On release day almost 3 years ago I purchased a Gigabyte G1 970 overclocked edition. The Nvidia 970 series of graphics cards were some of the best bang:buck performance cards in recent memory and were hailed the king of 1080p.
Things turned a bit sour later on with news that the card could only address 3.5GBs of the advertised VRAM at the advertised speed with the final 500MBs being accessible at a far lower speed. While people were rightly angry this didn’t change the performance of this great card so I was still content with my purchase. In-fact the card has proved time and time again to be a great purchase with it being included as the min specs for oculus, becoming the most popular card on steam at one point, and being an amazing overclocking beast without me touching it.
This article isn’t going to be so much of a review as it is going to be ‘my thoughts’ on the card since release to now. I don’t own many games with benchmarking built in, nor do i have the time and bandwidth to download all the ones that do, so I am limited to some synthetic benchmarks but I have also been playing the latest games with this card for 3 years so hope to delve a bit into that, especially seeing as I upgraded to a 1440p monitor during this time.
First lets look at my benchmarks. My current system specs are as follows:
CPU: Intel 6700k @ 4.4GHz
RAM: 16GBs 2667MHz DDR4 Corsair vengence
Data storage: Samsung SSD 256GB + Momentus XT 750-GB
GPU: Gigabyte Nvidia 970 G1 Oc edition (part number to search online: GV-N970G1 GAMING-4GD)
First things first lets run timespy as this wasn’t around when the 970 was released so gives us an idea of how more modern software runs on the card.
Honestly, I was pretty impressed with this result after looking about on the internet. The card constantly overclocked itself to around 1450MHz without breaking 70 degrees celcius. Looking around the internet the card sits just below the Nvidia 1060 and AMD 480 that get scores of around 4315 and 4358 respectively. The higher end pascal cards then wipe the floor with the 3 year old card with a 1070 happily getting 6000+ and a 1080ti in the 9000 range. As a current generation mid range card the nvidia 970 appears to pull its weight though especially considering its price on ebay.
Next I cranked the heaven benchmark as high as it would go. This one was more interesting as I could run it at both 1080p and 1440p.
The heaven benchmark is a bit older then timespy but the 970 still shows how it is no slouch. It is in this benchmark, however, we start to get a feel for which market the card was meant for with performance nearly halving as you go from 1080p to 1440p.
Again I just looked around the internet and the results seem to show the card in a similar position that timespy did with the card performing at around 85 – 90% when compared to an nvidia 1060 and ~60% of an nvidia 1070. Interestingly the 1060 appears to show a large performance drop at 1440p too.
And finally rise of the tomb raider at 1080p and 1440p:
This is a prime example of games beginning to tax the 970 at max settings regardless of resolution with the game always dropping below that 60FPS aim when at very high at both 1080p and 1440p.
So to finish off I wanted to just talk about my experiences with this card over the years. I will start by saying this is an amazing card, probably the best I have ever owned. It overclocks incredibly well without me touching it, runs cool and plays everything in my library. The upgrade to 1440p did, however, show where the cards weakness is. This card still chugs away happily at 1080p at high settings in modern games but, at 1440p, I really find myself having to turn things down more than I feel I should have to. I am not sure if this is just me being unrealistic about how much harder 1440p is to drive or whether the VRAM is becoming a limit with the higher resolution textures and such.
It is worth noting, however, going from a 1080p TNT to a 1440p IPS screen was a graphics upgrade in itself. While people may be concerned that they have to drop settings to medium/high rather than high/very high I can honestly say the sharpness of the screen and colour reproduction more than make up for it. Even games like the witcher 3 ran perfectly happily at medium – high settings at 1440p.
In conclusion, if you are on the market for a 1080p gaming PC but want to stick to a budget and you are deciding between a 1050ti/1060 I implore you to check for Nvidia 970s on ebay that are going from a similar price to a new 1050ti on my most recent check. The card can still push modern game at 1080p at high settings and above and does it at a much better bang for your buck than the nvidia 1060 range of cards.