Gainward Phoenix GTX 970 4GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The GTX 970 has been with us for around a year now and in that time it has cemented itself as possibly one of the best Maxwell-based cards available. Obviously the Titan X is the most powerful and the GTX 980Ti is the obvious option if you have £600 to spend, but the GTX 970 is the right amount of power to sustain consumers into the next generation of cards without taking a massive hit come resale when Pascal and HBM v2 is released.

Today in the test bench is the Gainward Phoenix GTX 970. It’s nice to see manufacturers still pushing this lower line considering how popular the GTX 980Ti has been and how saturated the market already is with competing cards.

I can’t really go into a GTX 970 review without at least touching on the issues that were present with the VRAM and miss advertised specifications. When it was first released, the GTX 970 seemed like the perfect card, 980 performance at a reduced price, then reviewers and consumers started to notice the drop in performance at high VRAM loads even though it was well within the VRAM limit of the card. NVIDIA decided to utilise an altered DDR5 memory architecture on this card which increased the speed of the first 3.5GB, but severely hindered the last 512MB. Along with that, the cores, ROP and TMU’s were all advertised higher than they really were. All that being said, the GTX 970 is still a cracking card and one of my all time favourites.

Packaging and accessories

When I opened the shipping box, I was surprised to how large the actual retail box was; the bright colours are certainly enticing.

The rear of the box is simple with key information listed. Some of the more important features regarding NVIDIA and the power of the GTX 970 are outlined with graphics.

The accessories are the usual lot, molex to PCIe 6-pin connector, DVI to VGA adapter, driver disc and installation manual.

Gainward Phantom GLH GeForce GTX 960 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 has been out for just over a week and has given us amazing performance capabilities given its such a small power requirement and it has impressed us here at eTeknix with the ability to run passively; could this mid-range graphics card set the pace for future sub $200 cards? Even though it’s not very powerful, the GTX 960 series has proven that high resolutions are almost possible at this price point.

Today we have the Gainward Phantom GLH (Goes Like Hell) Edition GeForce GTX 960 2GB; a bit of a mouthful if I must say so myself. Gainward aren’t renowned for breaking overclocking world records, but they know a thing or two about producing high quality, super quiet cooling solutions with a quirky difference. Gainward has worked their magic by cherry picking specific cards that can handle and maintain their intense factory overclocks. NVIDIA has aimed this card at the core gaming market, hoping for those who admitted to using older technology during Steams survey will want to upgrade to the new Maxwell architecture thanks to its low price.

This particular Gainward Phantom is perched at around $21o. For a card that promises epic performance through cherry picked components, lets see if its worth the extra 5% premium.

Gainward follows the same style of packaging as others in the NVIDIA range; plain and simple box with a key image of the graphics card. Along the bottom, we see the Phantom logo with its slogan. The only difference with this box is the Goes Like Hell (GLH) logo in the top right. Inside the box, we have bundled a twin molex to 6-pin PCIe power connection, VGA to DVI adapter and Gainwards driver install and quick start guide.

Gainward keeps things plain and simple, utilising their own PCB to be able to sit nicely under the Phantom cooler. This cooling solution is one of the most unusual on the market, hiding its twin 92mm PWM fans inside the cooling shroud with the rather slim radiator sitting on top.

This particular Phantom cooler is the newest variant in the series and has a cool party trick.

That’s right, the Phantom cooler has the ability to remove the fans.

This feature gives you the ability to clean the fans after a period of time, but you could also choose to run completely passively, albeit running the risk of extremely high temperatures unless you have very good airflow in your case.

At the far end of the card, it’s in keeping with Gainwards’ style, plain, simple and to the point; not even a glimpse of the heat pipes.

Along the top of the card, things get a little more interesting, showing you the single 6-pin power connection, ample for the 120w TDP. You also see the two slots which the fans are situated with groves to allows for better air flow.

On the back of the card, you have a very typical PCB with rear mounted RAM chips. It’s a shame Gainward didn’t give the card a backplate; it really would have finished it off well. You can see that the PCB is around 1/5th shorter than the cooling shroud, allowing for improved airflow.

Things are kept simple at the outputs end of the card, twin DVI ports, a single DisplayPort and a HDMI port capable of 4k resolution. I wonder if this card, with its intense overclocks; can produce a good 4k score in our tests.

Gainward Phantom GeForce GTX 970 4GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Nvidia’s Maxwell GTX 980 arrived into the high-end graphics card market with a thump just a few weeks ago, causing significant whiplash to AMD’s highest end offerings. The GTX 980 holds a notable advantage in terms of performance, price and power efficiency over AMD’s flagship R9 290X. During the GTX 980 launch it has been easy to forget that Nvidia actually launched the GTX 970 too which comes in $230 cheaper with only a marginal decline in raw GPU horsepower over the flagship GTX 980. On paper, at least, the GTX 970 looks to be a performance to price champion in the high-end graphics card market as it offers the best synthesis of price, performance and power consumption.

Today we get our first glimpse at what the Nvidia GTX 970 has to offer as we examine a custom GTX 970 from Gainward under their Phantom line. As the name suggest Gainward equip their infamous Phantom cooling solution as well as a hefty out of the box overclock, from what we can infer this treatment commands a 10~% price premium over Nvidia’s reference MSRP of $329.

Packaging and Accessories

The accessory package that Gainward provide with the Phantom GTX 970 is basic: a power adapter and DVI to VGA adapter with a quick install guide.

Three Gainward GTX 970 and 980 Graphics Cards Leaked

Gainward are one of my favourite graphics card manufacturers; although that’s mostly because I love the design of their Phantom coolers. If you’re also a fan of the Phantom cooling solution, then you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s made its way to the GeForce GTX 970 series of cards.

Gainward have three new cards in their 9xx line-up; the first is a stock GTX 970 which clocks in at 1051 MHz, with a boost clock of 1178MHz . The second is the GTX 970 Phantom, which comes with a factory overclock of 1152MHz and an incredible boost speed of 1304MHz. Finally we have the GTX 980 which runs at 1127MHz and 1216 MHz boost. All three cards feature 4GB of GDDR5 and a 256-bit interface.

All of the new cards feature two 6 pin power connectors and prices are expected to range from 400 EUR for the GTX 970 up to 600 EUR for the GTX 980.

Thank you Computerbase for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Computerbase.

First Images of NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 740 Revealed, Confirmed to be Entry-Level GPUs

NVIDIA has announced the GeForce GT 740 since Q2 2013, but now word about the latter has been heard so far. That is until now, having the first pic of two model GeForce 740 released by EXPReview.com (via WCCFTech). From the image at hand, it is clearly visible that the two have the PCB of an entry-level GPU, having one in standard blue and the other black with red stripes and cooler.

However, in terms of performance, it can only be speculated at the moment. No official information about the GeForce 740 has yet been released, therefore it is not quite clear what they are capable of. Many other articles and news sources, including databases point to the cards being of Kepler architecture. Although, there is also rumors of it being of Maxwell architecture, but the probability is fairly small. What is clear at the moment is the fact that the GPU is based on 28nm, anything else is up for speculation.

The two graphics cards in the image are of the Galaxy GT 740 and Gainward GT 740 Zhao Edition, one requiring a 6-pin external connector while the other one does not require any type of auxiliary power. The rumors are that the power connector is present only to keep the graphics card stable while overclocked, since the PCIe slot outputs 75W or less. The low power consumption however does not necessarily mean they are Maxwell, but the probability does come from this matter.

Another confirmed characteristic of these graphics cards is the memory and bus width, which is 1 GB GDDR5 and 128-bit. In terms of connectivity, the Galaxy GeForce GT 740 is seen to feature one DVI-D, one DVI-I, one HDMI and one Display Port while the Gainward version will feature one DVI-D, one VGA and one HDMI port.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of WCCFTech and EXPReview.com

Gainward GTX 760 Phantom 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Gainward’s Phantom series of graphics are famous the industry over for their unique design. While everyone adds their cooling fans to the outside of the cooler, Gainward do it differently and hide them inside the cooling solution. This fresh take on cooling graphics cards gives not only a very unique aesthetic but also a very quiet solution. When we looked at the Gainward GTX 770 Phantom about two months ago it walked away with our top award – the Editor’s Choice award due to its great performance, quiet cooling and sleek aesthetics. Today we will be hoping that Gainward’s GTX 760 Phantom can do the same and with it using the “sweet spot” GPU of the GTX 700 series, the GTX 760, we are hoping for a card that is not only great on the performance, but also friendlier on the wallet than other Nvidia GPUs such as the GTX 770 and GTX 780.

Out of the box the the Phantom GTX 760 from Gainward has a clock speed of 1072MHz base and 1137MHz boost up from Nvidia reference speeds of 980MHz base and 1085MHz boost. The memory is slightly overclocked to 6200MHz, that’s compared to the reference 6008MHz. This means about a 9% overclock on the GPU in addition to a tiny 1% on the memory. That said we can expect Gainward’s implementation of the GTX 760 to be about 10% faster than a reference GTX 760 if the overclock is anything to go by.

Our Gainward GTX 760 Phantom arrived with full retail packaging and the box is very simple and sleek showing an image of the product and the key features.

The back is more lively and interesting with lots of details on the key features of the product, or as some might say this is the “marketing page” of the packaging.

Included with the Gainward GTX 760 Phantom is a manual, driver disc, DVI to HDMI adapter, VGA to DVI adapter and a molex to 6 pin adapter.

Gainward’s GTX 780 Phantom Pictured

Gainward’s Phantom series of graphics cards are very popular among enthusiasts for their unique look and feel. We recently took a look at the Gainward Phantom GTX 770 which was a very impressive graphics card. The main unique feature is that the fans are situated behind the heatsink of the graphics card. These three fans pull air over the heatsink and push them out the side of the cooler. One of the main changes with the GTX 700 series Phantoms is that the fans are now removable and thus are easy to clean without voiding your warranty.

Other features of the GTX 780 Phantom include five 8mm heat pipes for cooling, a thicker aluminium heatsink design versus previous generations, an 8 phase VRM design, solid chokes, DrMOS (driver-MOSFETs, combined up/down FETs and Driver ICs in one package). The card uses a pair of 8 pin power connectors as the GK110 Nvidia GPU can draw some large power loads when overclocked. There’s no word on pricing and regional availability yet but we should see European and North American availability in the next 1-2 weeks at a price that is slightly more expensive than the competition’s custom cooled solutions. This is mainly due to the rather unique design and associated construction costs but also due to the popularity of the Phantom series.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2DeAJZp4sQ[/youtube]

Image courtesy of Gainward

Gainward GeForce GTX 770 Phantom OC 2GB Graphics Card Review

While the GTX 780 and 770 were both released recently, there has been more focus from brands on the 770 counterpart as it offers much better value for money when looking at a price vs performance argument than pretty much any other card on the market from both AMD or Nvidia, and with that we’ve had a lot more GTX 770’s come through our door, than we have 780.

As we start plowing through these cards, we also found a chance to start working with a brand that is fairly new to us, and perhaps doesn’t have the biggest presence in the UK market, unlike other key manufacturer’s and this is Gainward. Today we find their GTX 770 Phantom OC landing with us which is said to offer all of the benefits of a GTX 770 with an increased clock speed thanks to the overclock and their patented Phantom cooling solutions which provides extreme silence and extreme cooling with a unique design behind it too.

With a slightly higher price point than a reference GTX 770, we’re here to find out if the extra £30 is worth spending, and if the overclock really does help push performance while remaining cool and quiet at the same time. We will be comparing this directly to a reference GTX 770 among other key cards that are currently on the market.

Before we get straight into the performance though, there are a few things we need to look at which includes the packaging and what Gainward bundle in with the card, before we take a detailed look at the card itself and its Phantom cooling solution. Once we’ve covered the design aspect, then we can get down to the nitty gritty and look at the specs in comparison to a stock card, and then find out if the performance increase really makes a difference while focusing on the performance of the cooler as well.

Of course, in natural eTeknix fashion, we will see if the overclock can be pushed even further by manually increasing the clock speed and memory speeds on the card, but lets start by taking a look at what the GTX 770 Phantom comes in and exactly what’s included.

The box itself is nice and includes a panel that flaps open to reveal a first view of the card. There are a few spelling errors on the packaging and some words are split between two lines, but this is no real problem to be honest. Inside we find a quick install guide, driver installation CD, twin 6-pin PCI-Express to single 8-pin PCI-Express power adapter, DVI to VGA adapter and a welcome addition; a HDMI to DVI adapter.

ASUS Knocked Off Top Graphics Card Vendor Pedestal By Palit and PC Partner

When it comes to graphics cards vendors you’d probably think that ASUS might be the biggest since ASUS has always been one of the biggest graphics card vendors for both AMD and Nvidia products. However, it has emerged that ASUS is actually only third best and EVGA doesn’t even feature in the top 5 which is surprising given its Nvidia dominance in the American market.

The latest statistics from industry sources suggest that the number one graphics card vendor is Palit Microsystems. They own and operate the  Palit, Galaxy, Yuan, Gainward, Vvikoo, XpertVision and Daytona brands which predominantly sell only Nvidia products. They are a neutral vendor on paper but in reality they have neglected AMD in recent times. PC Partner operate the Sapphire and Zotac brands who focus on AMD and Nvidia respectively. They came in second place. ASUS is a neutral vendor and they sell both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, ASUS slipped down to third place after being the biggest selling vendor previously.

Both Palit Microsystems and PC Partner sub contract to other companies too, probably why their sales are so strong. MSI and Gigabyte take fourth and fifth place respectively.

  1. Palit Microsystems (Palit and Gainward)
  2. PC Partner (Zotac and Sapphire)
  3. ASUS
  4. MSI
  5. Gigabyte

In the ever expanding Chinese market Colorful Technology and Development are the biggest vendor while ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and TUL Corporation (Powercolor) struggled due to high customs duties on their products. ASUS ranks sixth in the Chinese market.

The industry sources also indicated that overall demand for discrete graphics cards was declining as integrated graphics are becoming more prevalent.

What are your thoughts on the rankings of the graphics card vendors?

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