MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G Graphics Card Review

Another GTX 960 but does the MSI Gaming spin on it give it an edge over AMD?

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GTX 960, What’s New?

So what is new with the latest GeForce GTX 960 from NVIDIA?  Well to cut a long story short, the GTX 960 was developed with the intention of being the “sweet spot” for gamers not looking to spend the earth looking for a suitable solution.  With a good lineage with the x60 cards such as the legendary GTX 460 and even the GTX 660 (the most popular card with MOBA gamers), the GTX 960 not only aims to recreate that success, but to do it with such style that effectively those who want 1080p gaming on a budget are NVIDIAs market now!

The GeForce GTX 960 supports MFAA, which provides a significant performance boost in graphically demanding DX10 or DX11 games that also support MSAA. In fact, when combined with MFAA the GeForce GTX 960 is able to run many games at 1080p at 60 frames per second. This is an important distinction, as there’s been considerable outcry recently from console gamers with 1080p games that are capped to run at 30 frames per second, or aren’t even running 1080p resolution at all.

To improve the efficiency of the GPU’s on-board caches, NVIDIA also made a number of changes to the cache hierarchy in Maxwell. Each of GM206’s SMM units features its own dedicated 96KB shared memory while the L1/texture caching functions are combined into a 24KB pool of memory per pair of processing blocks (48KB per SMM). Prior generation Kepler GPUs had a smaller 64KB shared memory function that was also shared as L1 cache.

As a result of these changes, each GM206 CUDA core is able to deliver roughly 1.4x more performance per core compared to a GK106 Kepler CUDA core (the direct predecessor of GM206), and 2x the performance per watt.

Ultimately the 128-bit, 7Gbps memory interface in GM206 is able to effectively provide slightly more bandwidth than its direct predecessor, GK106, as a result of the efficiency improvements in Maxwell’s new memory subsystem (148.8GB/sec effective in GTX 960 vs 144.2GB/sec in GTX 660).

Like GeForce GTX 980, the GeForce GTX 960 has a new display engine capable of supporting resolutions up to 5K with up to four simultaneous displays (including support for up to four 4K MST displays). GeForce GTX 960 also supports HDMI 2.0.

Because of its low power operation, some potential GeForce GTX 960 users may wish to use this GPU inside their home theatre PC. Therefore to satisfy the needs of this audience, one new addition that’s been added to GM206 is support for H.265 (HEVC) encoding and decoding. GTX 980’s NVENC video engine offers native support for H.265 encodes only, no decode. With the amount of 4K content expected to explode in the coming years, GM206 also adds native support for HDCP 2.2 content protection over HDMI.

In stock form, the GeForce GTX 960 is 50% faster than the GeForce GTX 660, making it a tremendous upgrade for gamers who haven’t upgraded their video card in the last 2.5 years. But the GTX 960 pulls even further away from its predecessor once it’s overclocked.

Thanks in part to Maxwell’s tremendous power efficiency, the GeForce GTX 960 has a tremendous amount of headroom for overclocking. The base clock frequency is 1126MHz, with a boost clock of 1178MHz on reference models.

 

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