Nvidia Maxwell GTX 980 and GTX 970 detailed

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dual-maxwell-teaser

Well isn’t that just a surprise that came out of nowhere, right? If you only had one eye on the internet these past few weeks, you still probably saw something about Nvidia’s new 900-series Maxwell cards. Nvidia has now officially revealed them, with locked down performance numbers and some interesting new features that could convince you to take the plunge.

First up, say goodbye to Kepler. With the new Maxwell cards hitting the market very, very soon, Nvidia revealed that they would be discontinuing the GTX 780, 780Ti and 770. If you’re still thinking bout grabbing one of those (although that might not be the best idea anymore) then you better hurry. Maxwell is going to be replacing them as Nvidia’s core product, primarily because it’s just a better product already.

The buzzword associated with Maxwell is definitely efficiency, and Nvidia threw that around like it was going out of style. The GTX 980 and 970 cards aren’t meant to be massive leaps forward in terms of performance, but they do reduce power consumption by a massive margin. The 980, in comparison to the GTX 780Ti, has a maximum draw of only 165W, a whole 65W less than a card it outperforms.

And yes, the GTX 980 (and neatly overclocked 970) do outperform the stock version of Nvidia’s previous flagship card. We’ll have our own benchmarks and review up early next week, but scores from Nvidia and early reviews show small but noticeable jump up in performance. Curiously these gains are more noticeable at higher resolutions, but I’ll wait until I get my hands on the card to confirm that properly.

There’s also a ton of numbers to sift through, but thankfully Nvidia has neatly summarised most of this with a small table. What should be noted is that these new Maxwell cards cut down the number of CUDA cores to 128 per streaming microprocessor, although Nvidia still maintains that with the right tweaking and overclocking the GTX 980 can hit speeds up to 40% higher than the GTX 780Ti. Stock, of course.

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The night wasn’t all about the hardware, and Nvidia really impressed with some 900-series exclusive software that would ship with the cards. If you can’t afford a 4K monitor but dream of that visual fidelity on a 1080p screen, then Dynamic Super Resolution(DSR) is the answer. It’s like another step in the Downscaling field, but Nvidia is stressing performance here. While rendering an image at 4K and then shrinking will still knock frame rates, DSR aims to minimize that as much as possible.

Not too long ago Nvidia revealed TXAA, and new Anti-Aliasing technology that delivered MSAA effects without the massive performance hit. With the 900-series they’re going a step further with Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing, which apparently reduced performance knocks by nearly 50%. The new technology actually samples two images, detects differences between the two and then calculates what each pixel should be displaying. Nvidia claims you’ll be able to get the effect of 4XAA at the cost of only 2XAA, although that remains to be seen. Both of these new features won’t be up at launch, but they will launch exclusively for the 900-series soon.

These new features also make up the cornerstone of a new partnership with Oculus. Nvidia wants to optimise VR experiences with their cards, with Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing helping reduced latency and DSR effectively giving you 4K virtual reality images on a 1080p screen. Nvidia is working close with Oculus in regards to their Rift headset, which could mean more jumps to the green team in the future.

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Visually, the GTX 980 looks very similar to Nvidia’s Titan, with an updated NVTTM cooler and black backplate. The numerical etching on the side ensures you that you haven’t wasted money on a Titan, but still delivers that rather fantastic cooling solution. Although non-reference coolers should be able to go even further. The GTX 970 won’t feature the same NVTTM cooling unfortunately.

But here’s the real kicker; these cards are priced so competitively, and we have AMD to thank for that. The GTX 970, which is already throwing up surprisingly amazing performance scores, will retail for $329. The bigger GTX 980 will hit the market at $549, making both cards cheaper than the now discontinued GTX 780Ti. No word yet on local pricing, but I’d expect them to come in at around the R7000-R8000 region. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and certainly a good reason to upgrade if you aren’t already rocking a flagship 700-series.

Because it’s not really going to replace a GTX 780Ti just yet. That’ll come next year, when the true 780Ti successor arrives. Right now though, it’s looking like a good time for me to finally ditch my GTX 590.

Update: Evetech has revealed their pricing for the GTX 980 and GTX 970. Seems like we won’t be getting these cards cheap here, with the GTX 970 going for R5,599 and reaching nearly R6000. The GTX 980 will set you back R9,499, with the non-reference MSI version going for R9,799. Ouch.

The GTX 970 will arrive here on the 26th of September, with the 980 arriving on October 3rd.

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Last Updated: September 19, 2014

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • Jack

    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_980/10.html

    Not a true successor to 780 Ti ?? xD

    If you are talking about 30 – 50 % faster then yes its not a true successor but the Gtx 780 Ti is clearly beaten 😉

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      It’s definitely faster, but these aren’t the most powerful 900-series cards coming. Just like the 780Ti came well after the 780, the 900-series will have something similar 🙂

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Depending on price a 970 might just tempt me away from RED TEAM for the first time in over a decade. That’s if AMD don’t have a little price war.

    • Admiral Chief o’ thar 7 Seas

      Arrr matey, ye be walking tha plank!

      • FoxOneZA

        RED TEAM FTW!

      • Viking Of Science

        Are you playing Black Flag, or Sid Meier’s Pirates?

        • Admiral Chief o’ thar 7 Seas

          Nay matey, today be a fine day for buccaneerin’!

        • FoxOneZA

          Talk like a piwate day 😛

    • Ottokie

      Already kicking for green team and that 970’s price is looking good.

    • FoxOneZA

      Nvidia cards are ridiculously priced locally and with the current trend of the Rand vs Dollar I would expect the 970 to cost R5000.

      • Jack

        not all of them you need to open your eyes my friend 😀

        • FoxOneZA

          You do get the ol’ Takealot daily deals coming by yes 🙂

          • Jack

            rebeltech.co.za :p

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        True, and I’m not paying that much for a gfx card.

        • FoxOneZA

          AMD will just undercut the price of the R9 280X and all will be fine in the universe or even better, they will release the R9 285X for $280.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Hopefully there’s a nice special on one of those around Dec/Jan. I was lucky last time I upgraded. Takealot had a 50% off special on Gigabyte Radeons – got a 6950 for around R3.5k.

          • Admiral Chief o’ thar 7 Seas

            I got my 7870 OC on special last time for R3.2k, was quite chuffed. First time in my LIFE spending that much on GFX card

          • FoxOneZA

            A 7870 and they OC’d it? That must be a BAWS even against these new Maxwell cards!!! I remember Esquire selling them at R3K last December but pity I never have the PSU to boot.

    • Rags

      Damn the 970 does look nice and a very good price too (dollar wise) for a 4gb card too. $340-370 depending on brand.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Dollar prices always look nice, it’s when they come here & get customs & import duties & converted to Rands that they don’t hehe.

  • Rags
  • Ottokie

    My GTX 680 is still running like a beast, but gonna love putting in one of these new bad boys to compliment the new 27″ BenQ screen… So hyped!

    • Ottokie

      Actually after looking into it, the 680 is still a very good competitor.

  • Admiral Chief o’ thar 7 Seas

    7870 OC still serving me well tx

  • MakeItLegal

    heavy prices sho , exchange rate change would please

    • Admiral Chief o’ thar 7 Seas

      Would please what?

    • MakeItLegal

      Would “you” please 🙂

  • geelslang

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