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Nvidia GeForce GTX 960: Maxwell In The Middle

Gaming Benchmark Results

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 is one of our de facto benchmarks, and with the upcoming Battlefield: Hardline based on the same Frostbite 3 engine, it's as relevant as ever.

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Asus' Strix GTX 960 performs a few frame per second higher than the Radeon R9 285 reference card, serving up a playable result at 1080p with the ultra detail preset enabled. When we increase the resolution to 4K and drop the detail level to medium, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 960 stays above 30 FPS at all times. But it's the Radeon R9 285's turn to take a small lead.

Assassin's Creed Unity

Now let's try Assassin's Creed Unity. This game has incredibly high minimum system requirements, but let's see if the new GeForce GTX 960 can hack it:

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Even at the lowest detail setting and 1080p, Asus' GTX 960 barely maintains an average frame rate above 30 FPS. And it falls as low as 26 under load. The Radeon R9 285 fares slightly better, but its minimum frame rate is still below 30.

This game's engine doesn't appear to be well-optimized for 4K, and once we specify a 3840x2160 resolution, these graphics cards only manage a slideshow. Even the GeForce GTX 970 and Radeon R9 290X are unable to achieve a 30 FPS minimum frame rate.

Far Cry 4

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At 1920x1080, the Asus Strix GTX 960 can handle Far Cry 4's high detail preset without dropping below 54 frames per second, demonstrating a slight lead over AMD's Radeon R9 285. When we bump the resolution to 4K, neither card produces playable performance, even with the detail level at the minimum setting.

Middle-Earth Shadow Of Mordor

Next up, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, a surprisingly solid title from Monolith:

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At 1080p using the game's Ultra detail preset, the factory-overclocked Asus GTX 960 stays above 40 FPS (although the Radeon 285 performs a little better).

After we bump the resolution to 4K and drop the detail level to medium, AMD's Radeon continues to produce a playable frame rate, while the GTX 960 suffers notable frame rate dips.

Thief

Thief isn't the best-reviewed title, but it does have a following. In addition, it gives us a chance to observe AMD's Mantle API in action.

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All of the GeForce cards except the GTX 970 suffer a bit in this title. Regardless, the Strix GTX 960 maintains at least 40 FPS at 1920x1080 with the Very High detail preset selected. Increase the resolution to 3840x2160 while reducing details to Low, though, and Asus' Strix 960 pulls ahead of the Radeon R9 285.

Unfortunately, we were unable to test Mantle at 4K with the low detail preset, as it crashed.

ARMA III

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At 1080p with the Ultra detail preset enabled, Asus' Strix GTX 960 shows a notable lead over the Radeon R9 285. Increase the resolution to 4K with custom details, though, and the outcome differs.

Alien: Isolation

Finally, let's consider the sci-fi survival-horror game Alien: Isolation.

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Using a FHD resolution and the highest details possible, none of the cards we tested fall below 58 FPS. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 960 shows a significant lead over the Radeon it competes against.

Increase the resolution to 4K and dial back the details a little, and these two cards pace each other, both struggling to drive frame rates above 30 FPS during demanding sequences.

  • Novuake
    This seems meh... Impressive but not phenomenal power consumption to performance numbers. Especially compared the GTX970/980.

    Would have liked to see two more things.

    1. More extensive AA. post processing and memory bandwidth testing. Pretty sure Nvidia hamstrung the card a bit in some scenarios with a 1280bit interface. I had to read it 4 times before I believed it and still am skeptical.

    2. Overclocking benchies.


    So otherwise I guess we are back to the "old" ti-designation setup where the GTX960ti SHOULD be based on GM206 and vanilla GTX960 is not.
    Reply
  • sconzen
    I may be blind, but I don't see the Zotax Amp! edition in the temperature and noise tests. Confirm?
    Reply
  • damric
    The R9 280 is the fast and cheap elephant in the room that was never mentioned in this review,
    Reply
  • Grognak
    Well, I'm not saying a 10% improvement on top of a reduced power consumption isn't nice, because it really is, however we're still quite far away from the 770. I suppose Nvidia has a card planned to fill the massive performance gap between the 960 and 970, one at 4Gb of VRAM maybe?
    Reply
  • ykki
    The damn arrows are STILL blocking the charts!
    Reply
  • sconzen
    I may be blind, but I don't see the Zotax Amp! edition in the temperature and noise tests. Confirm?
    Reply
  • ykki
    Great review.
    Now AMD, time to bust out the 270x!
    Reply
  • ykki
    Lol I meant the 370x!
    Reply
  • Novuake
    15117694 said:
    The damn arrows are STILL blocking the charts!

    I am not the only one! Thank you!
    Reply
  • ykki
    Novoake, I am very sorry but I stole your comment from an earlier review.
    But seriously, those arrows can block out the sun if tom's put 'em right.
    Reply