The results of the two Nvidia-based previous-generation cards, ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC Edition and EVGA GeForce GTX 770 Superclocked ACX, are colored light-green. Those of the AMD-based Radeon R9 290X are red. The colors of the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming and Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 are turquoise and dark-blue, respectively.
We’ll start out with semisynthetic benchmarks.
The MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming is quite fast in 3DMark. It is over 40% ahead of its predecessor GeForce GTX 770 (which is represented by an original pre-overclocked model) and even beats the GeForce GTX 780. It is also equal to AMD’s single-processor flagship Radeon R9 290X. Working at its default clock rates, the MSI is 10 to 12% behind the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 but the gap can be bridged through overclocking. So far so good for the new graphics card.
Unigine Valley Bench
Our second semisynthetic benchmark produces a somewhat different picture:
With antialiasing turned off, the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming is still faster than the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC, but the latter goes ahead with 8x MSAA thanks to its broader memory bus and higher memory bandwidth. It has the same position relative to the other graphics cards, though. It must be noted that the AMD Radeon R9 290X did very well with antialiasing enabled.
Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai
We start our gaming tests with a good old real-time strategy.
The Nvidia-based cards have what standings we could expect them to have basing on their market positioning. The MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming ensures a 30% performance boost in comparison with the factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 770. It is also up to 14% faster than the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 OC and 8 to 17% faster than the AMD Radeon R9 290X. So, the new card beats its predecessor and potential competitors and isn’t much slower than Nvidia’s flagship: the 14% gap from the GeForce GTX 980 can be easily narrowed by means of overclocking.
Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark
The Sniper Elite V2 results are no different from what we’ve seen in the previous test except that the AMD Radeon R9 290X loses its ground and can only compete with the GeForce GTX 770.
This game produces typical standings for this test session:
In the hardest mode the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming leaves the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC behind by 27%, beats the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC by 6-7% and matches the performance of the AMD Radeon R9 290X. Overclocking the MSI to 1330/8072 MHz ensures the same speed as with the reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 but at the default clock rates there’s a 4 to 14% gap between them.
This is one of the few games in this test session where the AMD Radeon R9 290X, which has become considerably cheaper in the recent months, is faster than the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming. Moreover, the AMD-based flagship can challenge the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 at the hardest settings. On the other hand, we can note that the MSI is superior to the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC and equal in speed to the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC. Its excellent performance scalability at overclocking even makes the reference GeForce GTX 980 look not so very fast.