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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Video Card Review

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VGA Power Consumption

In this section, PCI-Express graphics cards are isolated for idle and loaded electrical power consumption. In our power consumption tests, Benchmark Reviews utilizes an 80-PLUS GOLD certified OCZ Z-Series Gold 850W PSU, model OCZZ850. This power supply unit has been tested to provide over 90% typical efficiency by Chroma System Solutions. To measure isolated video card power consumption, Benchmark Reviews uses the Kill-A-Watt EZ (model P4460) power meter made by P3 International. In this particular test, all power consumption results were verified with a second power meter for accuracy.

The power consumption statistics discussed in this section are absolute maximum values, and may not represent real-world power consumption created by video games or graphics applications.

A baseline measurement is taken without any video card installed on our test computer system, which is allowed to boot into Windows 7 and rest idle at the login screen before power consumption is recorded. Once the baseline reading has been taken, the graphics card is installed and the system is again booted into Windows and left idle at the login screen before taking the idle reading. Loaded power consumption reading is taken with the video card running a stress test using graphics test #4 on 3DMark11 for real-world results, and again using FurMark for maximum consumption values.

This section discusses power consumption for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 video card, which operates at reference clock speeds. These power consumption results are not representative of the entire GTX 980-series product family, which may feature a modified design or utilize factory overclocking. GeForce GTX 980 requires two 6-pin PCI-E power connections for normal operation, and will not activate the display unless proper power has been supplied. NVIDIA recommends a 600W power supply unit for stable operation with one GeForce GTX 980 video card installed.

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-Graphics-Card-Upright

Measured at the lowest reading, GeForce GTX 980 consumed a mere 10W at idle. NVIDIA’s average TDP is specified as 165W, however our real-world stress tests using 3D Mark Vantage caused this video card to consume 260 watts… which is modest compared to 380W for AMD Radeon R9 290X.

These results position the GeForce GTX 980 as the least power-hungry, yet most powerful top-end video cards we’ve tested under load. If you’re familiar with electronics, it will come as no surprise that less power consumption equals less heat output as evidenced by our thermal results below…

GeForce GTX 980 Temperatures

This section reports our temperature results subjecting the video card to maximum load conditions. During each test a 20°C ambient room temperature is maintained from start to finish, as measured by digital temperature sensors located outside the computer system. GPU-Z is used to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU, and also under load.

Using a modified version of FurMark’s “Torture Test” to generate maximum thermal load, peak GPU temperature is recorded in high-power 3D mode. FurMark does two things extremely well: drives the thermal output of any graphics processor much higher than any video games realistically could, and it does so with consistency every time. Furmark works great for testing the stability of a GPU as the temperature rises to the highest possible output.

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-Graphics-Card-Finsink

The temperatures illustrated below are absolute maximum values, and do not represent real-world temperatures created by video games or graphics applications:

Video Card Ambient Idle Temp Loaded Temp Max Noise
ATI Radeon HD 5850 20°C 39°C 73°C 7/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 20°C 26°C 65°C 4/10
AMD Radeon HD 6850 20°C 42°C 77°C 7/10
AMD Radeon HD 6870 20°C 39°C 74°C 6/10
ATI Radeon HD 5870 20°C 33°C 78°C 7/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 20°C 27°C 78°C 5/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 20°C 32°C 82°C 7/10
ATI Radeon HD 6970 20°C 35°C 81°C 6/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 20°C 32°C 70°C 6/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 20°C 33°C 77°C 6/10
AMD Radeon HD 6990 20°C 40°C 84°C 8/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 20°C 26°C 73°C 4/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 20°C 26°C 62°C 3/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 20°C 26°C 71°C 3/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 20°C 26°C 75°C 3/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 20°C 30°C 81°C 4/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 20°C 28°C 80°C 3/10
Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Vapor-X 20°C 26°C 68°C 4/10
XFX Radeon R9 285 DD 20°C 27°C 62°C 4/10
XFX Radeon R9 290 DD 20°C 30°C 90°C 4/10
MSI Radeon R9 290X 20°C 34°C 95°C 8/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 20°C 31°C 82°C 3/10
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980   20°C   30°C   64°C   4/10

As we’ve mentioned on the pages leading up to this section, NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture yields a much more efficient operating GPU compared to previous designs. This becomes evident by the low idle temperature, and translates into barely lukewarm fully-load temperatures.

While NVIDIA’s reference design works exceptionally well at cooling the GM204 GPU on GeForce GTX 980, consumers should expect add-in card partners to market custom-cooled versions for an extra premium. 64°C after ten minutes at 100% load using Furmark’s Torture Test is nothing at all, as illustrated by the chart above.


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3 comments

  1. Argos

    Thanks for this review. I am glad I waited a bit longer with building my new system. This card seems beyond belief. Every time I think it can’t get any better and then this monster card appears.

  2. Caring1

    I hardly think it “crushed” the R9 290X, however it did thrash the GTX 680, so it makes sense to upgrade if you have an older Nvidia card.

  3. Chris

    It isn’t that much faster than the 780TI. The big attraction is that the power consumption is much lower (more OC headroom) and the lower price.

    I think it may be worth waiting to see what AMD has to offer this generation and for “Big Maxwell” to arrive.

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