EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+
Robert Dow on March 10th 2015 |
A sweet AIB for the market sweet spot
The introduction of Maxwell to the “sweet spot” of the market came with the release of the GeForce GTX 960 AIB. The GTX 960 is priced around $200 depending on OEM and configuration. We have EVGA’s version for the GM204-300 based AIB, the GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ and so we decided to take a closer look.
Mainstream gamers as well as those gamers on the lower end of the Performance segment are still primarily running games at 1920 x 1080, with some of the bells and whistles turned on – the EVGA SuperSC ACX 2.0+ performed flawlessly at these “lower” resolutions, with frame rates often coming in around 70 to 90 FPS. With this kind of performance available we think that the gamers in this segment will turn up the resolutions as well as add a monitor, the Maxwell is bringing high-end resolution gaming to the mainstream, the gamers now just need to upgrade their monitors in order to take full advantage.
EVGA enhances the performance of the GTX 960 with its Maxwell processor by providing it with an advanced top-end cooling system. Two large ACX 2.0 fans are the prominent physical features when looking at the add-in board. EVGA uses a “double ball bearing fan” which they claim lasts 400% longer than conventional sleeve bearing fans that need a lubricant. These fans run ultra-quiet. Even when full-out gaming at high resolution with anti-aliasing on, the fans did not register above ambient room noise. We had to turn the fan speed in Precision up to 20% just to get the noise to register. The SuperSC ACX 2.0+ also features a Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP), which makes direct contact with the memory and the MOSFETS that reduces the heat of the AIB by up to 11 degrees Celsius.
The GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ is about a half an inch longer than EVGA’s GTX 970. This came as a surprise to us considering the die size of the GM204-200 compared to the GM204-300, but the GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ has Straight Heat Pipes compared to the bent heat pipes of the GTX 970. EVGA has found that straight heat pipes provide better heat dissipation than the curved pipes on models like the GTX 970 Superclocked ACX 2.0. All of this cooling engineering keeps the AIB under 70 degrees Celsius, even under stress we never saw the EVGA GTX 960 get over 70 Celsius , this was while keeping the fan at the factory default setting.
The GTX 960 and EVGA SuperSC ACX 2.0+ represents a major step forward for mainstream and performance gaming segments, when the GTX 690 was introduced in September 2012 it did so with 960 CUDA Cores, a 1033MHz boost clock at a $230 price point. The GTX 960, now breaks on the scene with 1024 Cores, a reference boost clock of 1178 MHz (1342MHz for the EVGA SuperSC) at a $199 price point all with delivering a 50% boost in performance and the option for high resolution gaming. The GTX 660 and the GTX 960 were introduced with 2GB of GDDR5, there is really no need for more memory on the GTX 960, it performs beautifully in its targeted segment, the more memory would raise the price point without much bang for the buck. The Memory bandwidth of the GTX 960 is 112.16 GB/s
We ran a variety of tests and benchmarks, both synthetic as well as ingame to get the best idea on how the new GM204-300 stacks up to its older brothers like the GTX 660. We also included the AMD R9 280X in the comparison. The 280X checks in at a MSPR of $250 so it is considered in the higher end of the Performance segment while the GTX 960 is more a high-end mainstream, lower tier performance model. But it stacks up to the R9 280X. Our test bed is powered by a Core i7-5660X running at 3.0GHz with a Asus X99- Deluxe Mother Board, 16GB of RAM and a Intel SSD 240 GB running Windows 8.1.
When an AIB is in the sweet-spot, which means it’s not an extreme AIB where price, noise, size, and power consumption are irrelevant to fps, the Pmark is an appropriate measure.
We took the (normalized) average of the tests (Firestrike, Tomb Radier (at various resolutions), Catzillia (at various resolutions), Heaven, Hitman Absolution (at various resolutions), The Valley, Batman Arkin (at various AAs), and StartSwam) to arrive at the Performance number for each AIB.
EVGA’s GTX 960 delivers what it promises, the most performance for the best price, and the lowest power.
The GTX 960 supports Maxwell’s advanced technologies like dynamic super resolution (DSR), which provides a 4K experience on a 1080p monitor, DSR uses super sampling, rendering of the a 4K image in the frame buffer, and then it is shrunk down to the resolution of the monitor, in theory it keeps the richness of the 4K image. All that and other features such as G-Synch and Nvidia’s GeForce experience the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ plus access to EVGA’s proprietary software, such as PrecisionX 16 overclocking software.
Precision is our favorite software, its easy to use and the tools and clocks are easy to manipulate, the new Precision 16 version GUI makes it even easier to use. We used PrecisionX 16 to overclock the AIB in a few apps, as well as to turn up the fan speed in some tests. EVGA is also offering the OC Scanner which has an internal benchmark and allows to keep track of your GPU’s vital signs.
The GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ has a 3 DisplayPort connects with a HDMI and DVI-I the and supports up to 4 monitors and a max resolution of 4096x2160.
What do we think?
The GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ is another giant leap ahead for the “sweetspot” performance segment. The technology and engineering the gamer can get for $209 is off the charts, especially considering most are still gaming in 1080 resolutions. This AIB is capable to providing 70 – 80 FPS with 4x AA on Ultra pre-sets without a problem. What this AIB can give the user, while only consuming 120W, is really incredible. We are curious to see how it stacks up to AMD’s R9 300X family rumored to be introduced in weeks.