MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G – New Maxwell Price/Performance Beast?

Testing Methodology

The OS we use is Windows 8 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.

Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear pre-fetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows Vista occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.

We ran each test a total of 3 times, and reported the average score from all three scores. Benchmark screenshots are of the median result. Anomalous results were discounted and the benchmarks were rerun.

Please note that due to new driver releases with performance improvements, we rebenched every card shown in the results section. The results here will be different than previous reviews due to the performance increases in drivers.

Test Rig

Test Rig
Case Level 10 GT
CPUs Intel i7 4770K @ 4.7GHz
Motherboards ASUS Maximus VI Formula
Ram Patriot Viper 32GB (4x8GB) 2133Mhz 11-11-11Quad-Channel Kit
CPU Cooler Custom Liquid Cooling
Hard Drives 8x Western Digital RE4 2TB 7200RPM 3Gb/s Hard Drives (Raid 5)
SSD 3x Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA III 6Gb/s SSD
Optical ASUS DVD-Burner
GPU MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4GB Video Card


Synthetic Benchmarks & Games

We will use the following applications to benchmark the performance of the MSI GTX 970 Gaming video card.

3DMark 11
3Dmark 2013
Sleeping Dogs
Tomb Raider
Metro 2033
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Batman Arkham City
Batman Arkham Origins
Dirt 3 Showdown
Metro Last Light
Sniper Elite V2

3DMark 11


3d11 3D11X

3DMark 11 shows taht the MSI 970 can hang with the big boys averaging right around the 290X from AMD and the 780Ti from Nvidia and thats not exactly bad company.

3DMark 2013

Firestrike Extreme Firestrike

In 3DMark Firestrike and extreme the gaming 970 fell a little bit behind the Ti but it still kept a very good foothjold on its position lined up with the 290X from AMD.

Unigine Heaven 4.0

Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.


Heaven shows the GTX 970 putting down a good lead over the 290X now but the 780 Ti Jumps ahead a bit.

Sleeping Dogs

sleeping dogs

Sleeping Dogs shows the 970 from MSI right at the meeting point of many powerful contenders here, looks like this card may be a killer monster card on a budget.

Metro 2033

MEtro 2033

Even after many years, Metro 2033 is still one of the most demanding DX11 video games available to really push the limits of your system. Here the gaming model almost is caught by the previous gen 780 but easily passes the 290x and is a mere frame from the TITAN and two away from the 780Ti.

Batman Arkham City

batman AC

Batman Arkham City is a fun game and utilizes FXAA fully. It is nice to see the full screen anti-aliasing getting picked up by popular titles. Here the gaming 970 meets at an area where many cards seem to be parked all teh way up to a 690 so i am guessing it is just a limitation of the game or the card is not the bottleneck as VSync was disabled.

Batman Arkham Origins

batman AO

This is the newest installment to the Arkham series Batman games and in order to ensure an even playing field I disabled Nvidia Physx and Nvidia based AA sticking with a standard high AA variant to ensure as equal loading as possible. The Gaming edition card once again jumps ahead of the 290X and even the 780 but falls a bit short of the 780Ti and higher cards.

Tomb Raider

tomb Raider

Tomb Raider once again is a heavily pushed title by AMD and I was not surprised to see the 290X climbing the ladder here. the Gaming 970 falls in line with the GTX 780 this round.

Metro Last Light

metro LL

Here we have Metro Last Light which is a brand new game added to our testing platform as it just came out. If you thought Metro 2033 was stressful you have seen nothing yet. The particles and lighting, as well as the PhysX effects all add up to an amazing looking game that can put a stun even the most powerful system in its tracks. Once again we disabled the Nvidia technology PhysX to ensure even results and playing field. the Gaming edition 970 puts some serious steam into Last Light as it rolls past a TITAN and the 290X falling only behind a few flagship cards.

Sniper Elite V2

sniper elite v2

Sniper Elite V2 is a fun game which, when first released, was quite stressful but still playable on most higher end cards. By now, most cards have surpassed it, and the Gaming edition 970 is no exceptiopn once again knocking the TITAN aside and taking a slot behind the higher end flagships.

Dirt 3 Showdown


Dirt 3 Showdown is a visually beautiful game with excellent lighting and overall motion blurring creating a real visual spectacle of a game. The Gaming edition 9970 pulls an impressive result here actually besting even its bigger brother the reference 980 but I think dirt is more about frequency than the GPU muscle and being an OC card its to be expected.

Review Overview

Performance - 9.5
Value - 9.5
Quality - 9
Features - 9
Innovation - 9


MSI made a solid performer in the GTX 970 Gaming 4G, solid performance super low power and ultra quiet. Its the true recipe of a budget champion!

User Rating: 1.79 ( 2 votes)

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