastic shroud combined with the trio premium die-cast aluminium fan frames and smoky black fans look great on the face of the card, whilst the anodised aluminium backplate on the reverse not only helps to protect and cool its components, but helps strengthen the beastly card whilst also looking good. Even from the side (the bit you’ll take most notice of once installed) the “8Pack Edition” looks rather nice, courtesy of the white illuminated LED lighting bearing the “Hall Of Fame” name, which can even be customised using the LED Visualizer software within the Nvidia GeForce Experience software. In fact the only small thing that might let the card down is its 49mm width, which means not only does the GPU take up two PCIE expansion slots, but the best part of a third as well, which could prove problematic for anyone wishing to use the card within a small MITX Gaming rig or perhaps even an SLI set-up.

    In terms of performance, the “8Pack Edition” simply flies. With a factory overclock of 1304MHz(Core) / 1418MHz(Boost) / 7012MHz(Memory), the KFA2 card is not only amongst the very fastest 980’s on the market, but GPU tops all of our synthetic benchmarks convincingly. Then when pushed to its air cooled limits using the KFA2 “Hyper Boost” technology combined with MSI Afterburner, we find even more overclocking headroom still with 1404MHz(Core) / 1518MHz(Boost) / 8120MHz(Memory), which only makes those chart topping benchmarks even more convincing! Whilst at stock the GPU was recorded with a a non Gaming disruptive 38db, but with the trio of fans set at 100% courtesy of the “Hyper Boost” button, the noise produced jumped up to 56dB. Certainly a little too loud for me, but I guess that’s the price of extreme performance. One slight oddity found whilst overclocking, was the maximum Power Limit is 116% where as the non-reference competition we’ve seen so far at pcG is 125%. Given the very maximum temperature recorded during benchmarking was 72.00C, yet the throttle limit being 80.00C, suggests (to me at least) that the GPU is being a little held back by the BIOS settings and could even be pushed that little bit further.

    There’s no doubt about it, the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” is not only amongst the very fastest solo Graphics Cards we’ve tested here at pcG, but all Graphics Cards period! It looks great both prior to and after installation and has a very high build quality. The only two things that really hold it back are its immense size and its price tag. At £469.99 it is currently one of the most expensive 980’s on the market, which is £30.00 shy of the cheapest 980ti’s currently available. It is however a bloody nice Graphics Card. 🙂

     

    Verdict

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    Overclockers UK






    KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition”

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    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the KFA2 GeForce GTX 980 “8Pack Edition” a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to KFA2 for providing this sample for review

     

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