The Search for the Best GTX 970
Nvidia’s GTX 970 may not be the most powerful video card around today but it’s still considered one of the crowd favorites. More than capable of running games at 1080p at a fraction of the price of the latest video cards, the GTX 970 has found its place as a dependable budget-friendly workhorse for midrange gaming setups. Having been around since late 2014, the GTX 970 is available in dozens of versions that a novice PC builder might end up having trouble picking one for their rig, so what is the best GTX 970?
What You Want to Look For
There are a few factors that decide what makes some GTX 970 brands better than others. The best GTX 970 brands excel at one or more of these factors. Here’s a quick rundown on each of these factors.
Clock Speed – The operating speed of the video card. GTX 970 brands usually have three advertised speeds: the base GPU clock speed (its usual speed) and the boost GPU clock speed (it’s speed when handling more demanding tasks), and the memory clock speed. The higher the clock speeds, the better the video card is. It’s possible to push past the indicated clock speeds but it requires some technical skills due to the other two factors.
Temperature – When a video card is processing graphics, it generates heat. The more it works, the hotter it gets. Different GTX 970 brands offer different cooling systems to help keep the heat to an acceptable level even when under full load. Since overclocking tends to make a video card get hotter, having a good cooling system not only helps prevent overheating but also leaves more room for better overclocking.
Take note that the fans in some brands tend to make more noise when the video card is working under full load, which could also be a deciding factor when building a quiet-running system.
Performance – Because of the difference in both clock speeds and temperature, some GTX 970 brands can perform a lot better than others. This is often measured in terms of frames per second rendered when running games or other graphics-intensive software. The higher the FPS, the better a video card is in terms of performance.
Price – The best GTX 970s offer better than average performance without breaking the bank; some GTX 970 brands are more expensive, but only the ones with a significant improvement in performance over the rest of the bunch are considered cost-effective.
Having trouble picking your options? Check out three brands that stand out among the rest to help narrow down your search.
Inno3D iChill Geforce GTX 970 Ultra
Clock: With a core clock speed of 1178MHz, this version of the GTX 970 will be more than enough for people who want solid performance right at the start especially with 4 GB of memory clocked at 7200 MHz. However, enthusiasts will be pleased to know that it can have a boosted clock speed of 1329MHz for more demanding games.
Temperature: Like other Inno3d video cards, this version of the GTX 970 features the Active Power Cooling System, which helps lower average temperatures by up to 15 degrees compared to other GTX 970s.
Performance: Good out-of-the-box clock speeds with plenty of overclocking potential makes this version of the GTX 970 capable of running some of the latest games at well over 100 FPS without even getting past the 50-degree mark.
Price: With the lowest price at Amazon starting at around 460 dollars, The iChill Geforce GTX 970 Ultra is one of the more expensive brands available online. However, it’s one of the most powerful (and cooler) versions of the GTX 970, which makes the premium worth it.
Why buy this brand: The best cooling system and great out-of-the-box performance of all the popular GTX 970s, if you have the cash.
Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1
Clock: Just like the Inno3D iChill Geforce GTX 970 Ultra, this version of the GTX 970 sports a core clock of 1178 MHz and a boost clock of 1329 MHz it offers fairly similar performance. Although it has a slightly lower memory clock at 7012MHz, it’s still one of the more powerful versions of the GTX 970 available.
Temperature: The Windforce 3X Cooling system offers decent heat management both when idle and under heavy load, but you can still expect temperatures in the 60s on the more demanding games. Still, it doesn’t run as hot as other brands and the fans are a bit quieter when at full load.
Performance: This version of the GTX 970 may not top the out-of-the-box performance ratings, but its overclocking potential is right up there with one of the best, even capable of outperforming standard GTX 980s in some games.
Price: With all that power priced at a little over 200 dollars, it’s easy to see why this brand of GTX 970 is considered the most popular version.
Why buy this brand: Above average performance and huge overclocking potential at a very budget-savvy price.
ZOTAC Geforce GTX 970
Clock: With a 1076 MHZ core clock and a 1216 MHz boost clock, it doesn’t really stand out if we’re just talking about clock speeds. ZOTAC’s GTX970 features the same memory clock as the previous brand. However, this isn’t the biggest reason why you’d want this card.
Temperature: With only two 75mm cooling fans, you can expect a lot of heat coming from this version of the GTX 970, especially when under full load. Expect temperatures to be at the higher 70s when playing demanding games.
Performance: Despite its slightly lower clock speeds and heat management, it runs relatively quiet even under full load. It’s still powerful enough to allow smooth gaming at 1080p (as with most GTX 970 brands), but what really makes it the best GTX 970 is that it can deliver that quality of performance while having a very compact design.
Price: Available at well under 200 dollars on Amazon and other online stores, you ‘re looking at one of the most cost (and space) effective video cards available today.
Why buy this brand: If you want a 970 but available space is an issue, this is the best option for you.
which brand of gtx 1070 to buy?