Despite being first released way back in 2014, there is still a market for the GTX 970 graphics card. It’s far from being the most powerful or most popular graphics card you can buy today, but it can still play some recent games in decent quality.
There’s more of a market for coping with lower-end games though. Maybe you’re building a cheap PC for Minecraft and Roblox for the kids to play on, and you want to make sure there’s enough power to keep everything running smoothly while they multitask with Discord alongside their game.
However, just because the GTX 970 is older doesn’t mean that it barely uses any power. In fact, compared to some graphics cards that are more powerful, it’s quite inefficient. Let’s take a deeper look.
How Many Watts Does A GTX 970 Use?
A GTX 970 is not the most efficient card. When gaming it will use around 156 watts, but this can fluctuate right up to 191 watts for powerful games. When ‘idle’ – if you’re using your PC for a non-graphical task – it will draw around 13 watts.
This isn’t a huge amount of power, but it’s worth noting that a lot of cards that have been made since, that are more powerful, actually draw less power and work more efficiently. Overall it’s not a huge concern because the numbers involved are low, but just be aware if you’re comparing the 970 to later cards.
Also, you should know that while the GTX 970 has been recorded at a peak of 191 watts, that’s not the actual maximum that it can reach. Sometimes it will have a spike in power, where for a second (or less) it’ll jump higher than normal. It’s been recorded as high as 201 watts (source).
How Many Watts Does A GTX 970 Use Per Hour?
Typically when you’re gaming, the GTX 970 will use 156 watt-hours per hour of electricity. Taking an average weekly gaming time of 8.5 hours, that means that the graphics card alone is using 1,326 watt-hours per week, the same as 1.32 kilowatt-hours.
However, that’s only taking into account the time spent playing a game. Chances are you’ll use your PC for a lot longer, doing other tasks like watching videos or completing work.
If we assume that you spend 8.5 hours a week gaming and twice as long (17 hours) doing other tasks, then the actual total power used by the graphics card in a week is 1.55 kilowatt-hours a week, or 80.6 kilowatt-hours a year. At the average US electricity rate of $0.14, that’s just over $11 a year in electricity.
But of course, that’s only the graphics card. If you want to work out the full costs of electricity for your PC then you’ll need to work out how much power each individual component is drawing. The graphics card tends to be the largest power draw, but some processors need a lot too. RAM and storage, not so much.
Read more: How Many Watts Does A Gaming PC Use?
What Power Supply Do I Need For A GTX 970?
The recommended power supply for a GTX 970 is 500 watts, according to Nvidia. That may seem quite high for a card that usually pulls 145 watts, but it’s necessary to cope with the extra power spikes that this card is known for.
Normally when choosing a power supply for your PC, you would total the watts needed by each component and then add 20%, as that would normally cover any power spikes with ease and prevent your supply from burning out.
However, the GTX 970 can spike by more than 20% – it’s not a graphics card that could be called consistent. That, plus it needs more power cables than cards that normally draw a similar wattage. For that reason, it’s best that you stick with a 500-watt power supply as a minimum, although some high-quality 450-watt supplies would probably work OK.
Whenever you’re buying a graphics card, you should also aim for one that’s as efficient as possible. Look for the 80+ sticker and ideally an 80+ Gold or better, although 80+ Bronze is generally seen as acceptable. This rating tells you that your power supply won’t draw more than 20% extra power from the mains in order to provide the necessary wattage to the rest of the PC.
Read more: Power Supply Ratings Explained
The Best Power Supply For A GTX 970
The best power supply for a GTX 970 is one that gives you 500 watts of power and is rated 80+ Gold or better. It’s best to stick to trusted manufacturers too – if you buy cheap with a power supply, you risk getting one that’s poorly made and could be a fire hazard.
Look out for brands like EVGA, Corsair, be quiet!, XPG, ThermalTake and Cooler Master.
This be quiet! PSU is a solid choice that ticks every box – it’s from a reliable manufacturer, it has sufficient capacity to manage a PC with a GTX 970, and it’s rated 80+ Gold so won’t waste a load of energy through heat loss in the PSU.
It’s also semi-modular, which means that not every cable is hard-wired onto the PSU – only the essential ones. The rest are optional, which keeps your PC case tidy and helps to improve airflow from your cooling fans.
What GTX 970 Power Cable Do I Need?
The GTX 970 requires two PCI-e power cables: a 6-pin cable and an 8-pin (6+2). Some low-end power supplies may not have both cables, which is why getting a 500-watt PSU is a good idea.
If you buy a modular or semi-modular power supply, just make sure you’ve connected the cables to the right ports on both the PSU and graphics card. The 8-pin connector will be a 6+2 – slide the two pins into the side of the 6-pin connector before you attach it to the graphics card.
GTX 970 Power FAQs
A 400-watt power supply is not considered enough for a GTX 970. If you find one with the necessary PCIe power cables then it could work for a short time, but it’s more likely to burn out your supply and damage it, and potentially the rest of your PC.
While some high-quality 450-watt power supplies may work with a GTX 970, it’s recommended to use a PSU with a wattage of 500 watts or higher. Choose one with both a 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe cable.
A 500-watt power supply is enough to run a GTX 970 graphics card. Despite the graphics card averaging just 156 watts when gaming, it can fluctuate a lot and it needs the extra power cable more commonly found on 500-watt and larger power supplies.
Yes, the GTX 970 does need two power cables to run – a 6-pin and 8-pin. If you have a single wire that’s split between the two connectors then this will be OK to use. Both ports need to be wired up to provide enough power for the card to work.