Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 And 980 Review: Maximum Maxwell

Power Consumption Overview

[EDIT] We originally posted Power Consumption Torture (GPGPU) results that showed a simulated GeForce GTX 970 reference card pulling over 240 Watts. This does not represent Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 970 board because our data point was simulated with a Gigabyte GTX 970 card that has a non-reference ~250 Watt power target, unlike the reference board's ~150 W power target.

We have since pulled that data since it does not represent Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 970 card. On the other hand, as far as we know there are no actual GeForce GTX 970 reference card designs for sale as each manufacturer has put their own spin on this model. None of the manufacturers we have talked to have released a GeForce GTX 970 card with a ~150 Watt power target as of this time, opting instead to give this product more performance headroom.

This is an issue we are keeping a close eye on, and we will follow up with a detailed investigation in the near future. We are curious to see if a reference-based GeForce GTX 970 will perform in the same league as the cards we have tested with higher power targets, but it would certainly make more sense in an HTPC or for use in smaller form factors. In the meantime, we have removed the 'simulated' GeForce GTX 970 data point from the following charts. [/EDIT]

Now it's time to compare our measurements to some of the other relevant graphics cards. Gigabyte's GTX 980 WindForce OC stands out yet again, especially when it comes to our idle and gaming readings. It’s amazing what a specially-selected Maxwell GPU can do.

That's not the only offering that makes a good impression, though. Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 980 does well too, as long as you don’t focus on the idle power measurement. And the party ends as soon as you look at the compute-based stress test results. A taxing load just doesn't give Maxwell any room for its optimizations to shine.

When it comes down to it, it's possible for our most taxing workloads to take Maxwell back to Kepler-class consumption levels. In fact, Gigabyte's factory overclocked GeForce GTX 980 actually draws more power than the GeForce GTX Titan Black without offering a substantial performance gain in return. As you can see below, the reference GeForce GTX 980 draws substantially less power, though.

  • Vivecss
  • 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.
    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.
    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!