Will The GeForce GTX 980 Ti Hold Off AMD Radeon Fury?Last week during Computex 2015, NVIDIA released the GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti features 2816 NVIDIA CUDA cores and 6 GB of GDDR5 memory with a price tag of $649.99. For a limited time gamers will also get Batman: Arkham Knight with the purchase of a GeForce GTX 980. That price tag might be more than some are willing to pay, but you'll soon learn that is shares many key features with the GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB graphics card all while costing $350 less than NVIDIA's most expensive desktop gaming graphics card solution. NVIDIA believes that both of these cards are deliver a good gaming experience on the latest games in 4K at max settings, plus next-gen experiences like VR. Good luck finding a GeForce GTX Titan X for $999 though as up to this point most are selling for over $1,100 even after the GeForce GTX 980 Ti has launched! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti uses the ‘big’ GM200 ‘Maxwell’ GPU like the GeForce GTX TitanX, but it has two Streaming Multiprocessor units disabled. As a refresher the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X has 24 Streaming Multiprocessor units. Each SM contains 128 CUDA cores and that is how you end up with a total of 3072 CUDA cores that handle the pixel, vertex and geometry shading workloads. The texture filtering is done by 192 texture units and you have 3MB of L2 cache and 96 ROPs. The 3072 CUDA cores in the Titan X's GM200 GPU are clocked at 1000MHz/1075MHz. Lastly, you have 12GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit memory interface running at 7010MHz (7GHz) effect memory clock. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti on the other hand had has just 2816 CUDA cores since two SM units have been disabled. This also means there is a reduction in the texture units, so you'll find just 176 on the GTX 980 Ti. The clock speeds are set to the same as on the GeForce GTX Titan X, so the card is clocked at 1000MHz for the base clock and 1075MHz on the boost clock although we have been told that the boost clocks are more aggressively set on this card. The memory on the card has been cut in half, but the 6GB of GDDR5 memory still runs on a 384-bit memory bus and is clocked at 7010MHz. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti still has 96 ROPs and 3MB of L2 cache.
|Titan X||GTX 980 Ti||GTX 980||GTX 780||GTX 680||GTX 580|
|GDDR5 Memory Clock||7,010MHz||7,010MHz||7,000MHz||6,008MHz||6,008MHz||4,008MHz|
|Memory Bus Width||384-bit||384-bit||256-bit||384-bit||256-bit||384-bit|
|FP64||1/32 FP32||1/32 FP32||1/32 FP32||1/24 FP32||1/24 FP32||1/8 FP32|
|Manufacturing Process||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 40nm|
GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Video CardOur NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti video card showed up in a fancy presentation style box that is fit for gaming royalty! The product packaging was designed to lift off from the top and reveal the GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card. The blower style fan GPU cooler used on the GeForce GTX 980 Ti remains largely unchanged since first being used on the original GeForce GTX Titan in February 2013. NVIDIA isn’t getting complacent when it comes to GPU cooler designs, but rather said they came up with a good cooler and the TDP of their high-end discrete desktop cards has not really gone up. If you think about it the GeForce GTX 780, 780 Ti, Titan, Titan X and now the 980 Ti are all 250W TDP cards, so why change the GPU cooler if the temperatures and noise levels are fine? The Titan X has a magnesium alloy fan housing with an aluminum frame that was trivalent chromium plated to look as good as possible. The aluminum housing has been painted black to give it an aggressive look or stealthy depending on what camp you are in. The GeForce logo on top of the card is still LED backlit and glows NVIDIA green. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference card measures 10.5-inches in length and takes up two PCI slots. At just 10.5” long it should easily fit inside your current gaming system or any new chassis that you are looking to purchase for your next gaming rig. The blower style fan on the GTX 980 Ti basically brings air in from the end of the card and the opening of the blower fan itself and then exhausts said air out the back of the graphics card and outside of the PC chassis. The video outputs on the GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference include three DisplayPort connectors, an HDMI 2.0 connector (supporting 4k@60Hz) and a single dual-link DVI output. This means that NVIDIA now offers a total of five video connections, but only four can be used simultaneously. This new video output arrangement means that you can run three NVIDIA G-Sync enabled displays off of one GeForce GTX Titan Xvideo card if one desires to do so. If you want to run a multi-panel setup and don't want to sacrifice any image quality, you'll likely still need to run a 2, 3 or 4-way SLI multi-GPU setup to get the performance needed to power the resolution garnered by such a display setup. NVIDIA also changed up the way the exhaust ports are shaped on the I/O bracket to increase airflow and to reduce noise. The ability to support HDMI 2.0 is a pretty big deal and NVIDIA has the world's first GPU that is able to support it. Previous generation GPU's supported HDMI 1.4 and could only officially support 4k displays at 30Hz for '444' RGB pixels and 60Hz for '420' YUV pixels. The GeForce GTX 970/980/Titan X support full-resolution '444' RGB pixels at 60Hz for 4k displays. All GM2xx Maxell GPUs also ship with an enhanced NVENC encoder that adds support for H.265 encoding. NVIDIA claims that Maxwell's video encoder improves H.264 video encode throughput by 2.5x over Kepler and that it can encode 4k video at 60 FPS. The max resolution supported by Maxwell is 5120x3200, so get ready for displays that go way beyond Ultra HD in the years to come! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) rating of 250 Watts and requires one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCIe Power Connector for proper operation. NVIDIA recommends a 600W or larger power supply for a system running one GeForce GTX 980 Ti video card. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X reference card does not come with a backplate and there are no GDDR5 memory components on the back of this reference card. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti uses two sets of aluminum heatinks that has three embedded heatpipes that help keep the Maxwell GM200 GPU nice and cool. NVIDIA says that the default GPU Boost 2.0 settings will allow the GTX 980 to boost up to the highly clock frequency and remain there as long as the GPU temperature remains at or below 80C. Once you pull the CPU cooler entirely off you can see the PCB of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference card along with the GM200 GPU, GDDR5 memory ICs and the 6+2 power phase design. NVIDIA went with a 6-phase VR circuit with integrated dynamic power balancing circuity for the Titan X’s GM200 GPU and there is are two additional power phases for the boards 6GB of GDDR5 memory. NVIDIA is also using polarized capacitors (POSCAPS) to minimize unwanted board noises as well as molded inductors for the very first time on a reference board. NVIDIA says that the 6+2 phase power supply setup has the ability to supply the GPU with 275W of power at the maximum power target setting of 110% if one would like to overclock the card. Let's move along to the GeForce GTX 980 Ti test system and then get straight on to the benchmark results!
Test SystemBefore we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 8 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. It should be noted that we average all of our test runs. There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:
- NVIDIA GeForce 347.84 For All Maxwell/Kepler Cards & GeForce 353.12 for GTX 980 Ti
- AMD CATALYST 15.3.1 Beta
Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform
|The Intel X79 Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4960X|
ASUS P9X79-E WS
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
|Solid-State Drive||OCZ Vertex 460 240GB|
|Cooling||Intel TS13X (Asetek)|
|Power Supply||Corsair AX860i|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit|
|Monitor||Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K|
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti OverclockingThe NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is no slouch at stock speeds, but if you are comfortable using an overclocking utility like EVGA Precision X you can take this already powerful card and get even more performance from the GM200 'Maxwell' GPU. This is due to the fact that NVIDIA left plenty of overhead with particular GPU for enthusaists and gamers to tap into if they wanted to push the envelope a little bit. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is power limited in most game titles, so it will benefit from additional power. We installed a latest version of the EVGA PrecisionX 16 overclocking utility to overclock the NVIDIA GeForce GTX TitanX video card! You can use whatever software utility you like for overclocking, but this our personal favorite and the one we've used the most. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 ti is pretty open when it comes to overclocking. You can increase the power target to 110% and if you leave the GPU Temp Target locked it will automatically increase to 91C. We pushed the GPU Clock offset to +235MHz and the Mem Clock Offset to +500MHz on our card and found it was stable in the game titles that we tested. This overclock meant that we were running at 1436.9 MHz at times thanks to NVIDIA Boost 2.0 on the core and 2000.7 MHz (8002.8 MHz effective) on the 6GB of GDDR5 memory. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Stock: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Overclocked (+235/+500): By overclocking the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB reference card we were able to take the score of 7489 on 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and raise it up to 8690. This is a 1201 point increase in our overall 3DMark score, which represents a performance gain of 16 percent. The overal FPS average in Graphics Test 1 went from 42.70 to 49.03, which is a 14.8% performance gain in the graphics test. We benchmarked the GeForce GTX980 Ti overclocked to +235MHz core and +500MHz memory for this review so you can see how the card performs both with stock clock speeds and then pushed to the outer limits of where you'd want to have a 24/7 overclock without any voltage adjustments.
Batman: Arkham OriginsBatman: Arkham Origins is an action-adventure video game developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it follows the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and is the third main installment in the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide on October 25, 2013. For testing we used DirectX11 Enhanced, FXAA High Anti-Aliasing and with all the bells and whistles turned on. It should be noted that V-Sync was turned off and that NVIDIA's PhysX software engine was also disabled to ensure both the AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards were rendering the same objects. We manually ran FRAPS on the single player game instead of using the built-in benchmark to be as real world as we possibly could. We ran FRAPS in the Bat Cave, which was one of the only locations that we could easily run FRAPS for a couple minutes and get it somewhat repeatable. The CPU usage for Batman: Arkham Origins was surprising low with just 10% of the Intel Core i7-4960X being used by this particular game title. You can see that the bulk of the work is being done by one CPU core. Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB video card averaged 70.39 FPS and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti was found to average 67.12 FPS on Batman: Arkham Origins with the stock clock speeds. This is only 4.9% performance difference, which isn't too bad. With the GeForce GTX 980 Ti video card overclocked the average jumped up to 81.37 FPS, which iss actually faster than a dead stock AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB video card. Benchmark Results: When you look at performance over time, the GeForce GTX Titan X 6GB graphics card dropped below 60 FPS on our Ultra HD (3840x2160) test setup just for a couple brief seconds.
Battlefield 4Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have been running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States. This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the Ultra graphics quality preset as most discrete desktop graphics cards can easily play with this IQ setting at 1080P and we still want to be able to push the higher-end cards down the road. We used FRAPS to benchmark each card with these settings on the Shanghai level. Battlefield 4 is more CPU intensive than any other game that we benchmark with as 25% of the CPU is used up during gameplay. You can see that six threads are being used and that the processor is running in Turbo mode at 3.96GHz more times than not. Benchmark Results: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at 3840x2160 we were able to average 33.28 FPS on the GeForce GTX 980 reference card versus 43.47 FPS on the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, so there is a huge performance difference between these two 980 cards. The Difference between the GeForce GTX Titan X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti was less than 1FPS! Benchmark Results: The GeForce GTX 980 Ti and Titan X looked nearly identical when we graph the frame rate performance over time at 3840x2160.
Crysis 3Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each test. Crysis 3 has a reputation for being highly resource intensive. Most graphics cards will have problems running Crysis 3 at maximum settings, so we settled on no AA with the graphics quality mostly set to Very High with 16x AF. We disabled v-sync and left the motion blur amount on medium. Crysis 3 appeared to run for the most part on just 3 CPU threads and used up about 15-18% of our Intel Core i7-4960X processor with these settings. Notice that the processor speed was at 3.53GHz and we very seldom, if ever, saw the processor go into turbo mode on Crysis 3. Benchmark Results: On Crysis 3 at 3840x2160 the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 reference card averaged 21.07 FPS and we were running at 26.64 FPS on the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Overclocking the GeForce GTX 980 Ti got our performance up to 33.18 FPS, but still a couple FPS behind the stock Radeon R9 295X2. Benchmark Results: It is extremely tough to get identical FRAPS runs on Crysis 3, but you can get the general feel for the cards still in the chart above. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti drops below 25 FPS a number of times, so NVIDIA G-Sync display is still handy on even the top end cards to help smooth out performance.
Far Cry 4Far Cry 4 is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One video game consoles, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to 2012's Far Cry 3. The game was released on November 18th, 2014 in North America and Europe. Far Cry 4 follows Ajay Ghale, a young Kyrati-American who returns to his native country Kyrat to spread his deceased mother's ashes. He finds the country in a state of civil war between Kyrat's Royal Army led by the country's eccentric and tyrant king Pagan Min and the Golden Path, a rebel movement fighting to free Kyrat from Min's oppressive rule. Far Cry 4 uses the heavily modified Dunia Engine 2 game engine with Havok physics. The graphics are excellent and the game really pushes the limits of what one can expect from mainstream graphics cards. We set game title to Ultra image quality settings and did not adjust any of the advanced settings. Far Cry 4 uses about 30% of the processor and is running on multiple cores as you can see from our screen capture above. One core has more of a load on it than the others, but all logical processors are being uses to some degree when playing Far Cry 4.
Benchmark Results: In Far Cry 4 we found the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 at 32.36, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti at 41.96 FPS and the GeForce GTX Titan X at 43.71 FPS. When overclocked the GeForce GTX 980 Ti we were able to average 50.62 FPS on FarCry 4 and our gaming experience was excellent on this awesome looking game title. The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 had the highest average FPS at 59.20, but it was choppy at various times when we were playing the game title.
Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is just slightly slower than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X as you can see when you look at the frame rate over time chart.
ThiefThief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix on February 25, 2014. We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled. Thief appears to be running on the six physical cores of the Intel Core i7-4960X processor and averages around 17-24% CPU usage from what we were able to tell from the CPU utilization meter that is built into the Windows 8.1 task manager. Benchmark Results: On Thief we found the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 reference card had an average benchmark run of 50.64 FPS, the GTX 980 Ti was 63.93 and the GeForce GTX Titan X was slightly slower at 62.79 FPS. Benchmark Results: The performance over time chart showed very similar overall performance on all the cards, but notice the GeForce GTX 980 Ti and GeForce GTX Titan X managed to stay above 50 FPS during the benchmark run.
3DMark 20133Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.
Fire Strike Extreme Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark had the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 video card coming in with an overall score of 5,853, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti scores 7,489 and the GeForce GTX Titan X came in on top with a score of 7,549. The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 led the benchmark chart though with an impressive overall score of 8,852.Fire Strike Ultra 4K Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra '4K' benchmark had the GeForce GTX Titan X coming in at 4,000 and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti coming in slightly ahead of that with a score of 4,023 despite having half the memory and ~8% fewer shader and texture resources!
Temperature & Noise TestingTemperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X video card. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Idle Temps: At idle we found the GPU core temperature was 32C with the single fan on the NVIDIA reference cooler running at 22% or 1050 RPM. When gaming we hit 85C in a room with a temperature of 70F (21C), so nothing different from what you'd expect to see on high-end Maxwell GPU based cards. When running all the games in our benchmark suite we saw that we hit a maximum boost clock frequency of 1202MHz, which is higher than we saw on the GeForce GTX Titan X as that card hit just 1164MHz. One of the reasons that the performance difference is so small on these two cards is that the GTX 980 Ti appears to be boosting higher than the GTX Titan X!
We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a fairly quiet card at both idle and when heated to full operating temperature. When you overclock the card though by raising the power limits you'll see than the fan speed jump up to over 60% (2800RPM) and you'll hear the difference. Overclocking increased our fan speed by 400 RPM, so one of the downsides of overclocking will be increased noise levels from the GPU cooler trying to handle the extra heat from the GPU and other components.
Power ConsumptionFor testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran Battlefield 4 at 3840x2160 and recorded the average idle reading and the peak gaming reading on the power meter. Power Consumption Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 hit 354W with the stock clock speeds and then when overclocked we observed the system pulling 417W from the wall thanks to the increased power target and raised clock speeds. The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 led many of the performance tests, but it also uses by far the most power to get those performance numbers! The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 peaked at 743W in BF4 and that is a staggering 367 Watts more than a stock GeForce GTX Titan X. Let's wrap this review up!
Memory Bandwidth TestingTesting memory bandwidth on video cards is tricky, but we've been dabbling around testing it in recent weeks. We built a new system to test just memory bandwidth it is best the test on a system that has a CPU with integrated graphics in order for the discrete graphics card can be run in headless mode. We also disabled Windows Aero and set the system to high performance mode for both the display settings and power settings. Nai's GPU memory bandwidth test only works on NVIDIA CUDA cards, so we tested a handful of NVIDIA GeForce GTX reference cards from the Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell series to see how they perform. We weren't expecting to reach the theoretical peak bandwidth figures, but all of the cards came in reasonably close. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is rated as have 336 GB/s of memory bandwidth and we averaged 289.2 GB/s across the 6GB frame buffer. This is a nice step up from the 178.8 GB/s measures on the GeForce GTX 980 reference card! No performance drop off was noted in the benchmark and we ran the VRAM bandwidth testing utility at block sizes of 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024 just to be sure on each card.
Final Thoughts and ConclusionsThe NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti performed very well in our testing and we are quite impressed by the card and the performance level that you get from this $649 card. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti was running over 1200MHz in stock trim and tore up the game benchmarks and was usually just couple frames per second slower than the GeForce GTX Titan X and that is amazing considering the price difference. NVIDIA won't be selling many GeForce GTX Titan X video cards now as the only people gunning for those will be those gamers that simply want the best and are not bound by any budget concerns. The AMD Radeon R9 290X video card (currently $329.99 shipped) is finally was introduced in 2013 and the performance is really starting to look that way as well. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is in an entirely different class than the AMD Radeon R9 290X! NVIDIA has also come out and said that the GeForce GTX 980 Ti will be support DirectX 12 Feature Level 12.1 with support for more advanced features like a conservative raster and raster ordered views. AMD issues Legit Reviews a statement on DirectX 12 support on their current cards and then asked us moments later not to publish that information. Why AMD is being secretive about DirectX 12 support on Hawaii is certainly odd, but NVIDIA has been very forthcoming about the DX12 support they will offer. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB is priced at $649 and will include a bundled copy of Batman: Arkham Knight. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 is moving down to the $499 price point, which is a nice $50 price drop. No other changes were made to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX line-up, so it now looks like this:
- GeForce GTX TITAN X: $999
- GeForce GTX 980 Ti: $649
- GeForce GTX 980: $499
- GeForce GTX 970: $329
- GeForce GTX 960: $199
- Gigabyte GV-N98RD5-6GD-B - $649.99 Shipped
- EVGA 06-P4-4990-KR - $649.99 Shipped
- ASUS GTX980Ti-6GD5 - $659.99 Shipped