It was almost a year ago when Nvidia released their first graphics card based on the Maxwell architecture. My reviews of the GTX750Ti were positive – Maxwell delivered excellent full HD performance while taking all the power it needed direct from the PCIe slot. I said back in February 2014 that future high end Nvidia GPU's would likely lead the way – and as the year came to a close I was proved correct. The GTX970 and GTX980 won multiple awards on KitGuru. Nvidia's Maxwell architecture also walked away with our Excellence in Technology Award for 2014. 2015 is a new year and with the GTX960 being released this week, can Nvidia possibly do it again?
The Asus GTX960 Strix OC is a diminutive solution, a dual slot, dual fan card featuring several thick heat pipes running across the length of the PCB. Compared to the monster Gigabyte GTX960 G1 Gaming, which we also review today, it really is tiny (see picture directly below).
Nvidia say the GTX960 is one of the most power efficient high performance gaming cards, and with a quoted TDP of 120 watts it seems in line with what we would expect from the Maxwell architecture. The GTX960 will surely appeal to a wide audience – on paper it should be noticeably more powerful than the GTX750ti, while shipping below the £200 ‘sweet spot'.
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)|
|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|
|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 128bit 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.
The reference clock speeds are set at 1,126mhz (1,178mhz boost), with 32 ROPs and 64 texture units. ASUS have tweaked their STRIX OC Edition to 1,253mhz (1,317 mhz boost) with 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at 1800mhz (7.2Gbps effective).