Try to overclock the i7. It's an old CPU that kinda delivers just enough in Sandstorm (but probably can't deal with everything that game throws at it).
Also, some ingame graphics settings will help more than others depending on what hardware (CPU / GPU) has to deal with it. Experimenting with single settings might prove useful. Texture streaming pool should be at high or off with that graphics card though (has enough VRAM), low doesn't make sense.
This is an actual issue caused by a slight center deadzone while in hip fire. It's been discussed a couple of times, for example here. In hip fire you can move the gun without moving the camera (the direction you look at) the same amount, so the aim is not centered on your screen. When you go ADS your aim will center in on your screen center, not the hip fire aim point. It kinda does make sense, but it doesn't really serve any meaningful purpose in this game and we can just hope NWI redesigns it.
The 970 should be capable of more. You will not find any answers without going into a detailed analysis. So get MSI Afterburner running and post a couple of screenshots of the CPU & GPU values. Also try a hard settings reset (delete all config files), then set Video preset to Low, and run in fullscreen.
So reduce resolution? If that 100% GPU usage is real - even in main menu which is limited to 60fps automatically - than that might be a good point to start.
I find this odd though, in another thread here the guy has alot less CPU power but uses a 970 too, with alot more fps, running at 1920x1080 though. Maybe the WQHD resolution kicks your card far too hard in this game.
I've researched a bit more about how to find a CPU limit. It appears that in most cases, if the GPU is not used to capacity then the CPU is limiting, even if logging software like MSI's Afterburner does not show it (because when multicore CPU's came out Windows started shifting Threads around all the time in order to make multithreaded workloads possible, hence the more cores the more difficult it becomes to spot a CPU limit). So those screenshots clearly show a CPU limit except the main menu shot (main menu limits fps automatically =60fps).
There are two ways to verify the CPU limit:
- downclock the CPU again (or deactivate a core) and benchmark again under the same circumstances -> FPS should go down, too.
- Increase resolution of the game (you can use the Super Sampling setting in Sandstorm) to see if GPU usage increases without noticably influencing FPS (ordinarily, in a GPU limit this would result in lower FPS).
Do EITHER of those, not both together, and don't touch other settings while you try one method. And don't use the main menu as reference ;).