STRIX-GTX960-DC2OC-2GD5_3D.jpg

I’ll be frank with you – I think Nvidia really killed it last year. Right now I still consider the GTX 970 to be the best card on the market, balancing performance and value almost perfect while giving AMD nightmares at night. But even the smaller Maxwell card is still above the mid-range market, and Nvidia didn’t really have anything to offer in that regard last year. They aren’t, however, wasting time in 2015. Say hello to the GTX 960.

The GTX 960 is the true mid-range Maxwell card Nvidia has been hiding. The ASUS Strix variant we were sent for review bears a striking resemblance to last year’s Strix GTX 970 and 980, falling under the same range that is leading ASUS graphics cards currently. That means the GTX 960 comes with everything the Strix range has to offer, including their brilliant DirectCU II cooling solution that only starts spinning fans when temperatures exceed 55 degrees Celsius. The card is absolutely silent when not pushed, and even under load it’s whisper quiet and incredibly cool.

ASUS has also, unsurprisingly, bumped up the cards from the stock GTX 960 (which we sadly didn’t have for comparison). Here we have a 1291 MHz core clock speed, complemented by a 1317 MHz boost clock and 7200MHz memory speed. All of these are higher than the stock cards, delivering greater performance in most cases. But with a mid-range cards come a little bit of trimming. The GTX 960 only offers 2GB of GDDR5 memory, and only on a narrow 128-bit wide memory bus.

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That’s perfectly fine for most games at 1080p (although some more recent games already demand more), but anything higher starts to present problems. Higher resolutions mean more memory, and 2GB with most titles is already pushing at at standard HD. Nevermind the narrow memory bus, which virtually guarantees the GTX 960 as a mid-range card, and not much else. Still, with the reasonably high clock speeds, the GTX 960 is still a force to be reckoned with, as seen in testing later on.

The card itself is smaller than the GTX 970, but only in length. Thickness wise they’re about the same, but you probably won’t struggle fitting the 960 into any existing case you might have. You also won’t need to start looking at new power supplies, as the GTX 960 retains the best trait of its bigger Maxwell brothers. With a TDP of just 120W, the GTX 960 is super efficient, and the added DirectCU II wasn’t enough to shake ASUS off the single 6-pin power requirement.

The card also features various output options, with a single HDMI port, three DisplayPorts and one DVI output.

As always we slapped the Strix GTX 960 into the trusty Evetech Lagzatron 3000 and loaded up the same four titles we used to test out the GTX 970. We’ll be giving the titles a little brush up soon to add in more modern games, but for now it’s interesting to see how the mid-range card stacks up against its undeniable meatier brother over the same tests.

Crysis 3

Crysis 960

Crysis 3 is, and will still be for a long time, one of the most demanding experiences on PC. It doesn’t make that much sense, but the CryEngine-powered title still brings PCs to their knees. The GTX 960, all things considered, did reasonably well. There’s not enough for a solid 60 FPS at 1080p, but it’s still well above playable levels. The same can be said for 2K (just barely), although as expected 4K is well out of the question.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Arkham Origins 960

Batman: Arkham Origins is the least stressful test we have at the moment, and probably the first one to go very soon. Still, it’s useful to see performance on the Unreal Engine, which powers most games nowadays. In this regard, the GTX 960 blows it away, managing to surpass a stable 60FPS at 1080p, and just dip below at 2K. It even manages to stay above 30FPS at 4K, which is astounding for a card with so little memory.

Metro: Last Light

Metro GTX 960

Metro: Last Light’s benchmark feature is still one of the toughest tests to pass, especially when you start cranking up the resolution. The amount of on-screen activity is immense, but the GTX 960 managed to keep cool under the 1080p pressure and push out close to a locked 60FPS. It even manages over 30FPS on 2K, although 4K is yet again an unattainable dream.

Watch_Dogs

Watch Dogs 960

Believe it or not, but Watch_Dogs is still not entirely stable on PC. That’s horrible for players, but it makes a fine proving ground for testing cards. Going on a massive, scripted shooting (and grenade flinging) spree tested the GTX 960, which delivered just under 60FPS at 1080p. The same pattern emerged for higher resolutions, with 2K being playable but 4K being far to difficult a task to run smoothly.

Futuremark’s 3DMark software also stands the universal benchmark for most hardware around the globe, so we put the GTX 960 through the standard Fire test as well as Fire Extreme. It came out the other end with a score of 6726 for the standard Fire run, and 3421 on Fire Extreme.

As mid-range cards go, The Strix GTX 960 performed more or less as expected. Running games at 4K is a chore for even the most powerful single cards, so expecting the 960 to manage that would be rather outlandish. Although with the 2GB memory limitation, one would expect anything higher than 1080p to be an issue, but the opposite is true. The GTX 960 is still fully capable of running games at 2K, although you’ll be limited to console-like frame rates for the most part.

When it comes to standard HD though, the 960 is a winner where it really counts. The mid-range market is all about 60FPS gaming at 1080p, and the GTX 960 delivers of this front nearly every time. More importantly, it does so while staying under 65 degrees Celsius at stock clock speeds, meaning there’s even more waiting in the tank for overclockers out there. That could tables a few of the frame rates, and even allow for a few more complex setting to get a chance to shine. Regardless, this is the true upgrade to Nvidia’s GTX 660 – but at what cost?

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Nvidia blew everyone away with the pricing for the GTX 970 in particular (although it’s still a little steep locally), so they’d have a tough time placing the GTX 960 without undercutting themselves. The Strix GTX 960 in question will cost R3999.00 locally, while Nvidia prices suggest that reference cards will go for around a grand less. That gives you a GTX 960 for around R2000.00 less than a GTX 970, which is a marginal gap between the two. It also places the GTX 960 smack bang in the middle of the R9 280 and R9 280X in terms of pricing, making it even more of a feature filled decision.

At nearly half the price of a GTX 970, you’re getting a bucket full of performance from this mid-range card. Looking over at frame rates in 1080p, the GTX 960 lagged behind its bigger brother by an average of 20 frames per second, but this gap is cut in half when you double the resolution. Running two in SLI would definitely surpass the GTX 970 in terms of speed (for around the same price), but in that scenario the 970’s 4GB of memory is a far wiser option. The GTX 960 isn’t trying to cut anyone else out of the competition – it’s just delivering fantastic performance at a lower cost.

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And since it’s running Maxwell, the GTX 960 comes ready and waiting to support Nvidia’s host of new features announced last year, including MFAA, DSR, G-Sync, Global Illumination and DirectX 12 support (which is even more important after yesterday’s Windows 10 press conference). It’s a sector where Nvidia has an undeniable edge over AMD, which factors in for the price gap between the two.

This means the GTX 960 isn’t the same kind of stake through AMD’s heart that the GTX 970 was, but rather the best way to jump on-board the Maxwell train and enjoy high to mid-range gaming for the next couple of years. If you’ve been itching to upgrade but found the GTX 970 to be a little too pricy, then the 960 is the perfect Nvidia choice for you. That said, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than ASUS’ Strix model.

 

Our test rig was supplied by: evetech-2

 

Last Updated: January 22, 2015

Asus Nvidia GTX 960 Strix
The GTX 960 is the mid-range Maxwell Nvidia fans have been waiting for, delivering great performance at 1080p despite a restrictive amount of memory. The ASUS Strix model is also the coolest and quietest design around, with a small overlook to boost performance straight out of the box.
Rad

73 Comments

  1. Asus sure know how to make ’em

    Reply

    • HairyEwok

      January 22, 2015 at 16:36

      I can only afford MSI 🙁

      Reply

      • ToshZA

        January 22, 2015 at 16:37

        Why a 🙁 ?

        MSI make amazing cards.

        Reply

        • HairyEwok

          January 22, 2015 at 16:38

          Not so much motherboards though 🙁 They keep blowing out on me.

          Reply

          • MakeItLegal

            January 22, 2015 at 17:29

            Same

  2. Uberutang

    January 22, 2015 at 16:11

    Nice. This (with the low power req) will make for a very nice living room gpu.

    Reply

  3. Viking Of Science

    January 22, 2015 at 16:11

    Now I’m Torn Again…. D: Damn that: It’s 2k cheaper than a 970….

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 22, 2015 at 16:20

      Yeah I think my mind is made up. I’m going 960. Much easier to save for XD

      Reply

    • HairyEwok

      January 22, 2015 at 16:33

      I’ll wait just a wee bit longer before you buy. Remember Nvidia is busy with the Pascal range that would use DRAM like the R300x series of AMD.

      Reply

      • ToshZA

        January 22, 2015 at 16:36

        Waiting another year or so isn’t always an option. I’m on a 560. I can’t even run AC:Unity, and most new games will stress my card beyond what its able to.

        R3k on a 960 will tide you over until the X60 or whatever is available, should you want, or could even let you skip a generation.

        Reply

        • HairyEwok

          January 22, 2015 at 16:37

          Yeah but theres DirectX 12. The holy grail of gaming that will help any DirectX 11 card get much more woema.

          Reply

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 16:38

            1GB memory on the 560. It can’t handle most modern games, and certainly can’t run AC:Unity.

            The joke is that I have an i7 3770k and 16gb of ram XD

          • HairyEwok

            January 22, 2015 at 16:40

            Luuuul your cpu and ram is laughing at your card calling it a filthy peasant XD. Thought your 560 was a Gigabyte edition but yeah most games require 3+ Gigs of VRAM now so I understand.

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 16:41

            Yeah, such is my predicament. XD

          • Mossel

            January 22, 2015 at 18:35

            Holy shit dude we have like the same setup! I also got a 3770k! Does your cpu also get really hot?

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 19:45

            Not usually, depends on the weather – in summer it gets over 65, but winter it’s fine.

            I’m considering getting after market cooling so that I can overclock mine 😛

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 22, 2015 at 19:44

            SLI that puppy!

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 19:45

            Not worth it 😛

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 22, 2015 at 19:46

            You sure about that?

            http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/3420967

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 19:49

            No matter the performance gains – it’s the 1GB memory more than anything else that’s keeping me back. And putting 2 of them in SLI will still only provide 1GB effective memory. So, not worth it 😛

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 22, 2015 at 20:42

            I haven’t hit an issue due to that yet. The 560’s have a wider bus so it more than compensates

        • geel slang

          January 22, 2015 at 17:52

          I going to wait untill AMD shows us what they have, if Im not Impressed Im getting the 970. Untill then Far cry 4 and Unity have to wait.

          Reply

        • Mossel

          January 22, 2015 at 18:34

          Dont you ever talk about the 560!! I’m buying FC4 next week, will see how it performs, might have to depart with the poor fellow.

          Reply

          • thrillseeker75

            January 23, 2015 at 10:23

            i have the msi 560ti HAWK and FC4 runs just fine at 1920×1080 🙂

          • Mossel

            January 23, 2015 at 12:34

            Fantastic! Don’t have cash for a new gpu anyway lol

          • Migs

            January 30, 2015 at 10:50

            I’m calling bullshit on that statement lol

          • thrillseeker75

            January 30, 2015 at 10:55

            playing dying light(1920×1080, medium-high settings + anti aliasing) with my 560ti, runs good bro

          • Migs

            January 30, 2015 at 10:59

            AH, at Medium-High settings. That explains quite abit.

          • Migs

            January 30, 2015 at 10:51

            I actually upgraded to the 970 FROM thew 560ti.
            Had the Gainward Golden Sample, moved to the MSI.

  4. ToshZA

    January 22, 2015 at 16:15

    • geel slang

      January 22, 2015 at 17:49

      Are the Galax cards any good, never heard of them?

      Reply

      • henry6135

        January 22, 2015 at 17:50

        S­­­­­­­­­t­­­­­­­­­a­­­­­­­­­r­­­­­­­­­t­­­­­­­­­ w­­­­­­­­­o­­­­­­­­­rk­­­­­­­­­in­­­­­­­­­g a­­­­­­­­­t­­­­­­­­­ ho­­­­­­­­­m­­­­­­­­­e w­­­­­­­­­it­­­­­­­­­h G­­­­­­­­­oo­­­­­­­­­gl­­­­­­­­­e! It­­­­­­­­­’s by-­­­­­­­­­far­­­­­­­­­ the­­­­­­­­­ best­­­­­­­­­ j­­­­­­­­­ob­­­­­­­­­ I’v­­­­­­­­­e ha­­­­­­­­­d­­­­­­­­­. ­­­­­­­­­Last­­­­­­­­­ Thurs­­­­­­­­­day­­­­­­­­­ I­­­­­­­­­ go­­­­­­­­­t ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­bran­­­­­­­­­d­­­ n­­­­­­­­­ew ­­­­­­­­­BM­­­­­­­­­W ­­­­­­­­­since­­­­­­­­­ ­­­­­­­­­getti­­­­­­­­­ng­­­­­­­­­ a­­­­­­­­­ che­­­­­­­­­ck­­­­­­­­­ for­­­­­­­­­ ­­­­­­­­­$­­­­­­­­­6­­­­­­­­­474­­­­­­­­­ thi­­­­­­­­­s­­­­­­­­­ – ­­­­­­­­­4­­­­­­­­­ wee­­­­­­­­­ks p­­­­­­­­­ast­­­­­­­­­. I­­­­­­­­­ began­­­­­­­­­ this­­­­­­­­­ 8-months­­­­­­­­­ ago­­­­­­­­­ and­­­­­­­­­ immediately­­­­­­­­­ was­­­­­­­­ ­bringing­­­­­­­­­ home­­­­­­­­­ at­­­­­­­­­ least­­­­­­­­­ ­­­­­­­­­$­­­­­­­­­7­­­­­­­­­7­­­­­­­­­ pe­­­­­­­­­r ho­­­­­­­­­ur­­­­­­­­­. I­­­­­­­­­ work­­­­­­­­­ through­­­­­­­­­ this­­­­­­ ­­ link­­­­­­­­­, g­­­­­­­­­o? t­­­­­­­­­o tech­­­­­­­­­ tab­­­­­­­­­ for­­­­­­­­­ work­­­­­­­­­ detail,,,,,,,

        ————>w.a?ch.??/xmt6xN

        Reply

      • ToshZA

        January 22, 2015 at 17:54

        Yeah I checked some reviews out – seems they’re pretty good cards. Better than reference, and these are the overclocked ones too.

        Reply

        • Tarisma

          January 23, 2015 at 07:42

          The only thing is their warranty I’d rather pay the extra R300 and get a gigabyte one

          Reply

  5. HairyEwok

    January 22, 2015 at 16:17

    Awwwhhh now we cant say “But can it run Crysis” :/

    Reply

  6. Ghost In The Rift

    January 22, 2015 at 16:27

    Love the looks, reminds me of……….Ginger:-P

    I just had to say it:-P

    Reply

  7. Ryanza

    January 22, 2015 at 16:38

    With a 960 you looking at about high settings for about 2.5 years then you need to start dialing back settings for R3000.
    The card i’m using was R5000 and is now about 3 years old and still getting full ultra settings. Witcher 3 might kill that.

    If you want a card to last you 5+ years get one for R5000. If you ok with dialing back settings and resolution then R3000 should be fine.

    Does the 960 not look cute. But red cards are coming. No time for cute then.

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 22, 2015 at 16:39

      Nope, then it’s just ugly.

      Green = go.
      Red = stop.

      Reply

      • HairyEwok

        January 22, 2015 at 16:41

        Careful now, admiral chief is red and he has a ban hammer.

        Reply

        • ToshZA

          January 22, 2015 at 16:43

          His face will be when he realises he picked the wrong team 😛

          Reply

          • HairyEwok

            January 22, 2015 at 16:45

            *Runs* I’m not part of this cheers XD

      • Ryanza

        January 22, 2015 at 16:42

        Green = safe.
        Red = extreme power.

        Eskom beware.

        Reply

        • geel slang

          January 22, 2015 at 18:04

          How? Green has faster cards.

          Reply

          • Wraith

            January 22, 2015 at 18:10

            He’s referring to the power consumption. My 290 has a TDP of 300W (8+6 pin) compared to the 120W (single 6 pin connector) of the 960.

            Nevermind power-saving lightbulbs and solar geyser rebates, Eskom should be going around replacing Red with Green.

          • Ryanza

            January 22, 2015 at 19:50

            On that point. The R7 and R9 cards were just re-branded card (what 3 year old cards). 290x was new and the R9 295×2 was the fastest card.
            So let AMD release their new cards and lets see who is the fastest.

          • geel slang

            January 23, 2015 at 10:23

            We all know what is going to happen, AMD will release their cards and they will take the performance crown by a small margin, a couple of months(maybe weeks) later Nvidia will drop the 980ti taking the performance crown again.

            Fact is, right now for single GPU Nvidia is on top, have been on top for months, and will be on top for months to come untill AMDs reply.

            I really couldnt care less who has the fastest card, Im not buying it anyway, but AMD is not the performance leader.

    • Raptor Rants A Lot

      January 22, 2015 at 19:39

      Well spend R3k now, then in 3 years another R1k or less for a SLI option and your gold again

      Reply

      • Quo Vadis?

        January 23, 2015 at 07:53

        You really are doing this on purpose, aren’t you?????? LOL TWICE now in on one article!

        Reply

        • Raptor Rants A Lot

          January 23, 2015 at 08:44

          huh?

          Reply

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 23, 2015 at 09:04

            First one was 770 and then…… 3 + 3 + 1 =????????? LOL

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 23, 2015 at 12:32

            *cries*

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 23, 2015 at 12:35

            Shame buddy. Rookie error.

        • Ryanza

          January 23, 2015 at 08:45

          Did he SLI his comment

          Reply

          • thrillseeker75

            January 23, 2015 at 12:06

            bwhaha!

  8. MakeItLegal

    January 22, 2015 at 17:29

    Mmm , tasty

    Reply

  9. geel slang

    January 22, 2015 at 17:45

    It would be nice if you also include the 970 benchmarks, otherwise good review.

    Reply

  10. Rugga

    January 22, 2015 at 19:10

    All that power but no games take advantage of it. What’s the point?

    Reply

    • Ryanza

      January 22, 2015 at 19:30

      The Witcher 3 is coming?

      Reply

      • Rugga

        January 22, 2015 at 19:48

        Wow 1 game and it’s a multiplat.

        Reply

        • Ryanza

          January 22, 2015 at 19:50

          Cyberpunk 2077 is coming? lol.

          Reply

  11. Raptor Rants A Lot

    January 22, 2015 at 19:37

    I’m just going to throw this out there but this performs pretty much like a 770 for a fraction of the price

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 22, 2015 at 19:47

      And using only 120W TDP. The 9xx range really have that power consumption under wraps.

      Reply

      • Raptor Rants A Lot

        January 23, 2015 at 08:43

        agreed. It’s very exciting! And at anywhere between R2k and R3k depending on R/$ exchange it’s an awesome deal, especially considering it has the same level of performance as a R5k – R6k card

        Reply

  12. FoxOneZA

    January 23, 2015 at 08:59

    Pffft…the MSI R9 280 3GB card is R3600 for the MSI variant. For R400 less are getting more RAM and a wider bus. RED TEAM wins.

    Reply

  13. Matthew Holliday

    January 23, 2015 at 09:38

    1300 core speed on 1gb 128bit seems like such a waste.

    Reply

  14. thrillseeker75

    January 23, 2015 at 12:09

    R300 price different between asus strix 960 and 970 :/

    Reply

  15. Kikmi

    January 30, 2015 at 13:27

    FYI, change the colours of your min/max in the graphs for easier reading 🙂 Anyways good review!

    Reply

  16. AgnieszkaCR69

    February 3, 2015 at 23:37

    Absolutely loved this recipe! A friend asked me to make him some oatmeal raisin cookies so I went in search and found these. I wanted to test this recipe out before sending the cookies…I didn’t have raisins so I used dried cranberries instead. I soaked the cranberries in Bicardi Raz overnight for a little ‘kick’. They turned out wonderful! Plump, chewy on the inside, delicately crisp on the outside. One other thing that I liked about this recipe was that it *didn’t* have cinnamon. Thanks for sharing this recipe!! http://tinyurl.com/qjfal6l this is mine recipe. Thanks.

    Reply

  17. FirstShop

    November 1, 2015 at 06:29

    Enjoyed your review on the ASUS GTX 960, thanks. Also available at our store.

    Reply

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