MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G Video Card Review @ [H]

n=1

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One important thing, if you buy this card - be very, very cautious, when removing sticker from fans, because you may ruin your card.

This is Official MSI rep reply regarding fans ramping up to 100% from Official MSI forums:

"We discussed this internally and the fan issue (fan2 @100%) is most likely caused by the sticker.
Many fans can withstand the removal of the sticker without any damage but a small amount of fans seem to get damaged.
Our production has already stopped using these stickers.

So we recommend all users that suffer from this issue to return the card to the point of purchase for warranty service."

I thank MSI for making my choice easy -- Gigabyte it is.
 

noko

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Wow! talking bang per buck. This has to be the best value in a very long time for high end gaming option.

Now I was surprised at the 290 results since I have a reference 290 slightly OC from the factory, mine will throttle unless manually adjusting fan speeds. The 290 in this review did OK but if it was not throttling on any benchmark then I wonder how the 970 would really compare? Still the OC headroom on the 970 looks amazing and looks to be leaps and bounds percentage wise better than a 290 OC headroom.
 

pandora's box

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If you are going to run 4K I suggest the 980 or 980 SLI. 4K is very demanding, reserved for the flagship single GPU from AMD and NVIDIA, or SLI and CrossFire. No single card can yet max out 4K.

In 2x SLI there's room for a hard connector or flex connector just fine, there is an indention for one of the SLI fingers.

For 3x SLI you are going to need two flex connectors, a hard connector doesn't look like it would work with the raised heatsink shroud covering one of the fingers.

I have 3 MSI 970's coming in tomorrow, I'll be able to confirm this.

Confirmed, for 3 cards in SLI you will need flex connectors.
 
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I thank MSI for making my choice easy -- Gigabyte it is.

You won't be disappointed. I'm not!

Really though I'm not sure if this happens with every round of new Gpus that come out but there seems to be lots of issues, big or small, maybe lots of nitpicking on whats good or bad (including me).
 

omega-x

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Would upgrading from a 660Ti to this be held back by CPU @ 1440p on a dual core Ivy Bridge @ 3ghz?
 

n=1

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You won't be disappointed. I'm not!

Really though I'm not sure if this happens with every round of new Gpus that come out but there seems to be lots of issues, big or small, maybe lots of nitpicking on whats good or bad (including me).

Well my Gigabyte cards came yesterday and they have HORRIBLE coil whine. Actually more like coil SCREECH than whine. Holy shit.

The irony in my post kills me.
 

misterbobby

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Would upgrading from a 660Ti to this be held back by CPU @ 1440p on a dual core Ivy Bridge @ 3ghz?
Dual core with HT aka i3 or just plain dual core? You really need to be less vague and just list your exact cpu and other specs.
 

misterbobby

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with HT. 8gb of ram. Very 'balanced' if you could call it that.
Sure wish you would list the exact cpu. A Haswell i3 is plenty fast and wont hold a 970 back by too much except the rare game like Crysis 3. The older i3 cpus will of course be a little slower and hold back the 970 a little more.
 

Odellus

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Would upgrading from a 660Ti to this be held back by CPU @ 1440p on a dual core Ivy Bridge @ 3ghz?

not unless you're going for 120 fps. the only games where that cpu is going to stop you from averaging 60 are crysis 3 and arma 3.
 
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ManofGod

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We can thank AMD for the massive drop in prices from Nvidia. Without the competition from AMD and their competitive pricing from last year on, we would probably be seeing a 970 at $499 and a 980 at $699 MSRP.

I personally prefer AMD myself but, I am pleased to see competition alive and well in the area of computers at least. Whoever ends up with the 970 will be very happy as long as you are upgrading from a 2 year old or so card. Something more recent probably would not be worth it unless you are going to do 970 SLI.
 

misterbobby

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So how does MSI's non gaming 970 compare to this one?
I had lots of issues with mine. It was already hitting the power limit right out of the box and constantly dropping voltage and clockspeed. Even if I raised the power limit to the max of 106 it would still throttle quite a bit so overclocking was pretty much useless because then there would be a massive drop in clocks at times.
 

Starrbuck

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One important thing, if you buy this card - be very, very cautious, when removing sticker from fans, because you may ruin your card.

This is Official MSI rep reply regarding fans ramping up to 100% from Official MSI forums:

"We discussed this internally and the fan issue (fan2 @100%) is most likely caused by the sticker.
Many fans can withstand the removal of the sticker without any damage but a small amount of fans seem to get damaged.
Our production has already stopped using these stickers.

So we recommend all users that suffer from this issue to return the card to the point of purchase for warranty service."

Thanks for the tip. I've got two cards coming next week. Perhaps they stopped using the stickers by the time mine were put together, but, if not, is the issue pulling up on the fan as you take the sticker off, or what? That could be easily fixed by pushing down on the fan as you pull up on the sticker. If it's not that, I'd like to know so that I can have a plan for how to take the stickers off.
 

w35t

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I got two of these running at 1550/6800, one card needs 1.25v, the other 1.18v. The best part is how quiet they are. Best multi gpu setup I've ever had.

Edit: Both of mine had the stickers on them. They are way too sticky for sure but all you have to do is remove carefully, hold down on the fan so it doesn't pry on it.
 
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Flogger23m

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So the sample sent in did not have coil whine? And maybe I missed it but what was the ambient temp in the room?
 

redrage

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Apparently the mouse pad is no longer included. got mine yesterday with no pad. I'm bummed.

No whine so far, and the cooler is so flimsy.. I'm almost ashamed for MSI.. but if you are careful with it... pretty nice card.
 

PGHammer

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Awesome card. Gonna be buying a 970, and I'll definitely consider this one!

I'm putting it in my "consider" pile as well, especially since the STRIX GTX 970 is almost impossible to find, while MicroCenter is starting to have this GPU in stock (both Rockville and Fairfax). I'm waiting on a rather large deposit of back payments (from Uncle Sam) - once I can confirm arrival, I'll be ready to purchase.

[H]'s review starts off by pointing out that they are testing at 1440p - that alone is harsher than my settings (1080p, whether PC screen or TV display). Dual 6-pin is no minus, either.

Shocker the First - in BF4, the GTX 780 got took to the woodshed. Period. (I have BF3; therefore BF4 is being considered, once I have the proper hardware for it.) Apparently, the GPU portion of "proper hardware" will be handled.

Shocker the Second - Watch_Dogs = more time in the woodshed. (This game is NOT in my consideration pool due to performance woes with "big Kepler" - am I going to have to reconsider?) Yeesh.

Shocker the Third - Crysis 3 (which IS in my gaming rota) may well be firewallable @ 1080p - I did NOT expect that.

Shocker the Fourth - I expected that the GTX 780 would have issues with TressFX - after all, that IS an AMD-specific GPU feature - the welcome surprise is that GTX 970 didn't - in fact, it took the R9 290 to the woodshed (yet again).

Overall Conclusion - if real-world performance measures up to the reviews, I may well have to find new pins, because I will have been thoroughly knocked off the old ones.
 

PGHammer

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Wow! talking bang per buck. This has to be the best value in a very long time for high end gaming option.

Now I was surprised at the 290 results since I have a reference 290 slightly OC from the factory, mine will throttle unless manually adjusting fan speeds. The 290 in this review did OK but if it was not throttling on any benchmark then I wonder how the 970 would really compare? Still the OC headroom on the 970 looks amazing and looks to be leaps and bounds percentage wise better than a 290 OC headroom.

Performance says "high-end" - however, the price does not, unless you are talking high-end of the midrange. (Remember, you have GTX 980, TITAN BLACK, and TITAN Z all above the GTX 970.) This has been the case with ALL the Maxwell GPUs - quite capable of punching quite a bit above their "weight" class. I remember when it was NVidia's turn to catch up when ATI launched R300 (98xx/97xx/96xx) - what NV had with the infamous FX "DustBuster" GPUs. Now the two companies have switched places - and I lucked out by being on the "right" side of the line this time as well. The shocker this time is that I will be spending less (in terms of dollars, and in absolute terms at that) this time around. (My ATI AIW 9700 Pro was $459USD - the MSI GTX 970 Gaming is $349.99 @ MC Rockville OR MC Fairfax - almost $110USD less.)
 

platero

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Performance says "high-end" - however, the price does not, unless you are talking high-end of the midrange. (Remember, you have GTX 980, TITAN BLACK, and TITAN Z all above the GTX 970.) This has been the case with ALL the Maxwell GPUs - quite capable of punching quite a bit above their "weight" class. I remember when it was NVidia's turn to catch up when ATI launched R300 (98xx/97xx/96xx) - what NV had with the infamous FX "DustBuster" GPUs. Now the two companies have switched places - and I lucked out by being on the "right" side of the line this time as well. The shocker this time is that I will be spending less (in terms of dollars, and in absolute terms at that) this time around. (My ATI AIW 9700 Pro was $459USD - the MSI GTX 970 Gaming is $349.99 @ MC Rockville OR MC Fairfax - almost $110USD less.)

I too lucked out this round. A few GPUs back I happened to go with (at the time) ATI and was super pleased. I was days away from pulling the trigger on an R9 290 non-X when I logged on to [H] and saw the 980 review. I waited for some 970 reviews to come in and pulled the trigger, not regretting it one bit.
 

Starrbuck

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I too lucked out this round. A few GPUs back I happened to go with (at the time) ATI and was super pleased. I was days away from pulling the trigger on an R9 290 non-X when I logged on to [H] and saw the 980 review. I waited for some 970 reviews to come in and pulled the trigger, not regretting it one bit.

Me too this round and loving my 970s. Even tho I came up from 780s, I sold them for a decent amount and almost upgraded for free. Now I have faster, better performance, less heat, and less electricity use.

Imagine how screwed you'd have been if you had bought a 290X before the prices started dropping because of the 970 & 980!
 

ManofGod

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I too lucked out this round. A few GPUs back I happened to go with (at the time) ATI and was super pleased. I was days away from pulling the trigger on an R9 290 non-X when I logged on to [H] and saw the 980 review. I waited for some 970 reviews to come in and pulled the trigger, not regretting it one bit.

Personally, I think I lucked out when I purchased my XFX R9 290 back in November of 2013. At the time, I had 2 x 6950's unlocked so the difference was fantastic. Even better, I was able to get the 290 unlocked to a 290x and have been enjoying for the year I have owned it. :D

If I had a 7970, I probably would have done the dual card upgrade instead at that time. I think it is fantastic that we can all get the tech we want on either side of the aisle. :)
 

karmad0n

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Thanks for awesome review, it was one of the things that influenced on my decision to order my MSi GTX970 Gaming 4G. I am happy with my card but I have some questions to the author. I overclock my card absolutely the same way as you with Afterburner, increasing power limit to 110% and adding 87 mV, memory +500 and core +150. Still, GPU-Z shows only 1491.5 MHz max, not 1542 you mentioned. I am able to push core clock forward to +185 without overheating or throttling. Still, I can reach only 1526.3 MHz that way. If I push it even further driver starts shutting down. By the way, VDDC never goes beyond 1.2430 V and never reaches your 1.2500 V. The question is evident - why is that so? I have a suggestion that the difference in max clock can be due to the difference in ASIC quality. Mine is 71.5% which is not so good I guess. What is your ASIC quality?
P.S. Latest driver - 344.48. My system specs: Intel Core i7-4790k (4.6Hz OC), Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO, ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero, Corsair Vengeance Pro Series 16GB 1866MHz, Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 750W (new revision).
 
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Mikki79

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My MSI gtx 970 gaming 4g can't even do 1,4Ghz boost at stock voltage, not all of them overclock well. At stock voltage the limit for my card seems to be a pathetic 1392Mhz, and that REALLY is the limit 1393 = display driver crashes.

Without overclocking it's boost is also nowhere near to the one in this review, it only runs at 1278Mhz boost in any game/benchmark/whatever at stock settings.

Increasing voltage barely helps at all, 50mV more and it can't do more than between 1414Mhz and 1419Mhz. Haven't tested exactly, I know it crashes at 1419Mhz @ 1,25v.

...also my i5 4670k is a terrible overclocker as well, can't do more than 4,3Ghz @ 1,3v.
 
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Lord_Exodia

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My MSI gtx 970 gaming 4g can't even do 1,4Ghz boost at stock voltage, not all of them overclock well. At stock voltage the limit for my card seems to be a pathetic 1392Mhz, and that REALLY is the limit 1393 = display driver crashes.

Without overclocking it's boost is also nowhere near to the one in this review, it only runs at 1278Mhz boost in any game/benchmark/whatever at stock settings.

Increasing voltage barely helps at all, 50mV more and it can't do more than between 1414Mhz and 1419Mhz. Haven't tested exactly, I know it crashes at 1419Mhz @ 1,25v.

...also my i5 4670k is a terrible overclocker as well, can't do more than 4,3Ghz @ 1,3v.

Rest of system specs? Motherboard and above all What exact make/model power supply are you using? I'll bet a kidney Since both your cpu and GPU cannot overclock well that it's your power supplies fault. Either it's a shitty budget model or it's a good model with bad internal parts and needs to be RMA'd

It's not far fetched you have received a bad overclocker too though. Although not really tied in to overclocking ability, what is your cards ASIC score?
 

Mikki79

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Motherboard is an MSI Z97 Gaming 5.

PSU is an Antec CP-850 850W (one of those larger form factor PSUs they used to make).
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story4&reid=142

The PSU shouldn't affect my graphics cards stock boost clock either, mine only runs at 1278Mhz boost, the one in this review runs at 1366Mhz. Almost 90Mhz difference without overclocking, which kinda annoys me, seems unfair you don't even have to take the "risk" of overclocking. Just buy a card and you can randomly get one that runs much faster than another MSI card of the exact same model.

My i5-4670k also uses 1.24v at stock clocks, is that normal? I've read some forum posts about the i5-4670k and it seems most people who have 4670ks have much lower voltage at stock speeds. Read this thread at tomshardware, http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answers/id-1865320/4670k-requiring-massive-voltage.html Seems there are rather huge differences between 4670k cpus.

I think I was unluckier with the gtx 970 than with the 4670k, even if both chips are crap. It seems very rare for 970s to be terrible overclockers. 4670ks on the other hand seem to vary greatly. One guy in the tomshardware thread bought 3 chips and 2 of them were even worse overclockers than mine.
 
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Relayer

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Should the specs in the review be updated since we know the ROP's and L2 cache are definitely incorrect?
 

KILLER_K

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Don't you think we have enough threads about this to begin with now? Stop pouring this stuff in every thread and post you come across now. You people have managed to flood hardforum with this. Honestly one thread would have been more than enough. But yet people continue to post all over the place.

Yes we get it but making multiple post and spamming stuff in each one is hurting the people that need the information. Not to mention the cross-posting, AMD derailing and reference and non-reference designs. It is simply amazing how we can't have a civil thread. Everyone has to put a word in or opinion. I don't have a 970 but I have to post. Or get a AMD gpu. Seriously stop and take a break.

We all understand but like everyone here. We are waiting to see what happens in the end.

Should the specs in the review be updated since we know the ROP's and L2 cache are definitely incorrect?
 

KILLER_K

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I have my coffee but it is so hard to keep up with all of this. There is stuff being slung all over the forum. I would like to see it kept professional and all in one spot. I don't think they will get merged for the simple fact. They are all off-topic in most of the post now.

I hope it works out for everyone. But again I just want it to be kept clean, civil and use real results and correct data.

Somebody needs their coffee.. ;)
 

Agent5

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I have 2 X MSI GTX 970's so I can give you my experience. First, make sure in the Nvidia control that you switch the power mode to prefer maximum performance. Second, while the base clock may be at lower speeds, the boost will be higher. I found both my GPU's stable even at +200Mhz for weeks now and tested heavily with Heaven etc. However, the boost never gets passed that 1542Mhz mark (although stays solid at it throughout all my gaming). The reason according to GPU-Z is the TDP. I've contemplated modding the Bios but voted against it, I don't need to squeeze an extra 5-6fps at such high risk in my eyes.
 

Factum

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I have my coffee but it is so hard to keep up with all of this. There is stuff being slung all over the forum. I would like to see it kept professional and all in one spot. I don't think they will get merged for the simple fact. They are all off-topic in most of the post now.

I hope it works out for everyone. But again I just want it to be kept clean, civil and use real results and correct data.

I have seen many threads, oddly mostly full of mad AMD users, raging about the GTX970...I guess it means things are slow on the AMD hardware side of things.
(Most glaring oblivious to the technical reason behind the desgin of the GTX970, loking for those hard to find outliers in performance)

I myself are waiting for the successor to the GK110, I see no reason for people like me on the GK110 to go for a mid-range GPU replacement.

But for people with anything less than a GTX770, it migth make sense
 

wizzi01

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I have seen many threads, oddly mostly full of mad AMD users, raging about the GTX970...I guess it means things are slow on the AMD hardware side of things.
(Most glaring oblivious to the technical reason behind the desgin of the GTX970, loking for those hard to find outliers in performance)

I myself are waiting for the successor to the GK110, I see no reason for people like me on the GK110 to go for a mid-range GPU replacement.

But for people with anything less than a GTX770, it migth make sense

You haven't really been paying attention here then if you think it's mostly AMD users upset about this.
 
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