MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC Review (** UPDATED **)




MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

Review index:


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC is a graphics card that belongs to MSI’s CLASSIC Series. Here are all Series ranked from the top line (Lightning) to the bottom (CLASSIC):

  • 1 – Lightning Series: Built to be perfect
  • 2 – Hawk Series: Essentials for overclockers
  • 3 – Gaming Series: JUST GAME!
  • 4 – CLASSIC Series: Classy and cool

This GTX 970 is based on the GM204 GPU which is the second iteration of NVIDIA Maxwell architecture. More information and detailed analysis of GM204 GPU can be found in the reviews section of THIS PAGE.

MSI GTX 970 4GD5T OC homepage can be found HERE.


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

1 – Gallery

1.1 – Bundle

The bundle: very CLASSIC and limited to the bare minimum: the graphics card, a CDROM with drivers (is it still useful today???), an install doc and a VGA/DVI adapter.


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

1.2 – The Graphics Card

MSI has chosen a custom VGA cooler based on the ARMOR 2X thermal design. Behind this marketing name, we find a quiet VGA cooler with two 100mm fans. But is it efficient? We’ll see that point in the burn-in test. There is no backplate or other technique to increase the robustness of the card.

Output ports:
– 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
– 1 x HDMI 2.0 (see HERE for a test of the HDMI 2.0 port)
– 2 x DVI


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

2 – GPU Info: GPU Caps Viewer, GPU-Z

Tools:
GPU Caps Viewer 1.22.0
GPU Shark 0.9.2
GPU-Z 0.8.0

This MSI GTX 970 has a base clock of 1101MHz (reference clock: 1050MHz) and a boost clock of 1240MHz (reference clock: 1178MHz). GPU speeds are overclocked compared to the reference card. The min power target is 66% TDP and the max is 106% TDP.


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC

3 – Benchmarks

I benchmarked MSI’s GTX 970 with several GPU tests. See THIS PAGE for all results in 1920×1080 fullscreen mode.

4 – Burn-in Test and Throttling


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC - FurMark

The GPU core clock of MSI’s GTX 970 is downclocked by NVIDIA driver when the graphics workload is too heavy. In this FurMark burn-in test, the GPU core clock is 936 MHz which is lower than the base clock (1101 MHz):


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC - FurMark

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC - FurMark

This GPU core clock throttling is the sign of a weak/limited power circuitry or a power module that is designed to supply only the necessary power for stock clocks and voltage settings. The GPU pulls too much power to execute FurMark rendering and then is downclocked to keep the power consumption at a tolerable value (TDP).

At idle, the total power consumption of the testbed is 46W and the GPU temperature is 32°C which is a nice temperature.

When FurMark is running, the CPU pulls around 25W and the total power consumption is 227W. The efficiency factor of the Corsair AX 860i is 0.92. An estimation of the power consumption of the GTX 970 is:

P = (227-25-46) * 0.92
P = 143W

The TDP of the reference GTX 970 is 145W.

During this torture test, the GPU temperature reached 72°C and the noise of the VGA cooler was tolerable. At idle, the VGA cooler is nearly noiseless.

UPDATE (2014.12.27)

I updated the VGA BIOS with latest version (84.04.2f.00.50) using MSI Live Update Tool for Windows (downloadable from MSI GTX 970 homepage). This new BIOS has clearly improved things. There is still a throttling when the GTX 970 is stressed by FurMark but the throttling is very limited (-12MHz): 1088 MHz with the new BIOS and 936 MHz with the old/stock BIOS. I can add one more point to the final verdict thanks to this new BIOS. Good job MSI!


MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC - GPU Caps Viewer - new VGA BIOS

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC - FurMark stress test - new VGA BIOS

MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GD5T OC - FurMark stress test - new VGA BIOS

5 – Conclusion

This GeForce GTX 970 is an entry level GTX 970. According to the benchmarks, performances of the GTX 970 are in the range of the GTX 780 ones (EVGA GTX 780 with reference cooler), with a slight advantage for the GTX 970. This CLASSIC GTX 970 is not designed for overclocking. It’s more a video card for casual gamers and those who are looking for a GTX 900 card powered by the second generation of NVIDIA Maxwell architecture. Because GTX 900 allow some cool things like HDMI 2.0 output for 4k TVs

Final Verdict

7/10 PROS:
– GM204 GPU
– HDMI 2.0 for 4k @ 60 Hz
– 4GB of graphics memory
– nice GPU temperature at idle state (32°C)
quiet VGA cooler at idle and under load

CONS:
– simple bundle, no geeky stuff
– slight GPU throttling (-12 MHz) under heavy load
no backplate for mechanical protection



15 comments

  • Andy Lee

    Hi, may i know for the MSI GTX 970 4gd5t review, can perform re-test? Because there is new bios available, which is version “84.04.2f.00.50”, i got the feedback from the user, that this card can no more GPU throtting and TDP up to 110%, max oc stable at core:1460mhz. Please advice, thanks.

  • Thanks Andy. I update the VGA BIOS and indeed with this new BIOS, the throttling has nearly disappeared. There is still some throttling, but it’s very small. Great!

    • James

      Another thing not mentioned in this review is that after the new bios update the max selectable power limit in afterburner went from 105% up to 110%. Cranking it up to 110% should completely eliminate the throttling even with a decent overclock on it. I have not run tests yet, as I just updated the bios and noticed the new power limit.

      • vt

        i can confirm. going to 110% completely eliminates throttling during said test.

        an OC of +130@core and +400@mem also displayed no throttling.

  • Dmitriy

    MSI Live Update does not find the update. Download the firmware file to Google Driva thanks.

  • will

    yes could you please upload your firmware.for some reason live update doesn’t list it in the search.

  • blair

    If it throttles then no way! I thought only AMD cards ran hot and throttled lol!

  • i wonder if this graphics card has any coilwhine ?

  • Flexy

    On one hand I am literally “disgusted” that a company like MSI sells a card for €300 something which will throttle to 936 (which I consider a total joke), and even the 1088 with the new bios are ridiculous. Is this what they call “military grade”, a card which is basically under-dimensioned right out of the box?
    ON THE OTHER HAND….I think the furmark test is an extremely bad and poor “test” and doesn’t give any information about real speeds while gaming or whether the card would throttle in real life scenarios. TBH, this furmark test is absolutely worthless for evaluating this card! I wish you had done real testing of clocks/performance in recent games rather than wasting your review on this. Just my $0.02

  • May I know
    1. H77ma-G43 motherboard match??
    yes or no.
    2. 3ds max rendering with V-ray perfect??
    yes or no
    Thank you

  • vt

    Apparently this variant with the latest BIOS from MSI (84.04.31.00.14) bumps the core clock to 1275 mhz at boost, while it throttles with furmark down to 1075mhz.

  • ElioFernandes

    Is this PCB the same as the reference one?

  • ElioFernandes

    I have one and want to put an Artic Accelero but I dont know what PCB they use in this card.

    • Yes the MSI GTX 970 Classic PCB is standard (pcb width is 98mm) so you should have no problem to put the Arctic cooler

      • Andy Lee

        Latest bios here:

        latest version “194”

        don’t based on this “84.04.31.00.14”, export your current firmware from GPU-z then open in notepad, you will see the firmware version e.g. “MSINV316MH.192 Version 84.04.31.00.14”