NVIDIA Announces GTX Maxwell Notebooks (980M & 970M)

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

If there is one message that I get from NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 900M-series announcement, it is that laptop gaming is a first-class citizen in their product stack. Before even mentioning the products, the company provided relative performance differences between high-end desktops and laptops. Most of the rest of the slide deck is showing feature-parity with the desktop GTX 900-series, and a discussion about battery life.

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First, the parts. Two products have been announced: The GeForce GTX 980M and the GeForce GTX 970M. Both are based on the 28nm Maxwell architecture. In terms of shading performance, the GTX 980M has a theoretical maximum of 3.189 TFLOPs, and the GTX 970M is calculated at 2.365 TFLOPs (at base clock). On the desktop, this is very close to the GeForce GTX 770 and the GeForce GTX 760 Ti, respectively. This metric is most useful when you're compute bandwidth-bound, at high resolution with complex shaders.

The full specifications are:

  GTX 980M GTX 970M
GTX 980
GTX 970
GTX 880M
CUDA Cores 1536 1280 2048 1664 1536
Core (MHz) 1038 924 1126 1050 954
Perf. (TFLOP) 3.189 2.365 4.612 3.494 2.930
Memory Up to 4GB Up to 3GB 4GB 4GB 4GB/8GB
Memory Rate 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 7.0 (GT/s) 7.0 (GT/s) 2500 MHz
Memory Width 256-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Architecture Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Kepler
Process Node 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
DirectX Version 12.0 12.0 12.0 12.0 11.0

As for the features, it should be familiar for those paying attention to both desktop 900-series and the laptop 800M-series product launches. From desktop Maxwell, the 900M-series is getting VXGI, Dynamic Super Resolution, and Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA). From the latest generation of Kepler laptops, the new GPUs are getting an updated BatteryBoost technology. From the rest of the GeForce ecosystem, they will also get GeForce Experience, ShadowPlay, and so forth.

For VXGI, DSR, and MFAA, please see Ryan's discussion for the desktop Maxwell launch. Information about these features is basically identical to what was given in September.

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BatteryBoost, on the other hand, is a bit different. NVIDIA claims that the biggest change is just raw performance and efficiency, giving you more headroom to throttle. Perhaps more interesting though, is that GeForce Experience will allow separate one-click optimizations for both plugged-in and battery use cases.

The power efficiency demonstrated with the Maxwell GPU in Ryan's original GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 review is even more beneficial for the notebook market where thermal designs are physically constrained. Longer battery life, as well as thinner and lighter gaming notebooks, will see tremendous advantages using a GPU that can run at near peak performance on the maximum power output of an integrated battery. In NVIDIA's presentation, they mention that while notebooks on AC power can use as much as 230 watts of power, batteries tend to peak around 100 watts. Given that a full speed, desktop-class GTX 980 has a TDP of 165 watts, compared to the 250 watts of a Radeon R9 290X, translates into notebook GPU performance that will more closely mirror its desktop brethren.

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Of course, you probably will not buy your own laptop GPU; rather, you will be buying devices which integrate these. There are currently five designs across four manufacturers that are revealed (see image above). Three contain the GeForce GTX 980M, one has a GTX 970M, and the other has a pair of GTX 970Ms. Prices and availability are not yet announced.

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October 7, 2014 | 09:21 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

cant wait to see some benchmarks, could use a new gaming laptop.

October 7, 2014 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Tom's Hardware. 970M is incredible.

April 23, 2015 | 02:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

bought a fantastic Gaming Laptop from iBuyPower and I was amazed by the 970M that it had in it. I don't have a problem running any game on ultra settings in 1080p or higher with Nvidia Dynamic Super Resolution. Kudos to both iBuyPower and Nvidia for making such amazing products!

October 7, 2014 | 10:31 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Can't wait to see benchmarks of their Quadro versions. Could use a new workstation.

October 7, 2014 | 11:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


I would like to know this... since, i expect Zotac to make a Zbox with 970m or 960m, like they have been doing with 760m and 860m.

It would nice to know if a gsync supporting vesa mountable little box will come in the near future....

October 7, 2014 | 11:08 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

... not to mention a laptop that has gsync or at least can support gsync on an external compatible monitor

October 7, 2014 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ONLY if it has DP output.

October 7, 2014 | 12:31 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

There is no G-Sync technology for notebooks quite yet.

October 7, 2014 | 10:15 PM - Posted by StewartGraham (not verified)

The G-Sync hardware is currently far too bulky to practically fit into a gaming laptop, even a 17in machine desktop replacement.

This is why Adaptive Sync (FreeSync) might have an edge in (at the very least) the mobile gaming segment as it only requires hardware that's already built into machines (the scalier units must support the standard however).

October 8, 2014 | 04:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The question wasnt about about gsync modules in laptops.

It was about the 900m`s having the gsync functionality in them at all.
Like... the 650ti doesnt have it, but 650tiboost does have it.

October 8, 2014 | 03:22 PM - Posted by collie

it seems the answer is no

October 7, 2014 | 12:32 PM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

Nvidia please keep milking the mobile gpu market because thats what subsidizes us enthusiasts.

Like said above, Zbox is the only interesting angle on this whole thing....

Mobile gpus are overpriced and nobody cares about them unless they get a new latop

October 9, 2014 | 01:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well, if no one cares about mobile gpus, then there wouldn't be a reason for NVidia or AMD to release M branded gpus would there? And by extension, wouldn't be able to "subsidize" desktop gpu prices, would they?

October 7, 2014 | 12:33 PM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

Laptop :-)

October 7, 2014 | 04:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

GeForce 344.24 WHQL driver for GeForce GTX 980M and GTX 970M GPUs

October 8, 2014 | 08:48 AM - Posted by YTech

Quickly looking at the full specs list, it looks like the GTX 970M is the worst of them all.

What caught my eye was the Memory Rate. You see the data entered in frequency and another in data transfer rate. These 2 values becomes confusing as you're not sure which one is better, etc. From my understanding, the Memory Rate in frequency can be neglected as it can be misleading to how data is manipulated and transferred (varies with controllers and other components). So Data Transfer Rate is a better measurement.

Comparing the Memory Width, all cards have the same value except the GTX 970M and the Memory Rate in frequency is shown to be the same (except those shown in DTR), I would believe the transfer rate would be the same where the GTX 970M would be slightly lower due to it's Memory Width (roughly 64-bit less).

In my opinion, if you want the best for a gaming laptop, the GTX 980M is for you. For desktop, the GTX 970 would be as good as the GTX 980.

Any clarifications are welcome ...

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