Users Reporting Memory Allocation Issues On 4 GB GTX 970 Graphics Cards – Games Not Utilizing Full VRAM
NVIDIA launched their GeForce GTX 970 graphics card last year in September, priced at a sweet point of $329 US. The GeForce GTX 970 graphics card is the second desktop GeForce 900 series card to feature the second generation Maxwell core architecture however some users have reported issues with the card, mainly with games not properly utilizing its entire 4 GB VRAM.
Games Not Fully Utilizing 4 GB Memory On GeForce GTX 970 Graphics Cards
Some users approached us to spread awareness over this issue since it was being reported on NVIDIA and Guru3D Forums. As we already know, the GeForce GTX 970 is a cut down Maxwell core featuring the GM204 core with 1664 CUDA cores, 104 TMUs and 64 ROPs. While the core configuration had to be skimmed down to make an affordable Maxwell offering, the memory side was kept the same with the card shipping with a 4 GB VRAM that operates at 7 GHz, along a 256-bit memory interface. Now NVIDIA introduced the new compression feature known as Delta Color compression which conserves bandwidth but has little affect to minimize overall VRAM usage.
The games in which users seem to have been facing these issues include Shadow of Mordor and Far Cry 4 with the total VRAM usage limited to 3.5 GB. Some users tried to test their cards using the memory burner test that is available on MSI's Kombuster however several cards failed to load it past 3.0 GB. Since this was a issue being faced by many, I put my own GeForce GTX 970 through the tests in Far Cry 4, Shadow of Mordor and even the MSI Memory burner test. The results are quite surprising since the GALAX GeForce GTX 970 EXOC BLACK that I have equipped on my rig managed to load all of the 4 GB VRAM buffer in the memory burner test and ran with out any issues. Same goes for the games, Shadow of Mordor delivered around 60-65 FPS on average at maxed out settings with 3.6 GB memory usage. The game ran flawless without any stuttering or frame drops. Far Cry 4 was a similar scenario taking up around 3.8 GB of VRAM on 2560x1440 resolution with 2x TXAA and delivered a smooth frame rate.
I am attaching some screenshots from MSI Memory burner test that shows the monitored statistics of my card during the testing spree. From what I can tell, this is mostly a software or BIOS side issue on some cards which can be resolved by asking the cards manufacturer. There's no way a GTX 970 will cause stuttering at 1080P or 1440P resolution in Shadow of Mordor unless you are using a pirated copy of the game or have the drivers properly installed. If you really think that your card is the culprit here, then you can ask your vendor for the immediate replacement of your product. There are already users alleging that the GeForce GTX 970 actually has 3.5 GB VRAM or NVIDIA cut down memory from the 970 on purpose to make a good profit on it. It should be noted that none of this is true, the card has a 4 GB VRAM buffer and a 256-bit memory bus. There's no compromises made on that side. If any other GeForce cards with this issue pop up, then we'll make sure to report them here.