by Rob Williams on January 22, 2015 in Graphics & Displays
NVIDIA’s much-anticipated mid-range 900 series card is here. It’s called the GeForce GTX 960 (no need to act surprised) and it brings a couple of surprises. As NVIDIA’s “sweet spot” GPU, the GTX 960 is designed to be an affordable option that lasts the long haul, so let’s see what the green team’s latest $199 option brings to the table.
We don’t make it a point to seek out automated gaming benchmarks, but we do like to get a couple in that anyone reading this can run themselves. Of these, Futuremark’s name leads the pack, as its benchmarks have become synonymous with the activity. Plus, it does help that the company’s benchmarks stress PCs to their limit – and beyond.
While Futuremark’s latest GPU test suite is 3DMark, I’m also including results from 3DMark 11 as it’s still a common choice among benchmarkers.
Interestingly, despite the fact that the GTX 960 outperformed the R9 285 in most of our real-world tests, all but 3DMark 11’s Extreme test reflects that. It’s almost as though NVIDIA decided to optimize its driver more for regular games than benchmarks this time around.
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Unigine might not have as established a name as Futuremark, but its products are nothing short of “awesome”. The company’s main focus is its game engine, but a by-product of that is its benchmarks, which are used to both give benchmarkers another great tool to take advantage of, and also to show-off what its engine is capable of. It’s a win-win all-around.
The biggest reason that the company’s “Heaven” benchmark is so relied-upon by benchmarkers is that both AMD and NVIDIA promote it for its heavy use of tessellation. Like 3DMark, the benchmark here is overkill by design, so results are not going to directly correlate with real gameplay. Rather, they showcase which card models can better handle both DX11 and its GPU-bogging features.
As with 3DMark, the GTX 960 somehow falls behind the R9 285, despite being faster in most of the real-world tests.