NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI Review 29

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI Review




The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 came out of nowhere, with specifications that were doing rounds in the press ahead of its launch, its $549 pricing and the "Maxwell" GPU architecture not really getting a star-studded debut with the GTX 750 Ti. The chip, along with its sibling, the GTX 970, ended up so fast that NVIDIA was forced to shave the top tier of its previous generation product stack off completely – the GTX 780 Ti, GTX 780, and GTX 770.

The $329 GTX 970 is begging to be bought in pairs, and as our review of the GTX 970 SLI showed, at $660, or the price of a now discontinued GTX 780 Ti, you're getting a graphics solution that is bested only by the $999 Radeon R9 295X2 (by a slim 6 percent), and in all likelihood, the $2999 GTX TITAN-Z. By what margin is irrelevant because we wouldn't recommend a GTX TITAN-Z to even someone we have a Klingon family feud with. Our second GTX 980 graphics card took a little longer than expected to crawl through logistics, and so we wasted no time in bringing you the $1,098 GeForce GTX 980 SLI review.

With Ultra HD monitors becoming affordable, high-end gaming PC builders who aren't flat-out PC enthusiasts with over $3,000 budgets could now be ready to spend around $1,000 on their graphics solution. Right now, that fetches you a single Radeon R9 295X2 dual-GPU graphics card, which gives most modern games playable frame-rates of around 30 FPS at Ultra HD. If you're investing around $2,500 into a gaming PC, you'd expect at least over 45 FPS, which technologies like G-SYNC turn into a fluid display output.

We've been playing with a G-SYNC-enabled monitor for the past week, and our experience has shown G-SYNC to work properly, frame-rates free to bob around above 40 FPS. We noticed considerable stutter below that. So your objective with building an Ultra HD gaming PC equipped with such technologies as G-SYNC and VESA Adaptive Sync will be to get a graphics setup that pumps out no less than 40 FPS. In this review, we'll check if the GTX 980 SLI is up to the task. While it may fall short of that, figuring out how it fares against AMD's $1000 dual-GPU solution will be interesting as well.

For our review, we built a SLI setup with an NVIDIA reference GeForce GTX 980 board and an ASUS GeForce GTX 980 STRIX graphics card. Both cards are set to run at reference clock speeds. Since one of these cards is a non-reference design, noise and power tests are not applicable. You can assume power-draw in games that can take advantage of SLI to be double that of a single card.

But before you proceed, make sure you didn't miss out on our single-card reviews, which include in-depth details about the new GM204 silicon and NVIDIA's flagship GeForce GTX 980 graphics card.

Test System

Test System - VGA Rev. 33
Processor:Intel Core i7-4770K @ 4.2 GHz
(Haswell, 8192 KB Cache)
Motherboard:ASUS Maximus VI Hero
Intel Z87
Memory:16 GB DDR3
@ 1600 MHz 9-9-9-24
Harddisk:WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB
Power Supply:Antec HCP-1200 1200W
Software:Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1
Drivers:AMD: Catalyst 14.6 Beta
R9 285: 14.30 Beta 2
GTX 970/980: 344.07
Display: LG Flatron W3000H 30" 2560x1600
3x Hanns.G HL225DBB 21.5" 1920x1080
Dell UP2414Q 24" 3840x2160
Benchmark scores in other reviews are only comparable when this exact same configuration is used.
  • All video card results are obtained on this exact system with exactly the same configuration.
  • All games are set to their highest quality setting unless indicated otherwise.
  • AA and AF are applied via in-game settings, not via the driver's control panel.
Each game is tested at the following settings and resolutions:
  • 1600x900, 4x Anti-aliasing. Common resolution for most smaller flatscreens and laptops today (17" - 19").
  • 1920x1080, 4x Anti-aliasing. Most common widescreen resolution for larger displays (22" - 26").
  • 2560x1600, 4x Anti-aliasing. Highest possible resolution for commonly available displays (30").
  • 5760x1080, 4x Anti-aliasing. Typical three-monitor high-end gaming multi-monitor resolution.
  • 3840x2160, No Anti-aliasing. 4K Ultra HD resolution, available on the latest high-end monitors.

Assassin's Creed IV

The fourth title in the Assassin's Creed franchise, Black Flag follows the life and times of the most recent assassin, Edward Kenway, an 18th century Caribbean pirate. The game is a crossover of several of Ubisoft's best works, including Assassin's Creed and Far Cry 3, and still manages to feel unique. Yes, there are ship battles at high sea, too. Based on Ubisoft's AnvilNext engine, Black Flag takes advantage of DirectX 11 with Tessellation to conjure up richly detailed worlds. The game engine is limited to a maximum of 60 FPS, which affects our results for very high-end cards at lower resolutions.

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Jun 30th, 2022 16:08 EDT change timezone

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