Note - Lack of GPUs
Because I'm only just starting out, I don't have a slew of GPUs to test with. As our reviews of the GeForce GTX 960s continue into the coming weeks, I have other GPUs on the way. I can then throw in some numbers from AMD Radeon cards - but for now, we're only looking at the GeForce GTX 780 and GTX 980 both in reference form directly from NVIDIA, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition, the EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+, and the new MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC we have here to review today.
Because I'm just starting out reviewing GPUs, we're going to slowly evolve our benchmarking setup. I'm not going to dive into the deep end and start testing out real-time FPS, as this will hurt the quality of the reviews. Instead, I'd like to nail these initial reviews and then we can start doing real-time numbers of games like Far Cry 4, and Star Citizen. For now, I've played Battlefield 4 on a 64-player server to provide some real-world performance numbers.
For now, I'm going to be using the same suite of benchmarks I've been using on my Tweakipedia articles, which uses a mix of synthetic benchmarks with Futuremark's 3DMark and Unigine Heaven. After that, we have a bunch of titles with built-in benchmarks (which does not represent actual in-game performance) but they are repeatable for you at home to gauge the performance of your PC or GPU.
Over time, I will be adding in new benchmarks and a new section that will concentrate solely on real-time gaming benchmarks. This will take more time per review, as I'll have to invest time into actually physically playing the games, but it'll be worth it in the long run. For now, let's get right into the synthetic benchmarks and see how this MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G OC Edition performs.
Most people purchasing this card are only going to be gaming at up to 1080p, as the 128-bit memory bus and 2GB of VRAM is going to severely limit and hinder performance above that resolution. 2560x1440 (1440p) and 3840x2160 (4K) are going to be resolutions that this card won't be used for (mostly). That's not to say that you won't purchase this card for it, but I would highly recommend that people looking to buy any of the GeForce GTX 960s to only get one if you have a 1080p capable monitor, and plan to not upgrade for a while.
Test System Configuration
We only recently built our new X99-powered system, something you can read about here. As for the detailed specifications, this is what we're running:
- CPU: Intel Core i7 5820K processor w/Corsair H110 cooler
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 Gaming G1 Wi-Fi
- RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance 2666MHz DDR4
- Storage: 240GB SanDisk Extreme II and 480GB SanDisk Extreme II
- Chassis: Lian Li T60 Pit Stop
- PSU: Corsair AX1200i digital PSU
- Software: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
We're running the system at stock CPU speeds, which will provide more of a 'real-world' feel to our benchmarks. Sure, this isn't an i7-5960X at 5GHz, but what person is going to team up an incredibly expensive CPU with a mid-range GPU? Not many.
Our GPU tests are changing, shifting toward more of a real-world feel. But don't worry, we will be doing some crazy balls-to-the-wall tests that will see serious overclocks, Extreme Edition processors, and much more in the coming months. For the most part, we will be doing more real-world testing by teaming up the right processor with the right GPU in its price category.
Even still, most people would be running an LGA 1150 socket Core i5 or mid-range AMD FX-8350 with a GeForce GTX 960, so we're still giving it some better guts as a CPU.
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