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February 03, 2015

Unboxing & Review: Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970


NVIDIA's latest Maxwell GM204 based 900 series is known for its impressive improvement in power and took the enthusiast market by storm.  In collaboration with one of our nation's best gaming rig builder at Ideal Tech, we manage to get our hands on another GTX 970 for today's review - the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970. Retailed at approximately RM1499, the G1 Gaming GTX 970 isn't the cheapest GTX 970 around but let's see what kind of performance can we expect from this card. 

Specifications
Model Name
GV-N970G1 GAMING-4GD
Graphics Engine
 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
Bus Standard           
PCI Express 3.0
Video Memory
4GB GDDR5
Engine Clock
GPU Boost Clock: 1329 MHz
GPU Base Clock: 1178 MHz
CUDA Core
1664
Memory Clock          
7010 MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit
Interface
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I), Yes x 1 (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (HDMI 2.0)
Display Port : Yes x 3 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories
 -
Software                   
-
Dimensions
 312mm x 129mm x 43mm

Overview

The retail packaging of the G1 Gaming GTX 970 is just as usual, its iconic eye and brief introduction on the features such as Super Overclock, Flex display and Windforce can be found at the front of the box. 


At the back of the box you'll find a detailed description of the graphics card. 

Accessories

The included accessories is a driver CD, user's manual, PCIe Y-Splitter, seems pretty standard except for the absent of the DVI-VGA adapter. 


It seems that almost every GTX 970 has gotten a new look, which goes the same for the G1 Gaming GTX 970 as well. 


The air flow is effectively enhanced by the unique blade fan design which Gigabyte boasts to not only increase the cooling capacity while reducing air turbulence but also results a lower noise level.


The shroud has extra holes that allows better ventilation and improved heat dissipation.


The Windforce logo that illuminates in a soft blue glow when powered up.


 A 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connector is required to power up the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970.


A total of 4 copper heatpipes is in direct contact with the GPU die for the best heat dissipation possible.


SLI fingers for multiple NVIDIA GPU configuration - up to 4 GPU.


At the back of the card you'll find a metal backplate (the best looking backplate so far) that enhance the rigidity of the card to prevent PCB sagging issue that troubles a lot of users since then. 


The G1 Gaming GTX 970 comes with a total of 6 output display connector to satisfy your needs for multiple display monitor - 3 x Display Port, 1 x HDMI 1 x DVI-D and 1 x DVI-I.


Performance Test 
Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Prolimatech Samuel 17
CPU
Intel Core i7 4790K
Motherboard
ASUS Maximus Gene VI 
Memory
Corsair Vengeance Pro 8GB@1600MHz
Primary Hard Drive
Kimtigo KTA-350 120GB
Power Supply
BitFenix Fury 550G
Chassis
BitFenix Pandora

We've conducted our test by installing the G1 Gaming GTX 970 to our test bench as above and each and every benchmark is conducted in a room with 31C° ambient temperature.

Performance, Overclocking and Temperature

We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmark in our possession at the resolution of 1920 x 1080, 4x Anti-aliasing. Due limited voltage adjustment, we've only managed to push the G1 Gaming GTX 970 to its highest stable clock that is able to complete each game benchmark with the following values:

  • Maximum boost clock of 1436 MHz
  • 8156 MHz on the memory clock
  • 1.21V on the voltage for GPU


Although the overclocking result in numbers looks pretty impressive, but the performance gain we're seeing here is a little odd for certain benchmark. Here's the difference that we've observed in each benchmark after overclocking the G1 Gaming GTX 970:

  • Unigine Valley: 5.4%
  • Unigine Heaven: 7.4%
  • Tomb Raider: 7.9%
  • Battlefield 3: 12.5%
  • Battlefield 4: 11.1%
  • Crysis 3: 17.7%
  • Far Cry 3: 14.9%

Cooling performance is impressive enough with idle temperature that hovers around 36°C  and the highest temperature of 72°C is recorded when we're on FurMark stress test utility. 

Verdict
The G1 Gaming GTX 970 itself is already a factory overclocked and has higher clockspeed compared to most GTX 970. While a slightly better performance is guaranteed, the G1 Gaming GTX 970 is also a capable one when it comes to overclocking even though there's limitation in voltage adjustment set by NVIDIA. While there's minor coil noise from the card during full load with synthetic benchmarks such as FurMark stress test, Futuremark 3DMark, Unigine Heaven 4.0, etc - although it doesn't really affect the overall performance.

The redesigned Windforce cooler does more than just giving the card a cool appearance, the new fan design operates way more quite than before without compromising the cooling performance. The price of RM 1499 isn't going to be in favor for those with tight budget but it's a worthy graphics card we would recommend to go for if one is willing to invest more for its overclocking capability and noise over performance ratio.

Pros
  • Aesthetic appearance
  • Almost silent operation but good cooling performance
  • Factory overclocking and has good overclocking potential
  • Comes with a metal back plate for extra protection against PCB sagging
Cons
  • Expensive 
  • Limited overclocking capability due to NVIDIA's Green Light Program
  • Coil noise issue
  • Clearance issue with certain PC chassis due to its length

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