NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI Review 29

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI Review

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Value and Conclusion

We don't have a GTX TITAN-Z (nor do we want one), but if we were to take an educated guess, the GeForce GTX 980 SLI has to be faster than it at a third of its price. Even without that flawed comparison, the GTX 980 SLI is a mind-blowing graphics setup to have. It gives you frame-rates in excess of 40 FPS in 14 out of 17 tests, at Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) resolution!

Try to wrap your head around that – for $1,098, you already get a graphics setup that lets you play at Ultra HD resolution, with G-SYNC-safe frame rates. Beyond 40 FPS, technologies like G-SYNC take over, producing fluid display output on compatible monitors.

Since Ultra HD utilizes 33% more pixels than 3x 1080p 3D Vision Surround, the latter obviously runs at higher frame-rates. In most of the tests that support the resolution (5760 x 1080), frame-rates are above 60 FPS, and so the G-SYNC Surround technology NVIDIA has been talking about holds its salt, with GTX 980 SLI. 1080p G-SYNC monitors are already available, as are 1440p ones. All that's missing is an Ultra HD display with G-SYNC.

Across the competitive landscape, the GTX 980 SLI is 7 percent faster than a single Radeon R9 295X2 at Ultra HD, 9 percent faster at 3x 1080p, and 16 percent faster at 2560 x 1600; while around 10% costlier. Power draw has to be lower because even if we were to shabbily multiply the power draw figure of a single GTX 980 by two (which is really the worst-case scenario), power draw would still be lower than with a single R9 295X2, by a staggering 100W. The only advantages of the R9 295X2 are its by $99 lower price and lower PCI-Express slot count - it takes up one less slot.

The GTX 970 SLI is a dark horse. It's 33 percent cheaper, but only 12 percent slower at Ultra HD and 3x 1080p and just 10 percent slower at 2560 x 1600. While the GTX 970 SLI makes games in our test bench playable at Ultra HD, it may not be enough to keep frame-rates above the G-SYNC threshold of 40 FPS. That shouldn't alarm you, though.

Overall, the GTX 980 SLI is a worthy investment if your budget is set at around $2,500, with a $500 Ultra HD monitor thrown in. $1,600 go toward the monitor and these graphics cards, and the remaining $900 are enough to get a Core i7 "Devil's Canyon" CPU, a $150-ish Z97 motherboard, 16 GB of memory, and SSD storage, with money to spare for a 700W PSU and a mid-tower case. The GTX 970 SLI configuration drops that price to around $2,000 with a cheaper Core i5 thrown in. Between 2013 and 2014, there has indeed been a leap in what $2,500 gets you.
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