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Nvidia Launches The Incredibly Efficient GeForce GTX 960

Today, Nvidia is launching its GeForce GTX 960 graphics card, which is a mid-tier card aimed at meeting the needs of value-oriented users.

This graphics card, like the GTX 970, GTX 980, and GTX 750 (Ti) that came before it, is based on the relatively young Maxwell architecture. It's built on an all-new GM206 GPU, which is made using a 28-nanometer lithographic process. Inside this GPU you’ll find just what you’d find in a GTX 980, but halved – 1024 CUDA cores, 64 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and a 128-bit memory interface that addresses 2 GB of GDDR5 memory that’s placed elsewhere on the PCB.

This memory runs at an effective speed of 7010 MHz, meaning that it pumps out a bandwidth of about 112.2 GB/s. The GM206 GPU runs at 1126 MHz as a base frequency, but will boost up to 1178 MHz using Nvidia GPU Boost 2.0 when the thermal headroom is available. The 128-bit memory bus appears to be quite narrow, but the GTX 970 and GTX 980 have already proven that the Maxwell architecture is able to do more with less resources, so let’s hope the pattern continues here.

The graphics card has a TDP of just 120 W, which enables it to pull all the power it needs from just the PCI-Express slot and a single 6-pin PCI-Express power connector. The efficient architecture allows Nvidia's board partners to opt for switching off the GPU's fans when it is running idle or under a low load. Such a technology isn’t only helpful to reduce idle noise levels, but also to reduce dust buildup inside the card. According to Nvidia, on launch day Asus, Gainward, and Gigabyte are offering this feature, although we expect a handful of other manufacturers, including Evga, to offer it as well.

Nvidia also claims that the card is built for overclocking, boasting that you should be able to overclock the cards to speeds approaching or beyond 1500 MHz without too much effort. This is in part thanks to its incredibly efficient design. Nvidia managed to achieve 1450 MHz on its reference card without modifying the fan or voltage settings, so we expect that aftermarket cards will be able to do even better.

Nvidia’s aim for this card is to address the "sweet spot" in the GPU market, where for an acceptable price you can get a whole heap of performance. The card is intended to succeed the GTX 760, and it should provide impressive Full HD performance, with acceptable 1440p performance, at an appealing price point.

Naturally, it will come with all the features found on the other Maxwell based cards, including support for Nvidia G-Sync, DirectX 12, VR Direct Support, Dynamic Super Resolution and the new MFAA, among many more.

Various models should be hitting shelves sooner or later, with MSRP pricing set at $200. Expect pricing for factory-overclocked models to be not far above that, with premiums of around $10 in many cases. Curious what all these specifications actually turn into, and whether this card will live up to its price point? Enjoy reading our full review here.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Niels Broekhuijsen
Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware news on all components and peripherals.
  • Xivilain
    This should finally beat a GTX 580. Its crazy to see the improvements over the years.
    http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html
    Reply
  • dovah-chan
    Well there goes that hole in the market
    Reply
  • beoza
    I like the look of the all black cooler.
    Reply
  • game junky
    good sign - I think we all want to see pricing and a ti variant but I am glad they're finally giving us a teaser. I feel bad for folks that are wanting to build their rig soon and want an Nvidia card without spending for the 970 because this is the natural go to option
    Reply
  • damric
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant
    Video Card: PowerColor Radeon R9 280 3GB TurboDuo Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $149.99
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when availableGenerated by PCPartPicker 2015-01-22 10:37 EST-0500
    Reply
  • PreyTheSun
    15118184 said:
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant
    Video Card: PowerColor Radeon R9 280 3GB TurboDuo Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $149.99
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when availableGenerated by PCPartPicker 2015-01-22 10:37 EST-0500

    I take it that the PowerColor Radeon R9 280 3GB TurboDuo for $149.99-$169.99 on Newegg, is a better card and deal for your money than the GTX 960?
    Reply
  • fkr
    i have read a couple of benchmarks so far and it appears that this is about the same as a 7970/ r9 280x.

    at 1080p this card performs really well and at 1440p or higher an old 7950 will win by a margin in some games.

    I still need some of the better reviewers to get some info out and for me to read it but i think the AMD is allot better just because it has the option to CF and I would not SLI this 960 with it limited mem and mem buffer
    Reply
  • fkr
    I think it is a good upgrade, personally I would get a used 7950 for $100 as performance will be similar. If you wanted to buy new and you are not ever planning on getting a higher than 1080p monitor then go for it.

    In the end I think that the r9 280/280x/285 and the gtx960 are all in the same performance boat and I would buy whatever is cheapest but if you wanted to go with nvidia then do it as the purchase will probably make you happier.

    here is a good review and they are giving away 7 gtx960's in about three minutes

    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-960-2GB-Review-GM206-199
    Reply
  • PreyTheSun
    I wish I had enough money to drop on the GTX 970, but then I'd just get a PS4 at that point, at least for now. I'll probably wait for the 960TI. Probably best not to jump the gun on this one.

    Thanks for all the advice and tips, guys!
    Reply
  • elbert
    This card gets beat by the 280/285. It only matches the 2 in 1080p and then gets left behind in 1440 and 4k. Give the ref models sale about $20 higher than 280 they are bad deal. The 8 pin versions sale near $240ish which again is about $20 higher than 285 make then a bad deal. Also the fact that the 8pin oc version are nearing gtx960ti price OC isn't worth the price. Possible Nvidia will line out the gtx960 prices with the 4gb version at some point.
    Reply