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MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G Review

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MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G Testing:

Testing of MSI's latest Maxwell-based video card, the GTX 970 Gaming 4G, will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will be testing the cards at their stock speeds to see how they stack up and will test each one to find the maximum stable overclock. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. Resolutions of 1920x1080, 2560x1440, and 3840x2160 will be used. The GTX 980 will use the latest 344.07 drivers, while the rest of the NVIDIA comparison cards using 340.52. AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 14.7 beta drivers, while the R9 285 will be using the beta release driver.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

  • MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G : Core 1609MHz,  Memory 2052MHz

 

To say that I was surprised by the clock speeds delivered by the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G would be an understatement. A base core boost clock speed of between 1253MHz and 1297MHz are nothing to sneeze at from a performance perspective. This clock speed delivers gaming performance above 30 FPS at 2560x1440 with high settings in every game I tested. To drive that FPS performance level even higher requires overclocking this factory overclocked card even further. To do so I used the latest version of MSI's own Afterburner utility version 4.0.0 to tweak the clock speeds of the Maxwell core and GDDR5 memory. First though, Afterburner is not the only way to manage the performance levels of the GTX 970 Gaming 4G. MSI Includes on the driver disc and for download the MSI Gaming App that allows the end user to choose from three preset performance levels (OC, Gaming, and Quiet) simply by clocking a radio button to set the profile in the applications.

To start the process I moved the fan slider to 100%, maxed out the power limit at 110%, and started boosting up the core clock speed and testing to see where stability left the building like Elvis. At that point I backed it down by 15MHz and retested to verify stability. Knowing there had to be more in the tank I bumped the core voltage slider up to see if this feature was functional and was rewarded with my final boost clock speed of 1609.7MHz on the Maxwell core. Once again the highest core clock speed I have reached on air with any card. The memory overclocking was equally robust, delivering a clock speed up and over that of the GTX 980 Gaming 4G at 2052MHz or a memory data rate of 8208MHz to really help drive memory bandwidth even higher. Any way you look at it this boost in clock speed does drive performance up to and over the stock performance level of the GTX 980 Gaming 4G in 3DMark FIrestrike. Pretty damn impressive to say the least.

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.

 

 

  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro: Last Light
  2. BioShock Infinite
  3. Crysis 3
  4. Far Cry 3
  5. Battlefield 4
  6. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  7. Batman: Arkham Origins
  8. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  9. 3DMark

 

  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption



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