How We Judge Performance
Something I'm going to change from our old review style is I'm going to be choosing a segment of where this card will fall into for mainstream consumers. The people buying the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC Edition, or any GTX 960 for that matter, will be playing at 1080p or below.
I've obviously benchmarked the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC Edition at 1440p and 4K, but those results will not be impacting my Final Thoughts on the card at all. Any and all judgment on this card is going to come from the 1080p benchmarking, its overclocking potential, noise, price and power consumption.
How Does the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC Edition Stack Up?
Overall, the performance provided on the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC was exactly what we expected: it fell right in line with the two previous GTX 960s we've reviewed.
Performance at 1080p
Starting with the Medium preset at 1080p in Battlefield 4, we see a great jump to 123FPS average which is some great performance out of the $209 video card. It's not as good as the 137FPS average on the EVGA card, but we're seeing over 120FPS+ average, which is something we can't complain about.
On the Ultra settings (without AA applied), it drops down to 80FPS which is quite a big drop from the 107FPS average that the EVGA card was pulling. Still, 80FPS average with Ultra settings enabled is quite good, and I'm sure we'll see some improvements on the overclocking which we'll jump into soon.
Versing the MSI card against the ZOTAC and EVGA cards, we can see that we're getting very similar performance. This is something that was always going to happen with the GTX 960s. In Metro: Last Light, all three cards are pretty much on the same FPS - 50-something FPS average. Thief is the same story, and so is Sniper Elite 3 and Tomb Raider.
Performance at 1440p
Moving up to 2560x1440 on Battlefield 4 with the Medium preset, the MSI card loses to both the EVGA and ZOTAC cards, but we still have 80FPS average. Something we find more than playable, but the EVGA card really excels here with 105FPS average. Shifting over to the Ultra preset (again, without AA), we see 58FPS average, which is identical to that of the ZOTAC card, but loses to the 70FPS average that the EVGA card is able to maintain.
When cranking up to 2560x1440, or 1440p, we see the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC keeping its ground once again. It loses out by around 7FPS to the EVGA and ZOTAC cards in GRID: Autosport, while it continues to keep up (but slightly) lose to the EVGA and ZOTAC GTX 960s in Metro: Last Light.
Across the board, the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC will keep up with any of the GTX 960s out there, especially when overclocking comes into play. At 1440p, you can tweak the settings and get 30-60FPS out of any game on the market without a problem.
Performance at 4K
At 4K, the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC Edition is still around 10% slower than the EVGA and ZOTAC cards, but still pumps out a 44FPS average with the Medium preset enabled. Moving up to the Ultra preset (without AA), we see an average of 29FPS.
This is where the GeForce GTX 960, no matter the brand, is bought to its knees: 4K. The MSI card performs around 5-10% worse than the ZOTAC or EVGA variants. In games like Thief we see it perform worse, dropping to 13FPS average compared to the 16FPS on its competitors.
Tomb Raider drops to 30FPS average at 4K, while the EVGA scores 35FPS and the ZOTAC with 37FPS. Let's see if overclocking can fix some of this, but your results may vary, of course.
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