NVIDIA GTX 960 5-Way Roundup

Author: SKYMTL
Date: February 21, 2015
Product Name: GTX 960
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It seems that we have been covering the GTX 960 quite a bit and there’s good reason for it: despite our love / hate relationship with it, NVIDIA has created an inexpensive, efficient card with plenty of interesting features. The GTX 960 may have severely limited abilities at higher resolutions but its performance at 1080P is more than adequate and when overclocked, it can really fly.

When we looked at the reference GTX 960, one thing was mentioned again and again: the lower base clock speeds NVIDIA specified for this card weren’t sufficient to make it competitive at $199. However, there are plenty of other options that use higher frequencies, upgraded components and advanced cooling solutions that go for the baseline cost of a few bucks more. The ASUS STRIX set the bar quite high and in this roundup we’ll take a look at several other GTX 960 cards from MSI, GALAX, EVGA, Zotac and Gigabyte.

In our relatively large cross section of GTX 960’s there are some pretty obvious trends that should be apparent right off the bat. First and foremost, every board partner (other than ASUS and their STRIX OC) seems hesitant to pre-overclock their GDDR5 modules. This is likely due to the intense binning necessary to achieve stable frequencies on every product but it is nonetheless disappointing considering the bandwidth limitations NVIDIA saddled the GTX 960 with.

Another interesting aspect of these cards is how close they adhere to the reference GTX 960’s starting price. Even MSI’s Gaming 2G, the most expensive product in this roundup, is less than 10% more than NVIDIA’s SRP. All of the other cards feature a mere $10 premium which is absolutely phenomenal. This is a huge point since it adds some much-needed value into the equation.

The lowest clocked card in this roundup is the Galax GTX 960 EXOC but that doesn’t mean it is a pushover since frequencies reach nearly 100MHz higher than the reference design. This is followed by the GIGABYTE G1 Gaming which, as we will see later, is an absolutely massive card that carries with it an impressive cooler despite the extreme efficiency of NVIDIA’s GM206 core. MSI’s slightly more expensive Gaming 2G uses the exactly same clocks as its GIGABYTE rival but there may be some differentiation when we look at true Boost speeds over time.

Zotac’s AMP! Edition is an interesting entry since it boasts some extremely high clock speeds even though it happens to be the most compact card in this particular roundup. It represents an amazing set of capabilities for ITX users.

Finally, the big daddy of this bunch is EVGA’s GTX 960 SuperSC or SSC. With a boost clock of 1342MHz and the ability to boost frequencies even higher in nearly every game, it goes like a scared cat and boasts an excellent price / performance ratio thanks to a cost of $210.

When placed alongside one another (with the previously-reviewed ASUS STRIX thrown in for good measure) we can see that the cards we chose vary wildly in their respective lengths. By far the longest of the lot is the GIGBAYTE G1 Gaming which measures a good 11 ľ” which looks titanic in proportion to Zotac’s higher clocked, 8” long AMP! Edition. The others round things out with MSI being on the larger end while Galax’s EXOC is relatively compact.

With so many different options, it should be nearly impossible to go wrong with one of these GTX 960’s but, as you will see a bit later, their specifications and respective prices only tell a small portion of the story.

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