NVIDIA Maxwell GPU GeForce GTX 980 Video Card Review

Today NVIDIA launches its newest Maxwell GPU. There will be two new GPUs, the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970. These next generation GPUs usher in new features and performance that move the gaming industry forward. We discuss new features, architecture, and evaluate the gameplay performance against the competition.

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Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing in with minimum, maximum, and average framerates.

Test System Setup

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For the new GeForce GTX 980 NVIDIA sent us a new driver to use, we also used this driver on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. It is GeForce 344.07.

For the XFX Radeon R9 290X we used Catalyst 14.7 RC3. We inquired if there would be a new AMD driver anytime soon, the answer was no announcements right now.

Video Card Setup

We also inquired to AMD if there would be any price changes, again no announcements to any price changes at this time.

For our comparison we went with the performance comparison for the GeForce GTX 980, which is the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, despite the price difference. We also used an XFX Radeon R9 290X due to its custom cooler so that the frequency would remain at 1GHz which is stock reference 290X frequency.

Format Change

We are changing our evaluation format slightly, to update it with modern current common resolution testing. We are using new ASUS PB287Q displays which allow us to run games in 16:9 standard format ratio, as well as 4K support. We will test in 1920x1080 (1080p), 2560x1440 (1440p) and 3840x2160 (4K). This will give us the ability to test the standards of 1080p, 1440p, and 4K gaming.

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Comparison of GPU Pricing

Keep this in mind about pricing, the MSRP of GeForce GTX 980 is $150 less than GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Current street pricing has GeForce GTX 780 Ti from $560 after MIR to $700 and higher for others. Radeon R9 290X is as low as $429 as we go to publish this article, but historically between $500 and $600. The XFX R9 290X we are using is $499 after $30 MIR with Prime Shipping. GeForce GTX 980 is $549.