The GTX 960 comes with features introduced with Maxwell, such as VXGI (Voxel Global Illumination), a technology that drastically enhances the way 3D objects interact with lighting conditions. The goal with VXGI is to dynamically alter lighting of an object as the scene changes.
Dynamic Super Resolution, which upscales images and downsamples them to provide better visuals, is a key technology in the GTX 960. The technology aims to deliver 4K-like content on a 1080p display.
Nvidia debuted MFAA (multi-frame anti-aliasing) at the launch of the GTX 980 and GTX 970, and the technology makes its way onto the GTX 960. MFAA offers MSAA (Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing) levels of quality at much lower performance costs. Anti-aliasing is a technique used to smooth out jagged edges. In MSAA, the GPU analyses two or more points in a pixel to gauge where the edges should be blurred, which takes a toll on performance as every individual frame has to be analyzed twice before it can be rendered.
MFAA fixes that by switching between two points in every frame. Nvidia touts a performance increase of over 30% by using MFAA over MSAA, although the number of games that support this feature is quite low.
Nvidia’s G-Sync — which aims to eliminate display tearing — is also available on the GTX 960. With G-Sync, Nvidia is offering an alternative to V-Sync that requires the display to sync its refresh rates to that generated by the GPU, resulting in games looking more fluid by diminishing stutter and lag. The technology is targeted at games running below 60 FPS, and works in conjunction with monitors that are G-Sync enabled.
Zotac’s GTX 960 AMP! Edition is factory overclocked, but the card comes with sufficient headroom for further overclocking. The vendor’s FireStorm utility offers a slew of options that allow you to overclock the card. But with the card already running at a core clock of 1266 MHz out of the box, most gamers won’t need to push the card further. Nvidia is billing the GTX 960 as an ideal card for 1080p gaming, and as such we’ll take a look at how the card fares with a single display running games at full-HD.
Test System Configuration:
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97X Gaming GT
Processor: Intel Core i7 4790K
Memory: 16 GB Corsair Vengeance
Video Card: Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition
Storage: 500 GB Samsung Evo
Power: Corsair RM850
Cooling: Corsair H100i
Case: Thermaltake Chaser A71
Futuremark’s 3D Mark is the standard for synthetic benchmark tests, and offers a quick look at how a card performs during several workloads.
We tested Zotac’s GTX 960 across a wide variety of titles, including a mix of old and new games.
The GTX 960 is the ideal card for gamers on a budget looking to play the latest titles at full-HD. While you can get decent frame rates even in QHD, at 4K the card doesn’t hold up. Zotac’s variant is at par with what AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) offers with the R9 285, which is priced similarly after the round of discounts the vendor initiated to counter the launch of the GeForce 900 series. Nvidia is targeting gamers who are using a GeForce 600 series card, with the GTX 960 offering a 30% improvement over the GTX 660, and a 20% improvement over the GTX 660 Ti. GeForce 700 series users will find that the card fares slightly better than the GTX 760, with an increase in performance of 15%.
One particular area where the GTX 960 excels at is power consumption, which is significantly lower than anything offered by the GeForce 600 and 700 series of cards. Given the power efficiency, the GTX 960 is quieter than similarly priced offerings, with Zotac’s card coming in at just 25 dBA when under load. The efficient design combined with the overclocking potential means that the GTX 960 will find a lot of traction with budget buyers looking to build a new PC. Zotac’s GTX 960 AMP! Edition, which is priced at $209, offers the highest clocks of any vendor offering a factory overclocked edition, making it that much more alluring.