Lo and behold the next-generation of pixel pushing hardware from the Green corner. Nvidia finally launched their new 900-series range of desktop GPU’s last month. The new, Maxwell-based cards slice power summation right down the middle while delivering some stellar performance at a rather reasonable price. While it’s easy to look at the card with the bigger number, the real deal here is the GTX 970.

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The GTX 970 is where most third-party manufacturers are going to be focusing their time and effort, because there’s no doubt this card is going to sell like techy hotcakes. Asus revealed their new Strix card design with the over-the-top 6GB GTX 780, and have opted to use the design for their versions on the 900-series cards. The Asus GTX 970 Strix is a monstrous card with a few reasons why skipping the reference design is always the best idea.

Out of the box, you’ve got an overclocked 970. Asus cautiously (and curiously) doesn’t touch the memory clock, but the core clock has received a little bump up to 1,114MHz from the stock 1,050MHz. It’s a tiny overclock and definitely not a good measure of what the 970 can reach in the right hands, but it’s still a considerable upgrade. It’s weird that Asus left the memory clocks alone, but it’s no secret that the 900-series cards excel in the overclocking department. Even without glancing over voltage bumps.

One aspect that you can’t help but glance over is the Strix cooling design. On the GTX 970, this massive cooling solution is absolute overkill, but there’s a lot of method to Asus’ madness. The Strix is a phenomenally designed system, especially for those craving whisper-silent systems. The two massive front fans don’t start spinning until temperatures exceed 65°C, after which they keep things cool at a quiet 1200 RPM. This means video playback and light gaming is virtually silent, with the heatsink and cooling pipes doing all of the leg work before the fans need to break a sweat.

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It works hand in hand with Maxwell’s incredibly efficient power dissipation and performance, something I saw an early glimpse of in the GTX 750Ti. This card definitely gets a bit warmer, but it certainly doesn’t sky rocket like previous architecture sometimes tended to do. The design also doesn’t draw that much juice from your power supply. The GTX 970 has a low, low TDP of 145W, and the Strix design only requires a single 8-pin connection. That becomes a little more impressive when you see just how well performance stacks up with such a low power draw.

Metro: Last Light


Metro: Last Light’s benchmark tool is an absolute killer. It’s a great test for pushing cards to their limit, and it really tested the GTX 970. The card held up beautifully at 1080p, and even admirable at a higher 2K resolution. It gets close to managed at 4K, but there just isn’t enough juice in one card to manage smooth gameplay at that size.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman AO

The Unreal Engine isn’t exactly the most taxing piece of tech around, but it’s still interesting to see how well cards scale with the engine at higher resolutions. In that regard, the GTX 970 doesn’t disappoint. It comfortably pumps out a silky smooth framerate at even 4K, allowing you to see Batman in all his bicep glory at the highest pixel density.

Crysis 3

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 still brings the mightiest cards to their knees, especially when cranking up the resolution in involved. It’s the true 4K test out there right now, and the GTX 970 buckled a little when things got too intense. It’s still perfect for 1080p and definitely manageable at 2K, but anything higher becomes a little bit unplayable.


Watch Dogs

Despite the patches, Watch_Dogs is still terribly optimized on PC. That doesn’t make it a good playing experience, but it’s still a decent testing ground, especially for newer cards with increasing GDDR memory. The 4GB on the GTX 970 don’t go to waste here, and you can easily max out Watch_Dogs with a smooth 60 frames at 1080p, something the 780Ti struggles with. At higher resolutions things start getting a little slower, but it’s still reasonably impressive at even 4K.

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There’s no doubt that the GTX 970 is a powerful, powerful card. The main criticism of the 900-series, however, is that it’s not a quantum leap forward in terms of performance, with Nvidia focusing more on power efficiency instead. That’s not entirely wrong, but that doesn’t mean Nvidia has released cards that can’t trump their insanely powerful 780Ti. In fact, the smaller GTX 970 puts up quite a fight against the former flagship. Pitting Asus’ GTX 970 against the GTX 780Ti Matrix Platinum (probably the strongest 780Ti around) delivers some interesting results.


These aren’t confined to Metro either. In most of the tests I ran, the 780Ti Matrix only outperformed the GTX 970 by an average of 6-8 frames, which is a large plus on the Maxwell’s report. That’s because the GTX 970 currently retails for R5999,90, while the 780Ti Matrix goes well over R11 000. With two 970’s in SLI, these comparisons would fall well in favor of Nvidia’s new chips, meaning the GTX 970 delivers a ton of bang for your buck.

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Even measuring it up to its bigger, GTX 980 brother, the 970 looks like the better deal. Right now the GTX 980 goes for just over R10 000, offering only around a 15% performance gain at stock speeds. That’s not a massive leap for a R4000 difference, and again a GTX 970 SLI solution would blow a single 980 out the water, while costing just a little more. The economics behind the GTX 970 make it the most attractive GPU on the market right now, even if it’s not the single most powerful one out there.



Last Updated: October 2, 2014

Asus Nvidia GTX 970 Strix
There's no doubt that Maxwell is impressive. Nvidia have really put it to AMD with their next-generation, while also undercutting their own range of high-end cards at the same time. The GTX 980 might be the flagship model right now, but a combination of local pricing and performance per Rand makes the GTX 970 a much better card. Combine that with Asus' impressive Strix cooling design, and you've got an extremely powerful upgrade option at a reasonable price. There isn't much a reason to upgrade from a 780Ti, but if you're running anything else you may want to jump over to the Maxwell side of life.

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • Rags
    • Rags

      Also why are we paying that much for a $350 card? When the 770 gtx price was reduced a few weeks ago, the cards retailed for R4000 for the reduction to ~$350. I smell collusion :/

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        350 * 11 for exchange rate * 1.5 for all the other lovely fees. We pay through our asses for tech down here.

        Friend of mine bought a Kindle for me in the UK a few years back, 3G & Wi-Fi model with no ads – cost me R1.4k – and he told me then he probably could have gotten it cheaper he just didn’t have time to shop around. Today the cheapest ones available here are still just over R2k, for Wi-Fi only & ads. It’s a joke.

        • Matthew Holliday

          yeah, but in the past year or so, the exchange has gone to shit.
          i was looking at the ps4 costs while I was in the UK, and with R20 to the pound, the costs were looking pretty much the same.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Yeah their stuff is more or less the same because we usually both fall under the EMEA banner.

      • MakeItLegal

        white imperialist from the western world

        • Rags


          • MakeItLegal


  • Jedi Consular Kromas

    Grammar Nazi time kids!

    WTF is “esially”?

    PS. Your welcome. 🙂

    • We can;t really edit stuff atm with the server being the way it is.

      • Jedi Consular Kromas

        Well at least you guys know we don’t just skip the text and look for the YouTube clip in every article. 😛

    • Bjorn


      • Jedi Consular Kromas

        Well played.

    • Kevin McCoy

      *you’re. dumbass

    • Anon


  • ReaperOfSquirrels

    I still don’t see the need to go beyond 1920×1080… guess that’s just me.

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Nope, me too. Way too expensive.

      • ReaperOfSquirrels

        Not just that, but that too.

      • Brian Murphy

        Remove expense, and tell me you wouldn’t buy the hardware, if the money was there. That’s the thing, not everyone is broke like us 🙂

        I’ve yet to see HD to SHD, but if it’s anything like the bump from 720 to 1080, I’m sold. I already want to see Band of Brothers in SHD, and yes, I’m willing to buy my 3rd boxset to achieve it (if SHD requires a different boxset).

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          I’d have to have a lot of money to waste to consider it. I’m one of those people who quite happily turns down free stuff if it’s not something I want, which seems to confuse a lot of people.

          • Brian Murphy

            Free stuff, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s quality or something you’d use. It simply means free. And I wasn’t referring to free, when I said remove expense. I meant more along the lines of set the prices for an HD and SHD TV at the same level, and what would you choose?

            The point is, eventually the prices will plummet, and the average joe citizen can pick them up. Much like the history of the HD TV market penetration (hopefully, sans price fixing from 3 major manufacturers). It took time for the prices to come down, so that most could afford them.

            And quite frankly, there are 4K ready TV’s that are cheaper than the card we’re looking at right here. Sure, it’s only 39″, but it’s still 4K ready.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Yeah I know, that’s why for this upgrade cycle I’m sticking to 1080p. I’ll revisit that idea in 4 years to see what pricing is like then. The cheapest 4K monitors I’ve seen here cost a bit over R10k, so more or less $1k. Thanks to import costs, etc.

          • Brian Murphy

            Yeah that’s obscene, the 39″ I was looking at on Amazon was only $339. Import costs in SA are freakin rough.

          • Like the person who just flagged you… See people do spend time on you!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            What? I was flagged for THAT out of all the things I say? Now I know, make fun of free stuff. Like Steam. 😀

          • HAHAHA 🙂

        • shadus

          the bump isn’t that great unless you are really close to the screen or the screen is gigantic in size. Basically if your tv is under 60″ or your computer monitor is under 40″ you wont see the difference.

    • Matthew Holliday

      its not even worth it atm
      a R6000 card still gets under 30fps on metro at 4k
      a matching PC would cost you like 20k

      20k for sub 30fps doesnt really equate.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    R6k? Not within my budget. A 280X it is.

    • ReaperOfSquirrels

      Almost 90% of all PC equip isn’t within my budget 😛

      • Viking Of Science

        I’m Saving up to buy a new rig End Jan… If all goes well, It’ll be a R14k system. hoping to squeeze in an i7 cpu OR should I go for an AMD 8core, which is cheaper….. I just don’t know, never been on an amd system….

        • You wont get a decent i7 for a 14k rig, i wanted but settled for a i5 4th gen, and a decent board and card

        • ReaperOfSquirrels

          I changed over to AMD YEARS ago. I need a new rig, but just can’t afford it at the moment. My rig is going on 7 years old.

          • Viking Of Science

            Yeah, I know that feel, Saving is damn hard, but I’m determined to have a rig ready for Witcher 3, my only motivation atm!

  • MakeItLegal

    i have my Msi GTX760 , is a 4gig card and i paid just over 4k for it , more than happy , wish i took the i7 tho , these hd videos do a number on my i54670k , maybe time to overclock lol

  • Nine

    I miss PC Format.

  • Whosecter

    < ??????.+ spectre+ ********* ….. < Now Go R­e­­a­d M­o­r­e


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