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MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G GPU Review

« Overclocking Performance


We try to do an honest comparison of apples to apples. What that means to me is that devices of the same class or price range should be compared against each other. The GTX 770 at the time of release was 399 but if I remember right it could be purchased very shortly after launch for 369.99. The GTX 970, GTX 770, and the R9 280x are all geared and priced toward the mid to high range market. Launch price for the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 349.99.

This card is fast. It easily handed defeat to both the GTX 770 and the R9 280x which just happen to be the fastest cards that I have in my stable at the time of this writing. Crysis 3 for example the MSI GTX 970 was able to average just under 60 frames per second.  I knew, or at least had an idea that the  MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G would be faster than the GTX 770. But what I didn’t know is how much faster it would be. The Maxwell architecture enjoys at around a minimum of 10 FPS of the previous generation of GPU.

Dynamic Super Resolution or DSR essentially allows the GPU to render the image at a higher resolution than a 1080p monitor can display. Then the GPU samples the image down back down to 1080p. When I tested this in Skyrim, I noticed a big difference in image quality and detail. Objects were sharper, clearer the whole environment looked fantastic. However, there is a performance hit but that’s not an issue when you are looking at running a game a  120+ FPS. So you take a hit, and it drops down to 60 FPS. Does it really matter on a 1080p 60 Hz monitor? The short answer is no. In GFE, the application will automatically adjust image quality to ensure the best performance with DSR enabled. Stay tuned for a DSR performance evaluation upcoming in the near future.

GTX 970 GAMING4G_ExplodeOne of the things that really freaks me out is when I see fans that are not spinning. In the past a non spinning fan meant the fan was broken and something was about to overheat. This is not the case. The Twin Frozr stops both fans when the GPU temperature drops under 50°C. I have a temperature controlled environment and I tend to keep the temperature in the room at around 26°C. When idle the fans stopped but the CPU temperature was staying steady at 31°C. During testing the fans did not kick in until the CPU reached 60°C and even then fan speeds were very low at about 20% and the temperature stayed right around 73°C. During the limited overclocking that I was able to do, the temperature never hit 80°C. MSI has put a lot of effort and engineering into the Twin Frozr V. Combined with the Maxwell GPU, you no longer have a toaster oven running under your desk.

The MSI GTX 970 power consumption tests show that Maxwell uses less watts to deliver more performance reinforcing the claim that it is more power efficient than previous generation GPUs. During the Power tests I ran the Metro:Last night benchmark in a constant loop. Afterburner showed a 99% load on all three cards during the tests. I’m sure the test is not 100% accurate as the Kill-a-Watt meter is a consumer based product, but with the same set up, you should get a similar result.


Nvidia gave us a teaser for Maxwell with the 750 series and now Maxwell has grown up.  Within the mid-end cards that I have, the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G is clearly the fastest of the bunch. My overclocking experience was limited due to time constraints and I will be working on a more indepth overclocking article along with a performance evaluation of DSR for those of us that still are running on 1080p monitors. This card is a beast in this price segment and I cannot wait to see what new technologies are going to take advantage of the Maxwell GPU.

[sc:editors_choice_award ]

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