Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M “Maxwell” Mid-Range Video Card

If you’re in the market for a new gaming laptop you’ve probably heard of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M dedicated video card. Across the whole 800M lineup, it’s the most remarkable part, although it isn’t the top-of-the-shelf model. The 880M is. But, the 860M, or more precisely Maxwell architecture-based 860M, leads in terms of performance-per-watt ratio and represents a new breed of power efficient, yet powerful graphics. It is the most common gaming-class GPU used in the currently available laptops and can be found in the low- and mid-range gaming notebook models such as the Lenovo Y50 or select Asus ROG G750 configurations.

Architecture of the GeForce GTX 860M needs a bit of clarification. In a somewhat confusing move from users’ point of view, Nvidia also released a previous-gen Kepler version of the 860M. Yes, Maxwell and Kepler in this case share the same GPU model name, although they’re basically different GPUs. Here’s a comparison specs sheet:

Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell Kepler
Chipset GM107 GK104
Number of CUDA Cores 640 1,152
Core Clock Speed 1,029-1,097 MHz 797-915 MHz
Memory 2 GB or 4 GB GDDR5 128-bit 4 GB GDDR5 128-bit
Production Technology 28 nm 28 nm

Since this is an overview of the Maxwell 860M, let’s put the Kepler version aside. Kepler-based 860M parts aren’t found in many laptops available today anyway. Lets just say the Maxwell version is obviously better. Not only in the power-efficiency / heat department, but also in pushing more frames per second in popular games.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M Benchmark - vs 760M

As a side note, the chances are you will never notice difference between 2GB and 4GB version of the GPU. The fact is the modern PC video games, even the latest ones, rarely utilize more than 2GB, but the 4GB version may be more future-proof.

So, what does gaming on the GTX 860M look like in the real life? Below you can find various gameplays, showing off a solid performance on high resolutions and highest detail settings in popular PC games. The graphics card in the recorded videos is always paired with one of the quad-core Intel Core i7 Haswell processors, while different RAM sizes in the tested systems don’t affect overall gaming performance. The frame rates in some of the videos are a bit lower, since they’re recorded using Nvidia ShadowPlay gameplay capturing software solution, which taxes performance a bit.

The card keeps Battlefield 4 at above 40 frames per second, with graphics settings set on Ultra and 1080p resolution.

In Crysis 3, you’ll probably want to dial down settings a bit, since on 1080p + Very High you’ll have frame rates below 30. Setting the resolution to 900p will enable you to enter 30+ fps territory.

Titanfall at maximal settings and Full HD runs at between 30 and 50 fps most of the time, with occasional drops at slightly below 30.

Counter strike: Global Offensive is based on an old 3D engine and isn’t as demanding as BF4, Crysis, or Titanfall. The game runs completely smooth on maximal settings and 1080p.

For World of Warcraft and other popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), the 860M is an overkill. On ultra-high detail settings and 1080p resolution, the card easily keeps the game at above 60 frames per second all the time, typically at around 100 fps.

Similarly, DOTA 2 runs at about 80-90 fps at Ultra settings and 1080p.

You can find laptops with 2GB 860M here and with 4GB 860M here.

Note: The benchmark scores of the listed graphics processors are averages measured across various devices with these processors. The scores and real-world performance of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M and compared GPUs may vary depending on the notebooks' other components, settings, cooling, and other factors (especially single-channel vs faster dual-channel RAM and speed of the main processor). However, the benchmark results, as well as gameplay videos, are good indicators of the graphics processors' performance.

Specifications

Here are the most important specs of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M:

GPU Name

Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M "Maxwell"

GPU Type

Dedicated video card (has its own video memory)

Number of Execution Units, Cores, Shaders

640 unified

ROPs / TMUs

16 / 40

Core Clock Speed

Up to 1097 MHz

Memory Bus Width

128-bit

Video Memory Size

2GB
4GB

Memory Type

DDR3

Video Memory Speed

1253 MHz

Production Technology

28-nanometer

3D Mark 11 (Performance Mode) Score

5000

Published on September 25, 2014

User Reviews, Q&A, and Videos

Below you can read and submit user reviews, questions, and answers about the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M. Thank you for your contribution.

  1. chase

    I mostly play mobas like lol, dota, smite. But i also like skyrim modded and games like starcraft 2 and elderscrolls online. Im pretty sure an 860m is over kill for the mobas, would the 860m get me above console fps and visual fidelity for the other games? If its over kill for those too wgat would be a better(cheaper) option? I would like 1080p above 30 fps average, above 25 minimum.

  2. kuka

    I just got the Lenovo Y70 (Basically the Y50 with an IPS instead of a TN screen but 17.3″ touch screen, same graphics card and processor) a few days ago. I downloaded Skyrim and on vanilla (no mods) I get an average of 60FPS on Ultra with the occasional drop to lower 50s, but nothing really below that, so I’m not sure how accurate that chart is.. Did you base it on the Maxwell or Kepler version? Mine’s Maxwell

    • Danijel Zivkovic

      The chart in the post is provided by Nvidia, I haven’t tested the card myself.. Nvidia says the results are for the Maxwell version.

  3. Tyler T

    I recently purchased a Asus G551 with the 860m 2GB in it, I bought it to lounge around with my wife and kid while I piss around on World of Warcraft. I installed it last night and started to play, I was on high settings with it and was only getting about 25+FPS, I would like to know how you got to ULTRA settings and 100FPS? I have a desktop that usually plays everything on ultra so i’m not expecting that out of this laptop but having decent FPS and AT LEAST High Settings would be nice to have on this supposedly OVERKILL card for WoW.

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