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Nvidia’s range-topping GeForce GTX 980 and 970 crank up the clock speeds, turn down the heat

Read our full Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 review.

As part of its celebration of all things PC gaming at Nvidia’s Game24 event, the GPU maker has just announced its brand new GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards.

Related: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 reviewed, benchmarked, tested, specs

These are the company’s newest single-GPU high-end cards, and they immediately replace the GeForce GTX 780Ti, the GeForce GTX 780, and the GeForce GTX 770, which have been immediately discontinued. Looking to update your rig with the latest in Nvidia’s arsenal? Here’s what each card comes packing.

GeForce GTX 980

The GeForce GTX 980, which is based on Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture, is powered by 2,048 CUDA cores, with a base clock of 1,126MHz, a boost clock of 1,216MHz, and a memory clock of 7,000MHz. The base and boost clocks match up with what recent rumors indicated they would be. The GeForce GTX 980 has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, a memory bus of 256-bits, and memory bandwidth of 224GB/s.

So how does that compare to the 780Ti, which is the card that the 980 is replacing? That card, according to Nvidia’s official specs sheet, has 2,880 CUDA cores, but lower base and boost clocks of 875MHz, and 928MHz, respectively. While it also has a 7,000MHz memory clock, the memory bus (384-bit) and bandwidth (336 GB/s) are both higher than they are on the new 980. However, the 780Ti has 3GB of GDDR5 RAM, which is 1GB less than what the base version of the GTX 980 has.

Related: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 3DMark Fire Strike benchmarks leak

The 780Ti sports four ports: HDMI, DisplayPort, dual-link DVI-I, and dual-link DVI-D. Meanwhile, the 980 has a trio of DisplayPort connectors, an HDMI port, and a dual-link DVI port.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that you need a lot less power to run the 980 compared to the 780Ti. The GeForce GTX 980 has a thermal design power (TDP, a measurement of power consumption) of 165 watts, while the 780Ti has a TDP of 250 watts. As a result of the reduction in power consumption, Nvidia’s minimum power supply requirement has dropped from 600 watts with the 780Ti, to 500 watts with the GTX 980. Even if the 980 offers similar performance, that’s outstanding.

GeForce GTX 970

As you might have guessed just based on the name, the 970 is the next step down from the 980, and its specs reflect that fact.

The GeForce GTX 970, which also runs on Maxwell architecture, wields 1,664 CUDA cores, along with base and boost clocks of 1,050MHz, and 1,178MHz, respectively. Like the 980, the 970 also sports a 7,000MHz memory clock, and carries 4GB of GDDR5 RAM. That’s double what the GTX 770 has (2GB).

GeFoce_GTX_970-3qtr

The 970 features a 256-bit memory bus, and memory bandwidth of 224GB/s, just like the 770. Like the GTX 980, it has three DisplayPort connectors, along with single HDMI, and dual-link DVI ports.

The 970 is significantly more power efficient than the 770. The GeForce GTX 970 has a TDP of only 145 watts, which is nearly 100 watts lower (230) than what the GTX 770 demands. As a result, Nvidia’s power supply recommendation drops from 600-watts with the 770, to 500 watts with the 970.

Price and release date

The GeForce GTX 980 carries an MSRP of $549. That’s about $200 cheaper compared to what you’ll pay for a GTX 780Ti, which goes for roughly between $700 and $750. The AMD Radeon R9 290X, which is the 980’s main competitor at this point, is priced at around $550 for the most part. However, some 290X-based cards sell for well under $500 at retail, like this one. If significantly cheaper Radeon 290X cards continue to be available in large numbers, the GTX 980 will have to offer notably better performance compared to the 290X to attract a large audience.

As for the GeForce GTX 970, that card carries a price tag of $329. That’s more or less what you’d pay for a GTX 770 right now, so aside from significantly lower power consumption, the 970 will have to turn in much better performance numbers to get large swarms of gamers to upgrade from the 770. Plus, you can get an AMD Radeon R9 280X-based graphics card for about the same price, so it will be interesting to see how these two cards stack up against one another.

Also, as a result of these announcements, Nvidia is lowering the price on the GeForce GTX 760 to $219. GTX 760-based graphics cards range from roughly $240 to $300.

Both the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 and the GeForce GTX 970 will be available starting 3:01 a.m. ET on Friday, September 19. You’ll be able to find them starting this time on sites like Newegg, Amazon, and others.

Nvidia tells Digital Trends that it may take a couple of hours for some variants of both the 980 and the 970 to pop up for purchase online. So, if you happen to prefer graphics cards from Sapphire or Asus, but you’re only seeing versions from XFX, MSI, and other firms, just be patient. They should all start appearing soon around that time.