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Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M and GTX 980M performance in Blender

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In the first article from the notebook review series I am recommending two NVidia cards: the GTX 970M and GTX 980M. They are the top two performers from NVidia at this moment, and they are most likely to successfully keep up the pace a few years from now.

When doing my research, I tried to find some benchmarks to show Blender’s rendering performance. I wasn’t able to find any data, so I turned to the online community for help. I knew that in the notebook community there are users with vast knowledge on the subject, and with access to the newest hardware. I found the reviews made by HTWingNut from the notebookreview forum very thorough and informative over the time, so I approached him with my request.

GeForce GTX 970M and 980M rendering performance in Blender Cycles. Figures courtesy of HTWingNut.

GeForce GTX 970M and 980M rendering performance in Blender Cycles. Figures courtesy of HTWingNut.

His reaction was awesome: he agreed to help, and he took the time to run eMirage’s Pabellon Barcelona benchmark scene on two of the notebooks that he had for review. They were equipped with the 970M and 980M cards (the 3GB and respectively 4GB versions). The tests were done with Blender 2.72b. HTWingNut has also posted a full review of the Sager NP8652 / Clevo P650SG notebook, which contains the Blender benchmark figures as well.

And if you ever wondered how Blender scales on a 4k screen, this is how it looks:

Testing speed on a 4K laptop screen, powered by GeForce 980m. Courtesy of HTWingNut

Testing Blender speed on a 4K laptop screen, powered by GeForce 980m. Courtesy of HTWingNut

All figures and screenshots are courtesy of HTWingNut.

The conclusion is that the new generation of mobile GPUs from NVidia is blazingly fast and is significantly narrowing the gap between desktop and mobile GPUs. So what do you think about these numbers? How do they stack against the ones from your machines?

Stick around for the last part of the article, with my recommended notebook configurations for rendering.

Update: The second part of the article is now online and it contains some recommended notebooks for various scenarios and budgets.

Passionate about technology and constantly working on making a difference, Marius is RenderStreet's CEO.
  • claas kuhnen

    I really love my GTX 970

    Under full load it still is silent and produces less heat than my GTX 570.
    Sadly in the winter thats not good 😉

    • Hehe. Yeah, but it’s how many times faster? 🙂

  • claas kuhnen

    hey BTW I cannot find a DL link to the Pabellon Barcelona anymore ?!

    • Hey claas!
      It’s in the article, in the text between the two images

      • claas kuhnen

        Thats sad – I constantly overlooked it.

  • FutureHack

    I just rendered the Pabellon Barcelona scene v1.2 with a triple Titan setup in 04:53.37. From the looks of his screen shot, HTWingNut has modified eMirage’s .blend samples count from 1000 to 100 (note the extra noise). This makes the GPUs appear artificially fast.

    You should encourage him to run the Blenchmark Addon (blenchmark.com – supports multi-GPUs) and press the upload button for a more objective comparison to other GPUs.

    • The scene that was used for this test is ‘GPU benchmark’ and this is the scene typically used for this purpose. It’s also consistent with other tests we made in the past. You probably rendered a different scene, with different settings, which makes the times non comparable.

      Blenchmark is still work in progress, and I’m looking forward to them adding other test scenes as well 🙂

  • Lucian Cornea

    what do you think about an alienware , the last 17″ with 970gtx 16 ram i7 4710? for 3d m. and rendering is good enought?

    • It’s a decent configuration. However, because it’s limited at 16 GB of RAM (you cannot add more memory), you may have trouble rendering really heavy scenes. It also depends on what you’re paying for it. I generally believe that Alienware are on the pricey side of the spectrum, and if you’re buying at list price you can probably get a better deal from another manufacturer (MSI/Clevo/etc).

  • Heindrich Schultz

    Coming to this chat a bit late, but perhaps someone is still keeping an eye on this thread. My question isn’t so much a rendering one, but more a viewport performance thing. I have a custom built laptop with the nVidia GTX 970m, 32GB ram, SSD’s and 4k screen, so the thing is a beast. However Blender 2.77a slows down significantly even on fairly low’ish poly objects. Eg, I built a ukelele from a youtube tutorial by “tutor4u.” It became really sluggish when starting to add the details on the uke. And still I’m struggling to get decent performance when enabling AO in the viewport.
    In stark contrast to my previous laptop, a Dell XPS 17 (now around 4 years old) 6GB ram, geForce 555M graphics with 3gb dedicated ram. Blender 2.77a, with AO and same ukelele flies like a bat out of hell on it. Really don’t understand it, and to be honest, I’m not the worlds expert on hardware/ software. Maybe there’s a step I missed. I have updated to the latest nVidia and Cuda drivers, on both laptops.
    Anyway, just putting this out there, if someone has the time or inclination to help, will be much appreciated.

  • TempleGreen

    I am thinking of buying a medion laptop – i7 6700, 2.6 -35.ghz, Nvidia GTX960M (2gb), 32MB Ram, 5400rpm, ssd 256 – can anybody help me to know whether this is a good option for blender – I do a lot of texture baking and use open gl a lot for rendering and experimentation