Eagle-eyed readers may already have caught sight of the EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Super Superclocked (SSC) ACX 2.0 (04G-P4-2975-KR) graphics card following its limited-volume release with less than a handful of etailers in North America, Germany, and the Nordics.
Priced at $359.99, or $30 more than reference, the original SSC version's 1,190MHz core and 1,342MHz average boost speeds provide a significant in-game performance uplift over the bog-standard card.
EVGA is now teasing out the promise of the capable GeForce GTX 970 GPU by releasing a newer, cheaper SSC ACX 2.0 model before the year is out.
This enhanced GeForce GTX 970 SSC, known as 04G-P4-3975-KR, features the same elevated core clocks and standard memory speed as its short-lived predecessor but is equipped with a newer, more efficient cooler. EVGA says the second-generation SSC, priced at $349.99, or $10 lower than the outgoing model and same as the standard Superclocked, uses an improved heatsink for better heat dispersal that, one would assume, should lead to lower temperatures and associated noise output.
Improved cooling, power and I/O
In detail, EVGA is upgrading this GTX 970's cooling by using a full-coverage memory and MOSFET cooling plate (MMCP) rather than the partial plate found on the last-generation For The Win (FTW) card. Such a move is claimed to reduce memory temperature by 14 per cent and, probably more relevant to the overclocker, keep the hot-running VRM MOSFETs 48 per cent cooler than on the same card bereft of MMCP technology. The present Superclocked ACX 2.0 card, 04G-P4-2974-KR, also has no such MMCP plate, mind.
Further, EVGA says it is now using a trio of 8mm heatpipes that run horizontally across the heatsink instead of the usual U-shaped arrangement found on other models, including the original Superclocked. EVGA believes the straight-across-the-block design offers six per cent better heat dispersal and lower thermal resistance.
Harnessing this extra performance potential, the GTX 970 SSC upgrades the circuitry to six power phases while adding 6+8-pin power connectors in concert with an overclocking-friendly Power Target figure higher than on the majority of the competition. This appears to be a card begging to be overclocked to GeForce GTX 980 levels, then.
Enthusiasts will likely appreciate the presence of twin BIOSes. The default shipping BIOS provides zero-fan support at temperatures up to 60°C, and flicking over to the second offers a more rigourous fan-speed profile better suited to overclocking. Pertinently, the second BIOS' fan remains switched on at all times, spinning at approximately 600RPM until the GPU temperature exceeds 40°C. Thereafter, it increases in speed linearly as the temperature increases to 80°C (2,000RPM), and then ramps up to a potential 4,500RPM when under the most silicon duress.
And providing a full overhaul of the 10.1in-long card, EVGA adds another couple of DisplayPort 1.2 outputs on the rear, augmenting HDMI 2.0, DVI and the usual DisplayPort 1.2, though, per Nvidia's specifications, a maximum of four can be used concurrently.
Value and performance
But, reading between the specification lines, the real story here is the aggressive pricing for this well-overclocked model. EVGA is confident that it will slot in at the same price as the presently-available GTX 970 Superclocked ACX 2.0, which is currently retailing for around £280, or £30 more than a bone-stock GTX 970.
This year-end shuffling of the EVGA GTX 970 pack has important ramifications for other cards in the range, too. The aforementioned Superclocked ACX 2.0 is likely to drop to £260 as a result of being supplanted by the newer, faster iteration. Should such pricing come to pass, there will be little reason to consider reference-clocked cards for the popular gaming Nvidia GPU.
Throwing down the gauntlet
A perusal of other manufacturers' factory-overclocked GTX 970s reveals that EVGA's newer SSC would offer segment-leading performance and value for a package backed by a transferable three-year warranty that can be upgraded free of charge to five-year cover upon registration at EVGA.com before March 21, 2015. Note that the additional two-year cover is only valid for the original purchaser of the card.
Palit, Gigabyte, Asus, Zotac, MSI, et al., are sure to take notice of EVGA's aggressive stance with respect to the GeForce GTX 970 GPU. We can but hope that such a move will renew competition that ultimately benefits the consumer.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.0 is due to ship in the first week of January 2015, according to company representatives. EVGA is also releasing updated versions of the reference (04G-P4-3973-KR) and FTW+ (04G-P4-3978-KR) GTX 970 cards at the same time. The latter is significant because it features a full-length backplate as well as MMCP cooling.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 GPU provides the base for our favourite high-end graphics cards of 2014. Keen on value and high on performance, relatively speaking, EVGA appears to be making the most of it with the new Super Superclocked version.