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Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 And 980 Review: Maximum Maxwell

Gigabyte GTX 970 WindForce OC

The Gigabyte GTX 970 WindForce OC’s specifications are quite different from the 980's in some places. According to Gigabyte, the 970 also uses GPUs binned for better-than-average overclocking potential and lower power consumption. Still, our tests show why this graphics card costs less than the flagship.

Fortunately, it retains the higher-end board's six video outputs (of which four can be actively used at a time). And again, Gigabyte keeps the second DVI connector that’s missing from the reference design. HDMI 2.0 makes this new card somewhat more future-proof.

The Speeds And Feeds
Form FactorDual-slot design
Length (from Slot Panel to End)297 mm
Height (from Slot to Top)108 mm
Depth 1 (from PCB to Front Cover)35 mm
Depth 2 (from PCB to Back Plate)5 mm
Weight797 g
Connectors1x DVI-I, 1x DVI-D, 1x HDMI 2.0, 3x DisplayPort
Pros- GPUs binned for better overclocking and lower power consumption- Total of six video outputs (better connectivity)- Dual-slot design, well-suited for SLI- Suitable cooling headroom
Cons- RPM at idle is too high (35 percent)

Gigabyte's GTX 970 WindForce OC sports the WindForce cooler that we know from the company's older GeForce cards. It’s still a solid cooler that’s both thin and fairly quiet. It’s been updated with the new rotor blades found on the WindForce 600 W.

Once again, the backplate doesn’t contribute to the graphics card’s cooling. It only provides some stability and a nice finishing touch we aren't used to seeing on Nvidia-based boards.

The vertically-oriented fins send waste heat toward the top and bottom, and not toward your hard drives and SSDs. It'd be better to exhaust it entirely, though.

One 8- and one 6-pin PCIe power connector are supposed to keep the Gigabyte GTX 970 WindForce OC stable when overclocked. As on the 980, this card's WindForce label lights up blue.

You get a total of three DisplayPort connectors, two dual-link DVI connectors, and an HDMI 2.0 connector on the rear bracket. Together, they take up almost all the available space.

  • Vivecss
    Wow.......
    Reply
  • lancear15
    I was waiting for Tom's review to make my final decision, the 980 is definitely going into my current 5960x build! I cant wait.
    Reply
  • HKILLER
    so how long before you do a round up?i mean this time i've seen some pretty crazy looking cards (Zotac's Extreme AMP! edition looks crazy and the Inno3D too)and EVGA has shown off ACX 2.0 which they claim to be the most efficient GPU air cooler in the world...so many to choose from also EVGA FTW has been nicely overclocked i've seen it performing almost on par with 980
    Reply
  • realibrad
    byt he way... Last page 2nd sentence after the graph of Avg game performance.

    I was hoping for more performance but the efficiency is quite nice. They just put pressure on the top end and gave us a price reduction, instead of overall performance gains.
    Reply
  • balister
    Very nice, but I still want to see what the power consumption along with what might be possible with the drop to 20nm (since this is still 28nm).

    Likely, we're going to see a Maxwell Titan equivalent come in the next year or so as these are a x04 much like Kepler with the 670/80s were and we're still going to be waiting to see what the x10 will be with the Maxwell architecture.
    Reply
  • MANOFKRYPTONAK
    Why didn't you include an overclocking comparison? Why didn't you include the 780, but included the 770? Doesn't make much sense...
    Reply
  • vertexx
    970 is the real story until the 980ti comes out - what a value proposition with the 970!

    Good stuff here - but you guys were a bit slow on this one. Tom's Hardware is the first site I visit every morning. But with the delay of this article, I've been all over the net this morning on other sites that got their stuff out sooner.
    Reply
  • daveys93
    Will there be a follow-up article about overclocking these cards? Other sites are showing results that both of the new cards are capable of 1500+ MHz on air (aftermarket coolers and even a few with stock coolers), which is a massive overclock. Looks like NVIDIA left the door open for some decent voltage increases, but many results have been in the 1450-1500 MHz range at stock voltage. I am a big fan of the thoroughness of Tom's articles so I am very interested in seeing overclocking results and analysis from this site.
    Reply
  • nikolajj
    I need this...
    Reply
  • tobalaz
    I want a 970, wow!
    That's some flat out insane price / performance ratio right there!
    Reply