GeForce GTX 460 versus GeForce GTX 960

NVIDIA Logo The year 2010 started on a somber note, with a catastrophic magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti. U.S. President Barack Obama signed off on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare". An explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killed 11 workers and ended up being the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Most of the world might remember those historic events as being some of the largest stories of 2010, but PC gamers will remember 2010 as the year that NVIDIA introduced the Fermi GPU microarchitecture that went on to be used for pretty much every GeForce GeForce 400 series and GeForce 500 series graphics card sold. All desktop Fermi GPUs were manufactured on the 40nm process and the many design characteristics of the Streaming Multiprocessors can be seen in the succeeding Kepler and Maxwell GPU microarchitectures. gtx460 versus gtx960We often don't get a chance to compare 5-year old video cards to the latest and greatest cards, so we thought we'd take the time this week and compare the original NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference card from 2010 to a brand new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB video card by ASUS. NVIDIA has done a great job with their video card drivers, so the latest GeForce 347.25 drivers (download link) that just came out this week will work on the GeForce GTX 460 that came out nearly 5 years ago. Our original review on the GTX 460 was completed with GeForce 258.80 drivers to give you an idea of how many driver releases NVIDIA has had over the years. The December 2014 Steam Hardware Survey shows that the there are still a large number of gamers out there that are using NVIDIA graphics cards using Fermi GPUs and the most popular frame buffer on a video card is still just 1GB. All of the game titles we test with today weren't even out in 2010, so it will be interesting to see how an older card like this will run on Far Cry 4, Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 and other popular game titles. GeForce GTX 960 Highlights The real question we are hoping to answer today is it time to sell off that GeForce GTX 460 video card that is in your system and move up to a GeForce GTX 960 to get improved performance and all the latest features from NVIDIA? With DirectX 12 and Windows 10 right around the corner this might be the video card to upgrade to for mainstream gamers.
GTX 960 GTX 760 GTX 660 GTX 560 GTX 460
GPU GM206 GK104 GK106 GF114 GF104
Die size (mm2) 227 294 221 360 332
GPU Cores 1024 1152 960 336 336
Rated Clock (CUDA Cores) 1126 MHz 980 MHz 980 MHz 1850 MHz 1350 MHz
Texture Units 64 96 80 56 56
ROP Units 32 32 24 32 32
Memory 2GB 2GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
Memory Clock 7000 MHz 6008 MHz 6000 MHz 4200 MHz 3600 MHz
Memory Interface 128-bit 256-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 112 GB/s 192 GB/s 144 GB/s 128 GB/s 115.2 GB/s
TDP 120 watts 170 watts 140 watts 150 watts 160 watts
Peak Compute 2.30 TFLOPS 2.26 TFLOPS 1.81 TFLOPS 1.10 TFLOPS 0.91 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 2.94B 3.54B 2.54B 1.95B 1.95B
Process Tech 28nm 28nm 28nm 40nm 40nm
MSRP $199 $249 $230 $199 $229
NVIDIA loves the $199 to $249 price range for video cards and calls it their sweet spot as they sell millions of these these models due to the affordability. When you look at the specifications of the GeForce GTX 460/560/660/760/960 you can see that the memory bandwidth hasn't greatly improved over the years, but then it comes to the compute power we have nearly a 2.5x increase! Let's stop talking about these two cards and get to the benchmarks!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.  There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done our testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix GPU Cooler

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard with BIOS 1501 that came out on 01/15/2014. We went with the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform as it is PCIe 3.0 certified, so all graphics cards are tested with PCI Express Gen 3 enabled. The Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB 2400MHz quad channel memory kit was set to XMP Profile #2. This profile defaults to 2133MHz with 1.65v and 11-12-12-30 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair AX860i digital power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements than the old Corsair AX1200 power supply that we used from 2012 till this year had a loud fan that always ran. gpu-test-system-specs Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
The Intel X79 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor Intel Core i7-4960X
Motherboard
ASUS P9X79-E WS
Memory
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
Video Card Various
Solid-State Drive OCZ Vertex 460 240GB
Cooling Intel TS13X (Asetek)
Power Supply Corsair AX860i
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
Monitor Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB Card GPU-Z Info: 460-gpuz gttx460-idle ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB Card GPU-Z Info: GTX 960 GPU-Z   gtx960-idle

Batman: Arkham Origins

BatmanOrigins-SS Batman: Arkham Origins is an action-adventure video game developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it follows the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and is the third main installment in the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide on October 25, 2013. BatmanOrigins settings For testing we used DirectX11 Enhanced, FXAA High Anti-Aliasing and with all the bells and whistles turned on. It should be noted that V-Sync was turned off and that NVIDIA's PhysX software engine was also disabled to ensure both the AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards were rendering the same objects. We manually ran FRAPS on the single player game instead of using the built-in benchmark to be as real world as we possibly could. We ran FRAPS in the Bat Cave, which was one of the only locations that we could easily run FRAPS for a couple minutes and get it somewhat repeatable. batman-cpu-utilization The CPU usage for Batman: Arkham Origins was surprising low with just 10% of the Intel Core i7-4960X being used by this particular game title. You can see that the bulk of the work is being done by one CPU core. batman Benchmark Results:  The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be almost 2.5x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in Batman: Arkham Origins! The GTX 460 actually played the game well and averaged 40 FPS, but was clearly out matched by the newer cards.

Battlefield 4

bf4-screenshot Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have been running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States. bf4-settings This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the Ultra graphics quality preset as most discrete desktop graphics cards can easily play with this IQ setting at 1080P and we still want to be able to push the higher-end cards down the road. We used FRAPS to benchmark with these settings on the Shanghai level. All tests were done with the DirectX 11 API unless noted in the chart. bf4-cpu-utilization Battlefield 4 is more CPU intensive than any other game that we benchmark with as 25% of the CPU is used up during gameplay. You can see that six threads are being used and that the processor is running in Turbo mode at 3.96GHz more times than not. bf4 Benchmark Results: The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be 2.45x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in Battlefield 4.

Crysis 3

crysis3-SS Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each test. crysis3-settings crysis3-settings2 Crysis 3 has a reputation for being highly resource intensive. Most graphics cards will have problems running Crysis 3 at maximum settings, so we settled on no AA with the graphics quality mostly set to Very High with 16x AF. We disabled v-sync and left the motion blur amount on medium. crysis3-cpu-utilization Crysis 3 appeared to run for the most part on just 3 CPU threads and used up about 15-18% of our Intel Core i7-4960X processor with these settings. Notice that the processor speed was at 3.53GHz and we very seldom, if ever, saw the processor go into turbo mode on Crysis 3. crysis3 Benchmark Results: The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be 2.32x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in Crysis 3.

Far Cry 4

FarCry4 Far Cry 4 is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One video game consoles, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to 2012's Far Cry 3. The game was released on November 18th, 2014 in North America and Europe. Far Cry 4 follows Ajay Ghale, a young Kyrati-American who returns to his native country Kyrat to spread his deceased mother's ashes. He finds the country in a state of civil war between Kyrat's Royal Army led by the country's eccentric and tyrant king Pagan Min and the Golden Path, a rebel movement fighting to free Kyrat from Min's oppressive rule. FarCry4-settings Far Cry 4 uses the heavily modified Dunia Engine 2 game engine with Havok physics. The graphics are excellent and the game really pushes the limits of what one can expect from mainstream graphics cards. We set game title to Ultra image quality settings and did not adjust any of the advanced settings. farcry4 CPU Usage Far Cry 4 uses about 30% of the processor and is running on multiple cores as you can see from our screen capture above. One core has more of a load on it than the others, but all logical processors are being uses to some degree when playing Far Cry 4. fc4

Benchmark Results: The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be 2.61x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in Far Cry 4.

Metro Last Light

 

MetroLL-SS

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013. metro-settings Metro: Last Light was benchmarked with very high image quality settings with the SSAA set to off and 4x AF. These settings are tough for entry level discrete graphics cards, but are more than playable on high-end gaming graphics cards. We benchmarked this game title on the Theater level. metroll-cpu-utilization

We again found around 20% CPU usage on Metro: Last Light.

metro-ll Benchmark Results: The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be 2.61x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in Metro Last Light.

Thief

thief Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix on February 25, 2014. thief-display-settings thief-graphics-settings We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled. dayz-cpu-utilization Thief appears to be running on the six physical cores of the Intel Core i7-4960X processor and averages around 17-24% CPU usage from what we were able to tell from the CPU utilization meter that is built into the Windows 8.1 task manager. thief Benchmark Results: The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be 2.87x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in Thief.

3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

  Fire Strike Benchmark Results:

3dmark-firestrike

Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark had the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 video card coming in with an overall score of 7,050 versus a score of 5,768 on the GeForce GTX 760 reference card and 2,414 on the GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference card.  The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card was found to be 2.92x faster than the NVIDIA GeFroce GTX 460 1GB video card in 3DMark Fire Strike.

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the GTX 460 and GTX 960 video cards. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB Idle Temps: gttx460-idle ASUS Strix GTX 960 Direct CU II OC 2GB Idle Temps: gtx960-idle The ASUS Strix GTX 960 DirectCU II video card has no fans spinning at idle, so the card is dead silent and running at 45C. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB video card has a single fan that runs at all times and was found to be at 24C at idle. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB Gaming Temps: gtx460-gaming ASUS Strix GTX 960 Direct CU II OC 2GB Idle Temps: gtx960-gaming It may seem unbelievable, but both the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB and the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 2GB video cards reached a maximum of 63C in a room where the temperature was 67F (20.5C)! temps

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

gtx460-noise The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card has no fans running, so the card is dead silent at idle. The only reason the system is above ambient noise levels is due to water cooler fans and pump noise. Even with the fans running the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 hit just 41.2dB, so this is a very quiet card and that will appeal to many gamers. We didn't notice any choke noise when gaming, but we did notice a little bit when we were loading up Far Cry 4. When the opening credits are showing the video card is putting out over 2,000 FPS according to FRAPS and you'll hear the chokes a bit. Once the game starts and the GPU is loaded up normally there is no choke noise to be heard from the card on our open air test bench. Placing this card inside a case will only improve noise levels (granted it isn't overheating), so the thermals and noise levels from this card are damn impressive. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 is also a very quiet card that has a single fan that runs at 1500RPM at idle and then bumps up to just 1630RPM when gaming. Both cards are comparable when gaming, so there really isn't a huge difference when it comes to gaming noise levels.

Power Consumption

gtx460 versus gtx960 For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran Battlefield 4 at 1920x1080 and recorded the average idle reading and the peak gaming reading on the power meter. power Power Consumption Results: We were actually  very surprised to see that the GeForce GTX 460 did so well with regards to power consumption. The GTX 460 1GB reference card only used 2-5W more power than the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video when it came to peak values. NVIDIA hasn't really dropped the minimum and maximum power draws that much on their 'sweet spot' card by that much over five years, but the performance versus Watts has greatly improved.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Is it worth getting rid of your GeForce GTX 460 video card and getting a new GeForce GTX 960 video card? First let's take a look at what you could sell your GeForce GTX 460 1GB video card for today on an online auction site like eBay. gtx460-ebay After the GeForce GTX 960 was released the resale value on the GeForce GTX 460 did drop a bit, but you can still get about $45 on average for a card. We highly suggest selling your card locally on Craigslist as you don't have to subtract all the eBay and Paypal fees along with the shipping costs. The NVIDIA suggested price for the GeForce GTX 960 is $199 and the ASUS STRIX-GTX960-DC2OC that we looked at today retails for $209.99 shipped.  The ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video card has all the features that gamers want and the case for spending an extra $10 on it is easily justifiable. If you can get $45 out of your old card that means you are looking at about $165 to step up to a GeForce GTX 960 card and more than double your FPS in the game titles you play. ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Retail BoxWe saw between a significant 2.3x - 2.9x  performance gains in the six game titles that we tested with FRAPS. Plus, besides just the performance boost, you get features like DirectX 12 support, VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC monitor technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution for 4K-quality gaming on 1080P displays. NVIDIA claims 60% faster performance and twice the energy efficiency when you look at performance per Watt compared to previous models and they aren't kidding! If you have an older video card like a GeForce GTX 460, now might be the time to sell it and move onto something like the GeForce GTX 960 if you game on a 1080P Full HD display! Legit Bottom Line: If you have a PC gaming with an older GPU inside and want to push it to the next level, the GeForce GTX 960 will certainly give you that extra horsepower and won't break the bank. GeForce GTX 960 Highlights