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Nvidia's new flagship GTX 980 Ti card is all about 4K and VR gaming

Nvidia's new flagship GTX 980 Ti card is all about 4K and VR gaming

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Taiwan's annual Computex convention kicks off this week, and that means that Nvidia has some new goodies to show off. Nvidia's latest flagship GPU is here, and it's called the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. As you can tell from the name, it's supposed to be a beefier version of the prior flagship, the GTX 980. But the specs suggest it might be a nice way to enjoy some of the Titan X's massive power without paying up for that monster.

This time around, it looks like Nvidia is pumping up the 4K performance of its latest and greatest. According to the company's own benchmarks, the Maxwell-based GPU can run games like Battlefield 4 and Shadow of Mordor in 4K at max settings while keeping framerates well over 30fps. GTA V at Very High settings came in at 31.6fps, and the company says the GPU can run The Witcher 3 in 4K (at unspecified settings) at 45fps. It's likely that the GTX 980 Ti's 6GB of GDDR5 memory is helping keep 4K playable. (The Titan X, for comparison, has a 12GB frame buffer, but seriously, that's overkill.)

6GB frame buffer helps for 4K gaming

That said, it's certainly in Nvidia's best interest to make it seem like 4K is the new standard of high-quality gaming. If people can play games at nice settings at reasonable resolutions with their current card, they aren't very likely to upgrade. But the reality is that 4K monitors are still relatively rare, and you're most certainly better served by cranking up the settings at a more typical, lower resolution. Nevertheless, Nvidia is announcing a new set of 4K Asus and Acer monitors equipped with the graphics company's G-Sync technology, which promises less screen tearing. The tech will be making its way into high-end gaming laptops soon, too.

nvidia geforce gtx 980 ti

In addition to making the GTX 980 Ti 4K friendly, the company says the GPU is designed to work hand-in-hand with the upcoming DirectX 12 graphics APIs for developers. According to Nvidia, with DirectX 12, the new GPU will be able to more efficiently use its memory when rendering complex volumetric elements, like fluids, smoke, fire, and advanced lighting effects.

Reports suggest performance close to the mighty Titan X

The GTX 980 Ti will cost you $649.99, and it will be available within a week, according to the company. And is it any good? Well, The Tech Report's review says that it offers "nearly the same performance as the Titan X at a considerable discount." So while the 980 Ti certainly isn't cheap, it's not bad at all compared to the $1,000 asking price for the mighty Titan X. The GTX 980, meanwhile, has been dropped by $50 to $499.99.

Lastly, Nvidia says it has developed new rendering tech to make processing for virtual reality headsets more efficient. The images projected by VR headsets are not the same as what you see on a computer monitor — they are distorted to a fisheye view. When viewed through the lenses of the headset, this image appears all-encompassing. According to Nvidia, current tech must render the full 2D image and then distort it, which means the GPU is wasting resources on pixels that don't even make it into the final product. Nvidia's new VR APIs for developers, called GameWorks VR, analyze the image in separate portions, and render the periphery in lower resolution than the middle. We'll have to see the tech in action, but if it works out as advertised, it could help make it possible for people to join in on the virtual reality craze without upgrading to a massively expensive gaming rig.

Vlad Savov contributed to this report.