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.
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 55o mark.
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.
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.
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.