Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac

Today NVIDIintroduced the GeForce GTX 960, click here for our extensive review of the new GPU. ASUS, Inno3D, MSI and Zotac could send us all before the official launch a GTX 960. In this review we will compare the ASUS GeForce GTX 960 2GB Strix, the Inno3D GeForce GTX 960 iChill Ultra 2GB, the MSI GeForce GTX 960 2GB Gaming and the Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition 2GB.

In this review we will focus purely on the differences of the four tested cards. Who is curious about the characteristics and performance of the GeForce GTX 960 compared to other types of video cards, please refer to the other review we published today.

We have four cards tested extensively, not only in performance but also in terms of power consumption and noise. Since the cards today only come on the market, we have unfortunately not a good picture of the final price. From the market, we understand that “normal” GTX 960 cards will cost around € 200, while more luxurious, more overclocked versions will come out around € 220. The coming hours and days, the prices will probably be in the running-tested products in the Hardware.Info Price comparison.

Anyway all manufacturers confirm us that the GTX 960 a “hard launch” is. The larger brands have thousands of cards already readily available to the Dutch market. Who wants to buy a GTX 960, so it does not take long to wait …

ASUS GeForce GTX 960 2GB Strix

ASUS sent us the GeForce GTX 960 2GB Strix. Since the GeForce GTX 960 PCB has a lot smaller than, say, the GTX 970 and GTX 980 ASUS has this card put another cooler than we saw recently at the Strix versions of the GTX 970 and 980.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac

ASUS has just like the other manufacturers overclocked GPU standard. Instead of the standard 1126 MHz and 1178 MHz (Boost) which prescribes Nvidia, updates the GPU on the card Strix to 1253 MHz with a 1317 MHz Boost clock frequency. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory ASUS also slightly overclocked, to 1800 MHz.

The card features three DisplayPort 1.2 connections, plus HDMI 2.0 and dual-link DVI. The card has a single 6-pin PEG power connector and obviously an SLI connector.

The Strix cooler makes use of a pair of 8cm fans and a cooling block which is provided with two 8mm 6mm and two heat pipes. The fans on the card at low load completely silent: ASUS was this trendsetter, but now all the manufacturers do it.

Inno3D GeForce GTX 960 iChill Ultra 2GB

Inno3D iChill Ultra has this really a beast of a GTX 960 card released. A 30-inch, three slots thick cooler might be a bit excessive for a GPU with a TDP of 120W, but as we will see later it certainly contributes to overclockability.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac

The card is by Inno3D provided with a relatively long PCB, but if we remove the cooler, we see that the major part of the circuit board is empty. The GPU overclocked Inno3D much higher than the competition: the base clock frequency is 1329 MHz and 1393 MHz Boost clock is. That is almost 20% higher than the GTX 960 reference card! The memory is overclocked to 1800 MHz. Overclockers have two 6-pin PEG connectors at their disposal and also striking that the Inno3D higher voltages allows: to 1,25V where 1,21V lately is common for Nvidia cards.

The Boss Air cooler is, as said three thick slot and uses a three 9cm fans. The heatsink strapping young has four 6cm case fans. Inno3D now also used the trick to put the fans at low load completely silent. Fortunately.

Like the other cards Inno3D offers 3x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x dual-link DVI and 1x HDMI 2.0.

MSI GeForce GTX 960 2GB Gaming

MSI sent us their GeForce GTX 960 from the gaming series. The used cooler, of course in black / red color, very similar to that of the GTX 970 and GTX 980 gaming, though the underlying heatsink something else. In any case, MSI has not like ASUS chose to keep relatively small the GTX 960, but so is using a relatively large cooler, MSI also like Inno3D used an extended PCB, which is largely empty. Unfortunately, the map on the back has no backplate; functional which is usually not, but it looks nicer in an enclosure where the video card is in the line upside down. Keep in mind that the way the video is about 4 inches higher than the standard final height: normal Micro-ATX and ATX enclosures no problem, but in very narrow (ITX) enclosures can cause problems.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac

An advantage of the used TwinFrozr V cooler is that this is just a little less thick than two slots: if you have two cards in SLI place right next to each other, yet both so good air intake. The cooling block uses a three 6mm heat pipes and the two fans measuring 10cm. As with the other recent MSI Gaming video cards remain the fans at low load at a standstill.

The MSI card is overclocked by default, though MSI of the four cards in this test the most conservative. The GPU operates at 1190 MHz with a 1253 MHz Boost clock frequency. The memory is left untouched at 1753 MHz. The monitor connectors are identical to the other cards: 3x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x DVI and 1x HDMI 2.0. For the GPU power supply MSI has an 8-pin instead of 6-pin PEG connector.

Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition 2GB

Zotac we received their AMP! edition of the GeForce GTX 960 and it must be said, though, we “design” actually never consider them in our conclusions, we can say that this relatively small menu looks very tight. The cooler fits clearly into the new series AMP! cards, but in contrast to the GTX 970 AMP! and GTX 980 AMP! the carbon look is what kept limited. The cooler has fortunately a nice backplate.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac

Zotac has its map of the four marks the second highest overclocked the GPU runs natively on 1266 MHz with a 1329 MHz Boost clock frequency. The memory clock frequency is standard: 1753 MHz. On the back we find a single 6-pin PEG connector and also this card offers 3x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x dual-link DVI and 1x HDMI 2.0.

The cooler has two 9cm fans and Zotac also cure at low load now stand completely still. The underlying heatsink has only two 6mm heatpipes.


We test video cards recently on a new test system consisting of these elements:

Intel Core i7 5960X @ 4.0 GHz
MSI Gaming 9 AC X99S motherboard
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory @ 2133 MHz 13-13-13-36-2T
Samsung 840 Evo 1TB SSD
Seasonic Platinum Series 1200W PSU
NZXT Kraken X60 CPU cooler
Cooler Master Test Bench
For video cards as issued by the partners of AMD and Nvidia we run a subset of the benchmarks we use when a new GPU comes on the market: 3DMark, supplemented with five games.

3DMark Fire Strike
Battlefield 4
Metro Last Light
Total War: Rome II
GRID Autosport
These games we play in two different resolutions and two different settings:

1920×1080 (Full HD) Medium / Normal
1920×1080 (Full HD) Highest / Ultra + 4x MSAA
3840×2160 (Ultra HD) Medium / Normal
3840×2160 (Ultra HD) Highest / Ultra + 4x MSAA
In addition to the performance, we also measure the power consumption and noise of video cards.


The four tested GeForce GTX 960 maps clearly show that the different manufacturers clearly take a different path. One makes his map as large as possible, while others just prefer a smaller card. Something for everyone.

For those who want to overclock a lot and has the space, the Inno3D GeForce GTX 960 iChill Ultra is clearly the best choice. This card is standard from the box fastest but thanks to the immense cooler also clearly the highest overclocking potential. In recent testing Inno3D card was always accompanied by a very high noise, but that is in this latest map finally under control.

For those who just is not about bells and just looking for a nice card for a game system, the MSI is actually the best choice. Although none of the card is noisy, the MSI card is clearly the quietest and the performance difference with the other cards in our opinion minimal.

Want to put the GTX 960 into a smaller (ITX) little system, you run against the risk that the MSI in height or length does not fit. Than the ASUS and Zotac come in. The cards are almost as big and almost silent, but ASUS proves that a cooler of the same size and noise can be a lot better cooling. Of those two is the ASUS so in our opinion the best choice.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 review: ASUS vs Inno3D vs MSI vs Zotac updated: January 24, 2015 author: John Malkovich