This year is Asus' 20th building graphics cards, and to celebrate that milestone, the company has created a limited-edition version of the GeForce GTX 980 with the fastest GPU clocks we've seen to date. The GTX 980 Gold Edition is jacked up to 1317MHz base and 1431MHz boost, a big step up from not only the GPU's 1126/1216MHz stock frequencies, but also the tweaked speeds of the hot-clocked cards Scott reviewed last year.
Despite its hopped-up GPU, the card has the usual 4GB of memory pushing data at 7 GT/s. Asus does, however, add a DRAM defroster designed to keep winter from coming when overclocking with LN2.
Dipping into sub-zero territory requires removing the DirectCU II cooler, which snakes blacked-out heatpipes through a similarly stealthy radiator. Dual fans provide airflow, and they spin down completely with lighter loads. I'm a little surprised the cooler lacks the blower-infused CoolTech fan available on Asus' Matrix GTX 980, though.
Like the Matrix, the Gold Edition has color-coded lighting on the top edge. "20th Anniversary" glows one of three colors depending on the GPU load and a fourth shade when the card is running in safe mode. Safe mode resets the card's firmware to its default configuration at the touch of a button, which should make it easy for overclockers to recover from failed attempts.
Although the dual-slot cooler and 11.7" length aren't particularly oversized for a high-end graphics card, the 6" height rules out compatibility with some smaller and low-profile enclosures. Another factor that may give folks pause is the price. Asus hasn't announced how much the Gold Edition will cost, but limited-edition products are rarely cheap, especially when they have best-in-class clocks and premium extras.