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|
|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.
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.
Specifications of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M
Here's the specs sheet of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics processor.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M “Maxwell”
Dedicated video card
|ROPs / TMUs||
16 / 40
|Core Clock Speed||
Up to 1097 MHz
|Memory Bus Width||
|Video Memory Size||
|Video Memory Clock Speed||
|3D Mark 11 (Performance Mode) Score||