The GTX 900 series are getting cheaper the more they age and with the RTX series being around. But is it still a viable option for the modern gamer? This comparison will put the spotlights on some of the thing you should be aware of when buying a 900 series card. In this case, a GTX 970 4GB from MSI.
Why an old card in the first place, you might ask. Well, the system I was using previously keeps on crashing and dying randomly. unable to start in the first place. Problem being, it’s a laptop! So the parts cant easily be checked or replaced.
This then led me to build a full desktop instead with futureproofing in mind as it kept on giving me problems.
Previous system: i7-6870HK plus GTX 1070 Mobile
Current ‘upgrade’: Ryzen 3 3100 plus GTX 970
Judging from the scores at PassMark’s database the difference were only a 1000 points between the two graphics cards. Synthetics show a bigger difference, yet in games its fairly similar. Biggest differnce being the GTX 1070 mobile has 8GB VRAM, while the GTX 970 has just 4GB. This does show it age.
Most modern games are so dependant on VRAM, your graphics card might be able to run at higher settings while it’s memory is holding it back. Even a GTX 1050 is suffering from this issue. Tried a 2GB variant in some modern games like DOOM 2016 and Forza Horizon 4. The games run well, and certainly at high enough framerates to get the settings higher. Yet it’s memory limitation wont allow that. Leaving the user with ‘high’ framerates, but stuck at low settings or medium.
VRAM, do you need more then 4GB?
It’s barely enough nowadays. For instance, Forza Horizon 4 can easily run at Ultra on a GTX 970 but it’s memory is holding it back yet again. It played fine on Extreme settings at 4K on the laptop. Yet with the GTX 970 its mostly on High. Ultra does load, but goes over the memory limit and this eats a bit of your main memory. It works, but the game doesnt always agree. WARNING: Low Video Memory is a common sight on Ultra. Even though you’ll easily get 60FPS.
High settings eat around 2.7GB (as the game itself reports), Ultra goes over 4GB with only 300MB or less, and Extreme almost eats 6GB on Forza. 1080p plays a big factor as well, as less big textures are needed for the same quality.
Going forward with how big games are getting and with much more ‘mainstream’ use of 4K, 4GB will not age well going forward.
Sadly, because the laptop doesnt want to start anymore I can’t give more insight in the differences, only what I remember from when it DID still work.
4GB graphics cards are a feasible option, but only under certain conditions.
- Games from 2020 or older can be played on lower settings at mostly high framerates
- Going forward 4GB will only grow to be the bottleneck in your system and gaming experience
- For a good price they can still be of good value. Depends on which games you want to play:
- Check the game you want to play for their minimum requirements and if they match up with your system
My recommendation? Get at least 6GB of video memory on your card so it will last longer, 8GB as well. 4GB is definitely starting to show it’s age and the concequences dont look good! Literally 🙂
So, check your games, see what they require and choose your parts based on what they will need for the settings you want. (Tip: compare Minimum to Recommended hardware).