Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

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An age­ing gi­ant?

AR­GUABLY, THE GEFORCE GTX 980 is the king of com­puter graph­ics. Al­though not the first sight­ing of Nvidia’s al­most leg­endary Maxwell ar­chi­tec­ture, the GTX 980 cap­i­tal­ized on the new and im­proved GM204 pro­ces­sor. With 4GB of GDDR5, 5.2 bil­lion tran­sis­tors, and a 256bit bus, the GTX 980 proved that it was the mas­ter of over­clock­ing, and a flag­ship card of its time—at least, un­til the Ti­tan X and GTX 980 Ti launched later, of course.

Does it still hold up? Sort of—you have to value it at its cur­rent price to truly ap­pre­ci­ate it. And al­though the likes of the GTX 1060 now match it, al­most like for like, when it comes to per­for­mance, it’s still worth tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion—if you can find it. It dec­i­mates 1080p, ab­so­lutely de­mol­ish­ing av­er­age frame rates left, right, and cen­ter with­out worry. It’s not un­com­mon to see it av­er­age well into the six­ties for most AAA ti­tles. Cou­ple that with its po­ten­tial to over­clock by a good 260MHz or so on the core clock, and nearly 450MHz again on the mem­ory, and it’s a card not to be un­der­es­ti­mated.

The ref­er­ence vari­ant, al­though ex­cep­tion­ally rare on the scene now, is cool, quiet, and stylish. There’s no con­tro­ver­sially out­landish strange-shaped tri­an­gles lit­ter­ing the shroud here, just that tried-and-true blower fan setup with which we first fell in love at the launch of the orig­i­nal Ti­tan, way back when. It does the job ex­cep­tion­ally well, in fact—es­pe­cially in more cramped cases and con­di­tions. ITX cases, in par­tic­u­lar, fare well with this mighty be­he­moth.

So, what is it that still makes the GTX 980 such an ap­peal­ing propo­si­tion? Es­pe­cially with the likes of the GTX 1060 loom­ing on the hori­zon? Three let­ters: SLI. Al­though it’s not for ev­ery­one, for those look­ing to up­grade to­day, and who al­ready own a GTX 980, get­ting an ad­di­tional one will add per­for­mance in abun­dance, and save you from hav­ing to spend your hard-earned cash on a GTX 1070 or above, for any­where near a de­cent in­crease in per­for­mance fig­ures.

VERDICT7

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

THE KING Im­pres­sive 1080p per­for­mance; in­cred­i­ble over­clocker; SLI.

THE THING Still a lit­tle pricey new; not tech­ni­cally an up­grade.

$ 440, www.nvidia.com

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