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    ASUS GeForce GTX 970 STRIX

    NVIDIA’s new GeForce GTX 980 might be the flagship of its fleet, but most gamers are better served focusing on its slightly smaller sibling, the GeForce GTX 970. Offering around 85% of the performance of the 980, but at prices around 35% cheaper, it’s the best value performance product around. ASUS has taken this affordable speed demon and given it an overhaul, but did it really need one? Considering how cool and quiet the reference product is, has ASUS done enough to
    justify the improvements found on the GTX 970 STRIX?

    The first noticeable change is the PCB that the GPU is mounted on. It’s significantly larger than the default board, at just over 300mm, so prospective owners would be wise to measure their case to ensure they’ve got enough breathing room. The board hosts a six-phase power supply, which is supplemented by a single eight-pin power plug, replacing the usual twin six-pin plugs found on normal GTX 970s. It’s quite an attractive card, thanks largely to the black metal plate that covers the rear of the PCB. The front is covered by ASUS’ proprietary DirectCU II cooler, a twin fan behemoth that utilises heat pipes to syphon heat away from the roasty bits. ASUS claims a 30% improvement in cooling, but the standard GTX 970 is relatively cool already. It also includes ASUS’ 0dB feature, which disables the twin fans when the card is running in below 67C.

    Heading to the outputs, we see ASUS has actually trimmed back the usual outputs to make space for the cooler’s duct, with twin DVI outputs, a single HDMI 2.0 and one Display Port 1.2a output; reference products include three Display Port outputs. It’s nice to finally see graphics cards with HDMI 2.0, as gamers at last have a 4K source for their shiny new UHDTVs, running at a brisk 60Hz. Four Gigabytes of GDDR5 is included, the standard amount for all GTX 970s.

    As expected, ASUS has given the GPU a nudge towards faster speeds, but the increases are tiny by overclocking standards, where anything less than 20% is hard to justify. A standard GTX 970 runs at a base clock of 1050 Mhz, but the STRIX ups this to 1114 MHz, a very minor 6% increase. We’re more interested in the Boost speed, which is enabled when the card is pushed balls to the wall.

    Default GTX 970s have a boost speed of 1178 MHz, while the STRIX ratchets this up to 1253MHz, another moderate increase of 6%. The memory is even less impressive, clocked at the default speed of 7 GHz.

    This tiny speed increase isn’t enough to justify the price, nor bring the STRIX into the same performance realm of the GTX 980. However, the custom PCB and cooler allow overclockers to extract much better performance.

    After thirty minutes of tweaking, we managed to hit a Boost speed of 1400 MHz in games, which is almost a 20% increase, along with a memory speed of 8GHz. This is arguably the best GPU speed the 970 will do without extreme cooling, and at this pace it’s basically a dead match for the much more expensive GTX 980.

    Given this, we have no hesitation in recommending ASUS’ bulked up take on the GTX 970. Offering all of the bang of a 980 for considerably less bucks, just one of these cards will put most PC games to shame.

    PRICE $540

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