Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti Review: Titan X-like performance $350 off the sticker price

By Steve
May 31, 2015
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  1. Nvidia's graphics lineup could be deemed complete in the enthusiast front. Starting at $200 with the GeForce GTX 960 and finishing at $1,000 with the 3072 CUDA core monster that is the GTX Titan X. However Nvidia is tightening the screws on AMD with another release that even eats on the Titan's market.

    The new GeForce GTX 980 Ti is still targeting 4K gaming and with 6GB of memory onboard it's still overkill but without excess. Whereas the Titan X featured a fully-fledged GM200 chip with 24 streaming multiprocessors and 3072 CUDA cores, the new GeForce GTX 980 Ti has been slightly downgraded to 22 SM units and 2816 cores. The massive 12GB memory buffer found on the Titan X has been slashed in half resulting in an ample 6GB buffer, 2GB more than the original GTX 980.

    We expect the GTX 980 Ti to be a processing powerhorse that rivals the more expensive Titan X but for $350 off the sticker price.

    Read the complete review.

  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Thanks for another great review Steve.

    Custom AIB cards will probably be the way to go with this card it seems. The reference cooler is, like the Titan X and 980, acting like a handbrake under full load. With some vendor designs arriving with clocks as high* as the best stable OC of the reference card - and with better cooling and 2x8-pin power, they seem like the better investment.

    * Zotac's Amp Extreme has announced clocks of 1253MHz core, 1355MHz nominal boost, 7210MHz effective memory
    Burty117, Julio Franco and Steve like this.
  3. Nvidia is not wasting any time, I was specting this gtx 980ti to be released later probably when the R9-Fury came out but I was wrong.
    The price makes this video card really attractive, but it will be really dumb to buy this in a rush, we have yet to see what AMD brings to the table to make any coherent choice.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    People spending $600+ on a graphics card are more likely to be making better informed purchases, so most should be holding off until AMD's Fiji drops. Likewise, I doubt too many prospective Titan X buyers were unaware that a 980 Ti arriving was a stone cold certainty, given the Titan X's vRAM overkill. Buying might just come down to wanting the best card without having to wait....the gap between the 980 Ti and Fury should be short enough to nullify that compulsion option.
    VitalyT, Burty117 and Julio Franco like this.
  5. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,114   +1,379

    Another great product to skip....

    I won't bother upgrading for another card with DisplayPort 1.2 ports. It is such a shame they continue announcing "new" products with such an old interface.

    DisplayPort 1.4a was released about 3.5 month ago, DisplayPort 1.3 was released about 9 month ago.

    Apple, for one, wanted to bring a 5K screen to the market so much, they had to develop their own video bus for it, no thanks to nVidia or AMD.

    These manufacturers, they aren't just lazy, they are looking to maximize sale by introducing minor upgrades. There is no other justification for not having released the new ports by now.

    They also stall all of the monitor manufacturers from bringing monitors with the new ports. Sometimes I wonder why the AMD vs nVidia so-called competition resembles a monopoly.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    From a budget stand point I would disagree, but this is not a budget card. This is the latest and greatest and with the latest and greatest, I would expect the latest and greatest ports.
    VitalyT likes this.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,105   +533

    Tom's Hardware has these Ti models as having only reference design. Nvidia doesn't want to cut into Titan X profits.

    What's the point of Titan X anymore? It doesn't have the computer performance and now doesn't have a compelling speed advantage. Nvidia basically slapped Titan X users in the face with the release of this card, it make the purchase look like a huge waste of money.
    WangDangDoodle likes this.
  8. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,189   +1,219

    Are they saying there won't be custom GTX 980 Ti graphics cards? Because there certainly will be.
    hahahanoobs likes this.
  9. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    So how do you account for the fact that benchmarked a custom vendor design Inno3D GTX 980 Ti Ultra ?
    Meanwhile, Titan X owners had a few weeks to run amok all over HWBots benchmark standings, and the fleeting (isn't it always fleeting?) sensation of owning the fastest GPU in town. People spend much more to gain much less in the name of a hobby - I live in an area renowned for big game fishing, and $1K for a VGA wouldn't make a dent on a boat charter cost that results - if you're lucky- in a tag and release photo and a hangover.
    You're trying to apply your values and budget to people who see the card cost as an occupational hazard. Here, check this out, it will probably send you into full Linda Blair mode.
    Steve likes this.
  10. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411
  11. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,105   +533

    According to the links provided by the other's, it definitely looks like there is going to be non-reference designs. I'm going to leave a email tom's to tell them to update the article. I don't know why the information isn't provided.

    Now the question becomes, if you can easily get the performance of a Titan X with a non reference design, why even bother with the Titan? It just seems that Nvidia is scuttling for AMD's next gen cards and tripping over itself along the way.
  12. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,190   +589

    I love the end of the review because it sums things up quite nicely, at this price point it really is a sever kick in the nuts for Titan X because it basically makes it even more irrelevant than ever before.

    The only problem from my perspective of this card is really the overclocking, I was really hoping for more but I bet some Lightning's/classified editions will help in this field.

    Excellent review @Steve
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
    Steve and Julio Franco like this.
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    If history repeats itself, it will not be long before a new Titan is available. Everyone feels this after a new generation is released, out-dating their perchase regardless of class. I seriously don't see an issue here, that hasn't been the case for thirty years.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  14. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    I agree with this sentiment, but it's still amazing what the reference board can dish out performance wise.
  15. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Ask yourself what the point of the card was in the first place ( I stand my original estimation - last sentence in the post). Early adopter fodder¹, drip-fed sales for those people who work with content creation (esp. 4K and 5K CUDA based apps)², marketing/PR tool ³, and statement to the industry and shareholders that the company could execute with the second largest GPU of all time, on time, and fully enabled.
    ¹ Initial sales look pretty much OK judging by forum users benchmark submissions. Job done
    ² Likewise. A quick tour of the Octane/iRAY/MentalRay, Blender, and Abobe forums tends to bear that out
    ³ You just have to look at the pages and pages of feedback regarding the card on forums - from everyone lamenting the fact that they couldn't justify buying it on price, to those exhibiting extreme angst on AMD's behalf. Factor in basically any benchmark graph and see how the cards stack up, and it's job done. The only blip against in most is the 295X2 - but as you seem enamoured on both the card and depreciation of the Titan X, it cannot have escaped your notice that the 295X2's depreciation of $700 in seven months will actually equate to the entire purchase price of a custom overclocked 980 Ti. Weird huh?
    Jen-Hsun probably hopes that the tripping occurs after he's dropped the cash into the bank. Plenty of people seems to enjoy second guessing the companies strategy and forecasting dire portents at every decision...and yet the company still manages to build market share, and accumulate cash (standing at nearly $4.8bn as of last quarter). I honestly wonder how they survive and prosper given all the missteps. Probably the companies downfall is somewhere in the future - few are perpetual, but I doubt that it hinges on them turning the light out on a few niche sales of a card whose fully enabled GPU might be better served (profit wise) as the heart of M6000's.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  16. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +70

    I gotta say, I find Nvidia's current business strategy a bit annoying.

    I buy the best performing single GPU gaming graphics card almost every generation. I say "gaming" because that excludes the ridiculously overpriced, pointlessly luxurious Titan X. I bought my 980 half a year ago, and it's already getting knocked off it's throne by the 980 Ti. It's too soon!

    "Progress is good!" Sure, yeah... but we all know Nvidia has been sitting on the 980 Ti design since long before they released the 980. They presented us with a top of the line card, only to introduce a new top of the line card within the span of the same generation! Why are they doing this? Because they can!

    If AMD could deliver a competitive product, we'd be getting both companies' best architecture competitively priced on day one! As it is right now, Nvidia has a great money milking scheme going on. They're holding back, only giving us tiny, incremental performance increases.

    The only time AMD has ever done something like this was with their 7xxx series, when they suddenly had a 7970 GHz edition, but - as far as I remember - this was because of a surprisingly good yield on their chips. They simply increased the clock speed because they could. They weren't holding back anything on the architectural side, like Nvidia has been doing for years now.

    I really hope AMD beats the snot out of both the 980 Ti and the Titan X with their upcoming 390X. Nvidia needs a good beat down right about now. The Titan X is evidence enough of how cocky they've become.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    OMG that is so funny. WangDangDoodle has piss in his Cheerios. Angry at nVidia for releasing a card 6 months later faster than his 980. And then spitefully wishing AMD vengeance, because of nVidia innovation.

    Ohhh what happened WangDangDoodle? Did you loose your bragging rights? That is so sad! Let me give you a piece of candy and make it all better.

    God, never before have I wanted to troll someone so badly. I guess it was the AMD vengeance part that triggered my sarcasm.
    Burty117 and dividebyzero like this.
  18. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Uh, no. It was because the initial 7970 was clocked too conservatively as a compromise between performance and power draw/heat production. When the GTX 680 launched, the 7970 in stock form was dethroned. The 7970 GHz Edition evolved not through better binned chips but because AMD pushed a higher voltage through the chip. The base voltage for the original 7970 was 1.175v, and AMD boosted this to 1.218v when their 50MHz boost kicked in with the GHz Ed. which then led to higher power consumption.
    All that separated the 7970 from the 7970GE was that the latter received a mild overclock via BIOS, that gave a 5% clock speed increase at the expense of an excessive voltage bump to guarantee stability for all cards.
    No, AMD saw an opportunity to regain a title they'd let slip when Nvidia clocked the 680 just high enough to dethrone the original card.
    AMD's R&D spend is lower than Nvidia's (who spend a third of their revenue on R&D), and AMD have to apportion it between CPU/APU and GPU. With lower market share, lower average selling prices, something has to give - and that something is product cycle cadence.
    Well, we can all do with competition in the market place, but I think you'll find that the 980 Ti/Titan X competition is the Radeon Fury. I believe the 390X nameplate is being reserved for a rejigged 290X (hopefully not a straight out rebrand).
    You mean you weren't convinced by a $2999 Titan Z, but a $650 GTX 980 Ti sends you thermonuclear?
    slamscaper, Cryio and Steve like this.
  19. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +70

    Obviously there was more to the story behind the 7970 GHz Ed. that I didn't know. Thanks for the info. Also, this is the first I'm hearing of a Radeon Fury. I will look into that.

    Thermonuclear? I believe I kept myself well restrained here. I don't have any issues with the pricing of the 980 Ti, just the fact that I currently have a 980, and it should have been a 980 Ti. The only reason it's not is because Nvidia keeps holding back. That is simply annoying. It's not that I wasn't expecting it this time around, but it's still annoying. If my annoyance seems like a bout of thermonuclear nerd-rage to you, then you must be new to the internet. Welcome to the future, my friend.
  20. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,604   +370

    Not as optimistic as you are. Radeon user for several gens now and the Fiji is sounding like a rebadge with stacked mem. I really hope stacked mem does something for them because otherwise it's sounding pretty woeful.
  21. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,441   +594

    The people saying this card is decent because its so much cheaper then the Titan X are drinking the cool aid. The Titan X is a massive ripoff for the price, anything you compared to it would seem like a bargain.

    That being said this is a darn nice GPU that that runs 4K good enough, but not great. SLi will be required for 60FPS on many of those demanding games, or you turn down the eye candy some.
  22. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,189   +1,219

    True the Titan X price is ridiculous, that said what do I know they sold really well so nice move Nvidia.

    However keep in mind the GTX 980 Ti is 30% more expensive than the GTX 980 (at the new $500 price) and it is on average 25% faster. It was up to 37% faster in our benchmarks and worst case just 17% faster. -So not a bad deal when compared to the GTX 980 either, even at the new $500 price tag.

    It is pretty simple really. If you want the most bang for your buck from Nvidia get the GTX 970, if you want the most bang for your buck and can see red and green then get the R9 290 or R9 290X. If you aren't too worried about value for money and just want as much performance as possible then the GTX 980 Ti is a nice fit. After all Nvidia can easily charge $650 for this card, its over 40% faster than the R9 290X and has no real competition... at the moment ;)
  23. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,114   +1,379

    Somehow, educated choices are overrated for people who buy Titan X, because they got the money to burn.

    We all know roughly what to expect from Fiji, except for the ports, perhaps. The only extra mile AMD needs to go is to be first bringing the updated DisplayPort. But I would be shocked and amazed to see them do that. Video card manufacturers have forgotten what it means to push the envelope, it seems.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  24. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 939   +244

    My question would be into what market has the Titan X sold really well? My guess is to those who are looking for DP compute performance rather than the gamer market - just a guess, of course, because in that market, it is a bargain compared to any Tesla card.
  25. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    The Titan X has very limited double precision performance - GM200 is after all just a GM204 scaled up by 50%.
    Titan X has sold pretty well to the gaming fraternity (bearing in mind its cost), and the 12GB framebuffer makes it a good fit for 3D rendering (which is dominated by CUDA based applications). Note the first link results. The rendering performance scales pretty much with framebuffer (Octane doesn't use SLI so the RAM is cumulative on dual/multi GPU cards).

    You wont get definitive sales figures from any vendor - the information is too economically sensitive, but you can get a feel for uptake at enthusiast-based forums (OcUK's Titan X owners thread is very active, has 4500+ posts, and a high percentage of verified ownership - see the "Roll of Honour" in the first post, considering the overall forum membership). CaseKing, a leading German (r)etailer also noted that demand was surprisingly high.

    Mainstream forums don't tend to "get" the same mind-set. The viewpoint is an anathema to the majority whose purchases are predicated upon bang-for-buck and a more budget orientated common sense outlook...but the sharp end of the hobby as never been overly concerned with budget.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015

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