Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My 4th Gigabyte graphics card is here – the GTX 970 Gaming G1



So here it is. The Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 graphics card that I replaced the MSI GTX 970 Gaming graphics cards with.

Even though many people were claiming it to be quite long, when you compare it with the MSI card, it is not THAT long. Maybe a couple of centimeters, which is not that much. But look at the width of it. It is quite narrower than the MSI. With the Twin Frozr V cooler, MSI has tried to make a cooler that would cool exceptionally while being ultra quiet at the same time hence have gone with just two low RPM 100mm (read: large) fans. Gigabyte, with their new Windforce cooler that they claim can handle a load of 600W, has gone with pure cooling power with three fans which run at a rather high fan speed but smaller in size. Having three fans and running them at a higher speed don't make it massively louder than the MSI, but the difference is noticeable. Funny thing is that the total fan area is slightly larger with the MSI despite its inferior cooling performance. I suppose the heat-sink design of the Windforce 600W cooler is much thought out, as it comes out at the top in every review.

While the card is quite long, I didn't run into any issues fitting it inside my small case. However I ran into one problem which I never thought would materialize. The back of the card would touch the audio daughter-board of my Maximus VII Gene motherboard. Since the MSI card didn't have a back-plate this was a non-issue, however the Gigabyte card has one and it did protrude out quite a bit. I had to resolve it by insulating the audio board with tape.


Since the card doesn't have any exhaust vents on the I/O plate of the graphics card, I removed all the expansion slot covers on the case. Then I setup the fans in the way that the three side fans would bring cool air in and the top/rear fans would exhaust the hot air out.


Once I managed to boot into Windows, I didn't even care to check out the stock specifications, and straight away started overclocking. I managed to hit 1597.4MHz on the core by increasing the Vcore all the way up in AfterBurner, but just 7700MHz for the memory. Just like my MSI cards, this one also had Hynix memory and I was in the opinion that the ones that did overclock well came equipped with Samsung memory. I am unsure if that really is the case though.

When I ran 3DMark 2013 edition, I found that the clocks would throttle from 1597.9MHz to 1584MHz. The reason for power cap in GPU-Z was given as VRel, which meant that the voltage was the limiting factor. Sure enough, the voltage when this happened had dipped to 1.237V from 1.262V which +87mV in AfterBurner was supposed to take the voltage to.


Remember, these are not my final clocks. Just because 3DMark ran without fine doesn’t mean games will. I will have to do some extensive testing to find the final clocks. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find the max stable clocks of both CPUs and GPUs these days because of the massive number of variables involved. However, I believe I would be able to fix the throttling issue by disabling turbo boost and fixing the clocks.

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