Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 And 980 Review: Maximum Maxwell

Results: Assassin's Creed IV, Watchdogs, Far Cry 3

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Despite its status as an Nvidia Gameworks partner title, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is known to perform well with the Hawaii GPU in the Radeon R9 290 series. Let's see how the new GeForce cards compare:

At 1080p the high-end graphics cards run in to a clear platform bottleneck, so it's difficult to call out any real winners amongst these super elite products. Perhaps bumping up the resolution will separate the men from the boys:

It remains a tight race but the GeForce GTX 980 has demonstrated a clear trend of achieving best-in-class performance at 4K, and manages over 40 FPS average in this case with very high details enabled.

Watchdogs

Watchdogs can be brutal on medium-range hardware, but it does not present an insurmountable burden for the top-tier graphics hardware we're throwing at it today.

Even with the high detail preset enabled, all of these graphics cards handle 1080p without too much problem, but you can see that this game engine is plagued with significant frame time variance spikes. This is most likely caused by loading chunks of the large game world as we travel through it in a speeding vehicle.

Increase the resolution to 3640x2160, though, and we need to settle for the medium detail preset. Even so, the frame time variance spikes increase and impact the player's experience. The issue isn't distracting enough to make the game unplayable, though.

Far Cry 3

The final game in today's benchmark tests, Far Cry 3 remains a sterling example of a beautiful graphics engine with lush foliage that is affected by your avatar as you walk through the jungle.

The new GeForce cards stand tall here, as they have throughout the rest of our benchmark suite. You can see that Radeon graphics cards demonstrate considerably more frame time variance than their competitors, which can manifest as micro stutter and be an annoyance in this game.

With the resolution increased to 4K, details must be dropped to the medium preset in order to maintain playability with even the fastest single-GPU cards. The GeForce GTX 970 and 980 distinguish themselves yet again, although the Radeon frame time variance issue we saw at 1080p has curiously become less of a problem.

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  • Vivecss
    Wow.......
  • lancear15
    I was waiting for Tom's review to make my final decision, the 980 is definitely going into my current 5960x build! I cant wait.
  • HKILLER
    so how long before you do a round up?i mean this time i've seen some pretty crazy looking cards (Zotac's Extreme AMP! edition looks crazy and the Inno3D too)and EVGA has shown off ACX 2.0 which they claim to be the most efficient GPU air cooler in the world...so many to choose from also EVGA FTW has been nicely overclocked i've seen it performing almost on par with 980
  • realibrad
    byt he way... Last page 2nd sentence after the graph of Avg game performance.

    I was hoping for more performance but the efficiency is quite nice. They just put pressure on the top end and gave us a price reduction, instead of overall performance gains.
  • balister
    Very nice, but I still want to see what the power consumption along with what might be possible with the drop to 20nm (since this is still 28nm).

    Likely, we're going to see a Maxwell Titan equivalent come in the next year or so as these are a x04 much like Kepler with the 670/80s were and we're still going to be waiting to see what the x10 will be with the Maxwell architecture.
  • MANOFKRYPTONAK
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...
  • vertexx
    970 is the real story until the 980ti comes out - what a value proposition with the 970!

    Good stuff here - but you guys were a bit slow on this one. Tom's Hardware is the first site I visit every morning. But with the delay of this article, I've been all over the net this morning on other sites that got their stuff out sooner.
  • daveys93
    Will there be a follow-up article about overclocking these cards? Other sites are showing results that both of the new cards are capable of 1500+ MHz on air (aftermarket coolers and even a few with stock coolers), which is a massive overclock. Looks like NVIDIA left the door open for some decent voltage increases, but many results have been in the 1450-1500 MHz range at stock voltage. I am a big fan of the thoroughness of Tom's articles so I am very interested in seeing overclocking results and analysis from this site.
  • nikolajj
    I need this...
  • tobalaz
    I want a 970, wow!
    That's some flat out insane price / performance ratio right there!
  • cleeve
    671978 said:
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...


    Same answer to both... no time.

    We literally got the 970 for testing yesterday. The 980, we got the day before. We barely got the article out by this morning.

    For those of you who want more info, we'll be spending more time with the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 in the weeks to come, don't you worry. ;)
  • BigMack70
    Since we know this is only the mid-size Maxwell chip (just like GK104 vs GK110), shouldn't this article title be "Medium Maxwell"?

    I'm waiting for the real Maximum Maxwell myself. Unimpressed with these xxx04 launches from Nvidia.
  • EnkiduW
    Wonder what dual 970's would look like, the price is not that bad...
  • MANOFKRYPTONAK
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...
  • vertexx
    1765452 said:
    Wonder what dual 970's would look like, the price is not that bad...


    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_970_SLI/

    Depending on resolution, dual 970's are roughly equal to the 295x2 at only 2/3's the price.
  • Novuake
    Performance aside, which OBVIOUSLY is stellar for current price/performance consideration.

    The features that Nvidia has been rolling out constantly has been quite impressive, while many of them do not appeal to me at all, the sheer amount and in most cases quality of them is insane.

    Well done Nvidia. Let's see what AMD responds with, my next main gaming machine purchase as of now are 2 x Nvidia GTX970.

    EDIT : Im sure that its a good upgrade to my 2 x HD7950s :D
  • Novuake
    21257 said:
    671978 said:
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...
    Same answer to both... no time. We literally got the 970 for testing yesterday. The 980, we got the day before. We barely got the article out by this morning. For those of you who want more info, we'll be spending more time with the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 in the weeks to come, don't you worry. ;)


    Thank you! That answered a question I had in a previous GTX980/970 tease on the live news feed.

    Do you guys have this problem often with Nvidia? You always seem to have fewer Nvidia board partner variaty and slower review releases on Nvidia GPUs.
    More so than other websites.
  • vertexx
    554342 said:
    21257 said:
    671978 said:
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...
    Same answer to both... no time. We literally got the 970 for testing yesterday. The 980, we got the day before. We barely got the article out by this morning. For those of you who want more info, we'll be spending more time with the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 in the weeks to come, don't you worry. ;)
    Thank you! That answered a question I had in a previous GTX980/970 tease on the live news feed. Do you guys have this problem often with Nvidia? You always seem to have fewer Nvidia board partner variaty and slower review releases on Nvidia GPUs. More so than other websites.


    My bets are that no NVidia GPUs on the best GPU's for the $$ for the past several months earned Tom's a slight delay in the delivery of these GPUs. :ouch:
  • Novuake
    1293856 said:
    My bets are that no NVidia GPUs on the best GPU's for the $$ for the past several months earned Tom's a slight delay in the delivery of these GPUs. :ouch:


    Nah, doubt Nvidia is that petty.

    More publicity is exactly that, more publicity.

    Tom's has been around a long time and is trusted by A LOT of people.
    Doubt Nvidia would compromise the user base.
  • Nossy
    Nvidia and Intel are so way ahead of AMD...
  • oxiide
    671978 said:
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...


    Agreed that overclocking would have been interesting to see. But would including the 780 have added anything to this? The GTX 970 is already faster than an R9 290X.

    The 770, at least, allows us to see the direct improvement from one x70 card to its replacement. Especially when they're approximately the same price.
  • Novuake
    Just read some of the benches again, dear lord those number at that price. Can not get over it...

    Now lets see if they can satisfy my overclocking needs.

    Hurry up with that portion Cleeve!
    When can we expect it?
  • legokill101
    and just to add on while I am very excited about the better price/performance and performance per watt I would honestly say that while the increased efficiency is great, most enthusiast run a single gpu in a full atx case with ample airflow and because of that, I feel like features and price/performance, tend to dictate most purchases of gpu, not performance for watt (which isn't to say its not a good thing)
  • Novuake
    118801 said:
    Nvidia and Intel are so way ahead of AMD...


    Don't count AMD out of the GPU world yet, they still need to respond with their release.

    As for AMD CPUs, I have given up in the enthusiast market, but still have high hopes for low cost and low power APUs bringing affordable gaming to mobile devices.