MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4 GB Review 48

MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4 GB Review



MSI Logo

The GeForce GTX 970 is the smaller brother to NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 980, of which both are based on the Maxwell architecture using the GM204 graphics processor. The GTX 970, much like its predecessors, the GTX 770 and GTX 670, is destined to be an underrated card decking out lower shelves under the GTX 980's shadow. Steam Hardware survey trends would also agree with our guess that this card will end up selling more between the two in volume to probably even fetch NVIDIA more revenue overall.

The GeForce GTX 970 is carved out of the 28 nm GM204 silicon the GTX 980 is based on, by disabling three of sixteen streaming multiprocessors with 128 CUDA cores each. The resulting shader count is 1,664. Texture memory units are, proportionately, down to 104, as are clock speeds, although they stay well above the 1 GHz mark. The ROP count stays at a whopping 64, with a 256-bit memory bus width and a standard memory total of 4 GB.

MSI is one of the leading players on the graphics card market, and their GTX 970 Gaming, reviewed today, has been available since NVIDIA's launch. We previously tested the MSI GTX 980 Gaming, and are today finally taking a look at the GTX 970 Gaming.

MSI's GTX 970 Gaming is a fully customized variant of the GTX 970 with a new dual-fan MSI TwinFrozr cooler and a custom board design with new voltage-regulation circuitry. The card is also overclocked to a base clock of 1114 MHz out of the box.

The card is currently available online for $350, which is a reasonable price as it is in-line with similar offerings.

GTX 970 Market Segment Analysis
R9 280X
GTX 680
GTX 780
R9 290
GTX 970
970 Gaming
R9 290X
HD 7990
GTX Titan
GTX 780 Ti
GTX 980
Shader Units20481536230425601664166428162x 2048268828802048
ROPs323248646464642x 32484864
Graphics ProcessorTahitiGK104GK110HawaiiGM204GM204Hawaii2x TahitiGK110GK110GM204
Transistors4310M3500M7100M6200M5200M5200M6200M2x 4310M7100M7100M5200M
Memory Size3072 MB2048 MB3072 MB4096 MB4096 MB4096 MB4096 MB2x 3072 MB6144 MB3072 MB4096 MB
Memory Bus Width384 bit256 bit384 bit512 bit256 bit256 bit512 bit2x 384 bit384 bit384 bit256 bit
Core Clock1000 MHz1006 MHz+863 MHz+947 MHz1051 MHz+1114 MHz+1000 MHz1000 MHz837 MHz+876 MHz+1126 MHz+
Memory Clock1500 MHz1502 MHz1502 MHz1250 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz1250 MHz1500 MHz1502 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz


Package Front
Package Back

Package Contents

You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Driver CD + documentation
  • PCIe power cable
  • DVI adapter

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

MSI's card uses a red and black color theme that looks excellent thanks to its non-glossy colors. Dimensions of the card are 28.0 cm x 14.5 cm.

Graphics Card Height

Installation requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include two DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort. You may use all outputs at the same time, so triple-monitor-surround gaming is possible with one card.

The GPU also includes an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 2.0 compatible, which includes HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies support.

Multi-GPU Area

You may combine up to three GTX 970 cards in a multi-GPU SLI configuration. AMD recently switched to transferring CrossFire data via the PCI-Express bus in order to handle 4K frames. NVIDIA's SLI suffers from no such limitations, so there is no reason for NVIDIA to use PCIe.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back).
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