Final Words

Bringing this video card review to a close, through the last 14 pages of benchmarks we have seen the same result time and time again. While on paper the GeForce GTX 980 Ti should trail the GeForce GTX Titan X by several percent, what we get in the real world is much, much closer. With an average performance deficit of just 3%, GeForce GTX 980 Ti is for all intents and purposes GTX Titan X with a different name.

Typically NVIDIA engineers a wider gap between their cards, and while there is plenty of room for speculation here as to why they’d let GTX 980 Ti get so close to GTX Titan X – and make no mistake, it is intentional – at the end of the day none of that changes the final result. With a launch price of $649, the GTX 980 Ti may as well be an unofficial price cut to GTX Titan X, delivering flagship GeForce performance for 35% less.

As it stands GTX Titan X does have one remaining advantage that precludes it from being rendered redundant: its 12GB of VRAM, versus GTX 980 Ti’s 6GB. However without any current games requiring more than 6GB of VRAM – and any realistic workload running out of GPU throughput before running out of VRAM – the GTX Titan X’s place in this world now hinges on an uncertain degree of future-proofness. For this reason GTX Titan X isn’t going anywhere, it will still be around for buyers who need the very best, or even compute users after a cheap 12GB card, but for everyone else the GTX 980 Ti is now going to be the card all other high-end video cards are measured against.

Meanwhile for prospective high-end buyers who haven’t already picked up a GTX Titan X, GTX 980 Ti comes at an interesting time for new buyers and upgrades alike. NVIDIA’s previous $649 card, the GTX 780, has just turned two years old, which is about the bare minimum for upgrading a video card these days. Gamers looking to replace the GTX 780 will find that the GTX 980 Ti offers around a 70% performance improvement, which compared to the gains we saw with GTX Titan X and NVIDIA’s other Titan cards is actually ahead of the curve. It’s still not enough to double GTX 780’s performance, nor are we going to get there until 16nm, but it’s a bright spot for those who may want to upgrade a bit sooner than 2016. On the other hand GTX 780 Ti owners will almost certainly want to hold off for the next generation, despite the name.

That said however, today’s launch is just the first part of a larger battle between NVIDIA and AMD. With AMD scheduled to launch their next-generation high-end card in June, the launch of the GTX 980 Ti is in many ways NVIDIA striking first and striking hard.  By pushing GTX Titan X-like performance down to $650, NVIDIA has set the bar for AMD: AMD needs to either beat GTX 980 Ti/Titan X if they want to take back the performance crown, or they need to deliver their card for less than $650. It goes without saying that NVIDIA has given AMD a very high bar to beat, but AMD has proven to be quite resourceful in the past, so it shall be interesting to see just what AMD’s response is to the GTX 980 Ti.

As for this moment, the high-end video card market is essentially in a holding pattern. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a fine card for the price – a GTX Titan X for $649 – however with AMD’s new flagship card on the horizon buyers are likely better off waiting to see what AMD delivers before making such a purchase, if only to see if it further pushes down video card prices.

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  • ComputerGuy2006 - Sunday, May 31, 2015 - link

    Well at $500 this would be 'acceptable', but paying this much for 28nm in mid 2015?
  • SirMaster - Sunday, May 31, 2015 - link

    Why do people care about the nm? If the performance is good isn't that what really matters?
  • Galaxy366 - Sunday, May 31, 2015 - link

    I think the reason people talk about nm is because a smaller nm means more graphical power and less usage.
  • ComputerGuy2006 - Sunday, May 31, 2015 - link

    Yeah, we also 'skipped' a generation, so it will be even a bigger bang... And with how old the 28nm is, it should be more mature process with better yields, so these prices look even more out of control.
  • Kevin G - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    Even with a mature process, producing a 601 mm^2 chip isn't going to be easy. The only larger chips I've heard of are ultra high end server processors (18 core Haswell-EX, IBM POWER8 etc.) which typically go for several grand a piece.
  • chizow - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    Heh, I guess you don't normally shop in this price range or haven't been paying very close attention. $650 is getting back to Nvidia's typical flagship pricing (8800GTX, GTX 280), they dropped it to $500 for the 480/580 due to economic circumstances and the need to regain marketshare from AMD, but raised it back to $650-700 with the 780/780Ti.

    In terms of actual performance gains, the actual performance increases are certainly justified. You could just as easily be paying the same price or more for 28nm parts that aren't any faster (stay tuned for AMD's rebranded chips in the upcoming month).
  • extide - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    AMD will launch the HBM card on 400 series. 300 series is an OEM only series. ... just like ... wait for it .... nVidia's 300 series. WOW talk about unprecedented!
  • chizow - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    AMD already used that excuse...for the...wait for it...8000 series. Which is now the...wait for it....R9 300 OEM series (confirmed) and Rx 300 Desktop series (soon to underwhelm).
  • NvidiaWins - Thursday, June 18, 2015 - link

    RIGHT! AMD has been backpedaling for the last 3 years!
  • Morawka - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    980 was $549 at release.. So was the 780

    Nvidia is charging $650 for the first few weeks, but when AMD's card drops, you'll see the 980 Ti get discounted down to $500.

    Just wait for AMD's release and the price will have to drop.

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