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MSI GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 2G Review

MSI’s GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 2G has the largest cooler and biggest fans of the GTX 960 cards we’ve tested so far, but does it perform any better?

Conclusion

MSI’s GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 2G is the fourth card I’ve tested with Nvidia's GM206 GPU. Going into today's review, I already had a solid idea of what to expect. Each card performs somewhat differently, demonstrating strengths and weaknesses. But I knew I'd see good cooling performance. The heat sink on MSI’s interpretation is quite a bit larger than the previous GTX 960s I tested, and the temperatures of the competing cards aren't what I would consider high.

What I did not expect was such quiet fans. Without the use of any kind of instrument, I can tell you with certainty that, short of a passively-cooled card, I’ve never encountered a quieter thermal solution. Even at full speed, the fans are barely audible in a silent room. Additionally, the reported GPU temperature rarely exceeded the 65-degree threshold necessary to start them in the first place.

Overclocking performance on this sample was respectable, comparing well to the other cards we’ve tested. Clock speeds aren’t the fastest we’ve seen on a 960, but hardly anything to complain about.

There are only two issues that come to mind that may leave some customers displeased. For some reason, power draw was a fair bit higher than the previous three GTX 960s we tested. The impact isn't dramatic, but it's still enough to raise eyebrows. Second, there's the price tag. Of the four cards we've tested, MSI’s variant is $10 higher than the competition. This is not a difference that would break the bank, but when everything else is cheaper, it's hard to justify the costlier option.

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Kevin Carbotte is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware, covering Graphics.

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  • HideOut
    The price is for the best cooler in the field. Would be excelent in a higher end HTPC/gaming combo machine where silence or near silence would be nice.
    Reply
  • crisan_tiberiu
    I am a bit confused in the decision of Tom's, not to compare data with the red team. All i can see is the comparison of 4 identical chips.
    Reply
  • chimera201
    16254761 said:
    I am a bit confused in the decision of Tom's, not to compare data with the red team. All i can see is the comparison of 4 identical chips.

    Tom's is comparing the different brand offerings for GTX 960 - that is what everybody wants right? You will find comparison with other cards in the reference card review (they didn't get the reference card though)
    Reply
  • bigpinkdragon286
    AMD doesn't have new cards to compare the GTX 960 to. The only segment this card is competitive in is power consumption, otherwise beaten by 4 year old cards.
    Reply
  • Wisecracker
    It looks exactly like the MSI Radeon R9 380 Gaming 2GB ...

    Near identical acoustic performance, too.



    Reply
  • Covaylent
    "In the graph, MSI’s card is listed at 34 degrees."
    Did you mean decibels?

    Also, there was no mention of the HDMI version included with this card. For clarity, is this HDMI 2.0?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • CompuTronix
    Precise overclocking frequency is not specified. Only +150 is mentioned.

    Reference +150?
    Gaming Mode +150?

    +150 = what frequency?
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    I am a bit confused in the decision of Tom's, not to compare data with the red team. All i can see is the comparison of 4 identical chips.

    This came down to availability of cards, and timeframe. I only had this card in hand for 4 days to do the testing. I'm fairly new to Tom's (having started in January) and had not yet reviewed any AMD cards. As such, I did not have any on hand.

    It should be noted that this review has been in the queue for a while now but was delayed to make room for the 980ti, Fury X and Fury releases.
    It looks exactly like the MSI Radeon R9 380 Gaming 2GB ...

    Near identical acoustic performance, too.



    The tests were all done in May, long before AMD released the R9 380 to compare it against. MSI uses the same fans and near identical cooler, so the accoustic performance should be on par.



    Precise overclocking frequency is not specified. Only +150 is mentioned.

    Reference +150?
    Gaming Mode +150?

    +150 = what frequency?

    My apologies, it wasn't meant to be confusing.

    The overclocking was done from the base Gaming Mode clock speed.
    "Gaming Mode is the default setting; its GPU clock setting is 1190MHz, while GPU Boost is increased to 1253MHz"

    1190 + 150 = overclocked speed of 1240Mhz.

    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    1340Mhz - stupid type
    Reply
  • macer1
    Nice article, but the Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 is the clear champion of the GTX 960's.
    Reply