NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M vs 880M comparison, what’s the difference?

GeForce GTX 980M and 880M are the most high-end mobile graphics cards. GeForce GTX 880M was released in March 2014, while the 980M has just been released days ago. GeForce GTX 880M was the laptop graphics card which was definitely highest performing until 980M, which is the undoubted current king, was released. Therefore, in this article, we will not discuss which has the better performance, but describe the differences between 980M and 880M in order to help people to choose a laptop suitable for them.

The Specs difference:

Both are based on different architectures. The GTX 880M uses Kepler GK204 architecture, and GTX 980M uses a newer Maxwell GM204 architecture. Relative to Kepler, some optimizations are done with Maxwell, which improves power efficiency. Both use 28nm process, but Maxwell architecture will be more efficient.

The GTX 880M and 980M are in the same Power Consumption of 100W, but the 980M has a significantly improved performance. Therefore, its performance-per-watt improves substantially. Due to the high power consumption, the GTX 880M and GTX 980M are only can be used in the professional gaming laptop which has a better cooling system. Note that GTX 980M has a better power optimization technique. When the running program is in low requirements to the graphics card, its optimization technology allows automatically reducing clock rates, even completely deactivated, and the use of the integrated graphics processor card is for saving energy.

With Nvidia reorganizing the Smaller Streaming Multiprocessors (SMN) of Maxwell architecture, a good increase of efficiency and workload, each SMM in GM204 contains only 128 shader units and 8 TMUs, slightly less compared to the Kepler GPU (Kepler: 192). GM204 contains 16 SMMs. But the 980M shut off four of them. Therefore, only 1536 (12 x 128) shader ALUs and 96 (12 x 8)TMUs are active, while the 880M contains 1536 CUDA cores and 128 TMUs. Although both have the same shaders, since Maxwell uses optimized scheduler technology, better utilization of the shaders, thus, 980M will have a better performance!

Each of the GTX 980M and 880M has a bandwidth of 256-bits. But 980M only supports up to 4GB GDDR5 memory, while the 880M supports up to 8GB. You do not become frustrated for a little less memory, because 980M has improved compression algorithm and improved the efficiency of each MHZ significantly, so that 980M become much stronger in terms of overall performance instead!

The following we’ll list the detail sepcs of GTX 880M and GTX 980m:

  GTX 880m GTX 980m
Architecture Kepler Maxwell
Pipelines 1536 – unified 1536 – unified
Core Speed 954 MHz – 5000 MHz 1038 MHz – 5000 MHz
Memory Bus Width 256 Bit 256 Bit
Memory Max ammount 8 GB DDR 5 4 GB DDR 5
DirectX DirectX 11, Shader 5.0 DirectX 11.2, Shader 5.0
Transistors 3540 Million 5200 Million
Technology 28 nm 28 nm
Date of Released 12.03.2014 07.10.2014

The performance:

Relative to GTX 880M, the GTX 980M significantly increases performance, which is currently the fastest mobile graphics card due to the reorganization of the SMN and adoption of updated optimization algorithm. According to first benchmarks, the 980M increases up to 50% in speed under different scenarios. Therefore, now you can play games smoothly for today’s most demanding with 980M laptop. Although the performance is slightly inferior, the older 880M meets the need of running demanding games enough. If you do not pursue perfection, take a lower price for 880M which is a good choice too!

GeForce GTX 980M vs 880M

Benchmarks comparison:

  GTX 880m GTX 980m
3DMark (2013) – Fire Strike 1920×1080 min: 5825     
avg: 6060.1
median: 6101
max: 6251
min: 5825     
avg: 6060.1
median: 6101
max: 6251
3DMark (2013) – Cloud Gate 1280×720 min: 38938
avg: 39962.8
median: 39891
max: 41259
min: 67377
avg: 67377
median: 67377
max: 67377
Unigine Heaven 3.0
Normal Tessellation, 1920×1080
min: 74.1
avg: 74.1
median: 74.1
max: 74.1
min: 110.6
avg: 110.6
median: 110.6
max: 110.6
3DMark 11 – Performance GPU 1280×720 min: 8114     
avg: 8553
median: 8578
max: 9003
min: 11817
avg: 11817
median: 11817
max: 11817

The data is come from Notebookcheck: GTX 880m | GTX 980m

How to choose

As mentioned above, both GTX 980M and 880M can run smoothly today’s most demanding games. However the graphics card is not the only option for a laptop, we may also choose a suitable laptop by referring to other aspects such as CPU, memory, hard drives and prices. If you prepare for a possible future introduction of more demanding games, it is a necessary to choose a laptop equipped with 980M. Otherwise, you may take a lower price to buy a laptop equipped with 880M, and the excess money in the SSD, or other specialized equipment such as a gaming headset wiser. Here are some comparisons of the configurations about 980M and 880M of current best-selling laptops. We hope that would give a help to you with buying a suitable laptop!

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