NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review

NVIDIA's Maxwell age of graphics processing begins with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 cards. What you'll see below is a brief look at the higher-powered of these two cards, tracking the performance of the NVIDIA-made reference card.

The GeForce GTX 980 is based on the NVIDIA Maxwell family of GPUs, working with several new graphics features outlined for the first time this week. With Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), 4K resolution will be output and filtered down to the native display resolution of the user for extra crispness. Multi-Frame sampled AA (MFAA) creates image quality similar to 4xMSAA for the performance cost of 2xMSAA. NVIDIA Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI) creates a more realistic lighting environment for gaming with high frame-rate rendering of fully dynamic global illumination.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 is optimized for 2560 x 1600 gaming with top-level settings. NVIDIA suggests that 4K displays work with two GTX 980 cards OR one card with SLI "for the most demanding games with maximum settings and AA." The following specifications are set for the 10.5-inch reference board we're reviewing here:

• Graphics Processing Clusters: 4

• Streaming Multiprocessors: 16

• CUDA Cores: 2048

• Texture Units: 128

• ROP Units: 64

• Base Clock: 1126 MHz

• Boost Clock: 1216 MHz

• Memory Clock (Data rate): 7000 MHz

• L2 Cache Size: 2048K

• Total Video Memory: 4096MB GDDR5

• Memory Interface: 256-bit

• Total Memory Bandwidth: 224 GB/s

• Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear): 144.1 GigaTexels/sec

• Fabrication Process: 28 nm

• Transistor Count: 5.2 Billion

• Connectors: 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Dual-Link DVI

• Form Factor: Dual Slot

• Power Connectors: Two 6-pin

• Recommended Power Supply: 500 Watts

• Thermal Design Power (TDP): 165 Watts

• Thermal Threshold: 95° C

The gallery you see next shows GameWorks Technologies in play and optimized for the GTX 980. We'll be testing these games when the time comes – when they're out, that is to say. Or in War Thunder's case, when they're ready to rock with all of these features in place.

Basic Benchmarks

What you're about to see is a set of basic graphics benchmark results from three high-powered games. Again, we'll be testing additional games in the future – this is just the beginning.

Results for the benchmarks below are measured on a on 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 processor (i7-3770K), Windows 8 Pro 64-bit, 344.07 NVIDIA drivers. Graphics hardware includes an 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN graphics card (reference board) and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980.

Metro Last Light

DX 11, Very High Quality/Tess Normal Motion Blur


Resolution 3840 x 2160 Min: 7.75 Max: 37.09 Average: 12.42

Resolution 2560 x 1600 Min: 22.39 Max: 73.09 Average: 37.35

GTX 980

Resolution 3840 x 2160 Min: 12.19 Max: 25.43 Average: 14.95

Resolution 2560 x 1600 Min: 29.34 Max: 96.04 Average: 54.91

Batman Arkham Origins

Fullscreen, V-Sync off, TXAA High, DX11 Enhanced, PhysX High, Motion Blur On


Resolution 2560 x 1600 Min: 58 Max: 93 Average: 69

Resolution 3840 x 2160 4K Min: 10 Max: 32 Average: 23.2

GTX 980

Resolution 2560 x 1600 Min: 46 Max: 200 Average: 56.1

Resolution 3840 x 2160 4K Min: 3.1 Max: 21.35 Average: 15.9

Hitman: Absolution

Ultra 4xAA, 16xAF, DX 11


Resolution 3840 x 2160 Min: 12 Max: 20 Average: 14.5

Resolution 2560 x 1600 Min: 38 Max: 64 Average: 48.3

GTX 980

Resolution 3840 x 2160 Min: 3.1 Max: 21.4 Average: 15.9

Resolution 2560 x 1600 Min: 46 Max: 200 Average: 56.1

Power Consumption / Noise

Power Consumption is one of the points NVIDIA is attempting to drive home with this card, noting that Maxwell is far better than cards of the past in bringing more performance at less cost.

Running Crysis 3, Load Power Consumption is around 300 Watts – that's easily amongst the lowest we've seen in the last few years' batches of cards. Idle Power Consumption sits closer to 71 Watts – again, amongst the lowest in cards out on the market today.

Another bit is noise. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 is more silent than any NVIDIA card before it – at least on the high end. There should be no reason why you'd ever hear this card make a peep inside your custom-built tower when you're running idle.


Look powerful enough for you? While we're not skyrocketing up in to the Titan range for cash, we're still getting some of the highest-powered graphics processing on the planet.

As of the launch of this card, the following prices are in place: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980: $549 USD, GTX 970: $329, GTX 760: changed to $219. The GTX 780 Ti, GTX 780, and GTX 770 are discontinued. Launch for this board will be September 19th – the same day this review is released – with immediate availability.

NOTE: We'll be adding more detailed results as we have more time to test.