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As to performance and power of the Maxwell and Volcanic Islands cards, it is well known and clear from objective and publicly available evidence that performance per unit power is very much on the side of the Maxwell cards.
We'll use gigaflops per watt, since that measure is important to eskiMoe and anybody else who has to pay utility bills.
The most efficient single Volcanic Islands is the R9 290X. 5632 gigaflops, 290 watts, 19.42 GF/W, 69.9 PF/KWh (that's petaflops per kilowatt-hour).
Compare the most efficient Maxwell to date, the 980. 4612 gigaflops, 165 watts, 27.95 GF/W, 101 PF/KWh.
Looked at one way, you're crunching 44% more numbers per unit operating cost; looked at the other way, you're saving 31% of your operating cost to crunch the same numbers.
So I have to say @eskiMoe was absolutely correct in an important matter.
When you're comparing reference cards.
Throw an after market 290x vs an after market 970?
Under a 10W difference and the 970 ironcally runs hotter.