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Thursday | February 23, 2017
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GTX 960 Review (ASUS, MSI and Palit)

GTX 960 Review (ASUS, MSI and Palit)

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msi-gts-960-gaming-2g-review-specs msi-gts-960-gaming-2g-review-afterburner

MSI also offer their own monitoring/tweaking software with the GTX 960, in the detailed form of Afterburner along with the more streamlined Gaming App with its one click tweaking.

GTX 960 Review – Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream

gtx-960-review-palit-super-jetstream-card gtx-960-review-palit-super-jetstream-back

Palit are fond of the red and black colour scheme which is great as it matches many mainstream and high end motherboards. Two 9cm fans are present which rotate in alternate directions, passing air through the aluminium fins. This is a cooler which is designed to run in passive mode when at low load/temperature and Palit also install a set of LEDs in the transparent, jet engine inspired, fans for some added aesthetic appeal. Turning the card we see that it uses a compact black PCB with support section on the end to accommodate the large cooler. The standard GTX 960 configuration of 6pin power connector and one SLI connector are also present.


Round at the outputs Palit go with dual DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI and the card will happily power multiple displays such as 2x4k. As expected Palit use the standard NVIDIA Maxwell GPU for their GTX 960 in its GM206 configuration. It is a 28nm part with 32 ROPS and 64 TMUs with 1024 CUDA cores and uses a 128-bit memory bus. Palit go with a core speed of 1279MHz with boost set at 1342 MHz and their memory spec (2048MB of Samsung GDDR5) is 1800MHz. This is of course a card which supports the latest DirectX as well as the key NVIDIA technologies of PhysX, G-Sync, Gamestream, Dynamic Super Resolution, Voxel Global Illumination, MFAA and 3DVision. GPU compute is also supported as is 7.1 audio over HDMI.

palit-gtx-960-super-jetstream-review-specs palit-gtx-960-super-jetstream-review-thunder

As is standard for NVIDIA cards, Palit offer their own monitoring and tweaking software on the GTX 960 Super JetStream. In their case Thunder Master.

GTX 960 Review – Performance

Test Spec:
Intel Core i7-5960X on X99
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB
Corsair AX1500i Antec Kuhler 1250

Sapphire Radeon 285 OC
Gainward GTX 760 OC

Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench

Intel Wireless AC 7260
Razer DeathAdder
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate
ASUS 120Hz/3D Display

Windows 8.1 64-bit
AMD Drivers: 14.12
NVIDIA Driver 347.25
Assassins Creed Unity
Alien Isolation
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
F1 2014

The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drive was performed (NTFS) and then Windows 8.1 was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, the hard drives were de-fragmented (where appropriate). For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated).

Good Benchmarking Practice

Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.

1920×1080 + Thermals and Power

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F1 1920×1080 Ultra Detail 8xAA
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Alien Isolation 4K High Detail
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GTX 960 Review – Conclusion

Looking at the GTX 960 GPU first we have a chip which brings all of the features from the GTX 980/970 and offers them to consumers at a much more affordable price point. Of course the core configuration as far as performance goes is different but the features are the same… with one added bonus, full encode/decode of H.265 (GTX 980 offers encode only) and HDCP 2.2 over HDMI.

Although there is no retail reference card as such, NVIDIA state that the reference specifications for the GTX 960 are 1126MHz with a boost clock of 1178MHz and all of the cards on show today go past that in their specifications which is great to see. And this is the reason we tested against OC versions of the GTX 760 and Radeon 285.

As far as the individual cards go, ASUS offer a well build GTX 960 with low noise operation and the most impressive software bundle of the lot. MSI, in our opinion, have the most pleasing card for those who are building a system with case window. Their software is also good and cooler very quiet. Palit then offer the fastest of the cards on test today, though with a slightly louder cooler than the other two (that said, it is still low noise).

Our time with the GTX 960 cards has been limited however the overclocking potential from our initial testing is very promising. Both ASUS and Palit overclocked by well over 200Mhz on the core. The MSI card has gone even further and we will update the results as we confirm the maximum stable clocks.

In terms of comparison with other cards, we do get feature improvements over the part it replaces, the GTX 760. Silent/passive use is a big win for example as is the improved power use. However as is often the case with new NVIDIA cards it will be most desirable to those on the GTX 660 and older. The comparison with AMDs 285 is also decent, with the two architectures splitting the wins and loses on a game to game basis. We can of course play at 1080 resolution in recent games without issue on GTX 960 and while we can bump things up to 4k in some games, the most useful feature for many will be Dynamic Super Resolution which allows (in games such as RTS, MOBA etc) the card to render at higher detail and maximise the display output at 1080.

Summary: The GTX 960 offers a lot of flexibility for NVIDIAs partners. These initial cards are all well priced as long as they stay as close to the £159/$199 reference price point as possible. Each offers good performance at 1080 resolution and low noise operation, in fact silent much of the time. We also like the low power use and the presence of cutting edge features. The GTX 960 is a very well rounded product worthy of our recommended award.

Recommended Award

Available from Overclockers.

About Author

Stuart Davidson


  1. IvanV

    Meh… 18 months pass since the release of GTX 760 and its replacement increases the performance at the same price point by exactly 0% (the new card lost 4/6 game tests to the old one). Bring the next Radeons.

    • Laur

      Well, it may be true that GTX 960 isn’t any better performance wise, however, GTX 960 is 25% cheaper even right now and offers same amount of performance. As such, GTX 960 offers more power per unit of currency and that is a good thing.

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