GeForce GTX 970 cards from MSI and Asus reviewed

There comes a time in the life of every PC gamer when you say to yourself: “Self, I’d like to buy a graphics card with more than twice the shader power of a PlayStation 4 for less money.” Then you fire up a web browser, read our review of the GeForce GTX 970, and realize you can have what you want. Because that’s how life as a PC gamer works.

Later, around Christmastime, I’ll tell you the one about wanting to buy major AAA games for five to ten bucks, opening up Steam, and getting to take your pick.

Or the one about getting a vastly more powerful CPU than the consoles’ for $72.

It’s good to be a PC gamer, is what I’m saying.

But if you’re going to be forking over less than price of an Xbox One for more than three times the GPU power—that is, if you’re you’re planning to buy a GeForce GTX 970—you may still be vexed by questions. Like, “Which one of these excellent video cards at an amazing price is the best one to get?”

These are tough choices, in the sense that choosing can be difficult. In every other sense, they’re really easy, because it’s hard to go wrong and, at the end, you’ll be doing butt stomps on Elpis with fluid, stunning visuals.

In that context, my happy task is to guide you through some of your options. Today, that means sussing out the differences between a pair of hopped-up GeForce GTX 970 cards: the Asus Strix GTX 970 and the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G. The two cards are incredibly similar on paper, but they’re more different than you might think in actual use. Let’s get down to it.

Asus’ Strix GeForce GTX 970

Asus’ Strix GTX 970 may be familiar to you from our initial review of the GeForce GTX 970. The Strix is ostensibly a premium card with a higher price and faster clock speeds than the “standard” GTX 970. Trouble is, the idea of a “baseline” GTX 970 is a bit of a convenient fiction. You see, Nvidia didn’t produce any reference boards for the GTX 970, so cards like the Strix are some of the earliest implementations.

 

  GPU

base

clock

(MHz)

GPU

boost

clock

(MHz)

Memory

capacity

GDDR5

transfer

rate

Aux

power

ports

Length Price
GeForce GTX 970 stock 1050 1174 4 GB 7 GT/s $329
Asus Strix GTX 970 1114 1253 4 GB 7 GT/s 1 x 8-pin 11.125″ $349

The Strix offers somewhat higher base and boost GPU clock frequencies than Nvidia requires, and it sells for a little bit more than Nvidia’s suggested retail price. Asus quotes a list of $339, but Newegg is asking $349 for the Strix right now—if you can find one in stock. They’re a bit of a hot item.

Aside from the obvious GPU value, one of the Strix’s main attractions is that handsome DirectCU II custom cooler. Asus’ press materials say it’s 30% cooler and “3X quieter” than . . . something. I’m not sure what. At any rate, it’s a big, dual-slot cooler with twin fans, triple heat pipes, and a metal shroud coated with flat-black paint.

Asus has made sure the cooler has lots of heatsink surface area by giving it ample dimensions. At over 11″, the Strix takes up more space than the GTX 980 reference design. Also, the cooler’s heatpipes protrude about an inch and a half vertically above the top of the PCIe expansion slot covers. Most modern PC cases of the mid-tower variety shouldn’t have any trouble swallowing this thing, but you’ll want to check the dimensions carefully if space is at a premium inside of your target enclosure.

Asus calls this cooler “DirectCU II” because it belongs to the second generation of Asus coolers whose copper heatpipes make direct contact with the top of the graphics chip. You can see from the leftover thermal paste above that all three pipes line up right above the GM204 die.

The “gray goo” thermal paste application on the Strix isn’t bad, either, although the layer of goo is a little thicker than absolutely necessary.

One of the best things about the Strix’s cooling isn’t apparent from pictures. This cooler is potent enough to keep the GM204 GPU from getting too warm at idle and during light gaming loads without spinning its fans at all. To capitalize on that fact, the Strix doesn’t spin up its fans until the GPU reaches a certain threshold temperature.

Asus made the unusual choice of including only a single eight-pin power input on the Strix 970. That plug should supply plenty to juice to drive the GPU and memory, and it’s certainly convenient during installation. However, not every power supply comes with an eight-pin PCIe power lead, so the Strix may require a dual-six-pin-to-single-eight-pin adapter.

Speaking of connectors, the Strix comes with a complement of display outputs that looks a bit old-school. Unlike Nvidia’s GTX 980 reference design, this card has only one DisplayPort ouput. There’s also a single HDMI port, and the other two outputs are DVI—one DVI-I and one DVI-D. Since 4K and G-Sync monitors tend to require DisplayPort, I’d rather see the trio of DisplayPort outputs that the 980 reference card offers. The inability to drive multiple 4K or G-Sync monitors may be the Strix’s biggest drawback, and it shares this trait with the MSI GTX 970 card. If you’d like more DisplayPort connectors, have a look at Gigabyte’s version of the GTX 970 instead.

No overview of a video card produced by a motherboard maker would be complete without some mention of high-quality electronic components. Asus says the Strix has been blessed with premium capacitors and chokes, and the card includes a Digi+ digital VRM chip for precise voltage modulation. The benefits, the firm claims, include higher durability and expanded overclocking potential.

Asus’ GPU Tweak software can help Strix owners tap that potential. GPU Tweak isn’t bad, as these sorts of utilities go. The most important tuning variables are exposed right up front, with very little nonsense.

I did run into a problem right out of the gate, though. I was testing the Strix with a 4K monitor and Windows 8.1 in a high-PPI scaling mode. The GPU Tweak app has relative font sizes, which resulted in a bunch of overly large lettering and overlap between words, mostly in the monitoring panel. I had to drop back to low-PPI settings, where icons are tiny and fonts are minuscule, in order to take the screenshot above.

Beyond that, the GPU Tweak apps shows you most of what you need to overclock a GM204. This isn’t the most verbose tweaking tool available, but it’s pretty straightforward to use.

There’s even a place to define a custom fan speed curve. As you can see, the Strix’s default policy doesn’t ask the fan to kick in until the GPU reaches about 60°C. Although there are only a few points defined on the curve above, you can click in the window to add more. Pretty slick.

 

MSI’s GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4G

  GPU

base

clock

(MHz)

GPU

boost

clock

(MHz)

Memory

capacity

GDDR5

transfer

rate

Aux

power

ports

Length Price
GeForce GTX 970 stock 1050 1174 4 GB 7 GT/s $329
MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 1114 1253 4 GB 7 GT/s 6 + 8-pin 10.5″ $349

At first blush, MSI’s GTX 970 Gaming 4G looks very similar to the Strix, right down to sharing the same base and boost GPU clocks. Some of the differences are fairly obvious, since they have to do with the Gaming 4G’s cooling and cosmetic look. Compared to the Strix, MSI’s fifth-generation Twin Frozer V cooler is shorter and more compact, but like the Asus, it juts up about 1.5″ above the top of the PCIe slot cover.

That extra height creates clearance for a pair of 100-mm fans that are larger and sport more blades than the ones on the Strix’s cooler. MSI says these fans are independently controlled, which is possibly a good thing, although I’m not clear on how much that fact matters when they’re both removing heat from a common source.

More notably, the Gaming 4G’s fan policy is similar to the Asus card’s. Those blades don’t spin until the GPU hits a certain temperature. Much of the time, they’re just sitting still.

The shroud on the Gaming 4G’s cooler is plastic, not metal, but it makes up for cheaper materials with a little bling: an illuminated MSI logo and dragon. This is a positively restrained touch compared to most blinkenlights implementations, and I really like it.

The Twin Frozr V cooler sports one more heatpipe than the Asus cooler, and all four pipes are routed through a metal block that sits on top of the GPU. The pipes may not touch the GPU directly, but that metal block ought to do a reasonable job of transferring heat. MSI includes a black metal plate beneath the cooler that’s apparently intended to help dissipate heat from the GDDR5 memory chips on this side of the board.

You can see the Gaming 4G’s VRM layout in the shot above. MSI also uses high-quality components like super ferrite chokes, only it claims these components are “military class.”

I dunno about that, but MSI’s thermal paste application is pretty much textbook. I’m not quite sure what variety of goo this is, but it’s not the basic white paste you might think you’re seeing in the pictures. (Basic white paste is my weapon of choice.) This stuff hardens into a mostly solid veneer. I’m amazed how precise MSI’s application is compared to what you’ll see in most consumer hardware.

The Gaming 4G has been blessed with more input power than it should ever need, thanks to an eight-plus-six-pin input arrangement. Like Asus, MSI has taken to rotating its power connectors 180 degrees and putting the retention tabs in cutouts on the PCB. This setup makes the tabs more accessible for removal, and it saves a couple of millimeters worth of space that can be used for heatsink fins, instead. This layout is apparently becoming a new standard of sorts, and I’m all for it.

MSI ships the Gaming 4G with a “Gaming” app that includes some overclocking controls and a few other features. I’m just happy to see that it’s named “Gaming,” as is the video card itself—and this Gigabyte GTX 980, also. Because remember, kids: if it doesn’t say “Gaming” on the box, it can only be used for spreadsheets.

Really cool 3D spreadsheets, maybe, but that’s the limit.

Anyhow, I have to admit that I didn’t even try the Gaming app, because MSI also offers the granddaddy of all GPU overclocking utilities, Afterburner.

Afterburner has been around for ages, and I’ve used it to overclock a number of video cards from MSI and from other brands whose own apps leave much to be desired. The main interface, shown above, offers a basic suite of controls and monitoring tools. Behind the tabs in the settings menus, though, is where Afterburner really excels. You can tweak just about anything.

Crucially for overclocking, Afterburner exposes the internal reasons (as either a 1 or 0) why Nvidia’s GPU Boost algorithm is limiting clock speeds. You can know whether the GPU is being held back by a power limit, a thermal limit, its peak voltage, or something else. Keeping track of these limits is the key to unlocking higher frequencies.

Afterburner exposes control over fan speed curves, as well.

In fact, my only beef with Afterburner has to do with control sliders. They’re too sensitive, especially the one for GPU clock speeds. Perhaps this is more of an issue in high-PPI display modes. I’m not sure.

I can complain about anything, though, and Afterburner is the GPU overclocking utility least deserving of complaints. So yeah. Let’s move on.

 

Performance

We can get a quick assessment of the performance differences between these cards by using the built-in benchmark from Thief, which spits out a simple FPS average. If you want the full-on inside-the-second performance treatment, please go read my initial GeForce GTX 980 review. By the way, our test system config for this article was the same as the one we used for that review.

You may recall that the Asus and MSI cards have the exact same base and boost clock speeds. Given that fact, there’s way more drama in the performance results above than one would expect. Why is that?

To find out, I fired up a GPU monitoring utility on each card and ran MSI’s Kombustor GPU burn-in tool. Here’s what I saw from the two cards while they were cranking away in Kombustor:

  GPU

base

clock

(MHz)

GPU

boost

clock

(MHz)

Memory

clock

(MHz)

Kombustor

GPU

voltage

Kombustor

GPU

clock

(MHz)

Asus Strix GTX 970 1114 1253 7010 1.173 1278
MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 1114 1253 7012 1.200 1342

Turns out the Gaming 4G supplies a little more voltage to the GM204 GPU, and as a result, it achieves higher clock speeds during normal operation. That’s Nvidia’s GPU Boost algorithm at work—and MSI taking advantage of it. This is not a temperature-related difference. Both cards level out at about 67°C in Kombustor, well below their defined thermal limits.

The Gaming 4G is only a few FPS faster than the Asus, so I wouldn’t get too worked up over this outcome. Still, the Gaming 4G is also only a few FPS slower than a reference GTX 980. Not too shabby for the price.

 

Overclocking

I took the same basic approach to overclocking these GTX 970 cards that I used earlier with these GTX 980s. As before, I used the overclocking software supplied with each card to tweak it. As I raised clock speeds and voltages, I ran the Kombustor GPU burn-in utility and checked for three things:

  • Stability — Does it crash?
  • Visual artifacts — Do Kombustor’s images render correctly?
  • Delivered speeds — Does turning up the slider actually mean increased clock frequencies?

Here are the best settings I was able to achieve with each card.

  GPU

base

clock

(MHz)

GPU

boost

clock

(MHz)

Memory

clock

(MHz)

Kombustor

GPU

voltage

Kombustor

GPU

clock

(MHz)

Asus Strix GTX 970 OC 1440 7800 1.173 1465
MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G OC 1260 8002 1.218 1500

The MSI card proved to be a more willing overclocker, and it all comes down to voltage. The Asus card’s peak voltage didn’t budge from its 1.173V default level, despite my best efforts. The Gaming 4G started at a higher voltage level and was willing to bump up a little bit from there. At 1.218V, the Gaming 4G ran steadily at an even 1.5GHz.

That said, the Strix proved stable at 1465MHz in Kombustor, which is almost 200MHz faster than its stock speeds.

The one thing that surprised me most here was the fact that the Strix’s GDDR5 memory wasn’t happy at 8GHz. All four of the other GM204 cards I’ve tried have been happy at around that speed, but the Asus 970 was not. Of course, memory chips tend to be a luck-of-the-draw kind of thing. Not all of them will overclock well. The same is true for GPUs.

Yep, the overclocked Strix 970 exactly matches the performance of a stock-clocked GTX 980, and the tweaked-up MSI 970 is a smidgen faster than that. Let that sink in for a moment.

 

Power consumption

Please note that our “under load” tests aren’t conducted in an absolute peak scenario. Instead, we have the cards running a real game, Crysis 3, in order to show us power draw with a more typical workload.

The Gaming 4G runs at higher voltage, so naturally, it draws more power than the Strix. I’m having a hard time worrying about that fact, though, since the overclocked Gaming 4G system still draws 30W less under load than the same system with a Radeon R9 290X. The overclocked Gaming 4G should generally be faster than the Radeon, too.

Noise levels and GPU temperatures

We generally provide noise level readings when the system is idle, just like we did with power above. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it here, though, since both the MSI and Asus cards simply turn their fans off at idle and emit zero noise. Any readings I could give you from my sound level meter would reflect only the ambient noise in the environment.

Yes, these are noise levels while running a game, and they’re not too far from the noise floor in Damage Labs. Both of these GTX 970 cards are exceptionally quiet under load. Overclocking the cards increases the burden on these coolers, but they’re still no louder than a whisper.

The temperature readings for these cards round out the picture, and they show both of these coolers to be tremendously effective. Temperatures this low are a luxury in the GPU space, but both cards seem to be able to afford it.

The recent arms race in cooler designs between video card companies has led us to this happy state of affairs. You can overclock a GTX 970 to match the performance of a GTX 980 reference card, and the aftermarket GTX 970 will still be quieter.

For what it’s worth, we should acknowledge that MSI’s Twin Frozr V cooler looks to be a little more effective than the Asus DirectCU II, overall. The MSI card draws more power than the Asus at stock speeds, yet the Gaming 4G produces less noise under load and maintains the same GPU core temperature.

One more thing: I’ve heard reports of problems with “coil whine” from some GeForce GTX 970 cards. I’m happy to say that neither of these two cards has any problems on this front. I didn’t notice anything unusual, and any really egregious noises would show up on our sound level meter readings. Obviously, that didn’t happen, since these cards were among the quietest we’ve tested.

 

Conclusions

When I started to write this review, the narrative was set. My take was essentially this. The Asus Strix GTX 970 is a fantastic product at a killer price. MSI’s Gaming 4G GTX 970 is a little bit better, though, in a range of ways, and it costs about $20 more to buy. Take your pick from them.

Then MSI informed me that it had dropped the price on the Gaming 4G to match the competition. Sure enough, the Asus Strix GTX is going for $349 at Newegg, and the Gaming 4G is listed for the exact same price.

That certainly clarifies things.

As I said earlier, there are no bad choices here. The Asus Strix GTX 970 is among the finest video cards we’ve ever reviewed.  It’s fast, quiet, and an exceptional value for the money. And it requires only a single eight-pin power input. That’s probably why the Strix is backordered six ways from Sunday. If you can somehow manage to get your hands on one, I’d encourage you to do so. In fact, I’m happy to give it a TR Recommended award.

MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G

October 2014

That said, if you somehow are presented with the choice between the Strix 970 and MSI’s GTX 970 Gaming 4G, then I’d give the nod to the Gaming 4G. Although the Asus Strix is incredibly refined, MSI has managed to outdo it slightly in several important ways. The Gaming 4G is faster at stock speeds, and it has more voltage headroom, which translates into higher GPU clock speeds—and higher performance.

Yes, the Gaming 4G draws more power than the Strix, but MSI’s Twin Frozr V cooler keeps the Gaming 4G running just as cool as its rival at comparable or lower noise levels.

This is an incredibly close contest, but after spending some time with both cards, I’m convinced the MSI Gaming 4G has the edge. That’s why I giving it our Editor’s Choice award. This is the card to get—if you can find one in stock.

Enjoy our work? Pay what you want to subscribe and support us.

Comments closed
    • LoneWolf15
    • 5 years ago

    Just got the ASUS. The metal shroud for the fans, and the cooler itself are very well constructed, and the backplate is nice. The fans are of good size, and whisper-quiet, even under load. I’m impressed with the card, even if it doesn’t have the power delivery of the MSI.

    • Billstevens
    • 5 years ago

    Reading this review just makes me want a 980 🙁

    Thats a damn fast card.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    Um…1080p? 🙁

    Also, you may want to use evga’s precision x oc scanner to auto-detect artifacts.

      • jihadjoe
      • 5 years ago

      DSR 4k is the new 1080p!

      • Billstevens
      • 5 years ago

      All of these cards eat 1080p for breakfast, do you really need a chart of them getting over 100 FPS? 🙂

        • Prestige Worldwide
        • 5 years ago

        120 and 144hz users are very interested at seeing cards achieve over 100 fps.

        Also, a combined 66% of Tech Report readers who responded to the TR Hardware survey use a 1920x1xxx display.
        Source: [url<]http://i.imgur.com/iA3LYoh.jpg[/url<] We want to know how the card will work on our monitors, not on some higher res we will never use. Nobody uses 4K, yes the marketing people are trying to shove it down our throats, but it is of limited use to gamers due to the massive GPU grunt needed to get acceptable frame rates, as well as the current 60hz limitation. Do we really need to know that a card is going to get 30-40 fps in BF4 like in the original 970 review? Does anybody actually enjoy playing a multiplayer PC shooter at 30fps? It's a slideshow and a waste of time. Most gamers play at 1080p and benches at that resolution are still very relevant.

        • Ninjitsu
        • 5 years ago

        Um…a lot of benchmarks I’ve seen have the 970 and 980 post minimums of around 60 fps when the details are turned up to the highest at 1080p.

          • Billstevens
          • 5 years ago

          Without a frame latency chart all of this data is pretty useless except for comparing relative performance. Which these numbers clearly are able to convey.

          A minimum fps value is pretty useless. Unless you know exactly how long a sequence of frames were affected and how often it was an issue, hence the latency charts.

          I don’t expect 1080p to be left out of full blown graphics reviews for a long time still though since most people still have 1080p monitors.

          What I really am shocked by is the review sites that still use resolutions like 1600×1200 or 1280×1024.

            • Ninjitsu
            • 5 years ago

            TR is pretty much the only site that I read that does frame latency, hence my request…

            • indy
            • 5 years ago

            You should also read PCper…I believe they developed the frame rating tool: [url<]http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Frame-Rating-Dissected-Full-Details-Capture-based-Graphics-Performance-Testin[/url<]

      • Terra_Nocuus
      • 5 years ago

      OC Scanner seems a bit finicky, I’ll enable the auto-scanner, yet the benchmark / run will say “scanner disabled” half the time. Maybe it’s on a per-test basis that I’ve not figured out yet.

    • Anovoca
    • 5 years ago

    Ha, and they always told me, “Never judge a block by its cooler”

    ….or was that bo….nope, pretty sure that’s what they always said.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]...when you say to yourself: "Self, I'd like to buy ... " [/quote<] Has there ever been a better start to the sentence that this?

    • Pizzapotamus
    • 5 years ago

    I’ve got the Asus and love it. It seems to be free of coil whine and out of the box it actually boosts to 1303, 50MHz faster than what Asus markets it as.

      • PerfectCr
      • 5 years ago

      Agree. I just got 2 of the Asus Strix 970’s in SLI. MSI does make some awesome coolers but the DIRECT CUII is just as good, and with fans completely off below 65C it’s totally silent. One 8-pin connector per card makes for less cable clutter as well.

    • Milo Burke
    • 5 years ago

    Love the snark on the first page! You’re in rare form today, Scott.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 5 years ago

    MSI has had one of the best cooler designs on the market for over 5 years now. The frozr coolers are quite and down right efficient. I’ve strayed from MSI but now I long to return.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 5 years ago

    Really wish I knew how a single 970 compared to AMD’s R9 280/280X/285 in Crossfire.

    If the performance would be as good as the power saving, it would be very interesting. Of course, frame latency is probably better, but it would be nice to know by how much.

    • reckless76
    • 5 years ago

    Does anyone know how well the coolers on these cards would work in a case like the Silverstone Fortress FT-02? I had a chance to get the MSI, but hesitated and they were sold out again. Last I heard, a blower cooler is all that really works well when the MB is rotated 90 degrees.

      • Chrispy_
      • 5 years ago

      I think a 970 with an open air cooler would be fine in an FT02.

      It may only have a single 120mm exhaust, but there is a lot of venting right next to the graphics slots and the case has triple 120mm intakes, so there should be a lot of fresh air running past any graphics card with an open cooler at all times.

      • reckless76
      • 5 years ago

      In case anyone else it curious, I got the ASUS Strix 970, and it’s doing just fine in the Fortress FT-02. With the bottom fans all set to high, the card is 69 degrees C. Can’t hear the video card at all. With the bottom fans on low, the card is 71 degrees and still can’t hear it.

    • [+Duracell-]
    • 5 years ago

    I really wish I jumped on one of these instead of the eVGA flavor. The fan noise at idle is the loudest thing in my system, and it noticeably ramps up at load. When I wear headphones, it’s not a problem, but most of the time I’m using my speakers. It’s annoying, to say the least.

      • Firestarter
      • 5 years ago

      you could use MSI afterburner or a similar app to set the fan profile to something that works better for you

        • [+Duracell-]
        • 5 years ago

        It won’t let me set the fan profile any lower than 35% last time I tried. I’ll dig through the settings again to see if I can force it below that threshold.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 5 years ago

      I was disappointed with both the noise quality and levels of the last EVGA card I tried. I resold it right away because of that (wooo…MIR and bundled game = small profit). They are no longer the gold standard unfortunately, and that goes for warranty now as well.

        • [+Duracell-]
        • 5 years ago

        I would try to resell mine, but it’ll be hard to get another GTX 970. Unless I use it to justify upgrading to a 980…

          • MadManOriginal
          • 5 years ago

          This was a mid-range card a while ago. If it was a GTX 970 I probably wouldn’t sell either, although if you manage to get a different one you could probably break even while supply is still thin.

    • anotherengineer
    • 5 years ago

    MSI on sale in Canada too, $20 off the MSI version

    [url<]http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127832&cm_re=msi_gtx_970-_-14-127-832-_-Product[/url<] So only $400+$12+13% tax = $465.56

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 5 years ago

      OOS

        • anotherengineer
        • 5 years ago

        Ya, I said on sale, nothing about being in stock 😉 Big sellers or tight supply or both?

    • Meadows
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]"In fact, my only beef with Afterburner has to do with control sliders. They're too sensitive, especially the one for GPU clock speeds."[/quote<] Click the slider and then tap the cursor keys for step by step fine adjustment. It's actually default Windows behaviour, and you won't be surprised how many times it turns out to be useful.

      • Damage
      • 5 years ago

      Clicking the slider causes it to jump to another value, sometimes way off of the target. Then you’re pressing keys forever to get back to the goal.

      A better solution: sliders that work properly.

        • Meadows
        • 5 years ago

        This question will betray my customer service past, but are you sure you clicked the knob and not an empty range on the bar? When I click Afterburner sliders, they don’t jump.

        Another way you can try is clicking directly on the number, which will allow you to key in the amount you want.

          • Damage
          • 5 years ago

          Ugh, man, I tried to use it and it was awkward. The software could be improved.

          Can it do what you need? Sure. Is it optimal? Not even close.

          This is not a support issue. It’s a reviewer’s take.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 5 years ago

            You could try clicking on the number area and directly keying the value in 🙂

            *Oops, I realized Meadows wrote this in his post. I am not sure how that is ‘far from optimal’? It seems supremely optimal to me.

          • credible
          • 5 years ago

          You may be right, I originally clicked just a little off the center and it “jumped” if you will, I figured out just the way you are doing it and it works perfect and as you said its been a pleasantly useful behavior for windows.

            • Prestige Worldwide
            • 5 years ago

            It jumps in EVGA PrecisionX enough to be annoying

            But this is a completely other program. Just something I noticed recently trying to push my EVGA 670 FTW to its limit recently

            • Meadows
            • 5 years ago

            No it doesn’t. I also have that one installed and tried.

            • Prestige Worldwide
            • 5 years ago

            Cool story. Are you using PrecisionX 16? Because it definitely happened to me this week.

            • Meadows
            • 5 years ago

            There’s no such thing. That’s a botched fake.

            The last proper version is found here: [url<]http://www.guru3d.com/files-categories/videocards-overclocking-tweaking.html[/url<] Version 4.2.1. It was made by the same exact person who makes Afterburner for MSI, and it works identically. From version 5 onwards (name stylised as "PrecisionX^16") -- as far as I can remember -- they left the old code entirely, broke the contract with the Afterburner guy without telling him, and started development in-house. It comes as little surprise that the GUI handles like crap then. Use 4.2.1 if you insist, or Afterburner.

    • paulsz28
    • 5 years ago

    Well, there you ahve it. AMD is going to have to slash prices AGAIN on the 280/280x/290/290x, and they most recent round of price cuts only took place a handful of weeks ago. With this much of a performance gap between these 970s and the stock 290x, the 290x should be at least $50 cheaper than these 970’s. I think that puts a 280X around a $199 “value” (if you leave room for the 290X at $299 and 290 at $249).

    • mczak
    • 5 years ago

    Would be nice if you’d mention the configured TDP.
    As it stands the reasoning for the better overclock is all backwards – you mention it runs at higher voltage hence higher clock then in the power measurements as a result it would use more power. But it’s exactly the opposite – the configured TDP for the MSI card is higher (200W) than the one from the Asus one (163W) which is why the MSI one can run at higher clocks (voltage is likely all automatically derived depending on clock).
    You CAN tune the TDP of these cards to various degree and it makes all the difference. Some overview of the various card TDP can be found here, this is apparently something which isn’t exactly advertized with most cards, ranging from 150 to 325 (!!!) Watt:
    [url<]http://ht4u.net/news/30101_geforce_gtx_970_grafikkarten_-_ein_derzeitiger_marktueberblick_mit_details/[/url<]

      • Damage
      • 5 years ago

      I did tune the power limits of the cards. You get an offset and can add +10-22%, depending on the card. I just cranked it up for both of them. It’s in the screenshots: +20% for the Strix, +10% for the MSI.

      [quote<]voltage is likely all automatically derived depending on clock[/quote<] No, modifying the voltage in the tweaking apps (on cards like the MSI or the GB GTX 980, where voltage isn't capped) works. You can see the voltage change. It's not just "in the noise." Now, there are the "reasons" a Maxwell chip is hitting its frequency limit, and you can see those with Afterburner/GPU-Z/etc. The voltage limit is one of those, and I saw it limiting these cards (as the "reasons" limiter) when I was testing. So then the question about frequency and voltage is chicken and egg. The power limit is another limiting "reason" for GM204. You're right that I didn't focus on power limit much, but look: my approach here was to overclock the cards as well as possible with their included apps. Other than raising the power limit by X%, I couldn't do any more with the power limit using these tools. But yeah, with power limit in the mix, the question becomes chicken and egg and the evolutionary precursor species. Er, or something like that. Might be something interesting to explore the issue later in more depth, but it's beyond the scope of what you can do with GPU Tweak and such.

        • mczak
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]No, modifying the voltage in the tweaking apps (on cards like the MSI or the GB GTX 980, where voltage isn't capped) works. You can see the voltage change. It's not just "in the noise."[/quote<] I was more referring to the voltage at a given frequency (non overclocked), hence the higher power limit allowing it to reach higher clock (together with higher voltage). Though I'm aware there's likely some sample variance too. [quote<]Might be something interesting to explore the issue later in more depth, but it's beyond the scope of what you can do with GPU Tweak and such. [/quote<] The problem imho really is that there's no mention of the _base_ power limit which is different from card to card (and thus influences everything). It sucks the overclocking tools only give you the percentage values when you have no idea what value actually corresponds to 100% but it'd be nice if it were stated as you can apparently figuring it out from the bios. Explaining different performance and/or actual power usage (even aside from overclocking) is much more consistent if you take that into account as it often is the limiting factor.

          • Prestige Worldwide
          • 5 years ago

          Copy / paste of a post I made in the “Which GTX 970” thread:

          Max wattage as specified in gpu BIOS:
          Asus Strix: 196 watts
          MSI 4G: 220 watts
          Giga G1: 280 watts

          If you care about getting a good OC and not throttling, Strix is not the card for you as you will hit the voltage limit and the card will throttle.

          Source
          [url<]http://www.overclock.net/t/1516121/gtx-970-comparison-strix-vs-msi-gaming-vs-gigabyte-g1[/url<] Check the BIOS values for max voltage in mW as seen in Kepler Bios Tweaker: [url<]http://cdn.overclock.net/2/28/900x900px-LL-284c46f7_TDPcompare.png[/url<]

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    I know I’m in the minority, but in the interests of people without huge hulking cases and tons of airflow (HTPC, SFF, quiet cases with foam) have you come across any 970’s with decent blowers yet, Scott?

    Palit make one, as do EVGA. I’m just convinced they’re both cheap and [s<]nasty[/s<] noisy 😉

      • Voldenuit
      • 5 years ago

      Since the 970 draws the same amount of power as a 760, I wouldn’t be too worried about airflow to cool it. The various “mini” 760 cards were very popular for compact/SFF builds in their time, and none of them had blowers iirc.

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        When you’re talking about low-airflow cases, specifically HTPCs or quiet cases, the fan noise of the graphics card isn’t the issue, the issue is the 150W of thermal waste being dumped into your case, necessitating an increase in all the fans – that’s faster GPU, CPU and system fans.

        If you have a blower GPU in a low-airflow case, there are two distinct effects; Firstly, the majority of the heat is dumped outside the case meaning that the CPU and system fans can run much more slowly. Secondly, because the inside of the case is much cooler, the GPU blower is sucking up cool air instead of warm air, which means it doesn’t have to spin as fast either.

        Basically, if you have 200W total waste heat to get out of a case, the option of “case fan(s) only” to remove that heat is inferior to “case fan(s) + GPU blower” and the gap widens as your reduce the case fan airflow. Don’t forget that a lot of HTPC’s are very slim and struggle to find space for large fans. I don’t have this problem but I’ve seen HTPC’s that rely on 80mm or even 60mm fans for cooling.

    • chuckula
    • 5 years ago

    MSI’s GeForce GTX 970 Eh?

    More like MSI’s GeForce DECEPTICON edition! You don’t go around faking us all out with red livery on an Nvidia card like that!

      • MadManOriginal
      • 5 years ago

      TEH REDS MAKES IT FASTER!

        • Pez
        • 5 years ago

        Upvote for Teh Orkz!

    • brothergc
    • 5 years ago

    Personaly , I prefer the Gigabyte 970 G1 gaming which I do own over the MSI or the Asus , it comes with a backplate and one 4 pin and one 6 pin PCIE conectors . Asus limits the voltages and MSI has no backplate so Your card could sag , not pretty !

      • Chrispy_
      • 5 years ago

      MSI’s card does have a frontplate that covers three-quarters of the board so I doubt it would sag in any meaningful way.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      “one 4 pin and one 6 pin PCIE conectors ”

      Four pin and 6 pin? Surely you mean 6 and 8.

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 5 years ago

      Indeed, I think this afterburner screenshot from my friend’s Gigabyte G1 says it all.

      That’s 1.6 GHz of pure ownage.

      The G1 is the king of the 970s.

      [url<]https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/10425018_10100216259855794_3906698503277101262_n.jpg?oh=2e914719a567dfeb376c354594414b99&oe=54F08D2B&__gda__=1420567630_773ee7b66126b8b05d581b24b5d1f76f[/url<] That said, I'm still waiting on the Asus Strix that I ordered at NCIX.COM September 25th...........................................

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This