The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M is a 28 nm DirectX 11 graphics card for high-end notebooks. It was introduced in Fall of 2014 and is based on the Maxwell GM204 architecture. The clock rates specified by Nvidia are 1038 MHz (+ Boost) for the GPU and 1250 MHz (5000 MHz effective) for the up to 8 GB of GDDR5 memory.
Just like the mid-range GM107 chip (GeForce GTX 860M), the GM204 is also based on Nvidia's new Maxwell architecture, which replaces the previous Kepler generation. Among other changes, Nvidia have restructured the streaming multi processors (SMM) in order to increase workload and efficiency. Now each SMM contains only 128 shader units and 8 TMUs, which is noticeably less than an equivalent Kepler GPU. The GM204 features four GPCs, and each consists of four SMMs. But, in the GeForce GTX 980M, Nvidia have deactivated 4 of 16 SMMs. As a result, only 1536 shader ALUs and 96 TMUs are active. In addition, there are 64 ROPs in four clusters with 16 units each.
The memory interface has a bandwidth of 256-bits (4x 64 bit). Thanks to an improved compression algorithm, the connection to the GDDR5 memory should be significantly more efficient per MHz. Furthermore, the L1 (96 KB per SMM) and L2 caches (2 MB) have been significantly increased to lower the needed bandwidth.
Although the GM107 and the GM204 both belong to the Maxwell generation, the newer and larger GM204 has several additional features and changes. Aside from the improved polymorphic engine in the SSMs, it is also the first Nvidia chip to support DirectX 12 Feature Level 12_1.
Thanks to the increased efficiency, the GeForce GTX 980M performs significantly faster than the former top model, the GTX 880M. Consequently, it is the fastest mobile graphics card as of 2014. According to our benchmarks, it is about 40 - 50 percent faster depending on the scenario. Thus, the GTX 980M is powerful enough to run even the most demanding games with highest details and FullHD resolution. Additional visual features like anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are also not a problem for this card as of 2014.
Most of the features are identical to the GeForce GTX 800M series. With the GTX 980M, there can be up to 4 active displays possible, but this will likely decrease due to Optimus. Displays can be connected with a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels via DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 2.0 (no HDCP @ 4K). HD audio formats like Dolby True HD and DTS HD can be sent to a compatible receiver as bitstream. As with previous models, 3D Vision is not supported with Optimus.
The updated video processor VP6 supports the usual formats like H.264 and can also decode and encode H.265 with a resolution of up to 4K via the NVENC API. Several parallel streams, such as picture-in-picture in a Blu-Ray movie, are also possible.
The power consumption of the GeForce GTX 980M including its MXM board and memory should be about the same as a GTX 880M with a specified TDP of 122 W. Given the significantly higher performance despite the identical manufacturing process (28 nm TSMC), this can be considered a massive increase in performance-per-watt. Nevertheless, the graphics card can only be used in very large and heavy gaming notebooks with powerful cooling systems.
Under low load, dynamic clock rates help the GTX 980M to save energy. While idle, the Optimus technology also allows for the complete deactivation of the GPU in favor of the integrated processor graphics card.
- Range of benchmark values for this graphics card - Average benchmark values for this graphics card
The following benchmarks stem from our benchmarks of review laptops. The performance depends on the used graphics memory, clock rate, processor, system settings, drivers, and operating systems. So the results don't have to be representative for all laptops with this GPU. For detailled information on the benchmark results, click on the fps number.