Review: ASUS STRIX GTX 970 OC Edition

NVIDIA launched the high end GTX 900 series (GTX 980 and GTX 970 based on the Maxwell GM204) on the 19th of September 2014 on their regional briefing held in Bangkok. We've already reviewed the STRIX GTX 980 OC Edition a week ago and we have the STRIX GTX 970 OC Edition to join the list in today's review! 
ASUS took the name STRIX, which means owl in Greek; known to be an adapt nocturnal hunter capable of silent flight and attack its prey without being noticed - silent is the keyword to ASUS's total silent cooling solution.
Model Name
Graphics Engine
 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
Bus Standard           
PCI Express 3.0
Video Memory
Engine Clock
GPU Boost Clock: 1253 MHz
GPU Base Clock: 1114 MHz
Memory Clock          
7010 MHz
Memory 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 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
ASUS GPU Tweak & Driver
 280mm x 140mm x 40mm
The retail packaging for the STRIX brand graphics card is now the head of the STRIX owl, which gives it a more distinctive appearance compared to the previous generation STRIX brand that still uses the notable ripped metal design. A preview of the STRIX cooler is seen at the middle left of the box which looks pretty much the same with the design of the previous STRIX. The features of the card can be clearly seen across the bottom of the box:
At the back of the box, there's brief but detailed description of the ASUS STRIX GTX 970's prominent features printed at back of the box as well. Similar to any graphics card from ASUS, the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 comes with a limited 3 year warranty - as stated at the bottom right of the box.
Accessories wise, the only thing which we can find inside the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 box is, a user manual and driver CD.

The 0 dB fan design is seen on the STRIX GTX 970 as well, where the fan remains stationary when the temperature is below 65°C and will only spins when the temperature hits above 65°C. The shroud design is almost similar to the STRIX GTX 980, but we can immediately notice the numbers of heatpipes is less than what we've seen on the STRIX GTX 980. 

The number of heatpipes on the STRIX GTX 970 is only 3 in total, whereas the STRIX GTX 980 has a total of 5 heatpipes.
Unlike the STRIX GTX 980, the STRIX logo on the STRIX GTX 970 is placed near the SLI fingers.
The GTX 970 is the first of its class that requires only a single 8-pin PCI-e power connector to run, thanks to NVIDIA's latest power efficient Maxwell architecture GPU.
The bottom of the STRIX GTX 970 is an awesome looking backplate that provide extra protection to the card by improving the rigidity of the card itself, reducing the common sagging or PCB bending issue.
SLI fingers for multiple NVIDIA GPU configuration - up to 4 GPU.
The ASUS STRIX GTX 970 comes with a total of 4 output display connector to satisfy your needs for multiple display monitor - 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI-I and 1 x DVI-D.
Performance Test
Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Nepton 240M
Intel Core i7 4790K
ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark S
Corsair Vengeance Pro 8GB@1600MHz
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power Supply
Cooler Master V1200
Vector Bench Case

We've conducted our test by installing the ASUS STRIX 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 ASUS STRIX GTX 970 to its highest stable clock that is able to complete each game benchmark with the following values:
  • 1315 MHz on the base clock (Maximum boost clock of 1454)
  • 8010 MHz on the memory clock
  • 1.2V on the voltage for GPU
The final result of each benchmark is presented in the form of the graph below:

The overclocking result in numbers looks pretty impressive and here's the difference that we've observed in each benchmark after overclocking the ASUS STRIX GTX 970:
  • Unigine Valley: 6.9%
  • Unigine Heaven: 4.6%
  • Tomb Raider: 8.1%
  • Battlefield 3: 13.8%
  • Battlefield 4: 11.4%
  • Crysis 3: 18.2%
  • Far Cry 3: 11.9%
Temperature wise,  the idle temperature hovers around 48°C to 50°C which we consider unpleasant to our eye but still acceptable as it's unlikely to damage any component with that temperature. What impressed us is that the highest temperature achieved through FurMark stress test utility only reaches 72°C.

Final Thoughts
Although there's limitation with NVIDIA's Green Light Program, the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 still displays great potential for overclocking as going for 1315 MHz on GPU clock and 8010 MHz on the memory clock was a breeze. If there's custom BIOS for the STRIX 970 with the voltage limitation removed, we believe we can achieve result which is even better than what we've achieved by far.

Temperature wise, the higher idle temperature hovering around 48°C to 50°C is much expected based on our past experience with the 0db fan design, but with 72°C as the highest temperature hit on full load is still pretty impressive.

So it all comes down to this, the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 is a great choice when it comes to noise over performance ratio but the retail price of RM 1499 is rather high compared to other GTX 970. If the price can be reduced even more, the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 is definitely a worthy GTX 970 to consider for.

  • Aesthetic appearance
  • Factory overclocked
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Comes with a metal backplate for enhanced rigidity and protection against PCB sagging
  • Able to maintain a decent idle temperature even without cooling support from fans
  • Low temperature on full load
  • Expensive
  • Limited overclocking capability due to NVIDIA's Green Light Program
  • higher idle temperature due to the fans that only spins when the temperature hits above 65°C
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