Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From GTX 970 to GTX 970

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Someone finally decided to grab my Gigabyte GTX 970 GAMING G1 card which I exhibited on Rakuten Auction. So it was time for me to choose a new graphics card that would fit inside the SG13 case. Even though the case is small, cards up to 10.5” in length would fit. However, there definitely are cards that won’t fit; cards like the Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 which is over 12 inches I length.

Obviously, I didn’t want to downgrade. Hence it had to be a GTX 970 or better. Due to high power consumption and heat generation, the AMD cards were out, although the R9 290x would perform better than a GTX 970 in general – at least at stock clocks. The GTX 970 would overclock better on the other hand. But there is still a good chance that you get a dud.

The GTX 980 was the next in line. Due to the high prices of brand new cards, I only looked for second hand ones with a reasonable price tag. I did not want to buy from an auction site, because I did not want to risk a large amount of money, although I would be most probably able to find a much better deal. So I searched for prices on online stores such as Sofmap and Dospara. The cheapest I could find were Palit GTX 980 Super Jetstream cards carrying a price tag of JPY 57,000 at Dospara. That was only JPY 7,000 cheaper than a brand new card of the same model, so I wasn’t that keen on getting that second hand card. The brand new price wasn’t low enough either.

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Second hand Palit GTX 980 listing on Dospara

For some reason, the GTX 980Ti is crazy expensive here in Japan. The shops must be milking the pockets of the enthusiasts. The cheapest card I could find on Kakaku.com was JPY  104,800, that would be about $200 more than US price. Ironically, the Titan X isn’t that outrageously expensive. Sure it is not realistic by any means, but it could be bought for $100 more than the US price. It’s just the GTX 980Ti price tag that is screaming stupid. I guess I do not have to mention that these two cards were out of my league.

So, a GTX 970 or a second hand GTX 980 or a brand new GTX 980?

For just 10% more performance, the GTX 980 didn’t seem worth the extra price: second hand nor brand new.

GTX 970 it is. But which model?

Gigabyte, Asus, GALAX and Zotac have short PCB versions of GTX 970. Ideally, those are the cards that are meant to go into a Mini-ITX case as small as the SG13. Of course, small size comes with compromises. The cooler on these cards is too small to warrant a quiet operation while keeping the GPU temperatures below that red line. And you can forget about overclocking them to unleash the full potential of that chip.

Luckily, one of the champions of the GTX 970s, the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G card seemed to fit inside this case. Even though the card is slightly longer than the maximum length of graphics cards supported in the case according to specifications, it does indeed fit according to numerous claims by members of OCN. In fact, some of these cards seem to come with the longer GTX 980 cooler equipped and even they seem to fit in the case as well. I suppose Silverstone was conservative when specifying the limitations.

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Image from OCN’s thread on “Silverstone Sugo SG13 Mini-ITX Owners Club

Thus, I ordered the MSI card from Amazon. Luckily for me, Amazon had the card for the lowest price. It's about 5,000 cheaper than what I paid for the Gigabyte card. That partially makes up for the losses incurring by selling the Gigabyte card. Yes, I'm indeed losing some money by this switch.

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Order details on Amazon (says already shipped, because it has already arrived.)

Yes, before the Gigabyte card, I did own an MSI card for a brief period of time. Sadly I had to return it and its replacement due to defects. If they were working properly in the first place, I wouldn't have to swap the graphics card. And I hope I won't run into issues this time around. I would be able to RMA the card easily however.

If you are wondering why I am not planning on buying a second hand GTX 970, that’s I couldn’t find one with a decent price. They were priced almost similar to brand new ones, so no point.

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