MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4 GB Review 48

MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4 GB Review

(48 User Comments) »

Value and Conclusion

  • The MSI GTX 970 Gaming is available online for $350.
  • Excellent pricing
  • Passive operation in idle/low load
  • Very quiet in gaming states
  • Low power consumption
  • Excellent temperatures
  • Greatly improved efficiency
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Good overclocking potential
  • HDMI 2.0
  • 4 GB VRAM
  • New software features (MFAA and DSR)
  • No backplate
  • Only small performance gains from the overclock out of the box
  • Memory not overclocked
The MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming is one of the best, if not the best GTX 970s I've tested so far, and I've tested most of them. The card comes overclocked out of the box, which yields a 3% performance improvement over the NVIDIA reference design - not a huge increase, but every bit helps. This makes the card faster than AMD's R9 290X flagship at lower resolutions; AMD's card gains some ground on resolutions beyond full HD, though. The GTX 970 offers amazing performance that peaks at 2560x1440 or 2560x1600. Compared to the more expensive GTX 980, we see the MSI card roughly 10% behind, which is significant, but probably worth the cost-savings. I only wish MSI had also overclocked the memory chips for an extra speed boost. As our manual overclocking tests show, the memory can certainly take it.
MSI's new TwinFrozr cooler is identical to the one used on their GTX 980 Gaming, which is a good thing. It has tons of cooling potential, and the GTX 970 produces slightly less heat, which makes keeping it cool even easier. The cooler not only looks good, but also delivers excellent temperatures that are better than with other GTX 970s we have tested. Not only temperatures are good as noise levels are, more importantly, outstanding. The fans will completely stop in idle and light gaming, which results in a perfectly noise-less experience. Once a more demanding game is launched, the fans will spin up, but they will always be extremely quiet, barely audible. Very impressive work here, MSI. The lack of a backplate is a bit disappointing, though, as it would help protect the card against damage during handling and generally looks much nicer.
Overclocking our sample worked well and lead to clock speeds similar to those we reached with other GTX 970 cards, so there are no surprises here. Power consumption is similar to other GTX 970 cards; still outstanding, just like on all other Maxwell-based boards and almost twice as efficient as AMD's products. These high efficiency numbers are the foundation for such wonderful cards as the GTX 970 and GTX 980, since higher efficiency results in more performance at less power draw, which, in return, leads to less heat output, resulting in lower temperatures and designs which allow these cards to run quietly as they do.
MSI's GTX 970 Gaming is available online for $350, which is a $20 price premium for the overclock out of the box and the improved cooler. I say it's definitely worth it. Together with the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX, the MSI GTX 970 Gaming is the best GTX 970 on the market; honestly, I couldn't decide which to pick. They are both awesome and very similar in what they deliver. The only significant difference I could find is that the MSI GTX 970 runs 8°C cooler during gaming while producing the same amount of noise, which could help avoid potential throttling (82°C) if you live in an extremely hot climate with room temperatures far above 30°C. The thermal difference doesn't make a difference to anyone else. ASUS, on the other hand, offers a baseplate, which the MSI card does not. Both cards are also similarly priced. The choice is yours!
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