We review another Gigabyte GeForceGTX 960 cards, located under SKU code GV-N960WFOC-2GD this round it is the dual-fan WindForce 2X edition that we put to the test. This product is slightly cheaper and has a smaller factory overclock opposed to the G1 gaming version, however it remains among the most silent of all the cards we tested. The WindForce 2X based cooler is doing a proper job and the card is among the best overclockers as well.
So, it's Nvidia who is releasing the GeForce GTX 960 based products. The GM206 GPU empowering the card has been a topic of much discussion over the past few months, and let's face it... everybody expected this GPU to be based on the GPU being used in the GTX 970 and 980. Then there were delays, and the product got pushed backwards to even after Christmas. Yes, somebody made the decision that the GTX 960 should be a cheaper fab product opposed to using the more expensive GM204 that you know from the GTX 970/980. Nvidia now bakes the GM206 for the GTX 960 series, the product has been castrated and stripped of everything that is sexy with the GTX 970/980. You'll see the memory cut down to 2 GB of memory on these puppies, that memory runs on a 128-bit wide bus, the shader processors have been halved to 1024 Shader/Stream/Cuda cores. Let me quickly table that up for you:
GeForce GTX 980
GeForce GTX 970
GeForce GTX 960
Amount of memory
4 GB GDDR5
4 GB GDDR5
2 GB GDDR5
224 GB / s
224 GB / s
So yes, you take a GTX 980, chop it in half in every way and that is the GeForce GTX 960. A lot of you guys will feel that this is a bridge too far. Especially the 2GB and 128-bit wide bus seem to be a nag, then again Maxwell makes efficient use of memory color compression. But hey, you haven't read this review just yet so let's not draw any conclusions right now. However it is abundantly clear that the Geforce GTX is a 1080P card at best with its 2GB of graphics memory. The new product will be based on Maxwell architecture, yes, named after the mathematical physicist. The Maxwell family of GPUs is actually the 10th generation of GPU architecture for Nvidia. With several design goals in mind (higher performance and lower power consumption) Nvidia was hoping to reach 20nm by the time their high-end product would be released. It is now January 2015 and it is abundantly clear that the 20nm fab nodes are a huge yield mess, as no manufacturer dares use it. Nvidia went with plan B and stuck with a 28nm process, this makes their silicon sizeable, in relative proportions of course. Nonetheless, Nvidia has moved forward and today the 3rd Maxwell based product (GTX 750 was actually the first trial) is being released as a GM206 based GPU. Armed with voltage, power and load limiters, Nvidia these days can harvest massive performance out of chips when you think about it. Today is about the GeForce GTX 960 range of performance. The base clock speed of the GeForce GTX 960 is 1126MHz. The typical Boost Clock speed is 1178MHz. The GPU used thus is still on 28nm.
The WindForce 2X SKU has a two fan dual-slot cooler, based on the WindForce design. It is performing pretty darn good though, as temperatures remain under 60 Degrees C with this cooler whilst remaining 100% silent. The WindForce 2C model does come with a factory overclock, but it is lower opposed to the G1 gaming model and it is lacking a backplate as well. The core clock frequency for example is set at 1216 MHz, the dynamic boost clock can go up-to 1279 MHz. The memory clocks in at 7 Gbps. With that dark design and dual fan cooler, the GeForce GTX 960 WindForce edition will get all the cooling it needs, and the noise levels are low overall as well. Thanks to a really good design and custom PCB, these puppies overclock high .. very high.
Have a peek as to what we'll test, meet the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 960 Windforce 2X.
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