NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review: Does Maxwell Bring Maximum Gameplay?

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by Rob Williams on September 18, 2014 in Graphics & Displays

NVIDIA’s next-gen GeForce series is here, and it brings with it a slew of new features and enhancements worth knowing about. Based on Maxwell, the GTX 900 series delivers much-improved performance-per-watt, with the GTX 980 in particular performing better than the 780 Ti – but with a TDP of 85W less. You read that right. Let’s dig in.

Game Tests: Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Total War: SHOGUN 2

Tom Clancy is responsible for a countless number of video games, but his Splinter Cell series has become something special, with each game released having been considered “great” overall. The latest in the series, Blacklist, is no exception, and thankfully for us, its graphics are fantastic, and not to mention intensive. For those who love a stealth element in their games, this is one that shouldn’t be skipped.

RIP, Tom Clancy.

Splinter Cell Blacklist - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: From the start of the ‘Safehouse’ level in Benghazi, Libya, we progress through until we reach an apartment building that must be entered – this is where we end the FPS recording.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (1920x1080)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2560x1440)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (5760x1080)

The further we peer into these results, the clearer it becomes to me that we’re going to be due for another GPU suite overhaul soon. Most PC gamers out there run 1080p, but as we’ve seen up to this point, none of these cards struggle with 1440p, which has 77% more pixels. Clearly, we’d be seeing far greater deltas at 4K. I still believe the hype surrounding 4K is severely overblown, but it seems inevitable that I’ll be adding it to our suite at some point soon.

Total War: SHOGUN 2

Strategy games are well-known for pushing the limits of any system, and few others do this as well as Total War: SHOGUN 2. It fully supports DX11, has huge battlefields to oversee with hundreds or thousands of units, and a ton of graphics options to adjust. It’s quite simply a beast of a game.

Total War: SHOGUN 2 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: SHOGUN 2 is one of the few games in our suite where the built-in benchmark is opted for. Strategy games in particular are very difficult to benchmark, so this is where I become thankful to have the option of using a built-in benchmark.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (1920x1080)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (2560x1440)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (5760x1080)

SHOGUN 2 is the only game in our suite which shows that a single 980 isn’t even enough to deliver silky-smooth gameplay at 5760×1080. Granted, that’s with anti-aliasing and every other setting maxed, so it wouldn’t be hard to reach 60 FPS if it were that important (and I’d argue that it is).

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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