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MSI 980 Reference Overclock Newbie (vs. MSI 980 Gaming)


Senior member
Feb 28, 2012
Hey guys,

So during work one day last week, I had to run to Microcenter for the my office. I checked the website for 980s before I left and it said they were all out of stock. I get there, go to check on the 980s, low and behold they had a reference MSI 980. I'm all 'oh snap!' and start talking to the guy. He goes to the computer and see that there are web orders. lol - said he thinks it's sold.

He walks away and I'm still standing around, girl walks up and I tell her that I'm looking for a 980. Told her about what the guy said and she proceeded to tell me that it's first come, first serve, and that until the people come back to get the card it's up for grabs.

I ended up buying it of course.

Beautiful card, powerful, quiet, cool, etc. No complaints so far. I ended up having to go back and end up seeing the msi gaming 980. I had no idea they even had a gaming version. (I really wanted the gigabyte g1.)

So my first question is this: Should I just return it and grab the gaming version when I can? I have 30 days to return. I attempted my first overclock just now and have reached the gaming version's speeds. No temperature change or anything, although I haven't tried to game on it yet. Is there a difference between factory overclocked cards and ones that are OCd by software such as After Burner? BF4 was the only game so far that really gives the card a go. It got up to 77C and stayed there. Here is the AB configuration, I only changed the core clock speed. Is there anything else I should change?

I bought the ref card for $549, I believe the gaming version is $579.

Sorry for the long winded story, anxious to hear your thoughts!



Golden Member
May 3, 2011
Since the card works fine, I would keep it. If you exchange you're paying more and risking the chance for a defect, i.e, coilwhine, etc.


Diamond Member
Mar 25, 2008
I have the gaming. It's super quiet, but other than that it seems like most 980's overclock the same. Unless the fan noise on your reference 980 is bothering you, just keep it.


Apr 15, 2001
first of all how could you not know there was a Gaming version of the 980? MSI will always have a card like that and there are plenty of reviews not mention its one of the most wanted 980 cards out there due to its excellent overclocking. that said just keep the reference 980 if you are happy with it.


Elite Member
Sep 5, 2003
If the noise levels do not bother you, keep what you have. I'd get the MSI gaming because it turns off the fans completely at idle/below 65C and it's whisper quiet at load. If power consumption matters, the reference 980 is superior.