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EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC Graphics Card Review

Date: May 30, 2015
Author(s): Rob Williams

There’s a whiff of new high-end GPUs in the air, and before they reach us, we want to take another look at NVIDIA’s ~$200 GeForce GTX 960. This one comes from EVGA, and is called the SuperSC. It boasts a factory overclock, as well as the company’s advanced ACX 2.0 cooler. How does it fare, and can it be pushed further? Read on.



Introduction

In advance of the launch of some new high-end graphics cards, I wanted to take a fresh look at two sweet-spot (~$200) models: AMD’s Radeon R9 285 and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the 285 I was waiting for before the 960 was fully benched with its results exported to graphs, so I will take a look at AMD’s offering in the very near-future. Fortunately, we still have the results from our original 285 review for the sake of comparison.

As of the time of writing, the GTX 960 is the lowest-end part in NVIDIA’s Maxwell lineup, and matches up best against AMD’s aforementioned R9 285. From what I’ve seen, the R9 285 does tend to cost a bit less, with more models bundling mail-in rebates to make the price/perf ratio look very tempting.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC 2GB - Packaging

Who both of these cards are designed for are those looking to max out their games at 1080p, or achieve good detail levels at 1440p. I wouldn’t recommend toying with the idea of running this card for 4K gaming, unless the game is quite modest. Furthering that, if you ever plan to go the SLI route to make 4K a reality, I highly recommend opting for a 4GB, as 2GB is going to prove a severe limitation in certain games. EVGA offers 4GB variants of each one of its GTX 960 models, as we’ll see in a moment.

Based on the paper specs, the GTX 960 is one-half of a GTX 980. Cores are halved, as is the memory and memory bus. Core and memory clocks are left in tact, whereas the TDP drops 45W to settle in at 120W. That might not seem too significant, but consider the fact that the 960’s predecessor, the GTX 760, had a TDP of 170W.

NVIDIA GeForce Series Cores Core MHz Memory Mem MHz Mem Bus TDP
GeForce GTX 980 2048 1126 4096MB 7000 256-bit 165W
GeForce GTX 970 1664 1050 4096MB 7000 256-bit 145W
GeForce GTX 960 1024 1126 2048MB 7010 128-bit 120W
GeForce GTX TITAN Black 2880 889 6144MB 7000 384-bit 250W
GeForce GTX 780 Ti 2880 875 3072MB 7000 384-bit 250W
GeForce GTX 780 2304 863 3072MB 6008 384-bit 250W
GeForce GTX 770 1536 1046 2048MB 7010 256-bit 230W
GeForce GTX 760 1152 980 2048MB 6008 256-bit 170W
GeForce GTX 750 Ti 640 1020 2048MB 5400 128-bit 60W
GeForce GTX 750 512 1020 2048MB 5000 128-bit 55W

In typical EVGA fashion, there are many different GTX 960 SKUs to choose from. All but the Superclocked models include the company’s ACX 2.0 cooler, and are 10.1-inches in length. The Superclocked, meanwhile, are shorter, at 6.8-inch, and utilize a single fan cooling solution. As seen in the table below, each respective edition shares the same clocks between the 2GB and 4GB variants.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 Cores Core MHz Boost MHz Memory Mem MHz
GTX 960 4GB FTW 1024 1304 1367 4096MB 7010
GTX 960 4GB SuperSC 1024 1279 1342 4096MB 7010
GTX 960 4GB SC 1024 1216 1279 4096MB 7010
GTX 960 4GB 1024 1127 1178 4096MB 7010
GTX 960 2GB FTW 1024 1304 1367 2048MB 7010
GTX 960 2GB SuperSC 1024 1279 1342 2048MB 7010
GTX 960 2GB SC 1024 1216 1279 2048MB 7010
GTX 960 2GB 1024 1127 1178 2048MB 7010

The standard edition GTX 960 carries an SRP of $209, while this SuperSC 2GB model I’m looking at is priced at… $209. In fact, as I write this, it’s $199 at Newegg, with a mail-in rebate bringing it down to $189. Why the SuperSC edition costs the same as the original, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s best to not ask questions.

Overall, EVGA’s entire GTX 960 line ranges from $209 to $259. It’s worth noting that as of the time of writing, any GTX 960 purchase qualifies you for a free copy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. If you want to take advantage of this, I don’t recommend wasting much time, as these promotions are truly “while supplies last”.

As mentioned, the SuperSC edition of EVGA’s GTX 960 I’m looking at features what the company calls the “best graphics card cooler ever made”, or in simpler terms, ACX 2.0. It offers “swept” fan blades, double ball bearings, and a low-power motor – all equating to more airflow for less power draw. Efficiency aside, the cooler doesn’t look too bad, either.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 2GB - Overview

A nice touch seen on this card is protectors on all of the video connectors, the PCI contacts, and the SLI bridge. I am not sure I’d venture to call this feature “important”, but it does give the impression of this being a high quality part. On the topic of video ports, this particular GTX 960 has a single DVI, single HDMI, and triple DisplayPort. If VGA is required for some unfortunate reason, an adapter is included. Also included is an 8-pin to dual 6-pin adapter, as well as documentation, and even an EVGA poster.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 2GB - Back Ports

The reference GTX 960 is designed around having only a single 6-pin power connector, but due to the higher clocks on this SuperSC model, and not to mention user desire to overclock further, EVGA has bumped that to an 8-pin connector.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 2GB - Top of Card

The back of this GTX 960 does a great job of fulfilling its duty of being the back of a graphics card.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 2GB - Back of Card

EVGA’s GTX 960 SuperSC edition doesn’t offer many surprises, but instead continues to deliver what we’d expect to see. It’s sleek, attractive, and somehow costs the same as a regular-clocked GTX 960. Not bad. Let’s see how it fares in our performance benchmarks.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our test-bed specifications, but also a detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

Our Graphics Card Test Machine

The below table lists our testing machine’s hardware, which remains unchanged throughout all GPU testing, minus the GPU. Each card used for comparison is also listed here, along with the driver version used.

Graphics Card Test System
Processors Intel Core i7-4960X – Six-Core @ 4.50GHz
Motherboard ASUS P9X79-E WS
Memory Kingston HyperX Beast 32GB (4x8GB) – DDR3-2133 11-12-11
Graphics AMD Radeon R9 280X 2GB – Catalyst 13.12
AMD Radeon R9 285 2GB (MSI Twin Frozr IV) – Catalyst 14.30
AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB – Catalyst 13.12
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB – GeForce 340.52
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB – GeForce 331.93
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB – GeForce 331.93
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB (ASUS Strix) – GeForce 347.25
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB (EVGA SuperSC) – GeForce 350.12
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB (ASUS Strix) – GeForce 344.11
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB – GeForce 344.07
Audio Onboard
Storage Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power Supply Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W
Chassis Cooler Master Storm Trooper Full-Tower
Cooling Thermaltake WATER3.0 Extreme Liquid Cooler
Displays ASUS PB278Q 27″ 2560×1440
Dell P2210H 22″ 1920×1080 x 3
Et cetera Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Important Note: EVGA’s GTX 960 SuperSC was tested using a different motherboard (ASUS X99-DELUXE) and processor (Intel Core i7-5960X, overclocked to 4GHz). We don’t ordinarily change test platforms without retesting everything, but this is a special case, and overall, performance is extremely similar between the two platforms (based on 3DMark results). Once Windows 10 is released, and with stable graphics drivers, we will be performing a GPU test suite overhaul and retest all cards.

Notes About Our High-end System

The goal of our performance content is to show you as accurately as possible how one product compares to another – after all, you’re coming to us for advice, so we want to make sure we’re giving you the best possible information. Typically, one major step we take in ensuring that our performance results are accurate is to make sure that our test systems are void of all possible bottlenecks, so for that, high-end components must be used.

In the case of our graphics card test system, the processor chosen has six-cores and is overclocked far beyond reference clocks. Most games nowadays are not heavily CPU-bound, but by using such a chip, we feel that we completely rule it out as a potential bottleneck. The same can be said for the use of an SSD (as opposed to latency-ridden mechanical storage), and even our memory, which is clocked at the comfortable speed of DDR3-2133.

Why this matters to you: Our test PC is high-end, and it’s very likely that you’d encounter a bottleneck quicker than us. Our goals are to rid all possible bottlenecks, whereas yours is to build the PC you need. In our case, we need to go overboard to attain as accurate a representation of a graphic card’s performance as possible.

If your PC has at least a modern (~2-years-old) quad-core or better processor, and at least 8GB of fast memory (DDR3-1866+), that chances of you running into a bottleneck with today’s hottest game is admittedly low. If you’re using lower-end gear, you can absolutely expect that the rest of your system could be a bottleneck. It should be noted, though, that if you’re seeking out a lower-end graphics card, the importance of a bottleneck would of course be lessened.

Unfortunately, we’re not able to test a single card on multiple PC configurations; each single card we test takes at least 3 hours to test, with another 2 hours added on for each additional resolution, and at least another 1~2 hours for our Best Playable results (for up to 11 hours of mostly hands-on testing for a high-end model).

Please bear all of this in mind. If you’re unsure if your PC could prove to be a bottleneck, our comments section exists for such questions.

When preparing our test-beds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

General Guidelines

To aid with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing inaccurate test results. For example, disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

The services we disable are:

For further fine-tuning, we also use Windows’ “Classic” desktop theme, which gets rid of the transparency that can sometimes utilize a GPU in the background.

Vendor Favortism

Sometimes, either AMD or NVIDIA will work with a game studio to help their development process along. As history has proven, this often results in a game that is tuned better for one vendor over the other, although sometimes the tides can change over time, resulting in the competing vendor offering the better experience.

One of our goals is to provide as neutral a benchmarking suite as possible, so while it’s impossible to avoid games sponsored by either of these companies, we can at least make an effort to achieve a blended list. As it stands, our current game list and their partners are:

(AMD) – Battlefield 4
(AMD) – Crysis 3
(AMD) – Sleeping Dogs
(NVIDIA) – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
(NVIDIA) – Metro: Last Light
(NVIDIA) – Splinter Cell Blacklist
(Neutral) – GRID 2
(Neutral) – Total War: SHOGUN 2

With that, let’s move on to a quick look at the game settings we use in our testing:

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Benchmark Settings

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 Benchmark Settings

Note: The “High” preset is used for multi-monitor configurations.

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 Benchmark Settings
Crysis 3 Benchmark Settings

Note: The “Medium” preset is used for multi-monitor configurations.

GRID 2

GRID 2 Benchmark Settings
GRID 2 Benchmark Settings
GRID 2 Benchmark Settings

Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light Benchmark Settings

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Settings
Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Settings

Splinter Cell Blacklist

Splinter Cell Blacklist Benchmark Settings
Splinter Cell Blacklist Benchmark Settings

Total War: SHOGUN 2

Total War SHOGUN 2 Benchmark Settings

Unigine Heaven

Unigine Heaven 4 Benchmark Settings

Game Tests: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4

Given the sheer number of titles in the Assassin’s Creed series, it’s a little hard to believe that the first game came out a mere seven years ago. You could definitely say that Ubisoft hit the ball out of the park with this one. To date, we’ve never considered an AC game for benchmarking, but given the number of graphical goodies featured in the PC version of Black Flag, that trend now ends.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - 1920x1080

Manual Run-through: The saved game starts us not far from the beginning of the game under a small church which can be climbed to synchronize with the environment. To kick things off, I scale this church and rotate the camera around once, making sure to take in the beautiful landscape; then, I climb back down and run all the way to the water (the top of this small church and the water can be seen in the above screenshot).

Note: For some reason, Ubisoft decided to cap the framerate to 60 FPS in Black Flag even if Vsync is turned off. For most games, this would ruin the chance of it appearing in our benchmarking, but because the game is graphically intensive, I’ve chosen to stick with it, as at higher resolutions, reaching 60 FPS is a perk that will belong only to high-end graphics cards.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2560x1440)

Both EVGA’s SuperSC and ASUS’ Strix GTX 960s share similar clocks, so it’s not too surprising to see that both cards are neck-in-neck here. At 1440p, the game can be enjoyed at 50 FPS, and if you are willing to forego SSAO and possibly God Rays, you will peak at 60 FPS.

Battlefield 4

Thanks to the fact that DICE cares more about PC gaming than a lot of developers, the Battlefield series tends to give us titles that are well-worth benchmarking. Battlefield 3 offered incredible graphics and became a de facto benchmark immediately, so it’s no surprise, then, that BF4 follows right in its footsteps.

Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080

Manual Run-through: The Singapore level is the target here, with the saved game starting us on an airboat that must be driven to shore, where a massive battle is set to take place. I stop recording the framerate once the tank makes its way to the end of this small patch of beach; in all, the run takes about 3 minutes.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Battlefield 4 (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Battlefield 4 (2560x1440)

EVGA’s SuperSC pushes Battlefield 4 to just short of the 60 FPS mark at 1080p, but I’d wager most people will consider that to be close enough. At 1440p, detail has to be decreased to achieve playable framerates. Fortunately, we cover those settings later in the article.

Game Tests: Crysis 3, GRID 2

When the original Crysis dropped in late 2007, it took no time at all for pundits to coin the phrase, “Can it run Crysis?“, almost to the point of self-parody. At the time, the game couldn’t have its graphics detail maxed-out on even top-of-the-line PCs, and in reality, that’s a great thing. I’d imagine few are opposed to knowing that a game could actually look better down the road as our PCs grow into them. As the series continued, Crytek knew it had a legend to live up to, and fortunately, Crysis 3 (our review) lives up to the original’s legacy.

Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: There’s no particular level in Crysis 3 that I could establish was “better” for benchmarking than another, but I settled on “Red Star Rising” based on the fact that I could perform a run-through with no chance of dying (a great thing in a challenging game like this one). The level starts us in a derelict building, where I traverse a broken pipe to make it over to one rooftop and then another. I eventually hit the ground after taking advantage of a zipline, and make my way down to a river, where I scurry past a number of enemies to the end spot beneath a building.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Crysis 3 (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Crysis 3 (2560x1440)

The GTX 960 continues to perform well, even exceeding the Radeon R9 285 at 1080p by 5 FPS, while at 1440p, the performance of both cards is exact.

GRID 2

For those who appreciate racing games that are neither too realistic nor too arcade-like, there’s GRID. In GRID 2 (review), the ultimate goal is to build a racing empire, starting from square one. Unlike most racing titles that have some sort of career, the goal here isn’t to earn cash, but fans. Whether you’re racing around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina or tearing through a gorgeous Cote d’Azur coastline, your goal is simple: To impress.

GRID 2 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: The track chosen for my benchmarking is Miami (Ocean Drive). It’s a simple track overall, which is one of the reasons I chose it, and also the reason I choose to do just a single lap (I crash, often, and that affects both the results and my patience). Unlike most games in the suite which I test twice over (save for an oddity in the results), I race this one lap three times over.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - GRID 2 (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - GRID 2 (2560x1440)

All of our mid-range and higher cards eat this game right up, even at 1440p.

Game Tests: Metro Last Light, Sleeping Dogs

Crysis has become infamous for punishing even top-end systems, but let’s be fair: The Metro series matches, if not exceeds its requirement for graphical horsepower. That was proven by the fact that we used Metro 2033 in our testing for a staggering three years – only to be replaced by its sequel, Last Light. I’m not particularly a fan of this series, but I am in awe of its graphics even at modest settings.

Metro Last Light - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: Because this game is a real challenge to benchmark with for both the reasons of variability in the results and the raw challenge, I choose to use the built-in benchmark here but rely on Fraps to give me more accurate results.

Note: Metro Last Light‘s built-in benchmark is not representative of the entire game; some levels will punish a GPU much worse than this benchmark will (namely, “The Chase”, which has lots of smoke and explosions). What this means is that while these settings might suffice for much of the game, there might be instances where the performance degrades enough during a certain chapter or portion of a chapter to force a graphics setting tweak.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Metro Last Light (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Metro Last Light (2560x1440)

The GTX 960 handles Last Light no problem, but as mentioned in the note above, some situations in the game might still end up being quite taxing (that’s something that could apply to even the highest-end cards).

Sleeping Dogs

Many have called Sleeping Dogs (our review) the “Asian Grand Theft Auto“, but the game does a lot of things differently that helps it stand out of the crowd. For example, in lieu of supplying the player with a gazillion guns, Sleeping Dogs focuses heavily on hand-to-hand combat. There are also many collectibles that can be found to help upgrade your character and unlock special fighting abilities – and if you happen to enjoy an Asian atmosphere, this game should fit the bill.

Sleeping Dogs - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: The run here takes place during the chapter “Amanda”, on a dark, dank night. The saved game begins us at the first apartment in the game (in North Point), though that’s not where I begin capturing the framerate. Instead, I first request our motorcycle from the garage. Once set, I begin recording the framerate and drive along a specific path all the way to Aberdeen, taking about two minutes.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Sleeping Dogs (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Sleeping Dogs (2560x1440)

1080p is an absolute breeze for all of our cards here, while 1440p drops the FPS delivered by the GTX 960 to sub-50 levels. Fortunately, a decrease of the game’s subpar antialiasing implementation can patch that right up.

Game Tests: Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Total War: SHOGUN 2

Tom Clancy is responsible for a countless number of video games, but his Splinter Cell series has become something special, with each game released having been considered “great” overall. The latest in the series, Blacklist, is no exception, and thankfully for us, its graphics are fantastic, and not to mention intensive. For those who love a stealth element in their games, this is one that shouldn’t be skipped.

RIP, Tom Clancy.

Splinter Cell Blacklist - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: From the start of the ‘Safehouse’ level in Benghazi, Libya, we progress through until we reach an apartment building that must be entered – this is where we end the FPS recording.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2560x1440)

These FPS levels are quite similar to what we saw with Sleeping Dogs – the GTX 960 just falls short of 50 FPS at 1440p. And like Sleeping Dogs, it doesn’t take much to fix that, without making a stark difference to the graphics detail.

Total War: SHOGUN 2

Strategy games are well-known for pushing the limits of any system, and few others do this as well as Total War: SHOGUN 2. It fully supports DX11, has huge battlefields to oversee with hundreds or thousands of units, and a ton of graphics options to adjust. It’s quite simply a beast of a game.

Total War: SHOGUN 2 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: SHOGUN 2 is one of the few games in our suite where the built-in benchmark is opted for. Strategy games in particular are very difficult to benchmark, so this is where I become thankful to have the option of using a built-in benchmark.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (1920x1080)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (2560x1440)

Rounding out our apples-to-apples benchmarks, SHOGUN 2 puts the GTX 960 where it’s been most of this review – just ahead of the R9 285. Time to move onto some synthetic tests.

Synthetic Tests: Futuremark 3DMark, 3DMark 11, Unigine Heaven 4.0

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.

3DMark

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.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Futuremark 3DMark
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Futuremark 3DMark 11 - Performance
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Futuremark 3DMark 11 - Extreme

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.

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.

Unigine Heaven 4.0

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.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Unigine Heaven 4.0 (1920x1080)

As with 3DMark, the GTX 960 somehow falls behind the R9 285, despite being faster in most of the real-world tests.

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.

Both of the GTX 960 cards I’ve looked at are clocked similarly, so the settings used for EVGA’s SuperSC are identical to those that were used for the ASUS Strix.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Minimum Average
EVGA GTX 960 SSC 51 59
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Environment: High Shadow: High
Texture: High Reflection: High
Anti-aliasing: FXAA God Rays: High
Ambient Occlusion: Off Volumetric Fog: On
Motion Blur On
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC
ASUS GTX 960 Strix 46 57
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Environment: High Shadow: High
Texture: High Reflection: High
Anti-aliasing: FXAA God Rays: High
Ambient Occlusion: Off Volumetric Fog: On
Motion Blur On
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

While the ultimate goal is to hit 60 FPS in any of these best playable tests, we didn’t hit it perfectly on either 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. For 1080p gaming, the detail levels can match those in our regular testing (seen on page 2).

Battlefield 4
Minimum Average
EVGA GTX 960 SSC 55 71
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Quality: Ultra Texture Filtering: Ultra
Lighting: Ultra Effects: High
Post Processing: Ultra Mesh: Ultra
Terrain: Ultra Terrain Decoration: Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred: Off Anti-aliasing Post: Off
Ambient Occlusion: SSAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC
ASUS GTX 960 Strix 53 68
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Quality: Ultra Texture Filtering: Ultra
Lighting: Ultra Effects: High
Post Processing: Ultra Mesh: Ultra
Terrain: Ultra Terrain Decoration: Ultra
Anti-aliasing Deferred: Off Anti-aliasing Post: Off
Ambient Occlusion: SSAO
Battlefield 4 - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

The GTX 960 is able to handle this game at Ultra detail with antialiasing off, quite handily. For 1080p, you can use the Ultra setting to achieve ~59 FPS, as seen in our regular testing.

Crysis 3
Minimum Average
EVGA GTX 960 SSC 50 68
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 1920×1080
Anti-aliasing: FXAA Texture: Very High
Effects: High Object: High
Particles: High Post Processing: High
Shading: High Shadows: High
Water: High Anisotropic Filtering: x16
Motion Blur: Medium Lens Flares: Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC
ASUS GTX 960 Strix 44 67
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 1920×1080
Anti-aliasing: FXAA Texture: Very High
Effects: High Object: High
Particles: High Post Processing: High
Shading: High Shadows: High
Water: High Anisotropic Filtering: x16
Motion Blur: Medium Lens Flares: Yes
Crysis 3 - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

Unfortunately, 1440p is a bit harsh on a card like the GTX 960 in Crysis 3, 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
Minimum Average
EVGA GTX 960 SSC 52 61
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Multisampling: 4x MSAA Night Lighting: High
Shadows: Ultra Advanced Fog: On
Particles: Ultra Crowd: Ultra
Cloth: High Ambient Occlusion: Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion: On Ground Cover: High
Vehicle Details: High Trees: Ultra
Objects: Ultra Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: High Post Process: High
Skidmarks: On Advanced Lighting: On
Global Illumination: On Anisotropic Filtering: Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC
ASUS GTX 960 Strix 51 59
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Multisampling: 4x MSAA Night Lighting: High
Shadows: Ultra Advanced Fog: On
Particles: Ultra Crowd: Ultra
Cloth: High Ambient Occlusion: Ultra
Soft Ambient Occlusion: On Ground Cover: High
Vehicle Details: High Trees: Ultra
Objects: Ultra Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: High Post Process: High
Skidmarks: On Advanced Lighting: On
Global Illumination: On Anisotropic Filtering: Ultra
GRID 2 - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

It’s not the most intensive game out there, but GRID 2 is still gorgeous – and, it’s able to be run at 60 FPS with a GTX 960 at 1440p resolution.

Sleeping Dogs
Minimum Average
EVGA GTX 960 SSC 64 80
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Anti-aliasing: Normal High-res Textures: On
Shadow Resolution: High Shadow Filtering: High
Ambient Occlusion: High Motion Blur: High
World Density: Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC
ASUS GTX 960 Strix 65 80
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Anti-aliasing: Normal High-res Textures: On
Shadow Resolution: High Shadow Filtering: High
Ambient Occlusion: High Motion Blur: High
World Density: Extreme
Sleeping Dogs - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

As beautiful as Sleeping Dogs is, it’s one setting in particular that obliterates performance: anti-aliasing. Once that’s dropped down to normal levels, the GTX 960 delivers excellent framerates at 1440p.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Minimum Average
EVGA GTX 960 SSC 55 65
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Detail: Ultra Shadow: High
Parallax: On Tessellation: On
Texture Filtering: 16x Ambient Occlusion: Off
Anti-aliasing: FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC
ASUS GTX 960 Strix 54 66
Graphics Settings
& Ingame Screenshot
Resolution: 2560×1440
Texture Detail: Ultra Shadow: High
Parallax: On Tessellation: On
Texture Filtering: 16x Ambient Occlusion: Off
Anti-aliasing: FXAA
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist - Best Playable - ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix

Wrapping up with Blacklist, the GTX 960 once again delivers great performance, with even the minimum FPS value keeping close to 60 FPS.

Power & Temperatures, Overclocking & Final Thoughts

To test graphics cards for both their power consumption and temperature at load, we utilize a couple of different tools. On the hardware side, we use a trusty Kill-a-Watt power monitor which our GPU test machine plugs into directly. For software, we use Futuremark’s 3DMark to stress-test the card, and AIDA64 to monitor and record the temperatures.

To test, the general area around the chassis is checked with a temperature gun, with the average temperature recorded. Once that’s established, the PC is turned on and left to site idle for ten minutes. At this point, we open AIDA64 along with 3DMark. We then kick-off a full suite run, and pay attention to the Kill-a-Watt when the test reaches its most intensive interval (GT 1) to get the load wattage.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Temperatures
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Power Consumption

As mentioned on the testing methodology page, EVGA’s SuperSC was tested on an upgraded platform. All hardware remained the same as before except for the motherboard and CPU. As I validated before I put this upgrade into place, both platforms perform about the same in gaming; the reason the upgrade was done was to prepare for a future suite overhaul.

Nonetheless, what makes the upgrade interesting is just how much less power it uses – we’re talking 4GHz Core i7-5960X versus 4.5GHz Core i7-4960X, and a full 60W less. That highlights just how power-efficient this card is, as well. With a powerful eight-core processor and a GPU that can deliver quality 1440p gaming, the entire machine uses a modest 250W. Remember when 600W power supplies seemed modest?

On the temperature front, EVGA’s card ran 6°C warmer than ASUS’ Strix, but offsetting that a little bit is the fact that the ambient room temperature was 2°C higher.

Overclocking

After finding great success with overclocking the GTX 970, GTX 980, and GTX TITAN X, I anticipated great things from this GTX 960. However, I shouldn’t have been so optimistic, because “SuperSC” means that the card already has a solid overclock, so thinking of pushing it 100MHz further is just unreasonable. In the end, I found +50MHz on the core and +500MHz on the memory to be my best stable overclock.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC Overclock

Those even numbers might make it seem like I didn’t try too hard to eke a bit more performance out of the card, but that’s not true. With either the core boosted another 10MHz or the memory 25MHz (independently), 3DMark would crash during the Sky Diver test, and not due to the temperature. Yet, no matter how hard I pushed the card at these quoted clocks, it chugged right along like a champ.

To find out how those overclocks translate to real-world performance, I ran the card through the same Best Playable results as seen on the previous page.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC - Overclocking

Whether or not the extra stress on your card is worth the FPS boost is really up to you, but some of the gains are quite tempting, such as a 7 FPS boost in BF4 and an 8 FPS one in Sleeping Dogs.

Final Thoughts

EVGA’s GeForce GTX 960 shares the same pros and cons as the ASUS Strix model I took a look at in January. For its price point of just over $200, it delivers awesome performance at 1080p, and good performance at 1440p. It might go without saying, but 4K gaming is out of the question, unless two cards are paired together for SLI. But even then, that only makes sense if the 4GB models were purchased, because 2GB is not sufficient for 4K gaming. Heck, even the performance of two 960 cards isn’t (to me). Even the $1,000 TITAN X struggles to breach 50 FPS in most titles at 4K, so it’s hard to expect much out of $200 GPUs.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC 2GB - Close-up

On the topic of price, the SuperSC, as mentioned in the intro, is priced at $10 less than EVGA’s SRP at Newegg, and even has a $10 mail-in rebate if you’re interested in pursuing it. That’d make this card a $190 one, which turns an already great card into an even better one.

If you’re unable to procure the SuperSC edition, you won’t be out-of-luck as far as clocks go, as it seems very likely that even the original model will overclock to similar levels as this one.

Overall, a solid card for the price, and an outrageous deal if you happen to jump on it soon and claim your free copy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Pros

Cons

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