ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix Video Card Review
By Julian Duque
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by ASUTeK Computer Inc.
As we assume with most NVIDIA video card family releases, NVIDIA first launches the best cards of the series, and then makes it’s way down the list. Today the spotlight is on the GeForce GTX 960, the direct heir of the GTX 760 and the sub $300 spot in NVIDIA’s current line of graphics cards. Seen as an opportunity, NVIDIA’s x60 series of video cards always tries to bring the most performance on a budget oriented card, as well as providing a direct upgrade to users running older systems.
What is surprising is how aggressively NVIDIA is pricing the 900 series of cards. The GeForce GTX 970 was released with a $330 price tag, that is an 18% price drop over it’s predecessor the GeForce GTX 770, which was released just short of the $400 mark. Same goes for the GeForce GTX 980 which was released for $534.99, a $115 or drop over the pricey GeForce GTX 780 which initially came in at $649.
It is clear what NVIDIA’s message is to the enthusiast community, they are willing to be competitive. To further confirm this claims, the release price of the GeForce GTX 960 is just $199 for the basic models, a bit more for the feature packed ones like the ASUS Strix sample that we will be reviewing today. In comparison to it’s predecessor, the GeForce GTX 960 comes in at around 20% cheaper than it’s predecessor, the GeForce GTX 760.
Probably the only let down Benchmark Reviews had with the release of the GeForce GTX 980 is that after 3 years of being the top manufacturing node for graphic processing units at TSMC, the 28nm process is still featured on the top tier graphics cards from both AMD and NVIDIA. Fortunately, TSMC has already established 20nm production for the likes of Apple and Qualcomm, which most likely means that soon enough, the 28nm process that was first introduced in Kepler, will become a retired veteran.
I start off this review with this analysis because it is important to know what NVIDIA has managed to do in order to keep their release cycle on point. In years past, TSMC released a new node every 2 years, and in certain occasions they released half -nodes in between those two years. This led to GPU manufacturers to quickly develop and pack more hardware into smaller and more efficient chips, which in turn led to a higher yield in performance.
With 28nm, this rapid growth has stalled, leaving manufacturers to look for alternatives to further improve their products. From NVIDIA the response was Maxwell, the revamped 28nm architecture, first seen 11 months ago with the release of the GeForce GTX 750 and GTX 750 TI which featured the entry-level GM 107 GPU. To show how much further Maxwell had improved over Kepler, NVIDIA then released the GeForce GTX 980 and the GTX 970 featuring the GM204 SoC that managed to do what was thought impossible. When Benchmark Reviews first got ahold of the GeForce GTX 980, it was concluded that the GM204, although larger in die size, had a 10% performance increase over it’s predecessor the GM107, while consuming 1/3 less the power.
Features & Specifications
|Graphics Processing Clusters||2|
|Base Clock||1228 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1291 MHz|
|Memory Clock (Data rate)||7200 MHz|
|L2 Cache Size||1024K|
|Effective Memory Speed||~9300 MHz|
|Total Video Memory||2048 GDDR5|
|Total Memory Bandwidth||112.16 GB/s|
|Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)||72.1 GigaTexels/sec|
|Fabrication Process||28 nm|
|Transistor Count||2.94 Billion|
|Display Outputs||3 x DisplayPort1 x HDMI1x Dual-Link DVI|
|Power Connectors||1 x 6-pin|
|Thermal Design Power||120 Watts|
|Thermal Threshold||95o C|
|Physical Measurements||215.2 x 121.2 x 40.9 mm|
The ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix comes with factory overclocked base and boost clocks, as well as with a higher memory clock right out of the box. Our sample’s base clock of 1228 MHz is 9% higher than the 1126 MHz of the official card. The Strix’s memory clock also brings in an additional 190 MHz more over the stock 7010 MHz, boosting an appropriate 7200 MHz. The boost clock provides an additional 63 MHz, which is close to being half of the boost clock seen in the GeForce GTX 970. As expected from all of the “Second Generation” Maxwell cards, the GeForce GTX 960 brings a lot of new features including:
- Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA)
- Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR)
- Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI)
- VR Direct
- 4K NVIDIA ShadowPlay