Nvidia GTX980 Maxwell Review

nVidia GTX980 Maxwell Review


With a new model there is always a tendency, however much we might try and avoid it, to expect it to blow the old one out of the water and justify its place in the market. After all if it’s not any better than the previous one why would they bother?

The great thing about the GTX980 is that it is better than the GTX780, just in all the ways you might not expect. Performance is the most obvious one that people look for and there is no doubt that they GTX980 has bags of it. Some tests it’s there or thereabouts, and in others it is just about the best we’ve seen from a single GPU. But it’s not really aimed at the people who already have a GK110 in their system. It’s aimed at those of you with a 6 series or earlier, and if that is you and you have been waiting patiently to see what the second generation after yours brings, this is the product to buy.

Skipping a generation is always a good idea, but if you skip from the GTX680, for example, to the GTX980 you’re getting a hell of a lot of positives.

Firstly it’s GTX780Ti fast. That would normally be enough to have us rushing to the shops already. Secondly if you haven’t experienced this particular design of nVidia reference cooler you can’t imagine how much quieter it is than the ones of old. The decision by nVidia to add a backplate helps the aesthetics tremendously and the inclusion of a small removable panel aids in cooling too, should the need arise. There is a high clock speed out of the box and this can be enhanced with some good overclocking performance. We managed to obtain 200MHz extra from both the GM204 GPU and the GDDR5, and the results showed the card making the most of this extra boost. Understandably when the partner cards arrive with even better cooling solutions there will be even more to squeeze out.

The real star of the show though is the power usage. The GTX780Ti on our LGA2011 system sucked nearly 500W at the wall, and the identical system with the nVidia GTX980 only drew a mere 350W. In real world terms that means that 175 hours worth of electricity costs with a GTX780Ti will give you 250 hours of play on a GTX980. There isn’t even a big initial purchase price required to obtain such power savings. The GTX980 should hit the shelves around the £425 mark.

If you own anything in the nVidia range other than the aforementioned GTX780Ti it’s the upgrade you’ve been waiting for. Even if you do own one you owe it to the planet to seriously consider the greener capabilities of the Maxwell GPU. So in short it’s a GTX780Ti, the card we all desire, but with greater power saving, better overclocking and for less money. That’s worthy of an OC3D Gold Award and we haven’t even begun to discuss how good the Maxwell GPU will be with a 3rd party cooler installed and next years release of DirectX 12 behind it. Until then you can enjoy the many image quality benefits this latest generation of nVidia GPUs brings to the table.


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