Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How I Got a GTX 980 Ti (NIB) for $350!

The last time I wrote about getting a deal was for a GTX 970, and a GTX 980 the time before that. And today I will complete the high-end trio with a GTX 980 Ti! At the time of this posting, this is still a great deal, just as it was when I got it.

Why?
Why did I need a GTX 980 Ti? Well, because a couple of things occurred that led me to having a reason to need one...

I had initially bought my GTX 970 because I was doing an eGPU (external GPU) setup, which I had planned to post about. I successfully used this setup with an ExpressCard interface on my Alienware M17x R2, and was attempting to get it to work via mPCIe (mini PCI express) on my Alienware M14x R2. After several issues, one rendering my M14x R2 useless, I decided the best thing to do was to cut my losses and go for a different setup.

The setup I wanted to do was to get a new Alienware 17 R3 (AW17R3) laptop with an unlocked CPU, for future-proofing, and which would have the ability to use an Alienware Graphics Amplifier (AGA). An AGA essentially lets you connect a desktop graphics card of your choosing to use instead of the soldered in GPU the AW17R3 offers. With an unlocked CPU that could be overclocked to match the performance of CPUs released later on, and an AGA that would allow me to use any future GPU, it would be an ideal situation to run for at least 2-5 years before ever considering another "upgrade", if desired.

Since this was my goal, I needed money to fund this objective. So, I decided to go ahead and sell off my laptops, the eGPU, as well as some other things. I was well on my way and even went ahead and purchased an AW17R3 so that I would not be without a laptop. But another problem occurred that changed things a bit...

At that time I had a three-monitor setup that would be the equivalent of 1400p+, something the GTX 970 handled quite well. However, one of my monitors went a bit nuts, and I decided to go ahead and grab a UHD TV, often mistakenly called a 4K TV by most people. The TV was refurbished and cost about $230+ total! Another great deal! Oddly enough, after I made the purchase, the monitor sorted itself out and now works, but I had no intention on ditching my UHD TV.

But keeping the UHD TV presented another problem. If I were to use it for gaming, I would need a stronger card than the GTX 970. I love the GTX 970 and think it gives great performance, but it would just not be able to provide decent framerates at UHD resolution (at least, not at the highest quality settings). Having tested the GTX 980 at UHD, I knew that it would not be enough to give a good experience either. The minimum I could use was a GTX 980 Ti.

The Hunt
I sold the GTX 970 about a day or two before the official GTX 1070 launch, which also meant the GTX 1080 was already out. I paid just under $240 total for the Zotac GTX 970, and I sold it for $210. I immediately started searching for a GTX 980 Ti since people would be trying to get rid of them in order to upgrade to a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080.

I ended up messaging about 15 people or so, getting different responses to my offers. Finally, I got a reply that accepted my offer of $350! It was for an EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC, a reference edition. This was perfect, the AGA does not seem to have any type of cooling system along with its built-in PSU, so I would rather have a blower fan that will move out the air, rather than an aftermarket fan(s) that will move the air around in the enclosure.

The best part of this deal? The graphics card was never used! It was only opened to ensure everything was included and put back because the owner did not have the time to put it into his rig that he was building. When the time came to get a card, he went ahead and bought a GTX 1080 instead and decided to sell the GTX 980 Ti.

I will also add that because it is an EVGA graphics card, the warranty can be transferred. But this card had never even been registered, so I am the official first owner!

GTX 980 Ti vs. GTX 1070
A GTX 1080 would be great for UHD resolution, but they continue to command a $700+ price tag. So, the real debate would be why get a GTX 980 Ti over a GTX 1070? The GTX 1070 is newer, should perform better, and will do it at less watts. This is all true, but they also cost at least $450, and this is for a preorder that you may not get for weeks.

Even more important, I need a graphics card purely because I need it for a UHD TV. If you compare the GTX 980 Ti and the GTX 1070 in gaming benchmarks, they are fairly close. Most of the time the GTX 1070 is up by a minor amount of FPS (frames per second), but there are a few times where the GTX 980 Ti actually matches or surpasses the GTX 1070. And if looking at different resolutions, you will notice that by the time they are tested at UHD, the amount of FPS difference between the GTX 1070 and GTX 980 Ti is either gone or all but gone! Why should I pay (at least) another $100 for almost identical performance?

The only way the GTX 1070 would be more beneficial to me would be if I constantly used applications that could take advantage of the CUDA cores. While I do use at least one application where this could be beneficial, I do not presently use it enough to warrant an additional $100+.

Something else to add, that I did not know until I had my GTX 980 Ti, is that the AGA does not seem to allow for large overclocks like a desktop computer could. This means that paying more for a GTX 1070 would have been an even bigger loss if I had thought that an overclock might do far better than an overclocked GTX 980 Ti...

Bi Bi
So, even now, the GTX 980 Ti, despite NVIDIA slashing their prices, is still being sold for more than $350. The only other deal I saw that was similar to mine was for a used GTX 980 Ti on the same forum from where I bought my graphics card. This was probably only a couple weeks before I bought mine, and I do not believe it was even an EVGA card; meaning that the new owner cannot make any warranty claims if they should ever need to get the graphics card repaired.

I believe I got the best deal possible, and everything I have seen so far suggests that. Even when dwindling GTX 980 Ti supply gets to the price I paid (and remember mine was a total, market prices would not include tax), the amount of time that will have passed since obtaining my graphics card will be more than enough to be a major factor of what a great deal I got.

4 comments:

  1. You have a very interesting blog! It pushes me to think, that I need to change something!))) Although, recently I decided to change my old laptop to a new one. Right now I finish the installation of drivers on it. By the way, I found a great site where I could download NVidia Video drivers http://driverscenter.com/manufacturers/nvidia/video. There's a lot of choice and a simple download. I am pleased with my new purchase!

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