Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, GTX 970: SA price, review

Calling all PC gamers – Nvidia has announced its latest single-chip gaming powerhouses: the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970.

The 980 claims to be the fastest single-ship graphics card on the market, and both feature Nvidia’s new Maxwell architecture. The two new cards will replace the GTX 780 Ti, so, like a guy with an iPhone 5 at the iPhone 6 launch, you will no longer be a cool kid with a 780 in your system.

Before we get into the pricing – spoiler: they are not exactly cheap – let’s take a look at what the cards are offering in terms of specifications.

Card
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
Steam processors/Cuda Cores 2048 1664
Texture Units 128 104
Core Clock 1126MHz 1050MHz
Boost Clock 1216MHz 1178MHz
Memory Clock 7GHz DDR5 7GHz DDR5
Memory Bus Width 256 bit 256 bit
VRAM 4GB 4GB
Max Digital Resolution 4096×2160 4096×2160
Max VGA Resolution 2048×1536 2048×1536
Power Consumption 165W 145W

Both cards feature the aforementioned Maxwell architecture, which Nvidia says will deliver better performance and power efficiency. The cards also offer Dynamic Super Resolution – which claims to deliver 4K-quality gaming on 1080p displays – and VXGI (Voxel Global Illumination).

VXGI allows the simulation of light inside games in real time, which is meant to provide better quality shadows, more vibrant colours, and more realistic scenery. Nvidia released a video explaining and demonstrating VXGI in action, which we have posted below.

Please do not laugh at the guy who gives the intro – his eyesight is obviously poor and those glasses are necessary.

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry and Anandtech put the GTX 980 through its paces with the usual line up of resource-hungry games – here are the results.

Game
Settings
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 – FPS
BioShock Ultra DDOF 1920×1080 121.6
Tomb Raider Ultimate FXAA 1920×1080 91.1
Battlefield 4 Ultra 1920×1080 87.2
Crysis 3 Very High 1920×1080 77
Crysis 3 FXAA High Quality 3840×2160 29.1
Metro: Last Light High Quality 3840×2160 37.3
Metro: Last Light High Quality 2560×1440 83.7

SA pricing

GTX 980

Although pricing information is not widely available, Evetech let us know that it will be getting stock of the two cards in the coming weeks. There are three versions currently available from the PC builder, all of which are expected to arrive on 3 October 2014.

  • MSI GTX 980 OC Edition – R9,499
  • MSI GTX 980 – R9,599
  • MSI GTX 980 Gaming Overclocked – R9,799
MSI GTX 980

MSI GTX 980

GTX 970

The slightly less powerful GTX 970 is expected to arrive on 26 September 2014.

  • MSI GTX 970 OC Edition – R5,599
  • MSI GTX 970 Armour OC – R5,699
  • MSI GTX 970 Gaming OC – R5,999
MSI GTX 970

MSI GTX 970

Here are some more pretty pictures of the cards, just because.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-970-3qtr

Nvidia GeForce GTX 970

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

And now, let’s hear from those who were fortunate enough to play with the card before its launch.

What Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry thought:

The GTX 980 is what it is – an extremely clever piece of technology that’s a bit faster than the previous Nvidia flagship, offered at the same price premium but without a commanding increase in raw frame-rates some may have hoped for.

In this respect, the card could fall short of enthusiast expectations – at the top-end, the demands of the hardcore almost always put performance first. But for those looking to upgrade from an older card, the combination of power and efficiency Maxwell represents makes it difficult to ignore.

What Anandtech thought:

At the very high end the GTX 980 will be unrivaled. It is roughly 10% faster than GTX 780 Ti and consumes almost 1/3rd less power for that performance.

This is enough to keep the single-GPU performance crown solidly in NVIDIA’s hands, maintaining a 10-20% lead over AMD’s flagship Radeon R9 290X. Meanwhile GTX 970 should fare similarly as well, however as our sample is having compatibility issues that we haven’t been able to resolve in time, that is a discussion we will need to have another day.

And, as always, cue the marketing video. This one has a bit more substance than the average product video, though. Enjoy.

Thanks to Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, Anandtech, and Nvidia’s product page for helping me not sound like a complete noob. Long live the PS4.

So, what do y’all think of the new cards? Let us know in the comments and forum.

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