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Republish review

09-12-2014


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Graphics card MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G: review and testing

Announced earlier graphics accelerator NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 is perfectly balanced device that combines high performance, low power consumption and advanced technologies. It is not surprising that almost all of the producers have already released their version of the adapter equipped with its proprietary features.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Graphics card Видеокарта MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G which will be discussed in this review combines the most advanced developments of MSI engineers, including an updated cooling system MSI TWIN FROZR V and qualitative circuitry MSI Military Class 4. However the technology of passive cooling at low load (MSI Zero Frozr) is specified.

The specs:

Model

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Graphics core

NVIDIA GM204-200-A1 (Maxwell)

Technology process, nm

28

Quantity of universal shader processors (CUDA-core)

1664

Technologies and API support

DirectX 12 (Shader Model 5.0), OpenGL 4.4, NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround, NVIDIA PhysX, NVIDIA TXAA, NVIDIA FXAA, NVIDIA MFAA, NVIDIA 3D Vision, NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync, NVIDIA SLI, NVIDIA CUDA, NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0, NVIDIA GameWorks, NVIDIA GameStream

Core frequency (nominal/in mode GPU Boost), MHz

mode «OC»

1140 / 1279

mode «Gaming»

1114 / 1253

mode «Silent»

1051 / 1178

Memory capacity, GB

4

Memory type

GDDR5

Basic/effective memory frequency, MHz

1753 / 7010

Memory bus width, bit

256

Inner interface

PCI Express 3.0 x16

Screening  interfaces

1 х HDMI

1 x DisplayPort 1.2

1 х DVI-I

1 х DVI-D

Minimal PSU capacity, W

600

Dimensions taken from official website (according measurements in own test lab) , mm

269 x 141 x 35 (280 x 141)

Drivers

Download from company website MSI or producer website GPU

Website

MSI

As you can see from the table, the graphics card has three operating modes, which are different by nominal values and dynamic frequency of graphics core. They are switched by utility MSI Gaming App, which is included in the package.

Packaging and content 

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Graphics accelerator MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G is shipped in sufficiently large package, which is framed in the company colors of game series MSI GAMING: black and red. The front side of the box is decorated with a large image of the dragon, and in the upper right corner is located recommendation from the famous eSports team Fnatic. In the lower parts are the marks of a factory overclocking, and the use of modern cooling system MSI TWIN FROZR V.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

On the reverse side of the package you can find described the key features of the graphics card:

  • Torx Fan fans combine the two types of blades and create by 19% more powerful airflow than fans Propeller Blade of the previous generation;
  • a new configuration of heat pipes SuperSU Pipe has a 40% higher efficiency of heat dissipation by optimizing the length of the unused portion of the pipes;
  • technology MSI Zero Frozr allows to switch the cooling system in a completely passive mode when the GPU temperature is 50°C and below;
  • an updated version of the utility MSI GAMING App, which allows not only produce acceleration, but also to change the color profile of the image.

Also here are the minimum system requirements of a graphics card for optimal performance. According to them, the power of the power supply must be at least 600 W with a minimum load capacity of 42 A at line +12V.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Inside the outer decorative packaging is another cardboard box with sections for accessories and the graphics accelerator. To increase safety during transportation the card is protected with a soft anti-vibration pad.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

The package of MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G includes:

  • power supply adapter;
  • adapter DVI↔D-Sub;
  • brief instruction;
  • CD with software and drivers;
  • corporate gaming mouse pad.

This set includes all the necessary accessories to start work with the graphics card. The set has power adapter for an 8-pin cable, PCIe, which will neutralize the absence of the connector for the power supply. Also here is a small bonus in the form of high-quality mouse pad depicting the cooling system MSI TWIN FROZR V.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

To display the picture the following set of interfaces is provided:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.2;
  • 1 x DVI-I;
  • 1 x DVI-D.

This connector configuration will easily connect one or more digital monitors or televisions. And using the supplied adapter DVI↔D-Sub you can connect an analog display.

The following resolutions:

  • Digital up to 4096 x 2160;
  • Analog up to 2048 x 1536.

Design and circuitry

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G is performed on the black circuit board with a height of 112 mm. In the center is the graphics processor, equipped with a protective frame for a more secure installation and removal of the cooling system.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

The power subsystem is made according 8-phase scheme: six phases for the GPU and two for the memory chip. It is built on high-quality components that are relevant to design MSI Military Class 4. They include tantalum polymer capacitors Hi-C CAP, solid capacitors Solid CAP (with a lifetime of more than 10 years) and high quality chokes with ferrite core (their operating temperature is by 35°C below standard counterparts, the maximum permissible current is by 30% higher and energy efficiency is 20% better).

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

To power the video card, the claimed power consumption is 148 watts which is used PCI Express x16 slot and two additional connector: 6-pin and 8-pin. Adjacent heatpipe cooling system, though a bit difficult to connect and disconnect data connectors, but do not cause serious inconvenience.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Also the board has two connectors for bridges NVIDIA SLI, which allow to combine two to four graphics cards for joint processing graphics. The creation of such a configuration is contributed by the fact that the new cooling system MSI TWIN FROZR V is more compact than the cooler of previous generation and it provides better ventilation when installing multiple graphics accelerators.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

The reverse side of the printed circuit board includes four of the eight memory chips, as well as some elements of the power subsystem. Here the metal protective box is absent, as it is mounted on the front side of the PCB under the radiator.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

At the heart of the tested model is the graphics chip NVIDIA GM204-200-A1 (Maxwell), which is produced by 28-nm manufacturing process. It consists of 1664 CUDA cores, 64 ROP units and 104 texture units. Graphics processor runs at a nominal frequency of 1140 MHz and at high load can be dynamically accelerated up to 1279 MHz, which corresponds to parameters of the mode «OC» of utility MSI Gaming App.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

The graphics card is equipped with 4 GB of video memory GDDR5 colected with the help of 8 chips Samsung K4G41325FC-HC28 with capacity 512 MB each. Data exchange with the GPU is realized through a 256-bit bus the capacity of which is 224.4 GB/s.

Cooling system

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Model MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G is equipped with a proprietary dual-slot cooling system MSI TWIN FROZR V. According to the measurements in our lab, the length of the graphics card with installed cooling system is 280 mm and height 141 mm.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

There is support for technology MSI Hybrid Frozr, which implies independent adjustment of fan speed in automatic or manual mode. In the first case the values of the internal temperature sensors are used. They are installed in different areas of the graphics accelerator, which enables the system to estimate the desired speed of each fan. If the GPU temperature does not exceed 50°C, the fans stop spinning (technology MSI Zero Frozr). It is interesting that in 2008, MSI has already used the technology transfer of the cooling system into passive mode. Then it was called «MSI Hybrid Frozr», but was not fixed in the market for a long time.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Two fans Power Logic PLD10010S12HH (12 V, 400 mA) with a diameter of 96 mm are used for blowing. Due to a sufficiently large diameter we have 90% airflow of the radiator area. They also have the support of design Torx Fan, which combines conventional and curved blade that allows you to create a more powerful airflow. The inscription «Long life bearing» on labels reports that fans are based bearings with increased service life.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

The graphics core is in contact with a large nickel-plated copper pad, which provides better distribution of heat on the four nickel-plated heatpipes. Two of them have a diameter of 6 mm, and the other two are 8 mm. The radiator has a design Airflow Control: the edges have special grooves that promote proper air flow direction.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Heat pipes of design MSI SuperSU Pipe are securely soldered to both edges of the radiator and to the copper base, which improves the performance of the whole cooling system in general.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

To heat removal from the memory chips and elements of the power subsystem is provided by two additional radiators, which also function as reinforcing plates (protection of the PCB from deformation).

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

During automatic fan speed control and the maximum load the GPU temperature did not exceed 60°C. Thus fan rotated only 34% of its maximum speed, which corresponds to 754 rpm. Cooling system was very quiet. The unpleasant moments of the test version owe would like to note the high-frequency squeak of chokes during gaming benchmarks. At the same time it was noticeable only in a relatively quiet environment and with heavy loads. It is possible that this feature is peculiar to a given test sample.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G

Forced setting the fan speed to maximum (2263 rpm) has reduced the GPU temperature to 45°C. At the same time though the noise rose to an average level, but still remained acceptable for long-term work.

MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G


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