The graphics card is the heart of any gaming rig. The Nvidia GTX 960 is an affordable price point for an Nvidia Geforce branded card. According to the steam hardware survey for 2016, a good 36.81% still game at a resolution of 192 x 1080. This is still the most popular resolution to game with. At this resolution you don’t need an expensive card like the new GTX 1080. The GTX 960 will provide very capable 1080P gaming, and allow you to dominate your foes. We are going to dive deep into the design of the PNY Geforce GTX 960 4GB XLR8 OC Gaming card. Lets take a look at what makes this card so unique.
Before I continue on with this review, I want to point out PNY has totally re-branded its high-end products as XLR8 Gaming. The new design provides a very familiar black/red color scheme that should match most high-end PC manufacturers.
The specifications are as follows:
|NVIDIA® CUDA® Cores||1024|
|Base Clock (MHz)||1203 (vs 1127)|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||1266 (vs 1178)|
|Memory Clock (Gbps)||7.2 (vs 7.0)|
|Memory Amount||4GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec)||111.0|
|Multi-Screen||4 Concurrent Screens1|
|Max Resolution||4096 × 2160 (Digital)|
|Power Input||One 6-Pin|
|Bus Type||PCI-Express 3.0 x16|
- Factory Overclocked by PNY
- PNY XLR8 Cooling technology
- Silent Mode support
- NVIDIA Dynamic Super Resolution technology
- NVIDIA Super MFAA technology
- NVIDIA GameWorks™ technology
- NVIDIA GameStream™ technology
- NVIDIA G-Sync™-Ready
- NVIDIA SHIELD™-Ready
- Microsoft DirectX 12 API with Feature Level 12_1
- NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0
- NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync
- NVIDIA Surround™ technology
- Support for four concurrent displays including:
- Dual-link DVI
- HDMI 2.0
- DisplayPort 1.2
- NVIDIA SLI®-Ready
- NVIDIA CUDA® technology
- PCI Express 3.0 support
- OpenGL 4.4 & OpenCL™ support
The PNY GTX 960 has some decent packaging. The unit arrived fully intact, and really shows off the products key features well.
The card was well secured while un-boxing. The card was packaged in foam to prevent any accidental damage from shipping.
The package contents include:
- PNY GTX 960
- Installation CD
- VGA to DVI adapter
- 2x Molex to 6 pin power connector
- Installation Manual
The PNY GTX 960 looks fantastic. Its key features like Silent mode, and Factory overclocking should add alot of value to your PC gaming experience.
The GTX 960 is built on Maxwell architecture and designed to maximize energy efficiency and still deliver superior gaming performance.
The PNY Geforce GTX 960 4GB XLR8 carries PNY’s latest dual fan cooling design. This supports automatic silent mode when idle for silent gaming. If you love games, PNY has a dedicated Gaming Zone that targets specific types of games:
The PNY GTX 960 is factory overclocked. The XLR OC cards are designed to overclock from the factory. This provides you with additional performance when compared to the reference design. The base clock (MHz) is 1203 vs the reference 1127. The boost clock (MHz) is 1266 vs the reference 1178.
The XLR8 cooling uses two high performance cooling heat-pipes and fans, this design allows the best performance and reliability for overclocking. The silent mode will turn off the fans during idle and light gaming to operate silently for your enjoyment.
I want to point out that the majority of GTX 960 cards only come with 2GB of Vram. This card sports 4GB of GDDR5. This is really critical to have more ram when it comes to turning up settings in games like resolution, and Anti-aliasing. The memory interface is 128-bit, and the memory is clocked at 7.2 (Gbps) vs the reference 7.0.
The GPU for the GTX 960 is Maxwell based and uses the GM206 architecture. It has two graphics processing clusters, and each has its own raster engine. Each core has a total of four streaming multiprocessor units, 128 CUDA cores, and 8 texture units.
The GTX 960 supports DirectX 12. The DirectX 12 API is designed to have CPU efficiency significantly greater than previous versions. This is important because it will introduce a number of new features for graphics rendering. Developers will have more control over how their games access your GPU hardware.
The GTX 960 Display connections include:
- HDMI 2.0 port
- DisplayPort 1.2
- 2x DVI ports
These connections are perfect for high-end gaming monitors that support G-Sync, and high refresh rates.
The card offers near the edge a single SLI bridge connection that allow multi-GPU configurations using SLI.
I want to point out the massive heat-sink that helps keep the GPU cool during your intense gaming sessions.This will really help keep your GTX 960 cool, and provide more headroom for even further overclocking.
The PNY GTX 960 offers a single 6-pin power connector. This should provide 75 watts of power to the PCB (printed circuit board) on-top of the 75 watts pulled from the PCIe slot. The extra power delivery is nice for the red LED lights on the card and extra overclock headroom it provides. Power consumption total from the card at IDLE was 66W, and the load consumption was 220W TDP. More overclocking can vary this, but this was using the factory overclock with the PNY GTX 960.
I wanted to run a few tests to see how well this card performs. I am comparing this to a GTX 970, just to see how close in performance we can get. I will run the AIDA64 Extreme GPU benchmark, and UNINGINE Heaven benchmark to show off each cards performance. Noise will be tested during fan tests for optimal levels. I will also test FPS (Frames per Second) numbers to show off how well the PNY Game Zone works to target specific games, and then show IDLE and Load temperatures for each card.
The test bench used for testing is as follows:
- Motherboard- Z87x-UD3H
- CPU: Intel Core I7 4790K
- Network Card- netgear AC 1200 USB
- Cooler- H100i GTX V2
- Memory- Anarchy X 16GB DDR3 2800MHz
- Video Card: EVGA NVidia Geforce GTX 970 vs PNY GTX 960 XLR8
- Storage- PNY CS2210 480GB
- Power Supply- Corsair TX750m
- OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro
- Headphones- HyperX Cloud II
- Software- EVGA PrecisionX 16
The GTX 970 tests obviously will win here, but it only won by a small percentage in some categories. The actual memory read performance is faster on the GTX 960. The memory write offered small gains of less that 1%. The 970 shines on precision FLOPS, and IOPS.
As you can see the 970 has more cores which helps the device have more over all performance, but the price difference between the two cards is pretty large. there is about $130 dollar difference. I would say for 1080p gaming the GTX 960 definitely wins for price/performance. The 970 offers superior 1080p gaming, but also targets the 1440p, and 2160p resolution markets.
For the Heaven benchmark the GTX 970 isn’t that far ahead of the 960. The minimum frame rate is more consistent with the 960 as well. The 960 does have a significant lower average frame rate, but still offers enough performance to be above 30 FPS. I am not sure why the 970 dipped so low in this specific test for minimum FPS, but the overall scores and average FPS are much higher as expected.
To test the First Person Shooter category using PNY’s Game Zone technology, I’m running DOOM as my main game. You can see above that the GTX 960 is quite capable of decent frame rates for a newer game title. The GTX 960 in certain games is quite capable of even 4k gaming (2160P). As shown earlier in the review, League of Legends reached 198 FPS with 4k resolution, very high settings, and AA turned on. This wont be the case for all games, but some will run at 2160p with no issues. The PNY GTX 960 really shines with 1080p gaming in mind.
I measured temperatures while gaming using the EVGA PrecisionX software. I tried to keep the temperature set at a fair match. I didn’t do any testing with the PNY silent mode because this would offer minimal temperature differences. The silent mode is fantastic, and should work as intended, but I wanted to include a small load on IDLE test to show similar temperatures.
The Idle temperatures had identical reading while the system load was minimal.
Load temperatures were close, but the PNY GTX 960 pulls ahead having a better load temperature than the 970.
Noise was tested and measured using a high gain microphone. I used the same benchmarks tested above for load ( 100%), and for IDLE (Rest) I was on my system desktop. I like to keep the fan levels reasonable to the temperature of the card, and find the right balance. Sound is difficult to test because everyone hears sound differently. I decided to test sound from a distance of 10 centimeters. The IDLE temperatures as seen above are drastically different. I do want to point out that the PNY GTX 960 in silent mode doesn’t provide much dB at all, the noise is negligible, and therefore considered 0 dB.
The load levels are a different story. Testing the fans at 100% speed is not really ideal for noise testing, and prove to be difficult to measure the noise levels. Finding the right balance can vary for everyone, so I tested the fan speeds with my own created fan curve. I tend to be a little more aggressive with my fan curves.
The one con to this card is the extra power consumption compared to other GTX 960 cards. I would argue that this isn’t a con at all and offers more benefits. Some people will find having extra power for a card when others don’t an issue. This can be problematic when trying to build in a system with tight cable management. Some people like having the power drawn from just the PCIe slot.
The PNY GTX 960 XLR8 offers plenty of performance. There is more to be happy about this card than not. It offers excellent performance for the price, and has a very familiar color scheme to other high-end components.
The Pros of this card are:
- Factory overclocked
- Custom build
- High Boost clock
- Gaming performance
- NVIDIA ecosystem
This card and its price point are hard to beat. You can get fantastic 1080p Gaming at a reasonable price. This is what makes this card so valuable in a crowded GPU market. If you include the lifetime warranty and performance this card delivers compared to reference cards, you have a fantastic deal. You can buy this card right now on Amazon for $298.00.