Overclocking

With GTX 980 we saw first-hand how GM204 had very significant overclocking headroom. Even without the ability to meaningful overvolt on NVIDIA cards, we were able to push our base GPU clock speed up from 1126MHz to 1377MHz, or in terms of the maximum boost bin, from 1265MHz to 1515MHz. Consequently with GTX 970 shipping at lower clock speeds, we have very lofty expectations here.

But running counter to that will be TDP. As we have already seen, GTX 970 is TDP limited right out of the gate, so even if our card has more clock speed headroom, its 110% TDP limit doesn’t leave much more in the way of power headroom. Furthermore as this is already a factory overclocked card, there’s no guarantee that EVGA has left us much overclocking headroom to play with in the first place.

EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW Overclocking
  FTW Overclocked
Core Clock 1216MHz 1241MHz
Boost Clock 1367MHz 1392MHz
Max Boost Clock 1418MHz 1455MHz
Memory Clock 7GHz 7.8GHz
Max Voltage 1.218v 1.243v

And in fact our results show they haven’t. We aren’t able to get even another 50MHz out of our GPU before errors start setting in; 25MHz is all we will get, which pushes our base GPU clock speed from 1216MHz to 1241MHz, and our maximum boost clock from 1418MHz to 1455MHz. Overall this is a weaker overclock than GTX 980, though not immensely so.

Meanwhile memory overclocking was just as fruitful as it was on GTX 980, with our card being able to handle up to 7.8GHz on its GDDR5 memory. As we saw with GTX 980 we’re nearly as memory bandwidth bottlenecked as we are GPU bottlenecked, but we will take what performance we can get.

OC: Metro: Last Light - 2560x1440 - High Quality

OC: Bioshock Infinite - 2560x1440 - Ultra Quality + DDoF

OC: Battlefield 4 - 2560x1440 - Ultra Quality

OC: Crysis 3 - 2560x1440 - High Quality + FXAA

OC: Total War: Rome 2 - 2560x1440 - Extreme Quality + Med. Shadows

OC: Thief - 2560x1440 - Very High Quality

OC: Thief - Min. Frame Rate - 2560x1440 - Very High Quality

As you’d expect from such a mild overclock, the performance increase is very limited. Our overclocked GTX 970 FTW does close on GTX 980 even more, but even with this full overclock it won’t overcome the 3 SMM deficit.

Overall in all likelihood the GTX 970 FTW benefits more from the 10% increase in TDP than it does the clock speed increase. GTX 970 – and GM204 in general – clearly desires to be fed with more voltage and more power overall than what any NVIDIA approved card is going to see.

OC: Load Power Consumption - Crysis 3

OC: Load Power Consumption - FurMark

OC: Load GPU Temperature - Crysis 3

OC: Load GPU Temperature - FurMark

OC: Load Noise Levels - Crysis 3

OC: Load Noise Levels - FurMark

Power consumption and noise tick up, but only slightly. The limited 10% TDP increase means that the amount of power the card can draw and dissipate as heat only increases slightly. You aren’t getting much more performance, but you also aren’t getting much more noise.

Power, Temperature, & Noise Final Words
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  • Kalessian - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    Is it really safe to overclock the memory like that when there aren't any heatsinks on them?

    Also, 1st?
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    As long as you're not giving them additional voltage (which you can't do on this card): yes. GDDR5 does not consume all that much power, even if it is relatively more than DDR3. The airflow off of the fans is plenty for stock voltage. Reply
  • Viewgamer - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    Why no Mantle benchmarks for Thief ? Reply
  • winterspan - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    I'm assuming because this is an Nvidia review... Reply
  • eanazag - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    No mantle is likely because it didn't give a great showing last time in the AMD mantle review. If I remember correctly, Thief maybe even had a performance regression with Mantle being used. Reply
  • Ammaross - Thursday, October 2, 2014 - link

    Because Mantle only has benefit in CPU-capped performance. When you run benchmarks on an i7 or better, Mantle has no tangible benefit and sometimes has regressions. Reply
  • Viewgamer - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    Or even Mantle benchmarks for BF4 for that matter ? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    Apologies. The Mantle results have to be added manually since our graphing system can't handle multiple results for the same card automatically. I had actually entered in the data but neglected to regenerate the graphs. Reply
  • SeanJ76 - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    Sounds like your not using EVGA PrecisonX 4.2.1, you can add as much voltage as you like to the 970 GTX FTW.........idiot..... Reply
  • P39Airacobra - Sunday, November 29, 2015 - link

    Ok first of all EVGA Precision or the type of software has nothing to do with that, Also he has a valid concern about the V-Ram temps and the VRM. Also don't call people idiots! That's my Job! IDIOT! Reply

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