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Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Review

How We Tested

We recently standardized our testing platform across Tom’s Hardware editors and offices, locking down consistent specifications for 2015. As such, all of today’s benchmarks are run on an Intel Core i7-5930K processor complemented by 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory. Stepping up to 500GB SSDs helps accommodate large benchmark suites, while our 850W power supply offers ample headroom to test even AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2.

Because the GeForce GTX Titan X launched just a couple of months ago, most of our results were generated for that story. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX Titan X, 980, Titan, and 780 Ti are predominantly tested using driver build 347.84. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti is benchmarked with 352.90. Similarly, the results for all Nvidia cards in Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt employ 352.90.

AMD’s cards are measured using the 14.12 Omega update posted in December of 2014. The numbers for Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt come from the 15.4 Beta posted in April.

Update: In the days before Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti launch, AMD published Catalyst 15.5 Beta with specific optimizations for The Witcher 3 and Project Cars. We re-tested both the Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 295X2 using this build, finding that the 290X's performance didn't change at all, while the 295X2 improved by an average of around 3 FPS at 3840x2160, continuing to underperform one Hawaii GPU.

Looking for an explanation, we ran across the following in AMD's release notes: "To enable the best performance and experience in Crossfire,  users must disable Anti-Aliasing from the games video-post processing options. Some random flickering may occur when using Crossfire. If the issue is affecting the game experience, as a work around we suggest disabling Crossfire while we continue to work with CD Projekt Red to resolve this issue". Our benchmark run does employ anti-aliasing, and the 295X2 can't really avoid its CrossFire-based architecture. We're waiting for a comment from AMD explaining what might be happening from a technical perspective.

This was a more prominent issue back when AMD launched its Radeon R9 290X, but we continue to pre-heat graphics cards with benchmark runs prior to recording our actual results. This is done to avoid non-representative clock rates on both companies’ hardware.

Test System

Software And Drivers

DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriversGeForce GTX 980 Ti: Nvidia 352.90 Beta DriverAll GeForce Cards in Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt:Nvidia 352.90 Beta DriverGeForce GTX Titan X, 980, Titan, and 780 Ti in all other games: Nvidia 347.25 Beta DriverAll Radeon Cards in Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt: AMD Catalyst 15.4 BetaAll Radeon Cards in all other games: AMD Catalyst Omega 14.12

Benchmarks

Middle-earth: Shadow of MordorBuilt-in benchmark, 40-sec Fraps, Ultra preset
Battlefield 4Custom THG Benchmark, 100-sec Fraps, Ultra preset
Metro Last LightBuilt-in benchmark, 145-sec Fraps, Very High preset, 16x AF, Normal motion blur
ThiefVersion 1.7, Built-in benchmark, 70-sec Fraps, Very High preset
Tomb RaiderVersion 1.01.748.0, Custom THG Benchmark, 40-sec Fraps, Ultimate preset
Far Cry 4Version 1.9.0, Custom THG benchmark, 60-sec Fraps, Ultra preset
Grand Theft Auto VBuild 350, Online 1.26, In-game benchmark sequence #5, 110-sec Fraps, FXAA: On, MSAA: 2x, Texture Quality: Very High, Shader Quality: Very High, Shadow Quality: High, Reflection Quality: Very High, Water Quality: High, Particles Quality: Very High, Grass Quality: High, Soft Shadows: Softer, Post FX: Very High, Anisotropic Filtering: 16x
The Witcher 3: Wild HuntVersion 1.03, Custom THG Benchmark, 110-sec Fraps, Post-processing Preset: High, Graphics Preset: Ultra, HairWorks: Off
  • Larry Litmanen
    How important is gaming to you if you spend $500 on GPU and $500 on a monitor?

    I guess i am the only one paying for rent out there.
    Reply
  • alidan
    How important is gaming to you if you spend $500 on GPU and $500 on a monitor?

    I guess i am the only one paying for rent out there.

    i personally find 4k at sub 48 inch stupid... but than again, i had 800x600 monitors at 15 inches and played some games at 640x480 on 17 inch screens, i also played ps1 games, so once hd came around and was single gpu at 1080p i had no issues whatsoever with jaggies any more.

    im not paying 500+$ for AA
    im also not sacrificing that much processing power for AA
    hell im 1920x1200 at 24 inch... i dont use aa.

    granted, a monitor could last you 5+ years if you get a good one so you can see it as an investment, and a gpu, im learning more and more if you sell your high end gpu the moment a new high end gpu comes out, you can get a sizeable upgrade every year for under 100$ and you over all come out ahead.

    sorry im tired as hell, i just realized i dont know which way to meant your comment to be taken.
    Reply
  • Shankovich
    I'm writing this as seriously as I can, not being a fanboy: What is the purpose of the Titan X at this point? It lost its DP performance that made it a fantastic workstation-gaming hybrid. Also, it really sucks for people who bought a Titan X just a little over a month ago? That's ~$350 down the drain pretty much. Yea the Titan X has all that extra VRAM, but for what? 3 4K displays maybe, at which point a 980ti SLI would probably lose by about ~5% due to a few less CUDA cores.

    Again though, for most customers, the 980ti is the obvious choice. I just feel like nVidia totally screwed over most of their Titan X customers now. And why? Well, I really think the 980ti will be the cheaper answer to AMD's Fury or whatever Fiji will be called, Really interested to see how it will do. If Fiji beats the Titan X/980ti, it's rumored $800 price point would make the 980ti a somewhat compelling offer depending on how well it does.

    In the end, I'm loving this competition!
    Reply
  • wedouglas
    How important is gaming to you if you spend $500 on GPU and $500 on a monitor?

    I guess i am the only one paying for rent out there.
    How important is gaming to you if you spend $500 on GPU and $500 on a monitor?

    I guess i am the only one paying for rent out there.
    How important is gaming to you if you spend $500 on GPU and $500 on a monitor?

    I guess i am the only one paying for rent out there.

    If you don't have $1000 of discretionary income each year, you need a better job. Better question would be, what adult doesn't have $1000 for a graphics card and a monitor?
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    And this is exactly why I've been waiting to buy a new vid card and display.

    Wowza.
    Reply
  • Eggz
    SOOOOO glad you're finally including the 780 ti in the graphs again! There were a lot of people with this card, and excluding it from the Tom's graphs made things harder to assess. Thanks!
    Reply
  • damric
    This GTX 980 Ti seems significantly better price/performance than the GTX 980. I will be recommending these for higher end builds.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    My first considered card since my GTX680 2GB. My only complaint is:

    NVidia only reference model? (sigh)

    I get the reasons. Minimal competition plus overclocking with better cooler beats Titan X hands down (for gaming). Plus, maybe we'll see non-reference later.

    FYI, the EVGA 980 Hybrid got 1600MHz on GPU. That's a fan on main card for VRM's etc and Liquid cooler loop just for GPU with 12cm rad/fan. Even if it "only" got 1300MHz for 980Ti that's still a 30% boost over stock 1000MHz but maybe 1500MHz is actually possible?

    So.. I'll wait a bit longer thanks.
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    This really seems like a great card! Those frame charts show fantastic improvements over the 980. I was expecting more of a middle-ground between the Titan X and the 980 but it practically matched the Titan X's performance spot-on! All for $375 less.
    Reply
  • Knicks2012
    So whats the point of having a Titan X now?
    Reply