NVIDIA GTX 980 SLI Review
Here we are almost two weeks after NVIDIA’s GTX 980 and GTX 970 launched and interest hasn’t diminished in any way. With that being said, the availability situation has somewhat improved so these cards are getting into people’s hands after initial bout of utterly insufficient allocation. All in all things couldn’t be going better for NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture so there’s no better time to start looking at how things are looking when they’re placed in an SLI configuration.
The GTX 980 will be the first card out of our multi GPU testing gates simply because we have two reference samples on hand (remember, the GTX 970 doesn’t have a “reference design” per se) and it’s vying for top-dog status in a pretty competitive segment. To refresh your memory, in a single card configuration it can handily beat the R9 290X and usually remain ahead of NVIDIA’s own GTX 780 Ti despite costing just $549.
Since our original review was published, the situation has changed a bit since AMD has very quietly lowered the 290X’s price to $499 for the reference design and even less in some cases provided you can find one with a mail in rebate. That doesn’t really change much since the GTX 980 is still miles ahead in quite a few metrics like performance per watt, temperatures and noise output but the R9 290X’s lower cost does make things interesting. Two of these cards could now potentially cost less than $1000 while the pair of GTX 980’s will put you back somewhere north of $1100 if you can actually get your hands on two.
While the TITAN Z’s astronomical cost of $3000 will lead to its destruction at the hands of Maxwell on a raw perf per dollar front, AMD’s own dual GPU card, the R9 295X2 may end up being a bit of a dark horse in this review. Not only is it quiet and relatively compact since it only takes up a single PCI-E slot but it just received a significant price cut as well. At $999, this may give the GTX 980 SLI setup a run for its money.
If we go back in time, these multi card reviews have sometimes ended in disaster, particularly when there’s a new architecture to contend with. The success or failure of both SLI and Crossfire hinges on proper driver support which is sometimes lacking this soon after launch. However, given NVIDIA’s track record with SLI profiles there shouldn’t be any major issues….we hope.
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