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ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix Video Card Review

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Closer Look: ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

Having ASUS provide the sample for the launch of the GeForce GTX 960, it was clear to me that the product they would send would be no ordinary card. Instead, they sent their Strix branded card which they claim is 30% cooler, three times quieter, and has a longer lifespan over the reference model. I could also write for days about how beautiful the design of the card is, but that is completely subjective.

Asus-Strix-GeForce-GTX-960-Fans

The Direct CU ll Cooler has become a standard for most of the overclocked and enthusiast ready video cards that ASUS has launched into the market, with the exception of their Republic of Gamers line of cards which are usually targeted for other audiences such as extreme overclockers. The Direct CU II Cooler controls the temperature of the GM 206 chip with a total of 4 copper heat-pipes that transfer the heat of the chip to the heat sink which is cooled by the fans, that is if the graphics card temperature reaches the 55oC mark. Because GM 206 is such an efficient chip, it can be passively run at very light loads. For this reason, ASUS implemented their 0dB fan technology which leaves the fans off if the temperature is below the 55mark.

Asus-Strix-GeForce-GTX-960-Top-View

ASUS understands that NVIDIA is targeting this graphics card to overclockers. This comes as no surprise due to the cards low TDP, which usually means lower temperatures and a better overclocking experience. The ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix consumes a mere 120 Watts, and it is recommended that you obtain a 400 Watt power supply with at least one 6-pin PCI-E connector. If you are not concerned about power consumption, ASUS provides you with the GPU Tweak software which allows you to modify voltage, clock speeds, and fan speeds on the fly, as well as giving you complete monitoring through GPU Tweak Streaming.

Asus-Strix-GeForce-GTX-960-Back-Plate

What I think is the most interesting inclusion of the ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix is the back-plate. Not only does it provide rigidity to the card, as well as eliminating any potential “GPU sag”, which was a very common issue in previous ASUS cards, but it gives the back of the card potentially higher cooling and protects the sensible electronics found underneath it. For a graphics card that retails at $209.99, the inclusion of a back-plate can be the determining factor when choosing the appropriate graphics card.

Asus-Strix-GTX-960-Input-Output

With the release of the second generation Maxwell Processors, NVIDIA added support for HDMI 2.0 which is capable of driving 4K displays at 60 fps, allowing for potentially 4K 3D videos, along with higher-frame-rate 2D content. Along with one HDMI 2.0 port, ASUS offers a dual-link DVI connection, and a total of three DisplayPort 1.2 connections. This is the same output layout found on most of the second generation Maxwell GPUs, such as the GeForce GTX 980 and the GTX 970, which is understandable as each one of these cards could potentially drive three displays and NVIDIA 3D-Vision Surround.


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12 comments

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  1. Bob

    Was disappointed to see no noise measurements. Have read of numerous complaints about coil wine and fan noise on many of the Nvidia 700 and 900 series cards, so when you mentioned that Asus was claiming 3 times lower noise for the Strix, I was anxious to find out exactly what they meant.

    Also, the fact that the card has no fans running at all until it reaches 55 degrees Celsius had me wondering what it would be like to have a totally silent card that suddenly activated it’s fans at a certain temp. Would that activation be jarring or annoying or would it be a gradual ramping up, and how loud would it be?

    I’m still running a GTX 560 ti and am ready for an upgrade when the right card comes along, so am really curious about the noise levels of this one. Although I agree with your suspicion about the odd price point, and that there is usually something in the $250.00 – $275.00 range that is missing in the 900 series.

    1. Caring1

      The lower noise can be claimed due to the fans not running during idle, it is a marketing trick as the fans will not be that much quieter usual when actually running.

      1. Bob

        I suspected that as well, which made it even more unusual that Julian reported no noise measurements.

    2. Caring1

      I was a bit disappointed not to see an R9 270 included in the test, as in my opinion that is it’s direct competitor, judging by size, price and performance.

    3. Julian Duque

      Hello Bob. We did not record noise measurements in this article as we will soon be doing a complete noise roundup test soon with the appropriate tools. Just to recap something I didn’t mention, the fans never ran at 100% during all of our tests.

      1. Bob

        Will be waiting anxiously for the “noise roundup test”, but it should be part of every video card test.

        1. Julian Duque

          We understand, but we are in the process of obtaining better equipment to test for noise using quantified measurements instead of the usual Max noise score that we used in past reviews. We did not want to delay this review past today, and that is the reason why there are no noise tests.

        2. Olin Coles

          Yes, everything measurable should always be part of every review… unless you’re only given three days (evenings) to complete a lengthy project you offer to the public completely free of charge.

          While I’m thinking about it, you know what should be in every comment below a review? Some form of gratitude along with whatever question you have.

          1. Roman from USSR

            Indeed, I totally agree with Olin. People used to only complain/ inquire in the comments.
            Thank you for your reviews guys, they are helpful.

  2. Tom J

    Thanks for having this out so soon! You guys beat Anandtech 😉 (Along with almost everyone else!) – I know you probably didn’t have time, but any word on how this thing overclocks (and how it performs when overclocked)? With the other Maxwell cards able to hit 1300/1400 boost clocks, I’d be curious to see if the 960 would as well. Could change the equation a bit, although overclocking definitely varies per card. Seems like it’d be easier to jump to an overclocked R9 290 otherwise and get 970ish performance for a bit more (although, if you want to talk about noise…) Appreciate the observations on the new Maxwell, thanks Julian!

  3. edy

    “”At the center of the PCB we find the star of this review, the GM 204″”

    Really? Isn’t the GM 206?

    1. Julian Duque

      Thanks for bringing this up, I have now corrected the article. It is in fact the GM 206, as the GM 204 is found on both the GTX 970 and 980.

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