NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Offers Great Linux Performance
Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 21 October 2014. Page 11 of 11. 29 Comments

When looking at the GPU thermal data for the EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Superclocked 4GB (04G-2974-KR), its average reported die temperature was 55 Celsius with a peak of 64 Watts, which was well below the reference GTX 980 with an average temp of 76C and peak of 81C. Due to issues with the Catalyst Linux driver and how amdconfig is treated when AMD does special driver releases like for the R9 285 Tonga enablement, there's only the R9 285 to show for the thermal readings on the AMD side.

For the system power consumption data across a range of benchmarks, the GTX 970 in the Core i7 5960X system averaged out to 204 Watts with a peak of 250 Watts while the GTX 980 was at 210 Watts with a peak of 260 Watts. The Radeon R9 290 meanwhile had an average of 257 Watts with a peak of 331 Watts, which was just a little bit better than the GeForce GTX 780 Ti.

For those wanting the best Linux graphics/compute performance right now, the choice is easy in going with the GeForce GTX 980 as outlined in my earlier Linux review. However, for those not willing to spend $500+ on a graphics card, the GeForce GTX 970 offers exceptional value. For around $330 USD, the GTX 970 is built off the same GM204 core as the GTX 980 and offers around ~90% the performance of its bigger brother as shown in our OpenCL and OpenGL benchmark results. The power efficiency of the GeForce GTX 970 is terrific and on par with the GTX 980 as well.

On the AMD side the closest GPU price-wise is the Radeon R9 290 at its current pricing level of $300 or less, but as shown by most of our OpenCL/OpenGL benchmarks the performance is well ahead of this AMD Hawaii GPU. The power consumption when using the Radeon R9 290 is also much higher than the GTX 970/980.

For Linux gamers just caring about great performance and driver reliability, the GTX 970 is obviously a great fit if you're looking to spend a little more than $300 USD on a graphics card. The only area for Linux users where NVIDIA graphics cards purchases aren't recommended is if planning to use the open-source (Nouveau) driver stack instead of NVIDIA's proprietary driver. The Nouveau driver will eventually support the GeForce GTX 900 series with working 3D and video acceleration, but it will likely be a number of months before that work is fully realized and in a state where I'd recommend using it on a higher-end graphics card. With AMD meanwhile they're at least continuing to advance their open-source Linux graphics driver with new hardware support, especially with their forthcoming unified Linux driver strategy.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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