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Fermi through Maxwell: 5 Generations of GeForce Graphics Compared

By Steve ยท 45 replies
Dec 22, 2014
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  1. fermi maxwell generations geforce graphics compared

    Back when we first reviewed Nvidia's Fermi flagship in March 2010, only three of the dozen games we benchmarked offered DX11 graphics. Later that year in November we got our first look at the company's GTX 580, but even then DX11 was supported by less than half of the 13 titles we tested.

    It wasn't until 2011 that we started seeing games which clearly looked better with DX11 over DX10. When new GPUs arrive, we compare them to their predecessor but rarely go back more than one generation as there often isn't a point. However, considering how far DX11 support and driver optimizations have come, we'd like a better look at past and present performance.

    The list of cards we'll be testing includes three key Nvidia architectures: Fermi (GTX 480 and GTX 580), Kepler (GTX 680 and GTX 780), and the company's most recent GPU architecture, Maxwell (GTX 980).

    Read the complete article.

  2. Cryio

    Cryio TS Addict Posts: 203   +61

    Extremely awesome article. We need more stuff like this.

    Can't wait for the AMD equivalent article on the Omega Catalyst driver.
  3. slamscaper

    slamscaper TS Booster Posts: 189   +36

    I also loved this article. I believe there are plenty of people that want to see the older generation cards tested along with the newest, especially nowadays. This is a tremendous help to people looking to gauge the performance gain they'll see from upgrading their older GPU, plus it's just interesting to see how the performance has scaled over the years.

    It does hurt a bit when I think about how I dropped $500+ on the 480 and 580 back when they launched... They definitely haven't aged very well, lol. This is the reason I really don't like to spend major $ on GPUs anymore. They lose their value so fast that it's not even funny. Definitely not a good investment over the long term.
    Reehahs, Phr3d, Steve and 1 other person like this.
  4. SolarisGuru

    SolarisGuru TS Member

    I have a GTX 580 (bought around the end of 2010 according to my Newegg information) and I feel I've gotten my money's worth. I spent $533 on it and I bought it shortly after release. I definitely don't feel like it was a bad investment. I'll probably use it another year, maybe two. At five years that's about $106 a year. That's less than buying two full price games for a console. The thing is I can still play whatever I want with the card with settings maxed out on most games (Borderlands 2, Titanfall, World of Warcraft, for example). I guess it also depends on the rest of your system configuration too though.

    I love this article by the way, it also helps me determine it's about time for an upgrade judging by the performance of the GTX 980 versus my GTX 580. I'll probably wait one more generation though.
    Steve and Julio Franco like this.
  5. I have a 580 as well. Might as wait for the next die shrink right? 28nm is long in the tooth.
    Reehahs likes this.
  6. Just bought a 970 to replace my 480. Gonna miss it. It served me well over the years. I'll probably keep it in the closet next to my 260, like a half of fame or something. Nice article.
  7. Interesting article - I picked up a 770 last December, and it's held up pretty well. I would love a 970, but right now, there's not much reason to upgrade.
  8. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,005   +661

    Great article!

    I'll be keeping my GTX 970 for a couple years at least. Even longer if I get a 25 x14 monitor and add another card.
    Steve likes this.
  9. Awesome article!

    This proves my point: I rather spend 250$ each 2 years on a X60 card (460, 560, 660, 760, 960), than buying a X80 (480, 580, 680, 780, 980). Or grabbing a X70 each 2.5 - 3 years (470, 570, 670, 770, 970). Rather than a X80 each 3.5 - 4 years (480, 580, 680, 780, 980)

    Games develop fast. I'm dying to see how these cards compare when the Witcher 3, and Dying Light come out next year.
    Reehahs likes this.
  10. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    At first I was starting to think that my GTX 680 was getting old, but after reading a few of the comments I actually feel I've gotten my money's worth of out it. Especially when I think about other ways that I find to waste my money(going to the bar, mostly). I've had my 680 since april 2012. Considering I've easily gotten over 2000 hours of use out of it I'm spending $0.25/hour for entertainment. I also feel that my 680 won't need to be replaced until the end of 2016. It's a factory overclocked card that I can overclock further if I need to. I'd say that I'm getting around GTX 780 performance out of it now and I may be able to get it close to 780ti in terms of performance if I decide to overclock it further.

    All in all, $500 every every 4-5 years isn't unreasonable at all. New, I estimate the value of my computer to be $1500. When I do an upgrade I usually carry over as much as I can just doing a "core" replacement. Video Card, motherboard and CPU. Ram is so cheap now-a-days that it's almost negligible in price unless you want super fancy overclocking ram, but ram hasn't been a bottleneck for around for 6-7 years now.

    I can understand people not wanting to dish out $500 for a graphics card, but when I sit back and think about it I really have gotten my money's worth and then some out of it.
    Reehahs likes this.
  11. TheLastPanda

    TheLastPanda TS Member Posts: 78   +10

    Everyone is saying how fast cards become obsolete but if you can deal with not being the best then top tier cards aren't that bad. The 980 is my first flagship card (probably my last) and I plan on keeping it for a very long time so it's nice to see that I won't miss out on anything. Unless 1440p becomes the standard and we are all doomed to an eternity of multi-card setups.
  12. Cryio

    Cryio TS Addict Posts: 203   +61

    I bought a 9600 GT in 2008 and was easily happy with it until 2011 when I got a 560 Ti and I'm happy with this one even now.

    My next one will likely be a R9 280/280X or whatever GCN 1.3 R9 300 they'll release with that level of performance.
  13. the_real_vlad

    the_real_vlad TS Rookie

    So I guess we can agree that it takes 3 generations of cards to double the performance.
  14. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    I'm running an MSI Power Edition GTX660Ti, having bought it when it came out{OCT 2012?) (Got a free Borderlands 2 steam code with it). It plays all the games I play full eye candy @ 1080p just fine. Most of us have a realistic budget to live by and can't afford those "flagship" cards. I don't see any reason to replace this card for awhile. Hell, it seems you can play games on decent settings with the GTX 750Ti from what I have read here and other sites.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  15. letsgoiowa

    letsgoiowa TS Rookie

    The power consumption tests are for the WHOLE SYSTEM, not just the GPU? That's with a Haswell i7, too. 500W PSUs are more than good enough for all but multi-GPU and exotic setups, based on this information.

    Maybe you should test the midrange cards, like the 50's and 60's as well, especially because that's what most people had/have. My GTX 560 certainly didn't age well. It struggled to get playable framerates in BF4 and Titanfall at any settings, for some reason, making me believe it was a driver issue.
  16. letsgoiowa

    letsgoiowa TS Rookie

    Your 980 would actually do just fine with 1440p. It's way overkill for 1080p, at least.
  17. KG363

    KG363 TS Guru Posts: 515   +9

    My GTX 480 is really starting to feel its age and now I feel I need to start saving for a GTX 970 or something like that.
  18. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,836   +1,958

    Sure but remember overclocking increases power consumption dramatically. Furthermore we didn't have any hard drives or extra fans connected to the system, just a single SSD.

    Still 600w should have you well covered.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  19. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,263   +454

    My younger daughter loves the fact that I bought a couple of 680s on release because they are still getting good use in her machine today. I think I got my money's worth from them and I definitely got what I was expecting for the money when I bought them. I paid $1010 for them 1005 days ago so that comes out to just over $1/day and they're still going strong.
  20. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    There are two things I want to note abou the power consumption. 1)not everyone has SSD's and if they do they often pair it with an HDD for storage volume.

    The other is that if you have a PSU that far exceeds your power consumption needs it will never be "under load". It will run more efficiently, use less power and have a much longer lifespan. PSU's don't become obsolete so buy a good one. The other side to this is that the PSU is the one component in your system that if it goes, it can take everything in your computer with it. What good is saving $50 on a PSU if it kills $1000 in components. High wattage PSU's often have safety features that smaller ones do not. Even if you don't plan on using all that power, it's nice to not have your PSU explode. I had a PSU quite literally blow up and it took out my ram and CD drive as well as covering the CPU heat sink and videocard in capacitor fluid. I also suffered stability issues in the motherboard for the duration of it's life after that. Perhaps mine is a unique experience, but I've always bought a PSU with far more than I need since then. Currently I have a 1050w cougar.

    Never buy a cheap power supply and always get one that has more power than you need.
  21. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,409   +3,422

    While what you say is true, I've seen several PSU's die and a PSU replacement was all that was needed. To be honest I've never witnessed a PSU damage other components. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just suggesting the probability of the PSU killing other components are slim to none. So while it is a risk, it is a low risk variable in purchasing cheap PSU's.
  22. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    It was probably just a case of "don't buy an 800w PSU for $40'' but I've been paranoid ever since.
  23. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,245   +414

    Borderlands 2,titan fall or WOW aren't games that require alot of gpu power that's why you are still fine.

    Metro, Battlefield 4, any many others would be unplayable at max settings on that gpu.

    That aside its a great article and waiting to see the Red's version in the future.
    Steve likes this.
  24. SuperVeloce

    SuperVeloce TS Booster Posts: 133   +34

    "The other is that if you have a PSU that far exceeds your power consumption needs it will never be "under load". It will run more efficiently, use less power and have a much longer lifespan."

    Nope. Most PSU designs are most efficient at ~50% load. under 10% load, efficiency drops dramatically (70ish % efficiency).

    You can have a 300-400watt bronze/silver/gold rated PSU with all the safety features for a price similar to 500-600watt cheap'o... no need buying something you dont need.

    Anyway, I agree it is almost impossible to get a good psu for $40, no matter the wattage (and if you get a $40 800w psu, it is most likely a fake, delivering 400w max).
  25. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,229   +1,306

    Well unless you have a 4,000w PSU it's pretty hard to run much of anything at 10% under load. I'm going to assume that I use between 400-500w under load and that puts my 1050w PSU at around 50% load. I want a PSU that far exceeds my needed capacity because I don't want to stress it, not because I'm looking for efficiency. The extra efficiency is just a bonus. My goals are to baby the PSU to protect the other components.

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