Friday, 16 January 2015

Galax GeForce GTX 970 OC Silent Infinity Black Edition

Galax GeForce GTX 970 OC Silent Infinity Black Edition

Galax’s new GTX 970 OC Silent Infinity Black Edition isn’t just any old overclocked GTX 970 card; it sports a few extra modifications courtesy of UK etailer The build quality is great – there’s a thick metal backplate and the cooler shroud is also made of metal. The card has an aggressive, angular design and the shroud, backplate and PCB are all clad in black, while the I/O plate, heatpipes and heatsink are nickel-plated for contrast.

Out of the box, the card has a base clock of 1,178MHz – a solid 12 per cent overclock. Its rated boost clock is 1,329MHz, but it boosted to almost 1,400MHz in our tests under load. It’s one of the fastest GTX 970 cards available, although some manufacturers (including Galax itself) ship even faster models. Unfortunately, there’s no memory overclock, but the card’s BIOS has been tuned by 8Pack (the world’s number one overclocker) for maximum safe and reliable performance.

As usual for a GTX 970, the card has two DVI ports, plus HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. The card also of course includes two SLI connectors and supports up to three-way SLI. Meanwhile, power is drawn through an 8-pin/6-pin PCI-E power plug combination, which Galax says offers up to 50 per cent more power for overclocking than the standard configuration – the MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G uses the same setup and is also a good overclocker, so hopefully the same will hold true for the Galax.

Power is then delivered through a 5+2 phase power system (an upgrade over the reference 4+1), and the Galax card ships with Overclockers’ Zero Coil Whine guarantee, which ensures a refund or replacement if any coil whine is audible when using a PSU rated at 80 Plus Gold or higher. To accommodate this feature, the card has been slightly modded thanks to the folks at Overclockers, with the inductors first placed into higher-quality containers than usual, and then glued to the PCB.

The hefty heatsink is only responsible for directly cooling the GPU – the MOSFETs in the power phases have their own smaller heatsink, while the Samsung memory chips are only cooled indirectly. A copper baseplate makes contact with the GPU, and heat is drawn away via two 6mm and two 8mm copper heatpipes and then spread throughout the fin array. The heatpipes extend slightly out of the top of the card, but the whole unit should still fit into most cases without issue.

Two fans complete the cooling arrangement – the open cooler shroud means a lot of the card’s heat will be exhausted into your case. Like MSI’s GTX 970 Gaming 4G, the Galax also has a semi-passive mode, although it operates differently. Only one fan shuts off during idle periods – we’re told this setup was chosen to increase the card’s lifespan by ensuring the GPU is kept at 30-40°C, instead of up to 60°C


Thanks to the higher overclock and boost speed, this Galax card is faster than MSI’s offering in each test, but not by any distance that will make your gaming experience notably smoother. Still, going by minimum frame rates, it’s around 4 per cent quicker than MSI’s card on average. This card can cope with BioShock Infinite at 4K, and our other test games at 2,560 x 1,440, without dipping below 30fps. In fact, its minimum of 27fps in Battlefield 4 at 4K is also playable.

The Galax card’s overclock isn’t high enough for it to surpass or even match the GTX 980 in any test, but it’s rarely far off. The GTX 980 costs over £400, so comparably, the Galax GTX 970 offers better bang per buck. Furthermore, the closest competition from AMD, the R9 290X, starts at around £270, and this Galax card is usually a little faster, helping to justify its small price premium.

Power draw for the Galax card is high for a GTX 970, but low in relation to non-Maxwell cards. It consumes more power than the GTX 980, thanks to its hefty overclock and larger power delivery. However, compared with the R9 290X, it’s very efficient. It has an aggressive fan profile, though, and while the fan noise is tolerable, they can get noisy under load, at least compared with MSI’s card. You can limit the fan speed easily enough, but the default goes against the idea of offering a Zero Coil Whine guarantee.

Overclocking this card was also very fruitful. We achieved a 1,308MHz base clock, with a boost clock of 1,459MHz. Under load, it was boosting to between 1,507MHz and 1,535MHz, whereas the MSI card when overclocked wouldn’t surpass 1,504MHz. We also managed to take the memory from 7GHz to a whopping 8.1GHz (effective), the highest result we’ve ever seen. At these settings, the Galax card surpasses the GTX 980 in terms of performance. Noise output is similar to stock levels too, although the power consumption at load increases by 32W.


The Galax GeForce GTX 970 OC Silent Infinity Black Edition is well made, relatively compact and very fast out of the box. It’s also well priced against other GTX 970s and AMD’s competition. However, MSI’s slightly cheaper GTX 970 Gaming 4G is noticeably quieter, not much slower, and also has a true semi-passive mode.

Both cards overclocked to similar levels in our testing (although the Galax was admittedly a touch faster) and neither one suffers from coil whine.

As such, we’d still choose MSI’s card over this one, but Galax’s offering is still fantastic if overclocking and getting as much performance as possible is a bigger priority to you than noise levels. MATTHEW LAMBERT

A well-built, fast and fairly priced GTX 970 that can even beat the GTX 980 when overclocked, although MSI’s GTX 970 Gaming 4G is quieter.

Graphics processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, 1,178MHz (boost 1,329MHz)
Pipeline 1,664 stream processors, 64 ROPs
Memory 4GB GDDR5, 7GHz effective
Bandwidth 224GB/sec
Compatibility DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4
Outputs Dual-link DVI-D, Dual-link DVI-I, HDMI, DisplayPort
Power connections 1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin, top-mounted
Size 260mm long, dual-slot