MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G

 

1. Introduction

Micro-Star International Co., Ltd or MSI is a Taiwanese multinational information technology corporation founded in 1986, headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan. It designs, develops and provides computer hardware, related products and services, including laptops, motherboards, graphics cards, All-in-One PCs, servers, industrial computers, PC peripherals, car infotainment products, and so on.

Official product link:

http://www.msi.com/product/graphics-card/GTX-970-4GD5T.html#hero-overview

2. Packaging and accessories

The MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model is packaged in a box with a black background and silver & blue accents.
On the front side of the box is printed a silver abstract tiger, which is present on the packaging of the majority of the Graphics Cards from the Armor 2X line, here we also find the manufacturer’s name and the name of the product and some features of the graphics card. In the lower left corner there is printed the cooling system “Armor 2X”.

On the sides of the box we find printed the model of the graphics card and the name & logo of the manufacturer.

The back of the box presents in detail the product and enumerates the specifications & features of the motherboard.

Accessories

The product comes with the following accessories:
–    1x Manual
–    1x Driver CD
–    1x PCIe 6-Pin to 8-Pin power cable
–    1x DVI to VGA adapter

3. Specifications

Name: MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G
Model: GTX 970
Graphics Processor: GM204
Transistors: 5200M
Shader Units: 1664
Interface: PCI Express x16 3.0
Boost / Base Core Clock: 1178 MHz / 1051 MHz
Memory Size (MB): 4096
Memory Type: GDDR5
Memory Interface: 256 bits
Memory Clock Speed (MHz): 7010
DVI Connectors: 2 (Dual-link DVI-I x 1, Dual-link DVI-D x 1), Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600 @60 Hz
HDMI Connectors: 1 (version 1.4a/2.0) Max Resolution: 4096×2160 @24 Hz (1.4a), 3840×2160 @60 Hz (2.0)
Display Port: 1 (version 1.2) Max Resolution: 4096×2160 @60 Hz
Maximum Displays: 4
HDCP Support: Yes
RAMDAC speed (MHz): 400
DirectX Version Support: 12
OpenGL Version Support: 4.4
Multi-GPU Technology: SLI, 4-way
Card Dimension (mm): 279 x 125 x 36
Card Weight (g): 622
Power consumption (W): 145
Recommended PSU (W): 500
Power Connectors: 2x 6-pin

Features:

–    Classy Black & White design: Game in style & dare to be different with Armor2X unique black & white design, where GAMING meets class. Perfect for gamers and case modders who are looking for something different. Go for ice-cold class.
–    OC PERFORMANCE OUT OF THE BOX: The Armor2X OC graphics cards are equipped with higher clock speeds out of the box, delivering better in-game performance.
–    Dual Fan: Armor2X is equipped with dual 10cm Propeller Blade fans which generate 20% more airflow compared to traditional fan design. Propeller Blade fans can also be found on the Twin Frozr IV Advanced cards, winning countless awards around the world for cooling performance while remaining silent.
–    Heatsink & Airflow control: Under the classy shroud and powerful dual fans is a huge heatsink with countless aluminum fins that help dissipate the heat from the GPU. The copper heatpipes are infused in the baseplate to ensure efficient cooling. The aluminum fins are rigged with Airflow Control technology to maximize airflow towards the heatpipes.
–    Military Class 4 Components: MSI only uses MIL-STD-810G certified components for Armor2X cards. Only these components have proven durable enough to withstand the torturous circumstances of extreme gaming and overclocking for extended usage. Hi-c CAPs stabilize GPU power and deliver better OC performance. Super Ferrite Chokes enable increased current capacity while remaining cooler and improving power efficiency. Solid CAPs are used for their extreme reliability and enhanced efficiency.

 

4. Visual inspection

The MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model uses a black & white color combination used by the motherboards from the Krait line. The graphics card measures 28cm in length and 12.5cm in height.
This graphics card features the Armor 2X cooling system which has two 100mm fans and a aluminum heatsink.

 

In the case of this graphics card, the Armor 2X cooling system uses 2 cooper heatpipes. Also the board’s VRM is being cooled by a metallic heatsink mounted under the main heatsink.

 

The airflow is ensured by the two 100mm Propeller Blade fans, each fan features 11 blades, the shape of the blades improves the generated airflow.
This type of fans are usually found on the High-End boards using the Twin Frozr IV cooling system.

 

On the side we find the manufacturer’s logo.

 

On the back side the PCB of the Graphics Card is exposed.

 

This graphics card uses memory manufactured by Elpida with model number W4032BABG-70-F, four (4) of the 8 memory chips are placed on the back of the PCB.

 

Power delivery on the MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model is done through two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors, they are positioned on the right corner of the graphics card.

 

The SLI connector (Four Way SLI) is positioned in the opposite side of the power connectors.

 

On the rear of the graphic card we find the following ports:
–    2x DVI (DVI-D, DVI-I)
–    1x HDMI
–    1x Display Port  1.2

 

5. Testing

The following system was used to test the graphics card:
–    Processor: Intel i5 4690K @ 3.9 GHz
–    Motherboard: MSI Z97 Gaming 9 ACK
–    RAM: 8GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical
–    SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB
–    HDD: WD Blue 1TB / Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB
–    PSU: Antec Edge 550W Gold + InWin GreenMe 700W Bronze
–    Display: AOC i2769VM
–    Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe White

 

To test the MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model, the GeForce 361.43 WHQL driver was used, being the latest Nvidia driver available at the time of writing the review.

All the games used to test the graphics cards are set to their highest quality settings with the resolution 1920 x 1080. Both the games and benchmarks used were run three times.
The software used to measure the temperature and frames per second (FPS) are the following:
–    AIDA64 Extreme 5.60.3700
–    GPU-Z. 0.8.6
–    MSI Afterburner 4.1.1

The overclocking has been done using the default fan settings.
Each graphic card overclocks differently, thus the results obtained in the review can differ.

In the case of the MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model, it achieved a maximum overclock of 1352MHz Base Clock and 2103MHz Memory.

 

The test results are as follows:

 

Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0

 

Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 Score

 

Grand Theft Auto V

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

 

Tomb Raider 2013

 

Temp. Performance

 

The power consumption of the graphics cards is measured at the wall socket, the graphics card being powered by a separated Power Supply. The PSU in question consumes 10W.

 

The noise level was measured at three different distances from the fans (10cm, 20cm, 30cm.) the noise was measured with a margin of error of ± 5 db.

Sound Performance: idle

 

Sound Performance: Full Load

 

6. Final thoughts

The MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model is a good graphics card meant for users who want a GTX 970 at an acceptable price. The overclocking potential is great in the case of this board, the core reaching a frequency of 1352MHz while the memory reaching 2103MHz.
The main difference between the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G and MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G is the modes cooling system used by the Armor 2X model. It does its job well however it is not as silent as the Twin Frozr V cooler, the two 100mm fans although efficient do not stop when the system is not heavily used.
Like many GTX 970 boards, the Armor 2X model doesn’t have a backplate which would not only help cool the memory chips but also offer some support for the graphics card.
In conclusion, the MSI GTX 970 Armor X2 4G model is a good graphics card, ideal for users who want a graphics card for all games recently launched

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