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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 (GM206) Overview - The New Mid-Range Champion

By: Anthony Garreffa | NVIDIA GeForce GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Jan 22, 2015 2:00 pm

Key Features


The GTX 960 supports all of the technologies that the GTX 980 and GTX 970 are capable of, such as VXGI (Voxel Global Illumination) and MFAA (Multi-Frame sampled AA) and more. Not only that, but we have GameWorks, G-SYNC, GeForce Experience, and much more. We'll cover the more detailed aspects of the new GTX 960 below, starting with display support.



Display Support


The new GeForce GTX 960 also has a new display engine that is capable of supporting resolutions of up to 5K (5120x2880), and up to four displays at once, meaning if you've got four 4K MST displays, you can hook them all up at once. The GTX 960 also supports HDMI 2.0, too.


It's nice to see the Maxwell architecture helping out even in the mid-range market here, especially when we're seeing 5K support. Sure, you're not going to buy this mid-range GPU for gaming at 5K, but you might buy this GPU if you're working with Photoshop, doing video editing, or something that would need to drive 5K, or multiple 4K displays.



The Sweet Spot GPU


The leading point of the GTX 960 is that we have a new card that is more than capable of driving 1080p at 60FPS in leading titles, at under 120W of power consumption, and a price that even the modest gamer cannot shed tears over.




NVIDIA calls the GTX 960 the "Sweet Spot GPU" and for good reason. The #1 GPU on Steam is the GTX x60 (GTX 460, GTX 560, GTX 660 and GTX 760). The #1 GeForce GPU for MOBA gamers is the x60 series, and 2 out of 3 gamers are playing on a GTX 660 or older.


For gamers who haven't upgraded yet, but wanted to have all of those features of the Maxwell architecture, but couldn't afford the price tag on the GTX 980 and GTX 970, the GTX 960 fills that spot very, very nicely.



Overclocking - Massive Headroom for Performance


With a TDP of just 120W, there is going to be some headroom for overclocking, right? Well, you are right. Add-in-board (AIB) partners have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves, and over the coming weeks, you're going to see reviews of GTX 960s from ZOTAC, ASUS, MSI, EVGA and many more. All of these cards will differ in some way or another, which is the most exciting thing about the GTX 960.


Even in its most raw form, the GTX 960 is around 50% faster than the GTX 660. This provides an insane upgrade path for those using the GTX 660, as they're getting a card that will use less power, push out less heat, make less noise, and perform 50% better... how can you say no?


The GeForce GTX 960 has a base frequency of 1126MHz, with a boost clock of 1178MHz. During NVIDIA's own internal testing (and don't worry, we'll be doing our own, too) they were able to hit speeds of 1450MHz - but get this, with no fan speed or voltage modifications required.



No Fan Required in League of Legends, and More


Because of this headroom, at stock speeds, the Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 960 doesn't really require that much cooling to keep it cool. In some games, such as League of Legends, the GTX 960 consumes just 30W of power running at 1080p, with the GPU fan shutting off completely. Re-read that sentence again, as there are no mistakes - the fan on the GTX 960, in some games, will completely disable as it's simply not required. Maxwell at its finest, folks.

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