With the GTX 970 Phantom, Gainward has introduced a factory overclocked card capable of matching the GTX 780 Ti in some tests. The GTX 970 4GB Phantom works at a base clock of 1152MHz, while the reference GPU base clock is 1050MHz. Nvidia's GPU Boost 2.0 takes the average GPU clock to 1178MHz for the reference GPU and to 1304MHz for the Phantom card.
The Maxwell GM204 GPU proves that high-end cards do not have to end up with a high TDP. Nvidia’s new architecture offers exceptional performance-per-watt and the reference Geforce GTX 970 pumps out just 145W under load. The GTX 970 Phantom is about 5% faster than the reference card, although power consumption is almost on par with the reference design. One reason is the efficient power management, but also the relatively low Power Target.
The dual-fan Phantom cooler design features removable fans, where each fan can be removed for cleaning in minutes, without voiding the warranty. The Gainward GTX 970 4GB Phantom is certainly one of the more interesting custom GTX 970 graphics cards on the market.
The best news is that despite the factory overclock the Phantom cooler is still quiet and noise is simply not an issue. The GTX 970 Phantom heats up to 78-80 degrees, but stays quiet. This is a safe temperature for any desktop GPU. The Boost 2.0 algorithm kicks in from time to time and does not allow the card to run at the maximum frequency all the time.
The high-pitched hissing sound made by the card’s power components in some situations (under load) can be annoying and the issue is compounded by the fact that the Phantom cooler is so quiet. This is now becoming an issue with new Nvidia cards and some AMD cards as well.
The OC potential is limited, but this is a factory overclocked card and few users will even feel the need to overclock it. The GTX 970 is capable of dealing with all current titles, but in case you are planning a 4K build, you will need two of them. However, if you are an overclocker, you may want to look elsewhere, since the Power Target is set relatively low and the two-fan Phantom cooler isn’t designed to cope with too much heat.
On the other hand, unless you are crazy about overlocking, it’s hard not to recommend the GTX 970 Phantom – it’s a quiet card with a clever cooler and it can outpace the old GTX 780 in most tests. Even the new GTX 980 does not end up much faster. The GTX 970 offers better value for money than the GTX 980, which is another thing to keep in mind.
The GTX 970 Phantom is already shipping in Europe and it costs 30 to 50 euro more than a reference Gainward GTX 970, which can be found for about €300.