Very recently we took a long hard look at the PNY GeForce GTX 970 XLR8 4GB video card and walked away extremely impressed with what we found. However, while very good for a x70 video card, the PNY GeForce GTX 970 XLR8 4GB merely whetted our appetite for the real deal: the ‘Maxwell’ GeForce GTX 980. To satisfy this need for speed, we were able to obtain a PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8 4GB to see what the best NVIDIA has to offer right now could do – instead of just surmising it based on the 970.

Unlike the x70 series, the x80 series has always been – and always will be – about being an enthusiasts ‘flagship’ model. Historically this meant ideals such as performance per dollar takes a backseat to shear performance abilities, and consumers looking for the best ‘value’ are probably not the consumers interested in a x80 video card. In the past this also meant consumers looking for a low noise, low power video card need not apply as the top of the NVIDIA lineup was simply not intended to offer both performance and efficiency. Reference x80 series cards always consumed copious amount of power and took a brute force approach to increasing performance. In other words, if you wanted an NVIDIA card with the biggest core count ever seen in a single GPU solution it was a GeForce GTX x80 that you wanted.

intro - PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8 4GB

As the direct successor to GeForce GTX 780, the PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8 4GB breaks with tradition and represents a change in direction for NVIIDA and by extension PNY. While yes this is a reference GTX 980 card, and while yes it does cost $550 (or $220 more than the PNY 970 XLR8), these are the only things it shares common with its predecessor’s design philosophy. To put it simply, instead of the tried and true brute force approach the new PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8 takes a different path, a path of refinement and efficiency – it is a rapier to 780’s saber.

This new approach means combining fewer CUDA cores and texture units, with higher frequencies and a higher ROP count. This combination seemingly promises the impossible and this new 165 watt TDP 165 watts video card offers even higher performance than what a 250 watt TDP’ed GTX 780Ti can offer. As such, for the first time in a long time consumers do not need as heavy duty a power supply as they can afford – the recommended min is now only 500 watts.

However, increased performance and power efficiency is not the only things that the PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8 4GB brings to the table. Because this card uses a heatsink very reminiscent of the one which accompanies the stock PNY GTX 780 XLR8, the new PNY GeForce GTX 980 XLR8 4GB promises to be even cooler and quieter running than past x80 series video cards. Then to seal the deal PNY has given this their ‘standard’ lifetime warranty. On the surface this is indeed a lot of good things in a relatively small package; however as a flagship model, the performance does indeed have to live up to expectations as at the end of the day this video card is an enthusiast grade card and needs to live up to its predecessors standards!