Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 review

The green team drops its Maxwell GPU bomb

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Our Verdict

The green team is on a roll and the Geforce GTX980, an exceptional piece of hardware, is capping what is proving to be a great year for Nvidia.


  • great minimum frame rate
  • mid-range pricing
  • top-notch performance
  • superb overclocking
  • lower power consumption


  • Still using 28nm process.

We've been waiting a long time for Nvidia to get the latest Maxwell GPU architecture into its high-end graphics cards, but finally the GeForce GTX 980 is here and it's looking like it's been worth the wait.

The GeForce GTX 980 is the top Maxwell card running with the brand new, super-efficient, GM 204 GPU, with the second-tier GeForce GTX 970 coming close behind it.

On the surface, the GTX 980 is a bona fide high-end graphics card, topping the performance of even an overclocked GTX 780 Ti from the last generation all the while generating less sound and fury than the outgoing Kepler cards.

This isn't the first time we've come across Nvidia's latest architecture though; the inaugural Maxwell GPUs appeared back in February this year with the twin goodness of the GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti.

They marked a change in strategy for Nvidia. It was the first time the big green graphics giant had debuted a brand new GPU microarchitecture without launching it in a new high-end £500 graphics card first.

Those initial Maxwell cards are unashamedly lower-end parts, designed to offer decent 1080p performance with the added benefit of seriously impressive thermal and energy efficiency.

In fact, so good is the power efficiency of the GTX 750 Ti that you can easily run the card with completely passive GPU cooling. Building a silent HTPC or living room gaming rig suddenly became a genuine possibility.

The first Maxwell cards also don't need any extra power from the PSU over and above what can be supplied directly via the motherboard connection, which means they can be a quick drop-in upgrade for any PC with a free PCIe slot. Any £300 office PC can now immediately become a good 1080p gaming rig without the need for any other upgrades whatsoever.

Another view of the GTX 980

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Components Editor

Dave (Twitter) is the components editor for TechRadar and has been professionally testing, tweaking, overclocking and b0rking all kinds of computer-related gubbins since 2006. Dave is also an avid gamer, with a love of Football Manager that borders on the obsessive. Dave is also the deputy editor of TechRadar's older sibling, PC Format.