Quick Performance Comparison
Earlier this week, we posted a brief story that looked at the performance of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on the latest GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD. Last week also marked the release of the v1.11 patch for Sniper Elite 3 that introduced an integrated benchmark mode as well as support for AMD Mantle.
I decided that this was worth a quick look with the same line up of graphics cards that we used to test Shadow of Mordor. Let's see how the NVIDIA and AMD battle stacks up here.
For those unfamiliar with the Sniper Elite series, the focuses on the impact of an individual sniper on a particular conflict and Sniper Elite 3 doesn't change up that formula much. If you have ever seen video of a bullet slowly going through a body, allowing you to see the bones/muscle of the particular enemy being killed...you've probably been watching the Sniper Elite games.
Gore and such aside, the game is fun and combines sniper action with stealth and puzzles. It's worth a shot if you are the kind of gamer that likes to use the sniper rifles in other FPS titles.
But let's jump straight to performance. You'll notice that in this story we are not using our Frame Rating capture performance metrics. That is a direct result of wanting to compare Mantle to DX11 rendering paths - since we have no way to create an overlay for Mantle, we have resorted to using FRAPs and the integrated benchmark mode in Sniper Elite 3.
Our standard GPU test bed was used with a Core i7-3960X processor, an X79 motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and the latest drivers for both parties involved. That means we installed Catalyst 14.9 for AMD and 344.16 for NVIDIA. We'll be comparing the GeForce GTX 980 to the Radeon R9 290X, and the GTX 970 to the R9 290. We will also look at SLI/CrossFire scaling at the high end.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 6, 2014 - 03:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, hawaii, GTX 980, GTX 970, geforce, amd
On Saturday while finishing up the writing on our Shadow of Mordor performance story, I noticed something quite interesting. The prices of AMD's flagship Radeon products had all come down quite a bit. In an obvious response to the release of NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970, the Radeon R9 290X and the Radeon R9 290 have lowered prices in a very aggressive fashion.
UPDATE: A couple of individual cards appear to be showing up as $360 and $369 on Newegg!
Amazon.com is showing some R9 290X cards at $399
For now, Amazon.com is only listing the triple-fan Gigabyte R9 290X Windforce card at $399, though Newegg.com has a couple as well.
Amazon.com also has several R9 290 cards for $299
- Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce - $299
- Powercolor AX R9 290 - $299
- ASUS R9 290 DirectCU II - $329
- More R9 290 Card on Amazon.com
And again, Newegg.com has some other options for R9 290 cards at these lower prices.
Let's assume that these price drops are going to be permanent which seems likely based on the history of AMD and market adjustments. That shifts the high end GPU market considerably.
|GeForce GTX 980 4GB||$549|
|$399||Radeon R9 290X 4GB|
|GeForce GTX 970 4GB||$329|
|$299||Radeon R9 290 4GB|
The battle for that lower end spot between the GTX 970 and R9 290 is now quite a bit tighter though NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture still has a positive outlook against the slightly older Hawaii GPU. Our review of the GTX 970 shows that it is indeed faster than the R9 290 though it no longer has the significant cost advantage it did upon release. The GTX 980, however, is much tougher sell over the Radeon R9 290X for PC gamers that are concerned with price per dollar over all else. I would still consider the GTX 980 faster than the R9 290X...but is it $150 faster? That's a 35% price difference NVIDIA now has to contend with.
NVIDIA has proven that is it comfortable staying in this position against AMD as it maintained it during essentially the entire life of the GTX 680 and GTX 780 product lines. AMD is more willing to make price cuts to pull the Radeon lineup back into the spotlight. Though the market share between the competitors didn't change much over the previous 6 months, I'll be very curious to see how these two strategies continue to play out.
In what can most definitely be called the best surprise of the fall game release schedule, the open-world action game set in the Lord of the Rings world, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has been receiving impressive reviews from gamers and the media. (GiantBomb.com has a great look at it if you are new to the title.) What also might be a surprise to some is that the PC version of the game can be quite demanding on even the latest PC hardware, pulling in frame rates only in the low-60s at 2560x1440 with its top quality presets.
Late last week I spent a couple of days playing around with Shadow of Mordor as well as the integrated benchmark found inside the Options menu. I wanted to get an idea of the performance characteristics of the game to determine if we might include this in our full-time game testing suite update we are planning later in the fall. To get some sample information I decided to run through a couple of quality presets with the top two cards from NVIDIA and AMD and compare them.
Without a doubt, the visual style of Shadow of Mordor is stunning – with the game settings cranked up high the world, characters and fighting scenes look and feel amazing. To be clear, in the build up to this release we had really not heard anything from the developer or NVIDIA (there is an NVIDIA splash screen at the beginning) about the title which is out of the ordinary. If you are looking for a game that is both fun to play (I am 4+ hours in myself) and can provide a “wow” factor to show off your PC rig then this is definitely worth picking up.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 01:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr
Move over Super Best Friends, the Dynamic Super Resolution Duo is here to slay the evil Jaggies! Ryan covered NVIDIA's new DSR in his review of the new Maxwell cards and how it can upsample a monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 or lower to much higher resolutions using a process similar to supersampling but is in fact a 13-tap gaussian filter. That is important because supersampling would have some interesting challenges rendering 2560x1440 on a 1080p monitor. DSR gives you a much wider choice of resolutions as you can see in the Guild Wars screenshot below, allowing you to choose a variety of multipliers to your displays native resolution to give your game a much smoother look. The Tech Report has assembled a variety of screenshots from games with different DSR and AA settings which you can examine with your own eyeballs to see what you think.
"One of the more intriguing capabilities Nvidia introduced with the GeForce GTX 970 and 980 is a feature called Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, for short. Nvidia bills it as a means of getting 4K quality on a 2K display. How good is it? We take a look."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- There's more to Windows 10 than miscounting @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really @ The Register
- AMD demonstrates NFV tool using 64-bit ARM-based SoC codenamed 'Hierofalcon' @ The Inquirer
- Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize @ Slashdot
- Mozilla might add Tor encryption to its Firefox web browser @ The Inquirer
- Lenovo becomes the biggest x86 server provider in China as acquisition of IBM x86 server business completes, says IDC @ DigiTimes
- Supercomputers: The Next Generation – Cray puts burst buffer tech, Intel Haswell inside @ The Register
- Competition: Win One of Three BioStar Motherboards @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | September 28, 2014 - 12:25 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X99, video, maxwell, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, evga
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream with myself and Jacob, you can catch the entire event in the video below. You won't want to miss out on seeing the first ever GTX 980 water block as well as announcements on new Torq mice!
EVGA has been a busy company recently. It has continued to innovate with new coolers for the recent GTX 980 and GTX 970 card releases, newer power supplies offer unique features and improved quality and power output, a new line of X99 chipset motherboards including a Micro ATX variant and hey, the company even released a line of high-performance mice this year! PC Perspective has covered basically all of these releases (and will continue to do so with pending GPU and MB reviews) but there is a lot that needs explaining.
To help out, an industry and community favorite will be stopping by from EVGA to the PC Perspective offices: Jacob Freeman. You might know him as @EVGA_JacobF on Twitter or have seen him on countless forums, but he will making an in-person appearance on Friday, September 26th on PC Perspective Live! We plan on discussing the brand new ACX 2.0 cooler on the Maxwell GPUs released last week, go over some of highlights of the new X99 motherboards and even touch on power supplies and the Torq mice line as well.
EVGA GTX 980/970, X99, PSU and Torq Live Stream featuring Jacob Freeman
3pm ET / 12pm PT - September 26th
EVGA has been a supporter of PC Perspective for a long time and we asked them to give back to our community during this live stream - and they have stepped up! Look at this prize list:
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 980 SC
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0
- 1 x EVGA X99 Classified
- 1 x EVGA X99 FTW
- 1 x EVGA X99 SLI
- 1 x EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 PSU
- 4 x Torq Mice
How can you participate and win these awesome pieces of hardware? Just be here at 3pm ET / 12pm PT on http://www.pcper.com/live and we'll be announcing winners as we go for those that tune in. It really couldn't be more simple!
If you have questions you want to ask Jacob about EVGA, or any of its line of products, please leave them in the comments section below and we'll start compiling a list to address on the live stream Friday. Who knows, we may even save some prizes for some of our favorite questions!
To make sure you don't miss our live stream events, be sure you sign up for our spam-free PC Perspective Live! Mailing List. We email that group a couple hours before each event gets started.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 26, 2014 - 12:14 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vxgi, video, tom petersen, nvidia, mfaa, maxwell, livestream, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, dsr
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream yesterday, I have good news: the interview and all the information/demos provided are available to you on demand right here. Enjoy!
Last week NVIDIA launched GM204, otherwise known as Maxwell and now branded as the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards. You should, of course, have already read the PC Perspective review of these two GPUs, but undoubtedly there are going to be questions and thoughts circulating through the industry.
To help the community get a better grasp and to offer them an opportunity to ask some questions, NVIDIA's Tom Petersen is stopping by our offices on Thursday afternoon where he will run through some demonstrations and take questions from the live streaming audience.
Be sure to stop back at PC Perspective on Thursday, September 25th at 4pm ET / 1pm PT to discuss the new Maxwell GPU, the GTX 980 and GTX 970, new features like Dynamic Super Resolution, MFAA, VXGI and more! You'll find it all on our PC Perspective Live! page on Monday but you can sign up for our "live stream mailing list" as well to get notified in advance!
NVIDIA Maxwell Live Stream
1pm PT / 4pm ET - September 25th
We also want your questions!! The easiest way to get them answered is to leave them for us here in the comments of this post. That will give us time to filter through the questions and get the answers you need from Tom. We'll take questions via the live chat and via Twitter (follow me @ryanshrout) during the event but often time there is a lot of noise to deal with.
So be sure to join us on Thursday afternoon!
UPDATE: We have confirmed at least a handful of prizes for those of you that tune into the live stream today. We'll giveaway an NVIDIA SHIELD as well as several of the brand new SLI LED bridges that were announced for sale this week!
Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2014 - 12:24 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, GTX 980, GTX 970, maxwell, nvidia, amd, noctua, NH-D15, acer, 4k, 4k gsync, XB280HK, 840, 840 evo, Samsung
PC Perspective Podcast #319 - 09/25/2014
Join us this week as we discuss our GTX 980 and 970 Review, Noctua NH-D15, Acer's 4K G-Sync Display and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:34:52
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 19, 2014 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vr direct, video, nvidia, mfaa, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr
The answer to the two most important questions are as follows, the GTX 980 will cost you around $560 compared to the $500 for an R9 290X and the GTX 970 an attractive $330 compared to $380 for an R9 290. Availability is hard to predict but the cards will be shipping soon and you can pre-order your choice of card by following the links on the last page of Ryan's review. Among all the new features that have been added to this new GPU one of the most impressive is the power draw, as you can see in [H]ard|OCP's review this card pulls 100W less than the 290X at full load although it did run warmer than the 290X Double Dissipation card which [H] compared it to, something that may change with a 980 bearing a custom cooler. Follow those links to see the benchmarking results of this card, both synthetic and in game.
"Today NVIDIA launches its newest Maxwell GPU. There will be two new GPUs, the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970. These next generation GPUs usher in new features and performance that move the gaming industry forward. We discuss new features, architecture, and evaluate the gameplay performance against the competition."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 and 970 @ The Tech Report
- Maxwell is here! GTX 980 is now revealed! @ Bjorn3D.com
- Nvidia unveils second-gen Maxwell GPUs, the Geforce GTX 970 and GTX 980 @ The Inquirer
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB Review @HiTech Legion
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review @ Neoseeker
- NVIDIA GTX 980 Review @ OCC
- NVIDIA GeForce GeForce GTX 980 Maxwell Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G GPU Review @ Modders-Inc
- GeForce GTX 980 @ HardwareHeaven
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 @ Benchmark Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review: Does Maxwell Bring Maximum Gameplay? @ Techgage
- ASUS Strix GTX 970 OC 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 SLI @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 & GTX 980 @ Legion Hardware
- Nvidia Geforce GTX 980 @ Kitguru
- Asus GTX970 STRIX OC @ Kitguru
- MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G @ Kitguru
The GM204 Architecture
James Clerk Maxwell's equations are the foundation of our society's knowledge about optics and electrical circuits. It is a fitting tribute from NVIDIA to include Maxwell as a code name for a GPU architecture and NVIDIA hopes that features, performance, and efficiency that they have built into the GM204 GPU would be something Maxwell himself would be impressed by. Without giving away the surprise conclusion here in the lead, I can tell you that I have never seen a GPU perform as well as we have seen this week, all while changing the power efficiency discussion in as dramatic a fashion.
To be fair though, this isn't our first experience with the Maxwell architecture. With the release of the GeForce GTX 750 Ti and its GM107 GPU, NVIDIA put the industry on watch and let us all ponder if they could possibly bring such a design to a high end, enthusiast class market. The GTX 750 Ti brought a significantly lower power design to a market that desperately needed it, and we were even able to showcase that with some off-the-shelf PC upgrades, without the need for any kind of external power.
That was GM107 though; today's release is the GM204, indicating that not only are we seeing the larger cousin of the GTX 750 Ti but we also have at least some moderate GPU architecture and feature changes from the first run of Maxwell. The GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are going to be taking on the best of the best products from the GeForce lineup as well as the AMD Radeon family of cards, with aggressive pricing and performance levels to match. And, for those that understand the technology at a fundamental level, you will likely be surprised by how much power it requires to achieve these goals. Toss in support for things like a new AA method, Dynamic Super Resolution, and even improved SLI performance and you can see why doing it all on the same process technology is impressive.
The NVIDIA Maxwell GM204 Architecture
The NVIDIA Maxwell GM204 graphics processor was built from the ground up with an emphasis on power efficiency. As it was stated many times during the technical sessions we attended last week, the architecture team learned quite a bit while developing the Kepler-based Tegra K1 SoC and much of that filtered its way into the larger, much more powerful product you see today. This product is fast and efficient, but it was all done while working on the same TSMC 28nm process technology used on the Kepler GTX 680 and even AMD's Radeon R9 series of products.
The fundamental structure of GM204 is setup like the GM107 product shipped as the GTX 750 Ti. There is an array of GPCs (Graphics Processing Clustsers), each comprised of multiple SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors, also called SMMs for this Maxwell derivative) and external memory controllers. The GM204 chip (the full implementation of which is found on the GTX 980), consists of 4 GPCs, 16 SMMs and four 64-bit memory controllers.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 8, 2014 - 05:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: leak, nvidia, GM204, GTX 980, GTX 980M, GTX 970, GTX 970M
Please keep in mind that this information has been assembled via research done by WCCF Tech and Videocardz off of 3DMark entries of unreleased GPUs; we won't get the official numbers until the middle of this month. That said, rumours and guesswork about new hardware are a favourite past time of our readers so here is the information we've seen so far about the upcoming GM204 chip from NVIDIA. On the desktop side is the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 which should both have 4GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit bus with GPU clock speeds ranging from 1127 to 1190 MHz. The performance that was shown on 3DMark has the GTX 980 beating the 780 Ti and R9 290X and the GTX 970 performing similarly to the plain GTX 780 and falling behind the 290X. SLI scaling looks rather attractive with a pair of GTX 980 coming within a hair of the performance of the R9 295X2.
On the mobile side things look bleak for AMD, the GTX 980M and GTX 970M surpass the current GTX 880M which in turn benchmarks far better than AMD's M290X chip. Again the scaling in SLI systems will be impressive assuming that the leaks that you can see indepth here are accurate. It won't be too much longer before we know one way or the other so you might want to keep your finger off of the Buy Button for a short while.