Overclocking is an interesting hobby and while I include some sort of overclocking with every Motherboard and Video Card review I adhere to a strict set of rules so that my results can be replicated by most anyone. Of course I have been known to change things up from time to time and may do my overclocking tests with a Single Stage Phase chiller for some added clockspeed. As you can imagine every overclocking and cooling method has its advantages followed by an even larger list of disadvantages but, that is the hobby and as Tyler Durden once said: “You determine your own level of involvement.”
In this article I’m going to use an EVGA GTX 980 Classified the way EVGA had intended and overclock the card using LN2 (Liquid Nitrogen). Of course the card is extremely solid without LN2 and offers better performance over reference designs with a full EVGA warranty but, I want more.
Keep in mind that overclocking does void your warranty and is one reason why I’d always recommend factory overclocked card whenever possible. The Classified is factory overclocked and thus supported by both EVGA and NVIDIA. What you don't normally see if what is under the heatsink and why the Classified is designed to deliver much more.
I’m sure many of you have seen LN2 overclocking before and while plumes of water vapor and nitrogen gas are fun to watch very few have really explored what it takes to overclock using LN2 and realistically what you can expect to get in return.
Before I get started here is the standard disclaimer: Your results may vary and take from this article what you may. I’m what you might call a hobbyest overclocker dabbling with different forms of cooling and even try my luck at a competition or two, I do this for fun and profit and have never broken a component under LN2. In fact at the end of this article I put the GTX 980 Classified back together and gamed on the card for over 8 hours later that week.
Bottom line, if anyone tells you that overclocking destroys hardware just know that electronics are usually damaged by the operator and not the overclocking method. Sure you can render a video card “worthless” by covering it in Vaseline but only in that it is impossible to clean. Likewise, reference design video cards have been known to go up in smoke because too much power was sent thru the reference VRM. Of course the only way that can happen is by doing a hardware mod. The hardware mods and high current power demands are just a few reasons as to why cards like the Classified exist and what makes them good for extreme overclocking.
Let's get started.