You have probably heard of it: GTX 970 Utilizes only 3,5GB ram, has problem with power management and while playing some games, you experience strange downfalls of FPS. So many problems that you definitely have to think about it for a while. Is this the reality, that nVidia’s second best single-GPU (excluding Titan now) has such a terrible problems?
At first I would like to mention, that creating a chip is not easy. Not only nVidia, but even AMD and Intel have problems from time to time with something. So its not something unbelievable, that GTX970 may have some problems. In order to make GTX970, nVidia decided to disable a few SM (Streaming Multiprocessors) on the GTX 980 GPU. According to their recent post, this would usually lead to a situation, where the GPU may use only 3GB of GDDR and only 192-bit memory bus in the previous kepler architecture. But thanks to Maxwell, this was avoided and thus you can use 4GB of memory on a 256-Bit Bus. The only problem is that 3,5GB of the memory is connected via 208-bit bus while the last 0,5GB is connected via 48-bit bus. As you can see, the last 0,5GB of GDDR is much slower (7 times) than the rest of the GPU memory (3,5GB). To avoid game drops, the system utilizes the memory with priorities from 1 to 3:
- Main 3,5GB GDDR
- Secondary 0,5GB GDDR
- Host (CPU) RAM
So in a situation, where an application requests 3,5-4GB of GDDR,it may slow down a bit, but it will still be much faster in comparison with a 3GB Graphics Card. So one hand I understand,that some people dont like the fact, that nVidia sells GTX 970 as 4GB, but on the other hand, nVidia have done the best they could to make GTX 970 as powerful, as the card currently is.
A few notes about power management, its noise and FPS drops: I never heard it and I believe some people can complain about this. This is a real issue in my opinion and fortunately can be probably solved by using a new PCB,typically assembled on manufacturer’s side,so its not exactly nVidia’s fault. And last FPS: Here I will just make sure that everybody knows,that today’s games are (trash :D) hungry for resources in general. Rather than optimizing the engine, developers rather add new features. This leads to game crashes and low FPS … So in fact such a game, that requires more than 3GB should be banned from the market in my own opinion. Remember the old good days of 512MB beiing enough? …. I think people are too greedy nowdays …
So to sum it up:
GTX 970 is a damm good graphics card with a pretty good price/performance ratio with a minor power management problems, although its only a noise production. If you believe that your application will use more than 3,5GB of onboard ram, then GTX 980 is a better choice, but in case you want a pretty good graphics card and have a limited budget, GTX 970 will do the work for you :)