ASUS Strix Edition GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card Review

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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.

Page 8 – Best Playable: Single Display

For about as long as GPU-accelerated games have existed, an ideal performance target has been 60 frames-per-second. Owing thanks to this is the standard 60Hz monitor, which delivers its best result when the framerate matches its refresh rate. To make sure the monitor’s refresh rate and game’s framerate keep aligned, to avoid visible tearing, VSync should be enabled.

While I believe our Best Playable results will appeal to any gamer, they could especially prove useful to those intrigued by livingroom gaming or console replacements. The goal here is simple: With each game, the graphics settings are tweaked to deliver the best possible detail while keeping us as close to 60 FPS on average as possible.

Because our Metro Last Light and Total War: SHOGUN 2 tests are timedemos, and because this kind of testing is time-consuming, I am sticking to six out of the eight games I test with for inclusion here.

NVIDIA’s GTX 960 has AMD’s R9 285 in its sights, something I’m sure the results on the previous handful of pages highlighted. Because the performance of both cards is about equal, all of the best playable settings are shared between them here. For the sake of reference to what NVIDIA’s last “sweet spot” card offered, I’ve also included best playable results for the GTX 760.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
MinimumAverage
ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix4657
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Environment:HighShadow:High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:OffVolumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix
MSI R9 285 Twin Frozr IV4757
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Environment:HighShadow:High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:OffVolumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC4657
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 1920×1080
Environment:Very HighShadow:Very High
Texture:HighReflection:High
Anti-aliasing:FXAAGod Rays:High
Ambient Occlusion:OnVolumetric Fog:On
Motion BlurOn
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC

While the ultimate goal is to hit 60 FPS in any of these best playable tests, we didn’t quite hit that on any of these cards. That’s because at the performance exhibited, it made little sense for me to decrease settings further. Should you really want to hit a clean 60 FPS and at least 50 FPS on the minimum, God Rays can be decreased in detail. Also, because it might appear that the GTX 760 runs higher settings than the new GTX 960, note that that card was limited to 1080p, whereas the 960 handles the game just fine at 1440p.

Battlefield 4
MinimumAverage
ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix5368
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:High
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:OffAnti-aliasing Post:Off
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix
MSI R9 285 Twin Frozr IV5469
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Quality:UltraTexture Filtering:Ultra
Lighting:UltraEffects:High
Post Processing:UltraMesh:Ultra
Terrain:UltraTerrain Decoration:Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred:OffAnti-aliasing Post:Off
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC4561
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Quality:HighTexture Filtering:High
Lighting:HighEffects:High
Post Processing:HighMesh:High
Terrain:HighTerrain Decoration:High
Anti-aliasing Deferred:OffAnti-aliasing Post:Off
Ambient Occlusion:SSAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC

Versus the outgoing GTX 760, the GTX 960 is able to handle this game at Ultra detail with antialiasing off, whereas the 760 had to go the same route while also decreasing the rest of the detail to High.

Crysis 3
MinimumAverage
ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix4467
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 1920×1080
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:Very High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:HighPost Processing:High
Shading:HighShadows:High
Water:HighAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix
MSI R9 285 Twin Frozr IV4262
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 1920×1080
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:Very High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:HighPost Processing:High
Shading:HighShadows:High
Water:HighAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC4363
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 1920×1080
Anti-aliasing:FXAATexture:High
Effects:HighObject:High
Particles:HighPost Processing:High
Shading:HighShadows:High
Water:HighAnisotropic Filtering:x16
Motion Blur:MediumLens Flares:Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC

Unfortunately, 1440p is a bit harsh on a card like the GTX 960, something I’d blame on the 2GB framebuffer if not for the fact that the 3GB R9 285 suffered the same fate. So, 1080p it is, with texture detail bumped up to Very High. Interestingly, this change didn’t affect the average FPS at all versus keeping texture detail to High.

GRID 2
MinimumAverage
ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix6369
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Multisampling:4x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:HighAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix
MSI R9 285 Twin Frozr IV5766
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Multisampling:4x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:HighAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OnGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OnAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC5562
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Multisampling:4x MSAANight Lighting:High
Shadows:UltraAdvanced Fog:On
Particles:UltraCrowd:Ultra
Cloth:HighAmbient Occlusion:Low
Soft Ambient Occlusion:OffGround Cover:High
Vehicle Details:HighTrees:Ultra
Objects:UltraVehicle Reflections:Ultra
Water:HighPost Process:High
Skidmarks:OnAdvanced Lighting:On
Global Illumination:OffAnisotropic Filtering:Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC

It’s not the most intensive game out there, but GRID 2 is still gorgeous – and, it’s able to be run at over 60 FPS with a GTX 960 at 1440p resolution. It’s worth noting that even the GTX 760 could handle this game at similar settings just fine; the swap has to do with decreased shadow settings versus enabling global illumination (the latter of which is more evident in game).

Sleeping Dogs
MinimumAverage
ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix6580
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Anti-aliasing:NormalHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:HighMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix
MSI R9 285 Twin Frozr IV6881
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Anti-aliasing:NormalHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:HighMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC6173
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Anti-aliasing:NormalHigh-res Textures:On
Shadow Resolution:HighShadow Filtering:High
Ambient Occlusion:HighMotion Blur:High
World Density:Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC

All three of the cards here used the exact same best playable settings, fueled by the fact that only one (antialiasing) makes a huge difference in performance. Faster cards simply boost the average framerate, naturally.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
MinimumAverage
ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix5466
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:High
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Off
Anti-aliasing:FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix
MSI R9 285 Twin Frozr IV5563
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:High
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Off
Anti-aliasing:FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - MSI Radeon R9 285 Twin Frozr IV
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC5265
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Detail:UltraShadow:High
Parallax:OnTessellation:On
Texture Filtering:16xAmbient Occlusion:Off
Anti-aliasing:FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC

Wrapping up with Blacklist, the GTX 960 once again matches the settings of the R9 285, but tacks on a couple of extra frames for good measure.

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Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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