Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M & 970M Gaming Performance Test Round-Up

With the release of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M and 970M mobile-class graphics processors, the chip maker has made the usual performance gap between the laptop- and corresponding desktop-use video cards smaller than ever.

Alongside multiple technology improvements over the 800M series GPUs, the Maxwell architecture based 980M and 970M bring top performance among laptop graphics cards. The star of the show is the GTX 980M, claimed to be world’s fastest notebook GPU. Indeed, the first benchmarks confirm the claim, as well as Nvidia’s statement that its performance is quite close to speed of the desktop-use GTX 980.

In LinusTechTips’ comparison review of the GTX 980M and 970M embedded below, the pair was put against the previous-gen GTX 880M and the desktop GTX 980 and 970 video cards.

In Tomb Rider game at almost maximal settings and 1080p resolution the 980M scored 80 frames per second, versus 61 fps on the 970M. The 880M lagged behind both with 54 fps. The 980M was only 10 percent slower than its desktop counterpart.

In Far Cry 3 at 1080p and nearly maximal settings, the 980M, 970M, and 880M scored 61, 49, and 45 fps respectively, whereas the 980 for desktops racked in 79 fps.

Crysis 3 is more demanding than the previous two games, so it runs slower on all GPUs. Among the laptop video cards, ranking for the GTX 980M, 970M, and 880M with almost maxed out in-game settings and Full HD is 50, 38, and 38 fps, respectively, with the GTX 980 creating a greater gap than in the previous two games with 68 fps.

Another very popular laptop video card, which is probably the most widely adopted one among gaming laptops due to its low price and decent performance is the GeForce GTX 860M. It isn’t included in the comparison, but some other benchmarks show that for instance in Crysis 3 at 1080p and very high settings runs at below 30 frames per second (versus 50 and 38 fps with the 980M and 970M).

Guys over at XoticPC also did a valuable test of the GTX 980M. This time it’s a synthetic 3DMark benchmark. In Firestrike 3DMark test, the card scored more than 8000 points. For comparison’s sake, the 880M usually achieves around 6000 points, while the 860M is below 5000 points.

Finally, PC Perspective’s video review puts emphasis on performance difference of the new graphics, namely the 980M, when on AC power versus running on the battery. Needless to say, power-saving technologies reduce performance in interest of a longer battery life. But, a limited power draw when the system relies on the battery noticeably cripples performance, so yo can’t get full speed of the video card (and CPU) if you’re plugged out of the power outlet.

By the way, in all cases above the tested graphics cards were paired with one of the Intel Core i7 quad-core “Haswell” laptop processors. The i7 quad-cores are the most common CPUs in the higher-end gaming laptops and you’ll hardly find any notebook with the GTX 980M and 970M combined with any other CPU. Different video memory and system memory sizes in the tested laptops don’t significantly affect gaming performance.

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 980M & 970M 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.

User Reviews, Q&A, and Videos

Below you can read and submit user reviews, questions, and answers about the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M & 970M. Thank you for your contribution.

  1. Jake Hueman

    Hey u are right i got a 8gb vga gtx 989m . 2,5TB and two ram cards together 24gb ram with windows 8.1 , 17.5inch HD display and of course intel core i7 2.5ghz processor and can play AC Unity at ultra settings and farcry 4 at ultra settings.