Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 overclock


I actually forgot to talk about how well my Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 card overclocked. If you had been following my posts regularly, you might remember that this is not my first GTX 970 card. Not even the second. This is the third.

I had two MSI GTX 970 Gaming cards prior to this one, which were both returned because of the presence of significant coil whining in the first one and one of the two fans not spinning – thus overheating – in the second one. I paid a tad bit more and got the Gigabyte card, which has been performing much better in terms of peak temperature while gaming and how high of an overclock it could sustain while gaming for hours.

This post is about the overclock I was able to achieve with the Gaming G1 card.

Overclocking was performed by directly modifying the BIOS. I didn't use any software such as MSI Afterburner because I wanted to stop the clock fluctuations due to the presence of Turbo Boost and game at the maximum clocks at all times. Then it would be easier to detect instabilities. There is a JVP way you can achieve this by modifying the firmware binary file, which is discussed here and the flashing guide here. Furthermore, as this card has an excellent cooler, i Increased the GPU voltage to 1.25V from the stock 1.212V (as I recall), however the gains are usually marginal.

First of all, I tried to see how far I could push the core clocks – which matter more than the memory clocks – while keeping the memory at stock 7GHz. I took it slowly, because I was flashing the BIOS every time. I was able to hit a little over 1600MHz, which was about 100MHz more than I could hit with the MSI card. It was fairly stable, but Crysis 3 - my favourite game -  wasn’t all that happy with those clocks. It would run without any issues for a couple of days, but then crash abruptly. I had to drop the clocks to around 1585MHz to get it stable.

Then it was time to increase the memory clock speed. Unfortunately, just like the MSI cards, the memory on this Gigabyte card also came from Hynix. Statistically, Samsung branded memory seemed to overclock higher. Consequently, I couldn't hit 8GHz with my sample either. I had to stop at 7600MHz. I probably could have tweaked a bit more, but it was not worth the effort and time. I wouldn't probably even see a 0.5 increase in FPS numbers by doing so.

Time passed by, but Crysis 3 would still seldom crash. I didn't feel like going through all the testing again, so I dropped the clocks to the vicinity of 1550MHz on the core and kept the same 7600MHz on the memory and monitored over days for random crashes. Luckily, Crysis 3 never crashed with those clocks. I'm not sure if I would be able to run other games stably at those settings but Crysis is pretty stressful I bet. The standard benchmark tools such as 3DMark and Unigine Valley never crashed at 1600/7600 clocks so those aren't useful when testing for stability. I bought the GTX 970 for gaming and if it cannot run them stably,  there is no point trying to break the benchmark records. (There are overclocking competitions where this approach is highly valid though.)

So here are my Crysis 3 stable settings for Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 Rev. 1.1 card. Hopefully these settings will work with Battlefield Hardline as well, as I intend to play it in the near future.


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