Article Index

Test Methodology

The aim of the benchmarks in this review is to compare our EVGA overclocked GTX960 sample to the GTX760 we last tested, MSI's HAWK model which equipped with 2x8 power connectors, expanded power delivery and a unlocked BIOS was also an 'overclockers dream' Because of the time between our 760 and 960 reviews, we used an older Ivy Bridge based 3770K testbed rather than 4790K or 5960X Haswell based systems. many end users with older fermi or tesla based GPUs waiting for an upgrade will likely still be running Nehalem, Sandy bridge or ivy bridge systems.

At the time, we compared the MSI NVIDIA GTX760 HAWK to the MSI AMD R9 270X HAWK, MSI offering these two competitive GPUs with basically the same PCB and cooling package, for those who want either brand. The AMD card had a bit more compute power and this showed in some tests. We kept the results of the 270X in and also used them in this review to give an idea of how the previous gen AMD mid end card compares.

NVIDIA told us that the 960 is comparable to AMD's newer mid end card R9 285 however we have not tested one nor could get one in-time for the GTX 960 review.

We focused on 1080p and 1200p ultra resolutions for standalone benchmarks , with some 13x7 medium and 1080/1200p low to ultra thrown in to show resolution and detail scaling for Dirt 3 and Bioshock.

We also performed an overall test at 4K ultra against a GTX980 using a 4790K system to show for high loads such as this resolution, hardware resources matter and a small card like a 960 despite being '2nd gen maxwell' just cannot handle these loads as it does not have enough cores, ROPs or memory.

Some of our tests Eg Batman may seem odd in the setting we chose. There is a reason for this. The NVIDIA endorsed games in our test suite utilise GPU accelerated PhysX physics on GeForce but CPU on AMD. The penalty can be up to 30 FPS on AMD therefore by disabling or minimising PhysX on comparative tests we can ensure testing is fair.

Testing was perfomed at Summer temperatures, between 28c to 32c ambient.

Test System Specs


Processor Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz (3.7 to 3.9GHz Turbo, all-core turbo disabled)
Motherboard ASUS P8Z77-V Pro, BIOS 2104
Memory 16 GB - 4x 4GB Corsair Vegenance DDR3-2400 C10 CMZ16GX3M4A2400C10
Cooling Coolermaster TX-3
Part Number 113-C6310100-X15
BIOS Version
Part Number P2004-0010
BIOS Version 80.04.BF.00.00
Part Number 02G-P4-2966-KR
BIOS Version 84.06.0D.00.60
System Drive Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3.5" 3TB SATA
Aux Drives Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD
Seagate Backup Plus 1TB 2.5” External USB 3.0
WD My Book 3.0 2TB 3.5" External USB 3.0
Case Corsair Vengeance C70 Mid Tower
Power FSP ‘Aurum Series’ AU-750M 750 Watts Power Supply 80PLUS GOLD
Display DELL Ultrasharp U2412M 24” LED backlit LCD Monitor /
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional 64bit with latest updates as of Jan 2015.
Graphics Driver AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta
NVIDIA GeForce 331.65
NVIDIA GeForce 347.25 (for GTX960) 344.65 (for GTX980)
Storage Driver Intel Rapid Storage 13.1


Processor Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz (4.2 to 4.4GHz Turbo, all-core turbo enabled)
Motherboard MSI Z97 Gaming 7, BIOS 1.8
Cooling Intel TS13X Liquid Cooler
System Drive Crucial M500 SSD 960GB
Display DELL Ultrasharp U2414Q 24” LED backlit LCD Monitor
Storage Driver Intel Rapid Storage 13.6

Benchmarked Game Settings

SoftwareVersionTest Settings
Alien V Predator D3D11 Benchmark V1.03 Texture Quality 3, Shadow Quality 3, Anisotropic 16, SSAO 1, Tessellation 1, Advanced Shadows 1, MSAA 4
Battlefield 3 1.6 Operation Swordfish - Checkpoint 1 to 2, Ultra Defaults, No Vsync
Batman Arkham City 1.1 DX11:MVSS & HBAO, High Tessellation, Very High Detail, All details on, Normal Physx.
DX9:No Dx11, High , No Physx
Bioshock Infinite Pre-sets Selected via benchmark menu
Blender 2.67 Nightly and 2.73 BMW1M-MikePan
Crysis 1.2.1 1920x1200, Game Preset
Crysis 2 Maximum Edition Version 1.9 Single Player Campaign
1920x1200,V-Sync and DX11 Enabled,System Spec Extreme
Crysis 3 Hunter Edition Version 1.3 Intro Mission, 1920x1200, FXAA, Very High Tex, Very High Profile, Medblur, Lens Flares
Cyberlink MediaEspresso 6.7.4131_47226 Both Hardware Encoding and Decoding Enabled for GPU, disabled for CPU Bug in software prevents NVIDIA encode acceleration.
Deus Ex Human Revolution 1.3.643.1 1920x1200, MLAA, 16x AF, Soft Shadows, High SSAO, High DOF, Triple Buffering, Post Processing, Tessellation
Dirt2 / Dirt 3 1.1 / 1.2 1920x1200, Ultra Pre-set, 4x MSAA
Futuremark Benchmarks All patched to latest versions  
Grand Theft Auto IV Title Update 7 1920x1200, Maximum details, 16x AFX, Detail distances 50,50,100, -norestrictions switch used if necessary
Handbrake Build 5893 and version 0.10  
Just Cause 2 1920x1200, Maximum Details on NVIDIA, 4x AA, 16x AF.
Lost Planet 2 Benchmark 1920x1200, Maximum Details Including Motion Blur, 4x AA. DirectX 11 Mode.
Metro 2033 1.01 DX11 Very High Preset 4xMSAA 16xAF + DoF
Resident Evil 5 Benchmark 1920x1200, Maximum Details Including Motion Blur, 4x AA. DirectX 10 mode
SPEC SPECviewperf 11 1920x1200 , 4x AA
Street Fighter IV Benchmark 1920x1200, Maximum Details except Ink,4x AA, 16x AF
Total War: SHOGUN 2 1.1 All Ultra,MLAA, Soft Shadows, Tessellation, HDR,SSAO
Trackmania Nations Forever 2.11.26 1920x1200, VHQ Pre-set, 4x AA 16x AF
Warthunder 1.3 & 1.45 Game pre-sets
World In Conflict Demo 1.0 1920x1200, Maximum Details, 4x AA, 16x AF. DirectX 10 Mode

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