Both firms introduced larger chips based on existing GPU architectures last year. Then, two weeks ago, the Tonga GPU in the Radeon R9 285 surprised us with formidable new technology that’s still somewhat mysterious. Before that, this past spring, Nvidia unveiled its next-gen “Maxwell” graphics architecture on a single, small chip aboard the GeForce GTX 750 Ti. We could tell by testing that card’s GM107 GPU that Maxwell was substantially more power-efficient than the prior-gen Kepler architecture. However, no larger Maxwell-based chips were forthcoming.
Until today, that is.
At long last, a larger Maxwell derivative is here, powering a pair of new graphics cards: the flagship GeForce GTX 980 and its more affordable sibling, the GTX 970. These cards move the needle on price, performance, and power efficiency like only a new generation of technology can do.