Maxwell Arrives! High Performance & Efficiency takes the crown

Overclocking, Power Draw & Temperatures


Overclocking, Power Draw, Noise and Temperatures

Overclocking the GTX 980 is just as easy as overclocking Kepler with the same features.  We did notice that adding voltage acted to stabilize our GTX 980 more than it acted with Kepler GPUs. We were able to overclock further, adding +200MHz offset to the core with complete stability, even though we did not adjust the voltage nor our fan profile.

The only issues were again with GRiD 2 and now with Grid: Autosport where we had to drop the OC a notch or increase the voltage to complete the benchmark loops. We managed +225MHz overclock on all of the other 26 game benchmarks.  However, we finally settled on +200MHz offset to the core clocks and +500MHz offset on the memory clocks with complete stability, and might have been able to go +50MHz higher on the memory clocks.

January 14, 2015 notes.  The next three screenshots of PrecisionX were lost.

Here is the GTX 980 at idle with stock settings; only the power and temp targets are maxed out
Here is the GTX 980 at idle with stock settings; only the power and temp targets are maxed out

Using maxed-out Heaven 3.0 looped in a window at 1920×1080, with all settings at stock values (Power and temperature targets are always maxed out), the Peak Boost observed was 1265MHz and it settled in at 1240MHz when temperatures reached 78C.  Even with temperatures in our testing room a hot 80F, temperatures never reached over 82C under full load, and the fan was unnoticeable at 63%.  Voltage ranged from 1.174V to 1.200V (average) to a high of 1.225V with clocks at stock values under gaming load.

Maximum temps at stock settings
Maximum temps at stock settings

Adding +200MHz to the core brought the peak boost up to 1452MHz and it stabilized at 1440MHz when the temperature exceeded 78C.  The fan needed to ramp up to a still very quiet 68% to keep the core temps below 84C.  Boosting the memory clocks +500MHz brought the temps up to 85C, and the fan needed to ramp to 72% where it became more audible.

Adding overvoltage
Adding overvoltage

Adding the maximum voltage of +.88V, increased the core temps to the same 85C, but now the fan needed to work harder and ramped up to 79% where it was noticeable, but not irritating.

Here is a chart that used Heaven 3.0 for testing overclocking stability.  We finally settled on +200MHz offset to the core and +500MHz offset to the memory as stable for all benching and games that we tested on a very hot Summer day.overclocking



Our ambient (room temperatures) were hot – Summerlike – 79-81F as the desert South West was experiencing a major heatwave during testing.   The GTX 980 runs quite cool at stock clocks even under load.  However, once the core speed increased, so did the temperatures until we hit near the 1452MHz peak on the core from boost and temperatures would rise into the mid-80sC.  85C was the highest temperature that we observed and the highest the fan reached was 79%.

You can see from the performance charts what effects increasing core speed has on the GTX 980  – from the reference speed  to our own +200MHz.  The performance summary charts are up next and there is a separate overclocking chart showing the manual overclocking of the GTX 980 +200MHz on the core and +500MHz on the vRAM.

We are looking forward to our follow-up article which will include further testing for both the GTX 980 and also the GTX 970.


The GTX 980 is extraordinarily quiet for a high-end flagship card and in stark contrast to the reference version of the R9 290X.  The GTX 680 and the reference GTX 770 are already quiet for powerful cards, but the GTX 980 along with the GTX 780/Ti are noticeably quieter.  And we had to drop our overclock on our CPU and lower our CPU fans rpm to even notice them at all.  The automatic fan profiles work well and needed no tweaking using our maximum overclock on each card.

It appears that Nvidia has especially tuned the GTX 980 to be quiet but not at the expense of cooling.  It will be interesting to see what cooling designs their partners implement.

Let’s head to our performance charts.