MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING Video Card Review

NVIDIA is today launching a GPU aimed at the "sweet spot" of the video card market. With an unexpectedly low MSRP, we find out if the new GeForce GTX 960 has what it takes to compete with the competition. The MSI GTX 960 GAMING reviewed here today is a retail card you will be able to purchase. No reference card in this review.

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Power

We tested the power utilization at the wall of the entire system. For full load power and temperature testing we used real gaming. The power supply used in testing is a Enermax MaxRevo 1350W. Total system wattage at idle without video card is 90W.

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The power savings of Maxwell cannot be denied. The great power savings we experienced with the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 is carried over to the new GM206 GPU on the GeForce GTX 960. The full-load system wattage is lower compared to GeForce GTX 760, yet performance was faster in every game. We are seeing a straight up 30W savings in power. The power usage is almost 100W less than MSI R9 285 GAMING 2G. NVIDIA and AMD are miles apart in terms of power saving, efficiency and performance per Watt (PPW). NVIDIA has the lead this generation in a big way.

Temperature

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The MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G and MSI Radeon R9 285 GAMING 2G are custom cooled video cards, while the GeForce GTX 760 is a reference cooled video card. The advantages of custom cooling systems shows here greatly.

You will notice the idle temperature is highest on the new MSI GTX 960 GAMING 2G. This is because the fans at idle do not spin at all, these remain turned off to keep the video card silent. It means the idle GPU temp may be slightly higher, but the Twin Frozr V heatsink has no problem keeping it cool enough. When the temperature reaches 50c then the fans kick on as needed.

The full-load running temperature is just amazing on the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G at 67c while gaming. That is an incredibly cool GPU while gaming, and now we see why the Boost Clock can be so high. With the GPU kept so cool it is able to kick the frequency up to 1366MHz with ease while gaming.

Fan noise, what fan noise? Even when the fans have to turn on, these start slowly and ramp up as needed. Simply put, we can't hear the fans when these are running. We noted that the maximum fan speed attained was a low 33% rotational speed and 784 RPM at full-load. No wonder these fans are silent with those specs. Just for the record, maximum VDDC was 1.212 volts at full-load.