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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI is a high-end DirectX 11-compatible graphics solution for laptops, consisting of two GeForce GTX 980M. Each card has a 28 nm GM204 GPU based on the Maxwell architecture, which is the same chip as found on the GTX 970M as well as several desktop cards. The clocks for the SLI-setup are usually identical to a single GTX 980M (1038 MHz GPU, 1250 MHz memory).

With SLI, each card renders a single frame (AFR mode). Therefore, it may suffer from micro stuttering in low fps ranges of 30 fps. This happens because of different timespans between two frames (e.g., irregular delays between sequential frames).

Architecture

GM204 is based on Nvidia's 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) for each of the two GPUs. 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. Compared to the mid-range GM107, 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.

Performance

With good driver support, SLI almost doubles the performance of a single card. The GTX 980M SLI outperforms the GeForce GTX 970M SLI by about 30 percent and is the fastest mobile graphics solution in late 2014. Compared to the former GTX 880M SLI, the advantage is even bigger (40 - 50 percent). Thus, the GTX 980M SLI is powerful enough to run even the most demanding games with highest details, AA/AF and resolutions exceeding FullHD.

Features

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.

Further features of the GTX 900M series, which are also partly supported by older cards, include Battery Boost (longer battery life during gaming), Shadowplay (recording of gaming videos up to 4K60p and 130 Mbit/s) and Gamestream (game streaming on Shield console). More information on these features are available here.

Power Consumption

The power consumption of each 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, leading to a total TDP of about 240 W. Given the significantly higher performance, this can be considered a massive increase in performance-per-watt. Nevertheless, the SLI setup can only be used in very large and heavy gaming notebooks with powerful cooling systems. Under low load, dynamic clock rates help the GPUs to save energy.

ManufacturerNVIDIA
GeForce GTX 900M Series
GeForce GTX 980M SLI 3072 @ 1038 - 1127 (Boost) MHz2x 256 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 970M SLI (compare) 2560 @ 924 - 1038 (Boost) MHz2x 192 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 965M SLI (compare) 2048 @ 924 - 950 (Boost) MHz2x 128 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 980M (compare) 1536 @ 1038 - 1127 (Boost) MHz256 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 970M (compare) 1280 @ 924 - 1038 (Boost) MHz192 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 965M (compare) 1024 @ 924 / 935 - 950 / 1151 (Boost) MHz128 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 960M (compare) 640 @ 1096 - 1202 (Boost) MHz128 Bit @ 5000 MHz
GeForce GTX 950M (compare) 640 @ 914 - 993 - 1124 (Boost) MHz128 Bit @ 1800 - 5000 MHz
ArchitectureMaxwell
Pipelines3072 - unified
Core Speed1038 - 1127 (Boost) MHz
Memory Speed5000 MHz
Memory Bus Width2x 256 Bit
Memory TypeGDDR5
Max. Amount of Memory2x 8192 MB
Shared Memoryno
DirectXDirectX 12 (FL 12_1), Shader 5.0
Transistor Count2x 5200 Million
technology28 nm
FeaturesBattery Boost, GameStream, ShadowPlay, GPU Boost 2.0, Optimus, PhysX, CUDA, SLI, GeForce Experience
Notebook Sizelarge
Date of Announcement07.10.2014

Benchmarks

3DMark - Cloud Gate Standard Score 1280x720
min: 26275     avg: 27008.7     median: 26774 (54%)     max: 27977 Points
3DMark - Cloud Gate Standard Graphics 1280x720
min: 116439     avg: 122660     median: 124076 (76%)     max: 127465 Points
3DMark - Fire Strike Score 1920x1080
min: 13181     avg: 13450.3     median: 13467 (58%)     max: 13703 Points
3DMark - Fire Strike Graphics 1920x1080
min: 18400     avg: 18717.7     median: 18632 (46%)     max: 19121 Points
3DMark - Ice Storm Standard Graphics 1280x720
min: 372739     avg: 377920     median: 377168 (50%)     max: 383853 Points
3DMark 11 - Performance 1280x720
min: 16276     avg: 17111.8     median: 17071 (59%)     max: 18029 points
3DMark 11 - Performance GPU 1280x720
min: 21901     avg: 22132.8     median: 22006 (43%)     max: 22618 points
3DMark Vantage
P Result 1280x1024 +
P GPU no PhysX 1280x1024 +
3DMark 06 Standard 1280x1024 +
SPECviewperf 11
Siemens NX 1920x1080 +
Tcvis 1920x1080 +
SolidWorks 1920x1080 +
Pro/ENGINEER 1920x1080 +
Maya 1920x1080 +
Lightwave 1920x1080 +
Ensight 1920x1080 +
Catia 1920x1080 +
SPECviewperf 12
Solidworks (sw-03) 1900x1060 +
Siemens NX (snx-02) 1900x1060 +
Showcase (showcase-01) 1900x1060 +
Medical (medical-01) 1900x1060 +
Maya (maya-04) 1900x1060 +
Energy (energy-01) 1900x1060 +
Creo (creo-01) 1900x1060 +
Catia (catia-04) 1900x1060 +
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit +
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit +
Cinebench R15
OpenGL 64Bit +
Ref. Match 64Bit +
- Range of benchmark values for this graphics card
- Average benchmark values for this graphics card
* Smaller numbers mean a higher performance

Game Benchmarks

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.

The Crew

The Crew

2014
low 1280x720
60  fps    + Compare
med. 1366x768
60  fps    + Compare
high 1920x1080
60  fps    + Compare
ultra 1920x1080
60  fps    + Compare
» With all tested laptops playable in detail settings ultra.
low 1024x768
207.9  fps    + Compare
med. 1366x768
190.9  fps    + Compare
high 1920x1080
119 121.6 ~ 120 fps    + Compare
ultra 1920x1080
85 86.5 ~ 86 fps    + Compare
» With all tested laptops playable in detail settings ultra.
Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4

2014
low 1024x768
148.4  fps    + Compare
med. 1366x768
143.5  fps    + Compare
high 1920x1080
124.9  fps    + Compare
ultra 1920x1080
113.3  fps    + Compare
» With all tested laptops playable in detail settings ultra.
low 1024x768
104.1  fps    + Compare
med. 1366x768
95.9  fps    + Compare
high 1920x1080
74.8  fps    + Compare
ultra 1920x1080
55.2  fps    + Compare
» With all tested laptops playable in detail settings ultra.
low 1024x768
238.1  fps    + Compare
med. 1366x768
144.4  fps    + Compare
high 1920x1080
114 115.5 ~ 115 fps    + Compare
ultra 1920x1080
62.2 69 ~ 66 fps    + Compare
» With all tested laptops playable in detail settings ultra.
low 1024x768
175.2  fps    + Compare
med. 1366x768
172.5  fps    + Compare
high 1920x1080
154.6  fps    + Compare