Nvidia’s GTX 980 Maxwell Slower Than GTX 780 Ti & 8GB Model Coming Later


Update – there have been leaked images and supposed GPUz screenshots of the Maxwell cards. We’ve covered it here.

All new GPU architectures are hyped before their release, but some more than others. The original GeForce, the Voodoo 5, the 9700 Pro… While some of those cards lived up to expectations, others (the Voodoo 5) just didn’t. Nvidia’s Maxwell is one of the most anticipated architectures in recent memory, but all signs show that the neither GeForce GTX 970 or even GTX 980 will have the performance to beat the Keplar based GTX 780 Ti.

Overclockers UK are one of the leading UK retailers for computer hardware, and one of their managers, Gibbo has posted a few very interesting comments on the OCUK forums.

“980 / 970 4GB reference cards with 8GB coming at a later date with custom coolers,” Gibbo began, confirming earlier rumors hinting that we’ll be seeing 8GB Maxwell models after launch. “Can’t say any more but don’t expect a huge leap in performance over current single GPU stuff.” he added.

Regarding the GPU’s performance, “They replace 780, not 780Ti,” said Gibbo, likely to the disappointment of many. “Performance wise, my lips are sealed on how it compares to 780Ti, but of course 980 is quicker than 780 for sure!”

So there we have it, pretty much confirming that if you’re the owner of the GTX 780 Ti, the R9 290X, Titan or Titan Black, and arguably the R9 290 or the GTX 780 (particularly if you’ve a custom overclocked model) you’re likely not be seeing a large improvement over what you’ve already got.

In fact, rumors persist we’ll be seeing a die shrunk version of the Maxwell’s at some point next year. Word around the water cooler is TSMC, who’re responsible for the production of both AMD and Nvidia’s GPU’s are having a little trouble with 20nm, hence the delay in production. So we’ll likely be seeing the Geforce GTX 980 with go faster stripes at some point next year.

Overclockers UK gibbo confirms 8GB GDDR5 Maxwell cards and GTX 980 slower than the Kepler based 780 Ti.

It does make buying right now quite difficult – if you’re in the market for a GTX 780 priced card then you might be best to wait, and depending on the price gouging at Maxwell’s launch you may or may not be better off. If you’re already the owner of a higher end GPU setup it’s going to be hard to justify an upgrade. I don’t think many GTX 780 SLI owners would want to upgrade, especially since rumors persist that these first Maxwell’s are just a taste of what’s to come. Then again, the additional VRAM might well be nice – particularly for those who’re gaming at say 4K.

And what of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti? No word yet – but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s coming. Just how much faster it’ll be Keplar is of course at best a guess. It’s safe to assume that if rumors of the GTX 980’s performance are accurate, then the Ti version won’t exactly be a revelation.

Below are a list of rumored Maxwell specs versus the known specs of current Kepler cards. It’s important to remember to take these specs with a large truckload of salt – particularly the memory bandwidth of the 970 and the 980 GPU’s. Of course it could be a situation where Nvidia have done similar to AMD with the R9 285 (see our review) and improved the bandwidth efficiency so a wider bus isn’t required. The issue however is that it’s still suspicious as to the reasons by the 980 and 980 share the same bandwidth figures.

GeForce GTX 780 GeForce GTX 780 Ti GeForce GTX 970 GeForce GTX 980
Kepler GK110-300 Kepler GK110 Maxwell GM204 Maxwell GM204
2304 Cuda Cores 2880 Cuda Cores 2304 CUDA Cores 2560 CUDA Cores
900 MHZ Boost 928 MHZ Boost 1050 MHZ Boost 1050 MHZ Boost
3GB 6008 MHZ Effective RAM 3GB 7008 MHZ Effective RAM 4GB 7010 MHZ 4GB 7010 MHZ
384 Bit Bus 384 Bit Bus 256 Bit Bus 256 Bit Bus
288 GB/s Bandwidth 336 GB/s Bandwidth 224 GB/s Bandwidth 224 GB/s Bandwidth
192 TMU 240 TMU 128 TMU 160 TMU

In other news, Maxwell is coming – Nvidia have announced Game24, a worldwide event aimed at… well, gamer’s. This event will take place on September 18th, and you can either attend it physically or watch the live streamed event. Interestingly enough, this happens to be the exact date that Maxwell is rumored to be announced. If you’d like more information feel free to check out their official website here.

This comes shortly after AMD have hosted their own live event, and will focus a lot on eSports, gaming stunts, developer demos and interviews, and of course a chance for Nvidia to build the hype train. These are the locations for the event, some haven’t yet been fully confirmed.

  • Los Angeles:  Hangar 8, 3021 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, California. 18 and up only.
  • Chicago: Ignite Gaming Lounge, 3341 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, Illinois.
  • Indianapolis: eBash Indianapolis Video Game Center, 6609 East 82nd St., Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Mission Viejo, California: 27741 Crown Valley Pkwy, Ste. 223, Mission Viejo, California.
  • London: Location TBA
  • Shanghai: Location TBA
  • Stockhom: Location TBA

We’ll just have to wait and see if any of this proves to be true, we’ve gotten hold of AMD’s Tonga based R9 285 in a review, and it’s architecture has undergone significant tweaks to improve efficiency. It’s possible Nvidia have performed similar feats with Maxwell and the GTX 900 series.

It has been all but confirmed the Maxwell based GTX 980 & GTXX 980 will be slower than the previously released Kepler 780 Ti. But 8GB GDDR5 models of the Maxwell's will be released post launch.
Brand: Nvidia GeForce
Manufacturer: Nvidia
Model: GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970