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Nvidia vows to boost GeForce GTX 970 performance with driver update

FOLLOW UP: Nvidia: We will not boost GeForce GTX 970 performance with drivers.

Nvidia Corp. admitted early this week that it initially published wrong specifications of the GeForce GTX 970 and did not correct its mistake until recently after numerous people reported issues regarding usage of onboard memory. The company promised to fix memory allocation problems on the GeForce GTX 970 using a new driver update, which will boost performance of the graphics board.

As reported, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970 graphics card cannot access all four gigabyte of onboard memory at full speed. Only 3.5GB of memory can be accessed with maximum bandwidth due to limitations of the cut-down GM204 architecture of the GeForce GTX 970; 512MB of memory are accessed at much lower speed, which could result in limited performance when the graphics sub-system is forced to use all four gigabytes of memory.

While limitations is nothing new on the market of graphics adapters, Nvidia incorrectly declared amount of raster operations pipelines (ROPs), actual memory bandwidth and the amount of high-speed onboard memory. Instead of 64 ROPs, the GPU features only 56 ROPs, actual usable memory bandwidth at present is less than 224GB/s and the amount of memory should be indicated as 3.5GB + 0.5GB. Nvidia admits it misrepresented specifications of the GeForce GTX 970.

“I totally get why so many people are upset,” said Peter S, a moderator over at Nvidia forums. “We messed up some of the stats on the reviewer kit and we didn't properly explain the memory architecture. I realize a lot of you guys rely on product reviews to make purchase decisions and we let you down.”


While Nvidia did misstate specifications of the GeForce GTX 970, the graphics solution performs very well in the vast majority of cases. The graphics adapter does not show its maximum potential in select situations and Nvidia promises to improve performance of the graphics adapter in new drivers.

“We are working on a driver update that will tune what's allocated where in memory to further improve performance,” said the representative for Nvidia.

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KitGuru Says: Since poor performance of 512MB of memory on the GeForce GTX 970 seems to be a hardware limitation, it will be very interesting to see how significantly Nvidia manages to improve performance of the graphics solution using a driver update.

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  1. That would be great if you could improve performance, nVidia. I’m actually happy with my GTX 970’s performance (never had to use all 4GB of memory, so far), but if you can improve it further, I’m not going to complain! 😀

  2. I’m still getting this card for my custom desktop that I’m building since the memory problems really only kick in on 4K monitors as well as playing games maxed out (I use my TV for my comp screen through HDMI so I’m covered in terms of wanting a big screen and I’m not one for maxed out graphics in games). The fact that Nvidia is addressing the problem via driver update is fine by me.

  3. People will still use that Nai benchmark and it won’t show a difference, because it’s not a Direct3D benchmark.

  4. I’m sticking with my twin Powercolor PCS+OC R9 290’s far better value for money and can use all of its memory like true 4GB cards should.Probs switch to a 390X be end of year as 980’s are stupid expensive for a 4GB card( can get a XFX R9 295X2 for less)

  5. Stephan Chase Morsanutto

    The 8gb cards are coming out very soon, may want to old out if you plan to play at 4k. Also if you really want good 4k gaming, may want to go for two 980’s instead

  6. Stephan Chase Morsanutto

    But but but…they’re the same price, the 970 has far better drivers, many more nvidia exclusive features, and are much more overclockable o.o Not to mention the base performance also favors the 970

  7. that overclock ability though. i can drive it up so far and it still stays cooler than any other gpu ive ever had

  8. I have no intention of going 4k anytime soon. Really pretty graphics mean nothing to me if the game sucks and if the game is great, I’m more than happy playing on lower than highest settings to help make the game that much more smooth.

  9. Wow! Specifications are not quite as advertised. Hold the front page!!! Oh, hang on, we did that before…

  10. +1 to that

  11. I’m pretty put off with the what is clearly deception on their part. It is cute that they are now saying they are sorry after they have sold over a million units, and got caught in a lie.

    I will be going AMD once the 300 series comes out.

  12. James Stephen Edge

    Technically the specifications were as advertised by retailers, but the information given out by reviewers to the public was incorrect (as they were given erroneous info).

  13. Since the limitation is related to the hardware, I doubt they can fix the “real” problem, but at least, If they can put every useless things in those last 500MB (Windows aero theme, and everything that doesn’t need fast bandwith) … that would almost be the same as having 4GB used at full strength

  14. it has nothing that AMD didn’t have already with the exception of G-Sync which requires you to buy a very expensive monitor with Nvidia’s proprietary G-Sync Board.Why bother when I can get the Acer Predator 2560×1440 144Hz Freesync Monitor for less than a entry level G-Sync monitor.

    Further more the 290 is a “true 4GB” card that did not require misleading marketing to sell.None of Nvidia’s “not exclusive” features are worth the price disparity and with a 1300W PSU “power efficiency” don’t mean shit to me so its a no sell AFAIC.

  15. No, the card is advertised with the specifications of 4GB’s VRAM on a 256 bit bus by retailers, which is incorrect. It should be advertised as 3.5GB’s VRAM on a 256 bus, with 512MB’s on a 32bit bus, which ironically probably would have sold more 980’s at a higher price point. I know I would have bought two 980’s instead of the two 970’s I currently have, and now have to unload. To be fair to retailers…. they didn’t know any better ether, because had they known they would have been obligated to display the correct spec’s on their websites.

  16. Not the first company to “lie” about the specifications. That being said, it’s still a great card for what it was intended for, 1080p gaming! Low power usage, silent and very good temps. Clocks like a beast. Personally I couldn’t care less about this “problem”. Haven’t noticed anything in the games I play, it just performs like a beast!

  17. According to Nvidia the 970 is supposed to be a 4K gaming card, not just for 1080p. That would have been a stretch if everything were as advertised, but with this memory restriction I’ve been encountering poor performance in a couple of games that use over 3.5GB at 1440p!

    Fortunately I only got my 970 a few weeks ago so it’s going back and I’ll wait and see what happens next.

  18. 8gb isn’t just good for 4k games are going to use more that 3.5gbs soon. I mean mordor runs like crap on the 970! it’s your choice but the 970 is a waste of money.

  19. Far better drivers? Used a 280x for 6 months, Arma 3 ran with no problems. Since having my GTX 970 the Nvidia driver fails at least once every 2-3 hours……. People need to pull their head out of their ass because this isn’t 2009-2010 anymore, AMD drivers are on par with Nvidia!

  20. Considering that I work 2 jobs just to pay rent/bills/food/transportation in NYC, I’m not exactly made of money nor can I rely on someone to just give me $1k for a Titan GPU.

  21. NVidia on Twitter just said they don’t have any plans to release a new 970 driver. WTF?

  22. I’ll consider 4k gaming when the 4k monitors are affordable enough. As it stands, I can’t even afford to get another 970 to SLi with. 🙁

  23. http://www.kitguru.net/components/graphic-cards/anton-shilov/nvidia-we-will-not-boost-geforce-gtx-970-performance-with-drivers/

    Thanks for nothing nVidia. :/

  24. I stopped caring when you brought up Arma 3.

  25. I just tested my 970 seems that nvidia with new drivers made limit 3.5GB if memory goes over will be pushed back to 3.5GB. at first I thought maybe new bios is guilty , but tested with old bios got same results. before newest nvidia drivers watch dogs was using more then 3.5GB like 3.8-3.9GB

  26. Theoretically they could load things that don’t need faster memory into the slow portion. Change.org might be a good place to start. It’s not like they’re going to fix the hardware, but a driver update isn’t so much to ask.
    EDIT: just started a petition. I’m not great with words, but it gets the message across https://www.change.org/p/nvidia-fix-the-gtx-970-s-memory-allocation

  27. Patrick Wayne Hartleib

    Just got a Zotac 970 2 fan for $300 and I’m not made of money that took some months of saving.but i did think about another 970 but on ebay looking at 450 bucks or more. I got lucky finding the ad locally 11 hours old. Was on a 650 gtx for 2.5 years and b4 that gts 250 sli. And I must say so far I’m pretty happy gonna rock witcher 3 on it tonight. As well as stream it cleets dungeon l8r