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Inno3D GeForce GTX 960 iChill X3 Air Boss Ultra Review

Rating: 8.5.

Today we look at the Inno3D GeForce GTX 960 iChill X3 Air Boss Ultra, one of the most ludicrously named graphics cards in history. This card ships with a monstrous cooling system which will need to perform at the top of its class if it is to justify the physical dimensions. Today we find out if the Inno3D card is delightfully delicious, or hideously horrific.
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The Inno3D GeForce GTX 960 iChill X3 Air Boss Ultra is certainly distinctive in appearance, the sharp jutting edges remind me of a sadistic weapon that Jigsaw would use in a gory SAW flix. I can’t say the appearance appeals to me, but in the world of hardware, beauty is firmly in the eye of the beholder.

For those interested, the ‘Air Boss’ name is a naval term used on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. The Air Boss is in charge of all the operations of the flight deck from moving planes around and landing and launching aircraft. The Air Boss resides in the tower and communicates with the flight deck via a megaphone. Sure, its all slightly corny, but its nothing new as graphics card manufacturers try to come up with the next big product brand name.

Shorter names are more effective, a point which Inno3D have missed completely. We all remember the Nvidia GTX Titan brand name – would it have worked as well with a moniker such as Nvidia GTX Titan Mega Blaster Death Ray Ultimate Obliteration Edition? No, precisely.

How does the technology behind the GTX960 stack up?

GPU GeForce GTX 750ti (Maxwell) GeForce GTX 960 (Maxwell) Geforce GTX 970 (Maxwell) GeForce GTX 980 (Maxwell)
Streaming Multiprocessors 5 8 13 16
CUDA Cores 640 1024 1664 2048
Base Clock 1020 mhz 1126 mhz 1050 mhz 1126 mhz
GPU Boost Clock 1085 mhz 1178 mhz 1178 mhz 1216 mhz
Total Video memory 2GB 2GB 4GB 4GB
Texel fill-rate 40.8 Gigatexels/Sec 72.1 Gigatexels/Sec 109.2 Gigatexels/Sec 144.1 Gigatexels/Sec
Memory Clock 5400 mhz 7010 mhz 7000 mhz 7000 mhz
Memory Bandwidth 86.4 GB/sec 112.16 GB/sec 224 GB/s 224 GB/sec
Bus Width 128bit 128bit 256bit 256bit
ROPs 16 32 64 64
Manufacturing Process 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
TDP 60 watts 120 watts 145 watts 165 watts

Nvidia’s GTX960 GM206 ships with 1,024 CUDA cores – significantly more than the 640 CUDA cores available on the GTX750ti, but half the amount featured on the flagship GTX980 (2,048).

A bone of contention within the enthusiast audience will be the somewhat limited 128 bit memory interface – identical to the GTX750ti. Nvidia are keen to point out however that the Maxwell memory architecture is approximately 33% more efficient than Kepler. We do delve into this a little deeper on the architecture page later in the review.

Nvidia’s reference clock speeds are set at 1,126mhz (1,178mhz boost), with 32 ROPs and 64 texture units. Inno3D have enhanced the core speed to 1,329mhz – a considerable 18% overclock over reference. The GDDR5 memory is also slightly overclocked, running at 1,800mhz (7.2Gbps effective).

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