Frankly, though, the GeForce GTX 980's primary purpose is gaming. So to be fair, we're only looking at the card's efficiency in that context. After the launch, we'll spend more time covering the other disciplines in a follow-up story.
Maxwell does very well, even without Gigabyte’s golden sample factored in. This observation is based on the power consumption measurements in our 2014 VGA charts. If Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 980 sets the bar at 100 percent, then all of the other Maxwell-based cards fall in line right above it. Non-Maxwell-based boards show up below. Not surprisingly, Gigabyte’s golden sample ends up at the top, and even manages to pass a GeForce GTX 750 in the process, which is no small feat for a card built using a large GPU.
Thinking back to the maximum versus average power consumption findings for gaming, one fact becomes abundantly clear: AMD’s issue is not absolute performance or the efficiency of its architecture, but rather that PowerTune technology can’t adjust the power consumption quickly or finely enough depending on the actual load. This is exactly where Nvidia scores most of its points with Maxwell.
But even Nvidia can’t change the laws of physics. The new cards’ power consumption during compute-based testing demonstrates this fact very clearly. There are some ways around these laws, however, and the company's engineers seem to have found them. A gamer would say that they simply have the better skills.