At the time when Nvidia introduced the GTX 970 and 980 in the fall of 2014, Maxwell quickly rose to importance thanks to strong performance and strong power efficiency. Early reviews presented good results on both of the cards, but deeper digging into the GTX 970 post-launch turned up worrying actions: The card stoutly decided to limit its accessible memory to 3.5GB, not the 4GB it carried. A class-action claim started a month after the problem appeared, and Nvidia has apparently resolute that case as of today.
Nvidia will give GTX 970 owner that applies an average of $30 (there’s no data yet on how one applies for the repayment) together to paying $1.3 million in attorney fees, according to Overclockers3D. While $30 isn’t huge, it most likely accounts for the expected value of the effectively-missing 512MB of RAM.
For those who don’t know the particulars of the problem, the thing was this: The GTX 970’s inside memory configuration disabled one of its crossbar switches, as shown in the diagram below:
The “SM” blocks in this figure are the real processor cores, while the L2 blocks concerned to the L2 cache. “MC” blocks are the memory controllers. The chip is intended so that any SM block could talk to any of the memory controllers, but three of the SM blocks and one of the L2 cache blocks is marked by grayed in this diagram. The SM blocks are switched off to hit the GTX 970’s core count target, but the last block of L2 cache does dual job, working for two SM blocks instead of than just one. Disabling L2 cache blocks in this way also reduced the GTX 970’s ROP count to 56 down from 64 (as Tech Report noted at the time, real throughput was truly a maximum of 52 pixels per clock because of associated limitations in the crossbar).
PR or Nvidia ensured that the GTX 970’s unique specifications were not introduced to reviewers. There’s a big difference between cherry picking outcomes and urgings to favour any company’s given arrangement on a topic, and flatly misrepresenting the capabilities of one’s hardware in an attempt to drive sales under false pretences. The previous one is probable; the latter is criminal. The real effect of this issue was to leave the GTX 970 with a 512MB memory buffer that was in principle accessible to games if extremely necessary, but could only be used at a fraction of the speed of main memory, as introduced in the outcomes below:
Speaking practically, the influence the common part of the users was minimal. Benchmarks and experiences showed that there were games that could trip the GTX 970, but this often only happened at the restrictions of playable frame rates in any case.
In general, the GTX 970 sold well and became one of the most popular GPUs of the earlier generation. Given that recent price cuts have left it priced as low as $260 (as of this writing), it’s not a bad deal even now — though generally speaking, I’d still advise RX 480 or the GTX 1060, connected to your taste. While the GTX 970 should be fine for 1080p and below in the indefinite future, there’s always the chance that this RAM problem will bite as VRAM requirements continue to scale up.