Nvidia’s GTX 980 Takes the Triple Crown

Just like SemiAccurate predicted in August…

Nvidia Maxwell Banner

Today’s the day and Nvidia’s GM204 in the guise of the GTX 980 and GTX 970 is finally here. Bringing 5 Teraflops of single precision compute, a 398 mm2 die size, a 165 Watt TDP, good build quality, decent acoustics, and 0 to 15 percent greater performance than the GTX 780 Ti there is almost nothing that Nvidia GTX 980 doesn’t improve upon from the prior generation. It’s also the, “the top single GPU for Q4.” Just like we said it would be.

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Compared to Nvidia’s GTX 7xx GPUs and AMD’s R9 2xx parts the GTX 9xx series looks to be a full generation ahead despite its construction on the rapidly aging 28nm process from TSMC. If you are looking for confirmation that Nvidia knows a thing or two about designing for performance per watt than look no further than the new pinnacle of desktop GPU efficiency that is Maxwell. But the best part about the GTX 980 is that it’s priced more or less competitively with AMD’s current offerings on a performance per dollar basis.

Maxwell performance per watt

Nvidia’s GTX 980 and GTX 970 are excellent graphics cards and for the time being AMD doesn’t have anything to offer them competition in terms of absolute performance or efficiency. That said AMD still has its two favorite tools at its disposal, price cuts and bundling. So be on the lookout for some awesome deals on AMD’s R9 series GPUs over the next six months. More to the point though Nvidia’s GTX 980 isn’t drastically faster than the R9 290X and the same is true of the R9 290 and the GTX 970. Thus AMD isn’t entirely out of the running assuming that you are willing to compromise on power consumption and AMD manages to undercut Nvidia’s GPU pricing structure by a meaningful margin.

Nvidia GTX 980

At least for now though Nvidia has the technical lead and thus the ability to set prices. Nvidia’s Maxwell isn’t fast enough to trade in your GK110’s and Hawaii’s for; but it sure does make buying another seem unpalatable with that level of efficiency in the market.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.