Test Configuration – Hardware

Test Configuration – Hardware

  • ASUS Z97-E motherboard (Intel Z97 chipset, latest BIOS, PCIe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
  • Intel Core i7-4790K (reference 4.0GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 4.4GHz; DX11 CPU graphics), supplied by Intel.
  • Kingston 16 GB HyperX Beast DDR3 RAM (2×8 GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz, supplied by Kingston)
  • GeForce GTX 980, 4GB reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • GeForce GTX 970 EXOC, 4GB and clocked down to reference clocks, supplied by GALAX
  • ASUS STRIX GTX 960 OC Direct CU II, 2GB at ASUS factory overclocked and further overclocked, supplied by ASUS/Nvidia under NDA
  • EVGA GTX 660 SOC, downclocked to reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • VisionTek R9 280X, reference clocks, supplied by VisionTek
  • Two 2TB Toshiba 7200 rpm HDDs
  • Thermaltake ToughPower 775W power supply unit supplied by Thermaltake
  • Cooler Master Seidon240 CPU watercooler, supplied by Cooler Master
  • Onboard Realtek Audio
  • Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius
  • Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
  • ASUS 12X Blu-ray writer
  • HP LP3065 2560×1600 30″ LCD display


Test Configuration – Software

  • Nvidia GeForce 347.09 WHQL drivers for GTX 980 and GeForce 347.25 WHQL launch drivers for the other GeForce Cards tested. High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display.
    Windows 7 64-bit; very latest updates
  • Radeon “Omega” Catalyst 14-12 drivers used for the VisionTek R9 280X.  Surface format optimizations, off; Application decide, VSYNC forced off, High Quality, and Tessellation App decide.
  • Latest DirectX
  • All games are patched to their latest versions.
  • VSync is off in the control panel.
  • AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied; 16xAF forced in control panel for Crysis.
  • All results show average, minimum and maximum frame rates except as noted.
  • Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
  • Windows 7 64, all DX10 titles were run under DX10 render paths; DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.
  • ASUS GPU Tweak Utility
  • EVGA PrecisionX 16

The 28 PC Game benchmarks & 2 synthetic benchmark tests

  • Synthetic
    • Firestrike – Extreme
    • Heaven 4.0
    • The Witcher 2
    • Borderlands 2
    • Crysis
    • STALKER, Call of Pripyat
    • Max Payne 3
    • the Secret World
    • Sleeping Dogs
    • Hitman: Absolution
    • Far Cry 3
    • Tomb Raider: 2013
    • Crysis 3
    • BioShock: Infinite
    • Metro: Last Light Redux 2014 edition
    • Battlefield 4
    • Splinter Cell: Blacklist
    • ArmA 3
    • Total War: Rome II
    • Batman: Arkham Origins
    • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
    • Thief
    • Sniper Elite 3
    • Watch_Dogs
    • GRID: Autosport
    • Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor
    • Alien Isolation
    • Assassin’s Creed Unity
    • Civilization Beyond Earth
    • Far Cry 4
    • Dragon’s Age: Inquisition
    • The Crew

Before we get to the GTX 960 performance charts, let’s look at overclocking, power draw and temperatures.

Overclocking, Power Draw & Temperatures

Thanks in part to Maxwell’s power efficiency, the GeForce GTX 960 evidently has a lot of headroom for overclocking. The base clock frequency is 1126MHz, with a boost clock of 1178MHz. In Nvidia’s internal testing, GeForce GTX 960 engineering sample boards regularly hit 1450MHz or more without any temperature target, fan speed or voltage modifications.

Additionally, since the GeForce GTX 960 runs cool, some of Nvidia’s board partners including ASUS will allow the card to run silently with the GPU’s cooling fan completely shut off under certain gaming workloads.  We have noticed 8 rpm during gaming although we never actually observed zero rpm.

Overclocking, Power Draw, Noise and Temperatures

Overclocking the GTX 960 is just as easy as overclocking Maxwell or Kepler with the same features.  We were able to overclock further, adding +85MHz offset to the already overclocked ASUS GTX 960 core with complete stability, even though we did not adjust the voltage nor our fan profile.  Temperatures were cool.  Even in a warm room they *never* exceeded 60C and the video card’s twin fans were never heard over the case and CPU cooling fans.

With our particular sample of the ASUS GTX 960 OC, the base clock was 1317MHz and it would regularly boost to 1405MHz and stay there.  That is +171MHz over reference clocks.  The ASUS memory clocks are also set higher at 7200MHz, up 190MHz over the reference memory clocks.  We used the excellent ASUS GPU Tweak Utility to set our overclocks.

max oc plus 90mhzAdding +85MHz to the core brought the peak boost up to 1495MHz and it stabilized there as the temperature never exceeded 60C.  Overclocking the memory to 8000MHz(!) brought performance increases but no temperature rise and the fans never had to ramp up.  Adding +100MHz to the core brought the peak boost up to 1505MHz but the overclock was unstable so we settled on a 85MHz offset together with memory at 8000MHz as our final stable overclock used in our testing

Let’s head to our performance charts.