GeForce GTX 970 SLI review

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Final Words & Conclusion

Final Words & Conclusion

Before I begin with the conclusion, a small note. You will have noticed that I marked and noted two discrepancies in the benchmarks. Some older configurations have been tested with an older driver. It is nearly impossible to keep all results up-to date with the latest drivers. Next to that, cards like the Titan-Z all have been returned to the company we borrowed them from, so we cannot re-test such cards. Overall the results will offer very good indicative benchmarks results, but there are some small discrepancies here and there. Again, this is a good rough overview of where the product is SLI wise in terms of raw unadulterated performance. Playing games with even one GeForce GTX 970 for the money is already pretty kick-ass. It is a solid product that is priced just right. Interesting to see is that the narrower memory bus does seem to have an effect once you reach Ultra HD resolutions. Up-to WHQD it however is just not a problem whatsoever. If you are going to stick with one monitor then the reality is that with graphics cards as powerful as the GeForce GTX 970, 2-way SLI would be excellent for up-to WHQD (2560x1440).

Our recommendation as such is simple, with a single monitor setup up-to 2560x1440 you'd good to go with just one card, two if you want that extra boom-boom-pow. Now, if you have that nice Ultra HD monitor with a 3840x2160 resolution, that's where a 2nd card will make a lot of sense. Also with three screen surround setups, the same logic applies, but I am inclined to recommend the bigger brother Geforce  GTX 980 there. No worries, a GTX 980 SLI review is on my agenda as well, so be on the lookout for that in the near future. Processor power then. We use a X79 / Core i7 3960 Extreme processor clocked at 4600 MHz. Pretty much the equivalant of the X99 with a 6-core processor, yet clocked faster. With multi-GPU gaming these faster clocked 6-core puppies do show an increase in performance. You do need to wonder though if the 10~15% performance increase in lower resolutions really justifies that money, but obviously if you can afford two or three cards in SLI, you probably will go for the best and fastest infrastructure as well. That would be X79 and upwards to X99 with a nice 6 or 8 core processor.



Noise & Heat

Depending on your configuration the temperature target protection of the GeForce GTX 970 will keep these cards at 80 to 83 Degrees C at maximum. As explained, in a poorly ventilated chassis this can have an effect though, since the temperature is the top priority the cards could clock down a bit once they want to pass that 83 degrees C target. Mind you that all board partners offer 3rd party coolers available with the AIB brands, these are a lot cooler ! But  a word of advice, please do lookout if the SLI bridge would still fit ! We have seen several cooler designs that block the SLI bridge, then you'll need a flexible SLI bridge to compensate. Noise wise really, it's as good as it can be. Up-to two cards you can hear a some airflow under full GPU stress. Nothing rather irritating or annoying though.  And with board partner cards like the ones from Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, Galax and ASUS you will be surprised how silent wuch a SLI setup will be.

In closing

I love the 970 in 2-way SLI at 2560x1440, I really do. Low noise, low heat and low power consumption are the icing on top of this cake. I mean two GeForce GTX 970 cards in SLI consume roughly 326 Watts, add to that the rest of your system (processor, chipset, peripherals) at say 200 Watts and you'll find yourself in the 500 Watt power consumption region. Have you ever noticed a powerful SLI system to consume that little ?

Now if you plan to overclock CPU and GPUs, then make sure you add at least another 200W onto your PSU requirements, this is why we always recommend high Watt power suuplies as you need that little extra reserve my man. Keep that in mind okay? To be able to operate two or more cards in SLI mode you'll need a SLI compatible motherboard, most if not all Intel X58, P67, Z68, Z77, Z87, Z99, X79 and X99 motherboards are SLI certified, some older P55 motherboards as well. But if you are still on that platform then I can not stress enough that you really need to upgrade anytime soon in the future. AMD's 900 series carry SLI support as well. Please do check that out before opting for your SLI preference and thus before purchasing multiple cards. Driver Compatibility - In all our tests we had no real driver issues. Only battlefield 4 at Ultra HD in SLI would not start for whatever weird reason. The rest of the games all worked straight out of the box. We see a bit of a bottleneck with Hitman Absolution as well as Crysis. But other then that, seriously nothing other then props. The framedrops in FCAT we are still investigating. Rest assured you can not see/detect these framedrops yourself. Hence we think it could be an issue with our FCAT system.

So yeah, time to wrap thing up I say. Two GeForce GTX 970 cards set up in SLI will still cost you roughly 650 EURO, for that money you'll gain a incredible performance kicking your configuration into the highest gear performance wise. We'll admit it though, if you are on a single monitor, there's just no need just yet to get a second card, but at this price a SLI configuration hits a very nice sweet spot. With Maxwell the thermals and power consumption are no problem either. So  at 2560x1440 if you want to build something bad-ass... why not eh ?

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