GeForce GTX 980M and GTX 970M – GM204 for Gaming Laptops
Less than a month after the launch of GTX 980 and GTX 970, based on the newest version of Maxwell architecture, the less powerful versions are now available for laptops. GTX 980M and GTX 970M are based on the same GM204 chip in the new desktop cards, but with reduced core counts and clocks. As a result, it should support all features found in desktop Maxwell 2, with addition of laptop-centric battery boost and Optimus technologies. The latter may limit some of those features, as in Optimus laptops GPU does not have full control of display itself.
GTX 980M has 1536 CUDA cores (12 SMM units), 1038 MHz base clock and boost will vary depending on laptop. It will ship with either 4 GB or 8 GB GDDR5 VRAM, with 256-bit bus at 5 GHz, giving it around 30% less bandwidth than desktop GTX 980. Thus we should expect GTX 980M near 70% performance of GTX 980 in most cases. While it still remains well behind similarly named desktop card, the difference is not as extreme as it once was.
GTX 970M is cut down even more – 1280 CUDA cores (10 SMM units), 924 MHz base clock. On memory side there is only 192-bit bus, leading to either 3 GB or 6 GB configurations of 5 GHz GDDR5 memory. This should leave GTX 970M with at most 75% of GTX 980M performance and at most 70% of desktop GTX 970 (less in bandwidth limited scenarios).
These cards are good news for people who want to game on laptops with high fidelity graphics and are willing to pay the higher price compared to desktop. Nvidia already lists 9 laptops from MSI and ASUS with GTX 900M cards and there will be more. Nvidia has also stopped selling GTX 870M and GTX 880M, though the rest of their GTX 800M mobile lineup may still appear in new models of laptops for the time being.