Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 And 980 Review: Maximum Maxwell

Results: Battlefield 4 And Thief

Battlefield 4

We'll begin our benchmarks with one of the most popular first person shooters available today, powered by the technologically advanced Frostbite 3 graphics engine: Battlefield 4.

Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 980 puts achieves an impressive showing, easily sailing past the GK110-powered GeForce GTX 780 Ti and earning the top spot. What's more, the GeForce GTX 970 bests the Radeon R9 290X in DirectX, and AMD's single-GPU top dog can only achieve parity when it leverages the company's Mantle API.

But 1080p is low-hanging fruit for Nvidia's new graphics cards, so let's up the ante to 4K. Unfortunately, we had to pull back the level of detail from Ultra to High in order to allow the GeForce GTX 980 to achieve our target 30 FPS minimum/40 FPS average frame rate. 

The GeForce GTX 980 still leads the pack, but by a smaller margin. The GeForce GTX 970 falls back a bit relative to the Radeons, but still manages a strong showing considering its relatively low MSRP.


Thief is another modern title that can be difficult for today's graphics hardware to handle. We'll begin at 1080p with the very high detail preset invoked.

The GeForce GTX 980 achieves the best showing as it did in Battlefield 4, and the GeForce GTX 970 is right behind the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Even when outfitted with the Mantle code path, the Radeon R9 290X can't beat Nvidia's new $329 card. The GeForce GTX 970 is shaping up to be an impressive value proposition. But what about Ultra HD resolution?

Once again, we had to dial back the visual settings to keep things smooth, trading the very high detail preset for the normal detail preset. Still, it looks very impressive at 3840x2160. A note about frame time latency: Thief's graphics engine suffers from a little lag across all of the cards we tested for this benchmark, unfortunately, but the good news is that we haven't found it to be noticeable while actually playing the game.

  • 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!