Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 & GTX 970 Review: First High-End Maxwell GPUs Arrive

By Steve · 59 replies
Sep 18, 2014
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  1. nvidia geforce gtx review nvidia gpu graphics gtx 980 gtx 970

    Based on the same Kepler architecture as the GeForce 600 GPUs before it, the 700 series debuted with the 2688-CUDA core GTX Titan February last year, followed by the GTX 770 and GTX 780 a few months later and then the single-GPU flagship GeForce GTX 780 Ti in November.

    Although the GTX 770 was essentially a rebadged GTX 680 with faster memory, the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti were new products, even if they featured the same architecture. Overall, the GeForce 700 series pushed Kepler to its limits -- all with the exception of the GTX 750 Ti, which still made up for it in efficiency.

    With such a strong showing, Maxwell's first appearance had us excited for higher-end cards and today we finally have them: the $329 GTX 970 will try to carve a place out for itself between the R9 280X and 290, while the $549 GTX 980 is positioned against the R9 290X.

    Read the complete review.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
    misor likes this.
  2. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Thanks for the update Steve. We appreciate your hardwork. Be sure to update the scores for the cards also.

    Looking at Anandtech's benchmark of this card, it looks like an absolute beast. It is both power efficient and achieves great performance. I find it very interesting how nVidia could lower the transistor count yet get more performance. I think AMD can possibly close the margins by getting a more optimized driver out. They already have the price advantage (but maybe not the heat and power one xD).
  3. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Well I have been looking around as well and it still seems to be the same conclusions where the 980 is a bit overpriced for what your getting while the 970 seems to be the real winner here. Its price and performance really make it a King right now for the gaming market to the point that it could be one of the best cards released (Value to money of course). However according to AnandTech this thing is a beastly card and performs well at 4K which is great and it does seem to beat the GTX 780ti which makes it the new king.

    Great review, ill await seeing the updated results.

    Also the new Windforce cooler is sick looking!
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014
    Blue Falcon, Steve and Julio Franco like this.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    An overclocked GTX 970 looks like the money shot. Two in SLI at $660-680 pretty much makes it the best high end option going.
  5. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    (Two hours later) Review updated! The original version of this review showed benchmarks based on an older version of Nvidia's driver that wasn't 100% optimized. Since then, all benchmarks have been redone and our conclusions have been updated to reflect those changes.
    Jad Chaar, GhostRyder, veLa and 3 others like this.
  6. Wow.. 970 is a very impressive offering. This is huge news - bigger than way back when they released the GTX 460.

    $329 MSRP, 4GB ram, 145W TDP (pretty low for what's one of the new market leading GPUs)... and it runs toe-to-toe (and sometimes wins) against the old king of the hill: Nvidia's 780ti (MSRP $699, 3GB ram, 200W TDP).

    I might not be able to resist once these hit e-stores. No doubt it'll double the framerates my 7870 gets!
  7. bnjohanson

    bnjohanson TS Enthusiast Posts: 33   +10

    Yesterday, Barack Obama just purchased retail a tri-780ti Hydro Copper in SLI package.
  8. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    I'm sorry but you did a benchmark WITHOUT testing the new DDR4 ram AND new i7's... seriously come on now atleast show your trying to make it look like people are buying the new stuff which they are....

    The 980 is nice but they probably reduced everything aka cuda cores etc. to make the 980 TI get them so it throws the 980 out of the sky with a massive bang.

    Now all I want to see is a real benchmark with the new DDR4 ram and new i7's with the 980 to get a real feel for performance increases I mean you literally did it for the new 980's so why not the new DDR4 ram & i7's?????
  9. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    I'm sure if you buy Steve a 5960X, a X99 board and some nice DDR4 and ship then to Aussie, he'd reward you with your benchmarks. Failing that, send them to me, and I'll gladly put the cards through their paces.
    amstech and Matt12345170 like this.
  10. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    I don't see any point in going overboard with the specs a i7 5820k would do... plus doesn't cost that much to be honest I got a i7 5820k, gaming 5 board, 16GB 2800Mhz ram only cost me a 1.5 weeks worth of job money.
  11. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Every man and his dog knows using an LGA2011-v3 CPU and DDR4 will have no impact whatsoever on performance.

    Also DBZ I have a Core i7-5960X there was just no point updating the results with it.
  12. Peter Farkas

    Peter Farkas TS Addict Posts: 272   +88

    I'll probably switch to the 970 from my 760. Can hardly wait it... :))
  13. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    There are those few games that will destroy that theory, including some not invented/still-in-development games ;)

    How is the 5960X & DDR4 ram in terms of overall performance have you seen an improvement and if so was it small or big?
  14. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,670   +1,957

    Good to see the progress moving forward. As an owner of GTX 780, I will pass on this one, and hopefully next year we will see a generation of video cards capable of handling even 5K monitors, which will be making a significant presence next year in the professional market.
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    I doubt you will see any games that need/use 8-cores any time soon.
    You must have missed this last week, we even included some CPU limited testing...

    As it stands with the latest and greatest games any Core i7 is a waste when compared to a four thread Core i5.
  16. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    For now yes but I highly doubt anyone would just go out and buy a i7 5820k for gaming haha.
  17. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Okay great, I was just explaining why we didn't test with the Core i7-5960X as you seemed shocked/annoyed. Of course it could have been sarcasm ;)

    Anyway to put the question to rest the Core i7-4770K will provide the same frame rate results as the Core i7-5960X with any of the graphics cards we tested in the games we tested.
  18. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    I was thinking of the i7 5820K as the 5960X is far too expensive might as well go for the low end.
  19. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Okay well let me put it another way. For gaming the LGA2011-v3 platfrom is completely pointless, LGA1150 Core i5 CPU's will deliver the same or better performance in the games we have available today and are much cheaper. They also tend to overclock better.
    Matt12345170 likes this.
  20. Alpha Gamer

    Alpha Gamer TS Evangelist Posts: 354   +116

    Steve, I couldn't help but notice you haven't mentioned, DX12 support. I know it has it but, of course, I was expecting you to bring us more information on the subject, as well as comparing it to the "partial DX12 support" Kepler already offers.
    wastedkill likes this.
  21. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    As always we were extremely pressed for time, getting the samples just days before the release. Making matters worse were FTP problems from Nvidia which delayed us getting the materials for another whole day and then there were issues with the supplied driver. Needless to say the preparation for our GTX 970 and GTX 980 review was anything but ideal.

    That said I don’t have anything to really tell you about DX12, in the whitepapers and presentations there is only a brief mention of it and that was really just to say that it is supported.
  22. Alpha Gamer

    Alpha Gamer TS Evangelist Posts: 354   +116

    :) Thanks for replying
    wastedkill and Steve like this.
  23. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350


    i7 5820k is all I can afford which is all im getting :)
  24. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Okay we are still talking about this. I was just addressing the first comment of your first post.

    "I'm sorry but you did a benchmark WITHOUT testing the new DDR4 ram AND new i7's... "

    I feel I have answered that now, more than once.

    You do realize that the Core i7-5820K is more expensive than any LGA1150 processor, including the 4790K - it costs 15% more in fact. And for gaming it's umm ... how do I put this? SLOWER!

    If you would like to discuss this further please do so in the Core i7-5960X review thread.
    dividebyzero likes this.
  25. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    The DirectX 12 spec hasn't been finalized yet. Nvidia's DX12 support is based upon the preliminary spec. Maxwell does appear to be DirectX 11.3 compliant (when it launches) though by the sounds of it
    Julio Franco likes this.

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