Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming Video Card

Gigabyte GeForce GTX960 Models If you ware looking to spend around $200 for a gaming graphics card this spring the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 (launch review) is the latest and greatest card from NVIDIA at that price point. There are more than a dozen GTX960 cards on the market from six manufacturers (ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, PNY,and Zotac) in the United States, so picking the right card could be a bit overwhelming for those that are building their first gaming PC. Today, we'll be doing a brief overview on the three GTX960 offerings from Gigabyte and then take an in-depth look at their flagship model!
 GeForce GTX 960 Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming Gigabyte GTX 960 OC Gigabyte GTX 960 Mini ITX OC
Model G1 Gaming SuperOverclock (SoC) Overclocked Mini ITX
Part Number GV-N960G1 GAMING-2GD GV-N960WF2OC-2GD GV-N960IXOC-2GD
GPU boost clock 1304MHz 1279MHz 1178MHz
GPU base clock 1241MHz 1216MHz 1051MHz
Memory Size 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5
Memory clock 7010MHz 7010 MHz 7000 MHz
Memory interface 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Number of Fans Triple WindForce 3x Dual WindForce 2x Single 90mm
Length 295mm 257mm 183mm
Price  $204.99  $199.99  $199.99
  Gigabyte has three GeForce GTX 960 models for you to pick from. If you are looking for a short card for a small form factor or Mini-ITX system build there is the Gigabyte GTX 960 Mini ITX Overclocked card that is just 7.2-inches in length. That card was designed to be small, so it has the smallest heatsink, paired with a single cooling fan and the lowest clock speeds. Up from there you have the standard Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Overclocked card, which has a dual-fan WindForce 2x GPU cooler design with base clock speeds that are 15.7% higher than on the Mini-ITX card. Both cards are priced at $199.99, so if card length isn't an issue you'll want to go with 'standard' model to get the most from your gaming system. The flagship model would be the Gigtabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming and it is by far the longest card at 11.7-inches in length, but it also has the largest WindForce 3x GPU cooler and by far the highest clock speeds. The 1241MHz base and 1304MHz boost clocks on the 1,024 CUDA cores in the NVIDIA 'Maswell' GM206 GPU aren't the highest clocks available on the overall market, but they are close. Gigabyte GV-N960G1 front The card that we are looking at today is the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming and they styling of the card shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. Gigabyte has stuck with a black PCB, black fan shroud and smoked black fan blades. Most gamers are happy with black and it doesn't appear that the video card manufacturers are wanting to stray away from that color much these days. The WindForce 3x GPU cooler has three 11-blade 90mm dust-proof cooling fans (Power Logic PLD08010S12H) that are optimized for silent airflow. The fans help dissipate the heat from three aluminum finned cooling arrays that are interwoven with four 6mm copper heatpipes that make direct contact with the GPU. The design looks to be well done and the GPU cooler does have a heatsink with a thermal pad that makes contact with the MOSFETs to ensure the PWM components are kept at safe temperatures to ensure product longevity.   Gigabyte GV-N960G1 Video Card The GTX 960 G1 Gaming is a fairly large card that measures in at 295mm x 114mm x 43mm (L x W x H), so you might want to make sure it fits in your chassis if you have a mid-tower or some other smaller chassis. windforce-fanstop Like many of the other NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 cards on the market the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming features 0db noise reduction technology, which means the fans seldom run when the card is running in 2D mode or even when doing some light 3D gaming. From what we gather the fans kick on when the power draw on the card exceeds 60 Watts or the GPU temperature gets over 62C. Gigabyte put some LED lighted areas along the top edge of the GPU cooler that show when the fans are off and on. Most gamers don't need LED lights to know if their fans are running or not, but it's some extra LED bling and it looks cool. Gigabyte-GV-N960G1-sli By the rear mounting bracket you'll find the NVIDIA SLI interconnect for those that wanted to run two of these cards together for improved gaming performance. There are no jumpers or switches on this model as Gigabyte put most of the resources into designing the GPU cooler and sorting for the best GPU for the flagship model by using their 'GPU Gauntlet Sorting' system. Gigabyte does have a dual-bios solution in-place on this card, but it's an automated process where if one BIOS fails the card rolls over to the second one without you having to do anything. Gigabyte-GV-N960G1-power On the other end of the top edge of the GTX 960 G1 Gaming you'll find the two rear-facing 6-pin PCIe external power connectors. Gigabyte recommends a 400W or greater power supply for your gaming system for this model. Gigabyte GV-N960G1 Back The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming comes with a full coverage black back plate to help protect the components on the back of the card and it helps lower the PCB temperature. Gigabyte-GV-N960G1-io Gigabyte went with three DisplayPort 1.2 outputs as well as single HDMI 2.0 and Dual-Link DVI-I when it comes to video outputs. The HDMI 2.0 port does support 4K @ 60Hz! Gigabyte does not include any DVI to VGA adapters or SLI bridges in the accessory bundle with this card, so just a friendly heads up there. Gigabyte GV-N960G1 heat pipes Here you can make out the four 6mm thick direct touch copper heat pipes sticking out past the aluminum cooling fin array. These heat pipes help whisk heat away from the GM206 GPU to ensure the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming is kept as cool as possible. Now that we have the basics out of the way we can take a look at the retail packaging and get to the benchmarks!

Gigabyte G1 Gaming GeForce GTX 960 Retail Box and Bundle

  Gigabyte GV-N960G1 GAMING-2GD The retail box for the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 video card isn't too different than what we have seen in the past from Gigabyte. The front of the retail packaging highlights the cards key NVIDIA features (GameStream, GameWorks, G-Sync and DirectX 12) and then touches on some of the Gigabyte features (Super OverClock, Flex Display and WindForce). Gigabyte-GV-N960G1-Box Flipping the box over you'll see a brief description of the G1 Gaming Graphics card and then much more detailed information on the Super OverClock, Flex Display and WindForce features that were shown on the front of the box. Gigabyte-GV-N960G1-Box2 Opening up outer sleeve you'll find an thicker inner box that holds the GTX 960 G1 Gaming graphics card. The card is wrapped up tight in an anti-static bag and then has been placed in a foam padding cocoon. There is a very little chance of it shifting and getting damaged during shipping like this. Gigabyte GV-N960G1 Bundle The Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming comes with protective caps over all the video outputs and the SLI and PCIe connectors. Gigabyte also covered the front fan shroud with a protective film to ensure the card isn't scratched during assembly.  As far as the accessory bundle you'll be getting a quick-start guide, driver and utility disc and a pair of 4-pin MOLEX to 6-pin PCIe power adapters. We don't suggest using the drivers or Gigabyte OC Guru II utility that is on the disk though as there are likely newer versions of both available online.

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 out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

test-system

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
  Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming 2GB Video Card GPU-Z Info: gigabyte-gtx960-gpuz gigabyte-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 GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming was found to be just slower than the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 as it has lower clock and boost speeds. The difference was only 1.1 FPS though, so there is only about a 1% speed difference between the two cards when gaming at Full HD (1080P) resolutions.

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: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at Full HD 1080P resolutions we found just a 0.2 FPS difference on average between the ASUS STRIX and Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 960 cards!

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: In Crysis 3 we again found that there was just a 0.7% difference between the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 OC and the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming, so in real world gaming situations you can't tell the difference when you are playing and you can barely see one when running benchmarks with FRAPS or built-in utilities.

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. farcry4

Benchmark Results: In Far Cry 4 we found the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 OC to be about half a frame per second faster than the Gigabyte G1 Gaming Super OverClock video card at 1920 x 1080.

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.

metroll Benchmark Results: In Metro: Last Light the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 2GB  averaged 77.31 FPS and the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming came in at 76.69 FPS. 

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 unable to steal the show in Thief as it wasn't even a full 0.1 FPS faster than the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming.

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 OC video card coming in with an overall score of 7,050 versus a score of 7018 on the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming SoC.

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming SoC video card. Gigabyte GTX 960 SoC 2GB Idle Temps: gigabyte-gtx960-idle The Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming has no fans spinning at idle, so the card is dead silent thanks to the 0 RPM fans. It's winter right now, so our room is a chilly 65F as it's only 10F outside With this fairly low room temperature we were still impressed with a 34C idle temperature as the fans weren't spinning! gigabyte-gtx960-gaming When gaming we hit 67C when gaming for about on hour straight on the card. As you can see when we were gaming the GM206 Maxwell GPU hit a maximum speed of 1392.2 MHz. gpu-temp

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.

noise-tests The Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming and ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB have the same idle noise levels as both cards have no fans running and are dead silent. The only reason the system is above ambient noise levels is due to the processors water cooler pump and fan noise. Keeping in mind that the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming runs at lower clock speeds than the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 OC, we found that it was just slightly quieter at load when gaming by about 1.8dB. This card is very quiet and didn't have any bad choke whine to report or anything like that.

Power Consumption

Gigabyte GV-N960G1 Power Header 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-consumption Power Consumption Results: The Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming SuperOverclock and the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DirectCU II OC 2GB video cards both topped out at 236 Watts in the scene we test on. At an idle the G1 Gaming card constantly bounced around 102-104 Watts, so we averaged out the reading to 103 Watts, which was just 1W more than the ASUS STRIX OC that was pretty dead flat at 102 Watts when in a 2D idle power state.

Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming Video Card Overclocking

GeForce GTX 960 Overclockers Dream NVIDIA likes to say that the GM206 on the GeForce GTX 960 is an "Overclocker's Dream", so we have to put that claim to the test. gigabyte-ocguru To overclock the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming we installed Gigabyte's OC Guru II v1.78 overclocking utility. This overclocking has been around for several years and features a very simple and straightforward interface that allows one to easily overclock a video card. The top row on the utility is all most people need to tinker with as you can increase the base/boost clock and also the memory clock with just a few mouse clicks. You can can then monitor the clock speeds, voltages, temperatures and fan speeds with the monitoring utility. More advanced users can adjust the fan profiles, core voltages, and the GPU power and temperature targets if they wanted to do so. There hasn't been a GTX 960 that we couldn't get to over 1500MHz boost clocks with the power and temperature targets left alone though, so changes are you won't even need to adjust anything when it comes to targets.

gigabyte-gtx960-gpuz

In case you forgot, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming graphics card is already factory overclocked up to 1241 MHz base with a boost clock of 1304MHz and the 2GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1753MHz (7010 MHz effective). The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 reference card is clocked at 1127MHz with a boost clock of 1178MHz on the core and the 2GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1750MHz (7000MHz). Let's see how much higher we can get a fully enabled GM206 Maxwell GPU with 1024 CUDA cores! gtx960-ocguru-oc We were able to increase the base/boost clock from 1241/1304 MHz up by 160 MHz to 1401 MHz base and 1464MHz boost. This is an increase of around 12% on the already overclocked core clocks, which is pretty significant. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory was able to be overclocked by an additional 990MHz, so we got the memory up to 8000MHz, which is an increase of 1000MHz over the reference cards speeds! Even a couple extra MHz on the memory and we would see artifacts, so these are pretty much the top speeds on this card without manually overvolting the GPU. gtx960-maxoc-gpuz gtx960-max-clocks This overclock meant that we were running at 1552MHz at times on the GM206 GPU thanks to NVIDIA Boost 2.0. This is the highest that we have ever gotten a GTX 960 to with regards to the core clock. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming Stock: firestrike-stock-gtx960 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming Overclocked: firestrike-oc-gtx960 By overclocking the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming SuperOverclock 2GB video card we were able to take the stock score of 7018 and raise it up to 7705. This is a 687 point increase in our overall 3DMark score, which represents a performance gain of 9.8 percent. We'll take a 10% performance boost thanks to a little overclocking any day!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Gigabyte GV-N960G1 Video Card The Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming video card is a stunning video that performs best when used on a 1080P display, but you can easily get some 1440P gaming action going on this card with right image quality settings. NVIDIA has solid $200 graphics card offering in the GeForce GTX 960 and the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming shows how well a GTX 960 can perform when outfitted with a high-end custom cooling solution and a nice factory overclock!  One of the best attributes of this card would have to be the WindForce 3X GPU cooler as we never broke 70C under load and the noise meter should that we were barely about the ambient noise of the room. It's nice to see a $200 video card that can game well and not run load or hot! Overclocking a factory overclocked card might sound silly to some, but we were able to take the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming from 1392MHz on the boost clock as we saw when gaming all the way up to 1552MHz with no voltage increased necessary. This 160MHz or 11.5% clock increase only took a few seconds to do in the Gigabyte OC Guru II overclocking utility. That along with our nearly 1000MHz memory overclock and we had ourselves with very nice 10% performance improvements when gaming.
 GeForce GTX 960 Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming Gigabyte GTX 960 OC Gigabyte GTX 960 Mini ITX OC
Model G1 Gaming SuperOverclock (SoC) Overclocked Mini ITX
Part Number GV-N960G1 GAMING-2GD GV-N960WF2OC-2GD GV-N960IXOC-2GD
GPU boost clock 1304MHz 1279MHz 1178MHz
GPU base clock 1241MHz 1216MHz 1051MHz
Memory Size 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5
Memory clock 7010MHz 7010 MHz 7000 MHz
Memory interface 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Number of Fans Triple WindForce 3x Dual WindForce 2x Single 90mm
Length 295mm 257mm 183mm
Price  $204.99  $199.99  $199.99
When it comes to pricing the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming SuperOverclock video card runs $204.99 shipped, which only $5 more than the 'standard' Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 OC entry-level card. We haven't had a chance to use that card, but for an extra 5 bucks it appears that the G1 Gaming model is worth the extra expensive as long as you have room for the nearly foot long graphics card! The larger GPU cooler with an additional fan, faster clock speeds and binned GPU are hard to pass up for $5 more than the base card! LR Recommended Award
Legit Bottom Line: The Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming is a solid graphics card that overclocked great and is priced just $5 over the 'standard' Gigabyte GTX 960 model!