EVGA GeForce GTX 960 Super SuperClocked 4GB ReviewThe NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 has been a popular video card since it was released on January 22, 2015 as comes in at the rather affordable $199 price point. If you want to step up to the next card in the GeForce product stack, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, you are looking at spending $329. According to the August 2015 Steam Hardware Survey, most Windows PC gamers (34%) are playing games on displays sporting a 1920 x 1080 screen resolution with an astonishing 28% are playing at 1366 x 768. The good news for those using a 1920 x 1080 monitor for desktop gaming is that you don't have to spend several hundred dollars on a video card as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 is more than capable of 1080P gaming and we've seen board partners selling GeForce GTX 960 2GB models priced as low as $155 after promotional rebate offers. The GeForce GTX 960 card that we are taking a look at today is the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB model that is sold under part number 04G-P4-3966-KR. The card ships with an accessory budle that includes a 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power adapter, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, poster, stickers, and the driver disc. This card features the NVIDIA GM206 Maxwell GPU (fully enabled with 1024 CUDA Cores) with a base clock of 1279 MHz and a boost clock of 1342 MHz. The 4GB of GDDR5 memory comes set to 1753 MHz or 7010 MHz effective. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 reference card is clocked at 1127 MHz base, 1178 MHz boost and has the memory clocked at and 7010 MHz memory, so this is a fairly aggressive 13.5% increase on the base core clock, 13.9% on the boost clock and no increase on the GDDR5 memory frequency. With these clock speeds you are looking at a texture fillrate of 81.9 GT/s and a memory bandwidth of 112.16 GB/s. When it comes to pricing you are looking at an MSRP of $239.99, but online you'll be able one for $239.99 shipped on Amazon or for $209.99 shipped after a $20 rebate on Newegg. You can get the 2GB version of this card for $185.99 shipped after a $20 rebate if you wanted something a little more affordable, but keep in mind that it doesn't come with the backplate and that costs an extra $19.99 plus shipping if you wanted to buy it later. If you want to step up to a 4GB frame buffer and a backplate it is likely worth spending the extra money up front. EVGA offers not one, but SEVEN different GeForce GTX 960 video card models. You have the base model that is only available with a 2GB frame buffer and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 reference clock speeds and then from there you move up to the overclocked cards that come with either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory. Those three models are the Superclocked (SC), Super SuperClocked (SSC) and the For The Win (FTW) edition cards. As you move up in speed you generally get more features and the table above shows how the higher-end cards come with more power phases, double vBIOS chips, backplates and the beefy EVGA ACX 2.0+ GPU cooler. You can watch the video clip below for more information about the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0 and the new cooler design. https://youtu.be/65mjPjodnnk The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 also features all sorts of proprietary NVIDIA technologies, including MFAA anti-aliasing for the smoothest and clearest images, Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI) that accelerates dynamic lightning for vivid and immersive graphics, and Dynamic Super Resolution technology for 4K-quality details even on 1080p displays. It also features NVIDIA G-Sync technology that synchronizes display refresh rates to the GPU on G-Sync supported monitors for tear-free gaming. You can even use this card to stream PC games to NVIDIA SHIELD with NVIDIA GameStream or better yet use NVIDIA GameStream Co-Op so your friends can watch you play, take control of your game with mirrored controls or play along with you in game titles like Trine 3, Gauntlet, FIFA 15, NBA 2K15, and Mortal Kombat Komplete that have multi-controller support. The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB video card has that familiar look that has been around for some time. We've noticed some gamers are starting to say that the EVGA fan shroud is plain and that EVGA is in need of a refresh to keep up with the designs that other companies are coming out with. The EVGA GeForce GTX 950 and GeForce GTX 960 share the same PCB design and GPU coolers, so if you are looking at different models you aren't losing your mind if they look identical besides the name plates. . The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC measures 256.5mm in length or 10.1 inches. The EVGA ACX 2.0+ GPU cooler uses three copper heatpipes that help transfer the heat from the GPU to the two cooling fin arrays. The two double ball bearing fans on the card have are 0db models, so they'll only spin up when the card reaches a certain operating temperature. Along the top edge of the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC you'll find a single NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU interconnect, front-facing 8-pin PCIe power connector and the Quick Switch Dual BIOS (QSD BIOS) switch for the cards two BIOS chips (dBi BIOS or SSC Performance BIOS). In the image above you can better see the 8-pin power connector, QSD BIOS and even see the end of the three heatpipes peaking out the end of the graphics card. With the 8-pin power design it means that this card can get 225 Watts of power from the system even though it's only got a total power draw of 160 Watts. EVGA suggests just a minimum of a 400 Watt power supply for proper operation of one graphics card. The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB comes with a full coverage black back plate that is closely seated to the back of the card and should not interfere with memory slots or any other components located directly behind the primary PCIe slot. The Memory/MOSFET cooling plate on the GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ video card helps keep the memory 9C cooler and the GPU MOSFETs an impressive 11C cooler than the NVIDIA reference design. EVGA went with three DisplayPort 1.2 outputs as well as single HDMI 2.0 and one Dual-Link DVI-D header when it comes to video outputs. Up to four of these outputs can be used at any given time for those wanting to run a multiple panel desktop! Now that we have a good understanding of what the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB video card is all about we can take a look at the test system and get straight into testing!
Test SystemBefore 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 10 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:
- AMD CATALYST 15.8
- NVIDIA GeForce 355.65
Intel X79/LGA2011 PlatformThe Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79-E WS motherboard with BIOS 1704 that came out on 05/08/2015. 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 11-13-13-30 2T 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. Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
|The Intel X79 Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4960X|
ASUS P9X79-E WS
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
|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|
Battlefield 4Battlefield 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. 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. 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. Benchmark Results: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at Full HD 1080P resolutions we found that all three video cards were somewhat close, but the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB card led the other sub $200 cards by at least 16% on average. Benchmark Results: Here is a look at the performance over time and you can see that the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB performed at a higher level than the AMD Radeon R7 370 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 cards on this benchmark.
DOTA 2DOTA 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena video game, the stand-alone sequel to the Defense of the Ancients (DotA) Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod. Developed by Valve Corporation, DOTA 2 was released as a free-to-play title for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux in July 2013. In August 2015 the most recent STEAM survey shows that at any given time of the day there are on average 600,000 people playing the game title with a peak of nearly 1 million. DOTA 2 uses the Source game engine by Valve. We tested DOTA 2 at 1920 x 1080 screen resolution with VSync disabled. The rest of the settings we set to high or enabled. We did go into the console and raise the fps_max from 120 to 1000 to raise the frame cap ceiling to set it to 1000 fps to better show the performance differences between the cards. Without raising the FPS cap it should be noted that all the cards we tested had exactly the same average frame rate as they were at the frame rate cap for most all of the benchmark. We used Game 4 in the International grand championship match as our test replay. We ran FRAPS for 90 seconds starting at the 28:00 minute mark on the replay of CDEC vs EG. This part of the game is known as the 6 Million Dollar Echo Slam and is one of the memorable matches we've seen. The Match ID is 1697818230 if you'd like to download this section and try it out on your own system to see how it compares to our results. In the replay that we used we found the GeForce GTX 960 and GeForce GTX 950 cards to offer very similar performance on our test system and we honestly couldn't tell a difference between the two cards in our system. The AMD Radeon R7 370 video card on the other hand was found to have lower performance. The minimum frame rate was down just 2-3 FPS, but the average was lower by nearly 10 FPS and the peak frame rate was 25 FPS lower. Benchmark Results: Here is the FPS result charted over time and you can see how the NVIDIA GeForce cards appear to excel at the periods of the replay where not much action is going on, but the AMD and NVIDIA cards are very similar when you get a large number of Heroes in one area battling it out. If you are a big MOBA game player you'll not see much difference between the GTX 950 and GTX 960 at 1080P screen resolution gaming!
Grand Theft Auto VGrand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest PC games, was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015. Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013 and the city of Los Santos. It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. In Grand Theft Auto V we set the game to run with no MSAA with 16x AF and high image quality settings as we didn't want the GPU to bottleneck the system too bad, but wanted a setup that your average gamer would actually play on. Benchmark Results: In GTA V we ran the games built-in benchmark three times and averaged the numbers. The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB averaged 82 FPS and that was 17% faster than the GeForce GTX 950 2GB card we used for comparison. Note that the minimum frame rate never dropped below 35 FPS, so the game play was smooth to boot!
Metro Last Light
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: 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.
We again found around 20% CPU usage on Metro: Last Light.Benchmark Results: In Metro: Last Light the GeForce GTX 960 averaged 81.9 and the GeForce GTX 950 averaged 68.9 FPS, so while both have the same GM206 GPU it's clear that having more CUDA cores and higher clock speeds does help performance. Benchmark Results: Here is a look at our manual FRAPS benchmark and you can see that there is a fairly decent performance gap between each card over time.
ThiefThief 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. We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled. 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. Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB video card averaged ~80 FPS, the ASUS Geforce GTX 950 STRIX around 70 FPS and the MSI Radeon R7 370 was just shy of 60 FPS. Some pretty good scaling here from the $150-$210 price range cards. Benchmark Results: Performance over time didn't show anything unusual to note!
3DMark 20133Dmark 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.
Fire Strike Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark had the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC video card coming in with an overall score of 7,054 versus a score of 6,156 on the ASUS GeForce GTX 950 STRIX 2GB video card, which puts the GTX 960 ahead by about 15%.
Temperature & Noise TestingTemperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB video card. EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB Idle Temps: The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB video card has no fans spinning at idle, so the card is dead silent. Even with no fans spinning at all we found a rather impressive idle temperature of just 39C and an idle voltage of 0.9500V. When gaming we hit 75C and the voltage topped out at 1.2120V in a room where the temperature was 67F (20.5C). Note the fan speed got up to 1081 RPM. As you can see when we were gaming the GM206 Maxwell GPU was running at 1468.1 MHz thanks to NVIDIA Boost 2.0 technology.
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.All of the cards have no fans spinning at idle, so the idle noise is the same on all of the cards. The only reason the system is above ambient noise levels is due to CPU's water cooler fans and pump noise. Even with the fans running the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 4GB hit just 40.8dB, so this is a very quiet card and that will appeal to many gamers. We didn't notice any choke noise when gaming when we tried the card in a PC case. The noise between the three cards we tested was pretty much the same at both idle and load since none of the fans spun at idle and all GPU coolers were dual fan models with low RPM fan speeds.