GeForce GTX 880M, 870M, And 860M: Mobile GPUs, Tested

Is The GeForce GTX 800M-Series A Better Buy?

Focusing on Nvidia's newest GeForce GTX 800M-series graphics modules and Origin PC's mobile platform for today’s performance analysis simplifies the value comparison for us, since we only need to look one place for our pricing. Granted, the old parts were discontinued as soon as the 800Ms launched, so I did have to use February pricing in my calculations.

That also meant subtracting $78 from the configured price of the refreshed machine, since the old CPU, which Origin PC custom-installed for us, was $78 cheaper. Still, that's a marginal subtraction on a system that costs as much as ~$3000 with high-end graphics.

You do pay more for Nvidia's faster GeForce GTX 800M-series graphics modules. Regardless, the new GPUs offer enough of a performance boost to offset their premium as part of a complete system. Not only does the latest and greatest win out on performance, but also value.

A little adding and subtracting from quoted prices for various Eon17-S configurations suggests that Origin PC charges about $900 for the GeForce GTX 880M, around $600 for the 870M, and roughly $500 for the GTX 860M, as part of the package deal. That makes the 860M roughly twice as pricey as the GeForce GTX 765M. Then again, Nvidia's GK104 is a more expensive graphics processor than GK106. 

Some folks will suggest that only the cost of the component under test can be used to calculate value, even when that piece of hardware affects the performance of an entire system. I tend to disagree, but went ahead and created a chart for them based on my findings, too.

This chart makes certain assumptions based on Origin PC's prices. More problematic, its results suggest that the rest of the notebook is free. The first diagram is more realistic, conveying that the biggest generational improvement happens going from GeForce GTX 770M to 870M. And that's probably the GPU I'd choose if I were spending my own money. It's adequate through our benchmark suite at the most demanding settings.

Of course, if you need even higher frame rates for 3D Vision or more taxing details in games like Metro: Last Light, you could always spend the few hundred extra dollars on the GeForce GTX 880M. That is, unless you'd like to wait for AMD's response.

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35 comments
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  • CaptainTom
    Eh these generations are all the same cards. Show us a 980M with full maxwell. Then we'll talk...
    -1
  • dscudella
    Looks like maybe two more generations before we see single gpu 4K mobile gaming.
    0
  • Puiucs
    we need them to finish working on 20nm fast. TSMC just can't do it anymore. global foundries has 14nm only on paper too....
    2
  • guvnaguy
    I'm actually fairly impressed. Their website says a max of 6 hours battery on "UMA" mode. Would you be able to test this, Tom?

    Previously I wouldn't consider getting a gaming laptop due to their short battery life, even when not gaming. But if a laptop with this kind of hardware can manage 5 - 6 hours, I'd consider it...
    3
  • ubercake
    Page one gives the impression you might include desktop cards so we could get a frame of reference with regard to desktop v laptop GPU performance. Then I looked immediately at the BF4 page and found no desktop GPUs in the performance charts?
    3
  • Ninjawithagun
    Highly disappointed overall by the 800M series performance. I can feel assured that my GTX780Ms in my Alienware 18 will serve me well for at least another year. So, whatever happened to multi-core GPUs?? The concept works well for desktop CPUs, yet we have not seen it in desktop or mobile GPUs as of yet? ATI's Hawaii GPU comes close in certain aspects regarding behavior like a multi-core GPU by handing off processes to other chips within the die. One step closer to a next-gen GPU, yet still so far...
    -3
  • jrharbort
    A shame this didn't include the Maxwell-based 860M. It performs much more in line with what we'd expect from a true next-gen mobile chip (I'm currently using said chip, and still exercising its capabilities). I can say it's roughly 30% faster than the previous gen 765M, and benchmarks by others have shown it to be twice as fast as the GTX 660M while staying at a max of 50W TDP. I've yet to do any real benchmarking myself, so if anyone cares to see any, leave me some suggestions of what to use (preferably free software).
    2
  • hannibal
    Is there any way of knowing if you get kepler 860 or maxwell 860 when you buy a laptop?
    I hate these kind of naming tricks... Even 860a and 860b or anything that gives out what you will get.
    1
  • jrharbort
    Quote:
    Is there any way of knowing if you get kepler 860 or maxwell 860 when you buy a laptop? I hate these kind of naming tricks... Even 860a and 860b or anything that gives out what you will get.
    It is difficult to know unless you get more specific information from the manufacturer before purchase (or find benchmarks of the computer model you're looking at beforehand). The MSi GE60 Apache Pro was the first notebook to feature the Maxwell-based 860M.
    1
  • dstarr3
    Quote:
    So, whatever happened to multi-core GPUs?? The concept works well for desktop CPUs, yet we have not seen it in desktop or mobile GPUs as of yet?


    GPUs have been multi-core for ages now. Well beyond desktop cores, even. The GTX880M in particular is a 1,536-core GPU. Similar numbers have been around for a long time.
    http://www.geforce.com/hardware/notebook-gpus/geforce-gtx-880m/specifications
    7
  • Steveymoo
    Scumbag Nvidia. Want a new GPU? Here's exactly the same piece of silicon with a slightly faster clock rate and increased power usage, and higher price. Laziest business model ever.
    -1
  • Crashman
    957409 said:
    I'm actually fairly impressed. Their website says a max of 6 hours battery on "UMA" mode. Would you be able to test this, Tom? Previously I wouldn't consider getting a gaming laptop due to their short battery life, even when not gaming. But if a laptop with this kind of hardware can manage 5 - 6 hours, I'd consider it...
    We have a couple complete notebooks set aside for that type of review :)

    146263 said:
    Highly disappointed overall by the 800M series performance. I can feel assured that my GTX780Ms in my Alienware 18 will serve me well for at least another year. So, whatever happened to multi-core GPUs?? The concept works well for desktop CPUs, yet we have not seen it in desktop or mobile GPUs as of yet? ATI's Hawaii GPU comes close in certain aspects regarding behavior like a multi-core GPU by handing off processes to other chips within the die. One step closer to a next-gen GPU, yet still so far...
    GPU's have been multi-core for several generations. And dual-GPU mobile solutions have come and gone several times as AMD basically applied a dual-GPU name to a pair of notebook modules (in CrossFire).
    2
  • John Wittenberg
    "Is there any way of knowing if you get kepler 860 or maxwell 860 when you buy a laptop?
    I hate these kind of naming tricks... Even 860a and 860b or anything that gives out what you will get."

    Yes, the 860M Maxwell is a 2GB card that is soldered directly onto the motherboard with only 640 cuda cores w/ 50W TDP. The Kelper 860M is 4GB and is MXM (replaceable) with 1152 cuda cores w/ 75W TDP.
    1
  • John Wittenberg
    As an addendum, I was unaware that the Kepler 860M even came in 2GB - but according to Tom's it is?
    0
  • Menigmand
    I would love to see a comparison benchmark between mobile maxwell (860m) and desktop maxwell (750 Ti)
    0
  • h2323
    Toms never gets anything right, should have added a radeon or two to the bench's, updated in this test.
    -2
  • Crashman
    561580 said:
    Toms never gets anything right, should have added a radeon or two to the bench's
    Already done:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-780m-770m-765m,3732.html
    2
  • cynic77
    Quote:
    As an addendum, I was unaware that the Kepler 860M even came in 2GB - but according to Tom's it is?


    I was going to comment earlier and ask Thomas about this. Did Origin PC come up with custom 800M-series modules for this article?... or was half the VRAM somehow disabled? If not, I'm confused. The EON17-S as available on their web site comes with the "standard" double-memory configurations - 4 GB for the 860M, 6 GB for the 870M, and a whopping 8 GB for the 880M. I didn't see this mentioned in the article at all. On other forums, users have indicated this "double-VRAM" is a waste. It would have been nice if this article had put the "double-VRAM" to the test, especially at the QHD resolution.
    -1
  • Crashman
    1559186 said:
    Quote:
    As an addendum, I was unaware that the Kepler 860M even came in 2GB - but according to Tom's it is?
    I was going to comment earlier and ask Thomas about this. Did Origin PC come up with custom 800M-series modules for this article?... or was half the VRAM somehow disabled? If not, I'm confused. The EON17-S as available on their web site comes with the "standard" double-memory configurations - 4 GB for the 860M, 6 GB for the 870M, and a whopping 8 GB for the 880M. I didn't see this mentioned in the article at all. On other forums, users have indicated this "double-VRAM" is a waste. It would have been nice if this article had put the "double-VRAM" to the test, especially at the QHD resolution.
    I checked the pictures in the article's image gallery :) GPU-Z shows that the memory amount in the tables was wrong, so I corrected the tables. Thanks! I wish someone would have caught this earlier, but I'm glad I at least got to correct it the same day.
    2
  • mikeangs2004
    I wouldn't buy a laptop like this from rjtech nor SSD until M.2 10G comes out
    -2