GTX 870M vs GTX 860M

Hello again friends

We’ll talk about the GTX 860M vs the GTX 870M GPUs for laptops, as they are both good options in the $1000-$1400 price range the question is what do you get, performance-wise, for these extra bucks.

We’ve already seen the difference between the the new GTX 860M vs the previous generation GTX 770M and in short, you’d get the same gaming performance with a much lower power consumption => lower heat and less throttling. It is also comes close to the very popular and power hungry 750M / 755M SLI in performance while requiring a considerably less power. Now, It is also obvious that the GTX 860M is more powerful than the older GT 755M / 750M and GTX 765M quite a bit too with ease, while maintaining around the same power requirements plus the fact that you can usually find it for around the same price of $900-$1000 currently with laptops like the Clevo W230SS and the upcoming and interesting Lenovo Y50. Therefore, the 6/7 series is – bottom line – no good as a competitor at these price ranges unless you can get a GTX 680M/780M laptop for a really good price (like $900-$1000 for a 680M).

So, for a new laptop, the question should reside around the Nvidia 800 series (till AMD answer at least) and in this case, the 870M and 860M.

Model core (stock) memory (stock) Power
GTX 680M (Kepler) GK104 (Kepler), 1344cores@720HZ + boost GDDR5@0.9GHZ (3.6GHZ effective), 256-bit around 100W
GTX 860M (Maxwell) GM104 (Maxwell), 640 cores@1030MHZ + boost GDDR5@1.25GHZ (5GHZ effective), 128-bit probably around 40W-45W
GTX 870M (Kepler) GK104 (Kepler), 1344 cores@941MHZ + boost GDDR5@1250MHZ (5GHZ effective), 192-bit ~100W probably (peak ofcourse)


Lets look on the 860M numbers compared to the 870M in FPS and percentage (numbers courtesy of NBR, take with some salt)
GTX 860M (Maxwell) vs GTX 870M (Kepler), 1080p
GTX 860M (Maxwell) vs GTX 870M (Kepler), 1080p, in percentage

Lets talk about these simple graphs. The first one shows the absolute FPS and the second one shows the the advantage of the 870M in percentage. We can see that the GTX 870M does not provide more than 40% advantage and the average is lower and is around ~30%. Edit: later results show 50% in some games, like Crysis 3 and Total War : Rome II, however, in other built-in benchmarks which are more constant, the advatange is around 30%, including Bioshock Infinite, Metro : Last Light, Thief, Civilization : Beyond Earth.

This is reasonable, as we know the GTX 860M is around the same performance of the GTX 770M. The 870M has 40% more cores (1344 vs 960), around 25% higher memory bandwidth and around 15-20% higher core clocks. Other parameters are more or less the same and the core architecture is the same (Kepler), so the performance should be something between 25-40% faster (tops) than the GTX 770M/860M more or less and don’t expect more than that.

Now lets say that currently you can find GTX 860M laptops for around $1000 (Sager NP7338 / Clevo W230SS) and GTX 870M for around $1300 (no OS) up to $1400 (many or the Clevo P150SM-A).

So, roughly, if you make an effort, you can find a GTX 870M laptop for only 30% higher price, so the 30% performance advantage fits in. However, few points:

1. Many GTX 860M laptops are not available yet – the upcoming Lenovo Y50 with an IPS display and good sound quality + very good sound system (probably) for probably around $1000 or some Asus offering for the same price. The total value of the Y50 including the IPS display, good looks, good battery (a guess, based on previous models) is higher for the price.

2. Even now, the 13.3″ Clevo W230SS comes with a very good 1080p IPS display for less than $1000. That’s a significant advantage. You’ll currently won’t find a good 17.3″ IPS display, if that’s what you wanted to ask.

3. The Maxwell parts, if it’s not clear, are much more power efficient. In this case, the 860M draws easily half or less than the 870M, at peak. That means less heat and better battery, under 3D load. In some cases this results in CPU/GPU throttling and lower gaming performance in some games.


So, bottom line, if you ask me, you should keep away from the GTX 870M for now. Wait for the Maxwell parts or go with a GTX 860M laptop if you really need one now. I’d also suggest waiting for more GTX 860M offerings, again, like the Lenovo Y50.

Edit: this is outdated, we are not in the 960M (soon) and 970M era.

  • Dan

    I am looking at an MSI GS60 Ghost, but can’t decide between the 052 and the 003

    I will modify the 003 to have:
    2x128gb ssd raid 0
    1 tb HDD
    16gb RAM
    and it comes with an 860m KEPLER variant

    the 052 has:
    128gb ssd
    1tb HDD
    12gb RAM
    and an 870m

    both have same specs for everything else. also same price. Not taking any other suggestions

    • 1. I wouldn’t use a raid of SSDs. I would get 256-500GB SSD of good quality instead. Not only it is very fast as it is, it’s also better for the health of the SSD
      2. Can you please post it over the forums?

      • Dan

        Whoops didn’t see the forums.

  • Jacob Johnston

    I don’t see this being accurate in any way. The Y50 is out and has a terrible display. It is even $1159 for the base model, unless you get the i5 version on Amazon. Even the other GTX 860M models all reside in the mid $1000’s with OS.

    You can get a GT60 Dominator-424 for $1340 which has a GTX 870M, which is only ~$200 more for a 30% increase in performance? That’s a bargain if i’ve ever seen one.

    Furthermore, you’re looking at this all wrong. Like in the Thief benchmarks. The 860M gets 25fps and the 870M gets 32fps. That 7fps at low levels is absolutely HUGE. Over 30fps is decently playable, but under 30fps, the frame rate slow down becomes exponentially noticeable. You can’t just look at the math, you have to look at comparative recognition. This is even more noticeable with Crysis 3. 19fps from the GTX 860M is completely unplayable, while 27fps from the 870 is reasonably manageable. Not ideal, but playable.

    I think you need to take actual playability into consideration. At that point it’s just an on/off switch. The GTX 870M works for virtually everything, the GTX 860M doesn’t.

    • Hi Jacob!

      first of all, Y50 is selling for $1050 with B&N gold discount. Also, price will get lower.
      Secondly, there are other laptops with GTX 860M or GTX 850M GDDR5 which can be overclocked, that cost less than $1000. Like I said, the W230SS gives you a GTX 860M with an IPS display which is a big advantage.

      I agree with you about the small difference being significant experience changer, but that’s true in many other cases if you check the specific graphics settings that makes it true.
      It will be true in the case of GT 840M vs GT 740M in some games and that’s also true for GTX 880M vs GTX 870M – so shouldn’t we just take a GTX 880M?
      That’s not actual playability, that’s actual playability given a game and graphics settings, you see

      So, you can usually reduce the settings a little and get the needed extra FPS, if the situation is dire.

      I didn’t say there is no reason for a GTX 870M, I said you should wait and see what happens in the 860M scene. Currently there are several 860M level GPUs out there but it’s not the end of the story. We have to wait and see

    • I’ll update it when there are some more 860M and 870M machines avialable!

  • Thangaraj

    Any chance Lenovo Y50 might come with GTX 860M SLI? That would be so cool! 🙂

    • Hi!

      I haven’t seen such rumors, but it just might be its ace in the hole (along the other aces..)

  • Lance

    When do you think the maxwell 870m will come out? If it won’t be out by the end of the summer, then how much reason is there for me to wait for it?

      • Lance

        I mean the 870m with a Maxwell core instead of the current Kepler one.

        • oh, sorry!
          Well, given that we’ll see a second Maxwell generation (seems so), it will probably be through the end of 2014 or start of 2015 as of now. I’m not sure there is enough pressure on Nvidia, as AMD mobile chips are not really available nor they really treat Nvidia position.

          About waiting – first, you better wait for the new laptops models, even if they have the same GTX 870M. Also, wait for the GTX 860M equipped Lenovo Y50.
          Secondly, it depends on what you need.

          What are you looking for?

          • Lance

            I see. when do you think most of the new models will be out by?

            My best option so far seems to be getting this with a kepler 870m for an extra $150.

            I considered a cheaper sager/clevo model with an 860m maxwell, the Asus G750JM (with the 860m), and something along the lines of this:

            • 1. First note that the Sager does not have an OS pre-installed
              2. About upcoming models – the Lenovo Y50 (GTX 860M, IPS 1080p/4K), Toshiba next generation Qosmio (currently with the GTX 770M), probably some 17.3″ Acer and maybe some Samsung, for example
              3. I’m not a fun of these Asus models nor the GE70 which has no advantage over other laptops.

              Do you want only a 17.3″ laptop?

              • Lance

                1. Not to worry about.
                2. Why do you like the Y50, besides the screen? With the “optional” upgrades (–>860m, higher res screen, keyboard backlight), it’ll probably cost quite a bit more than the base price of $1k. I thought Sager/Clevo build quality was better, anyways. The recent Qosmio lineup hasn’t been too great, imo.
                3. Why don’t you like the G750s?

                Anywhere from 15-17ish is fine.

                • I don’t think so. I think there is a good chance that like the Y510p, Y500 and Y580 before them, the Y50 with an 1080p IPS display and a GTX 860M would cost $1000, maybe less. Why I think it will be a good option – less than half the power consumption of the already competitive Y510p, with much better battery performance and an IPS display. Add to this a good shell and an excellent sound system for a laptop.
                  * I do think that an IPS display is in many cases more noticeable as you will see the difference with your own eyes. The GTX 870M, while fast, is not much faster than the already very fast GTX 860M

                  The Asus G750s – not cost effective. Yes, they are not getting too hot, but that’s all.
                  The Qosmios weren’t bad at all, but they did require some adjusting. You could get sometimes an I7 + GTX 770M for like $1100 well before it was the usual price. I guess that it will be the case with the new Qosmio which will probably have a GTX 870M (maybe)

                  Yes, Sager are good. Build quality isn’t great, but the laptop is usually solid and maintenance is rather easy, unlike the Asus G750s.

                  • Lance

                    A discrete graphics card is an optional upgrade, and the 860m will be the highest option. But you have a point, I’ll wait until at least May, if only to see the Y50. However, I don’t really mind paying the extra $150 for the current 870m. I somewhat doubt that a new Qosmio with an 870m will be $1300 or cheaper, though if it is I’d probably get that over the sager 8268.

                    How do you think Lenovo build quality compares to Sager, with regards to gaming notebooks?

                    • Lance

                      Who knows when the Qosmio lineup will be updated, though…

                    • true.. might take few months, according to the last round

                    • I don’t know. In the previous generation the cheaper higher end series (the NP8XXX) had two fans and a case which is generally won’t get hot too much even with a GTX 770M/780M. The Y510p case, however, did
                      The GTX 860M is much less power hungry though and I guess also cheaper, so I bet the case won’t be as hot, probably quite acceptable..

                      But the Y50 has the other advantages as I mentioned which makes it a more complete package in some aspects

                    • Lance

                      Now that the Lenovo Y50 is out, how’d you compare the $1300 base model with the Asus G750 JM?


                    • I don’t – wait for the price cut and / or the I5 version which I hope will come
                      It doesn’t make sense to me that the price will be higher. Their latest 15.6″ gaming laptops were so popular just because their performance + value / price ratio. For $1300, they are competing the Clevo competition which has some disadvantages, but still

                      The price was high at first and then went down, I’d suggest waiting

                      Anyway, if you want to buy now, the Clevo W230SS from Eurocom (5% off)

  • Smallet

    I wonder how the temps b/w these two might, i mean less than half peak power consumption must result in lower relative temps.

    • true, for the same cassis at least. Some GTX 860M reviews are already out, like the new W230SS (which is like the old W230ST):

      but that one was made with an I7-4810MQ and under full load + the fact the that it is only one model.

      Wait for some more laptops, like the Lenovo Y50 and we’ll see – be sure that the temps are much better.

      • Vikas Shree

        Hi I have a question buy the y50 or the y510p sli

        • what are the prices?
          I’d prefer the Y50 for around the same price