PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 Graphics Card Review
   
Home > Reviews > Graphics Card Reviews > Silver Award > PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 Graphics Card Review

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 Graphics Card Review

March 25th, 2015 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

PNY may have been around for thirty years and pcG has only been around for three years, yet the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 Graphics Card is the first product we have ever seen from this global technology leader. What we have here is a one of Nvidia’s latest GPUs based upon the ever popular Maxwell architecture. This particular example (GF960GTX2GEPB) is based upon the Nvidia Geforece GTX 960 and is equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM running at 1753 (7010 effective). The Core Clock speed is 1127MHz while the Boost clock is 1178MHz and the card itself sports a stock blower style cooler.

 

pny ‘The GeForce® GTX™ 960 delivers incredible performance, power efficiency, and cutting-edge gaming technologies that only NVIDIA Maxwell™ technology can offer. This is the perfect upgrade to advanced gaming, letting you dominate the competition with 60% faster performance and twice the power efficiency than previous-generation cards*. Unleash its massive overclocking potential and push your performance even further. Plus, it features VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC™ technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution that enables 4K-quality gaming on 1080p displays. The GTX 960 even gives you great gaming to go with NVIDIA GameStream™ technology that lets you stream PC games to NVIDIA SHIELD™ devices.’

 

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - box front PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - box back

 

The front of the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 box is about as understated as they come (maybe a little too understated!) with the front just featuring a PNY logo and their ‘XLR8 (or accelerate, get it!?) play like you mean it’ slogan. In the bottom right we find a simple sticker sealing the box and providing basic card information (DVI / 3 x DisplayPort / HDMI – 2GB GDDR5 Memory – PCI Express 3.0) and highlighting support for Nvidia’s Gamestream, Gameworks, G-Sync and DirectX 12.

The back of the box is even more understated than the front and to be fair that’s actually quite difficult, but PNY have pulled it off! 😉 With the back of the box being just plain black apart from some basic logos and information etc. Although it is nice to see the 3 year warranty emblem in the bottom right corner.

 

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - box open PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - box contents

Inside the box there’s not much packaging (although it’s adequate) and not much other than the Graphics card itself, that’s wrapped in a anti-static bubble-wrap bag. In addition to this there’s a Driver disc, Quick Install Guide and a DVI – D-Sub (analogue) adapter.

At the time of review the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 is retailing for approximately £160.00 from dabs.com and comes with a 3 year warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of PNY

NVIDIA® CUDA® Cores 1024
Base Clock (MHz) 1127
Boost Clock (MHz) 1178
Memory Clock (Gbps) 7.0
Memory Amount 2048 MB GDDR5
Memory Interface 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) TBA
Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec) TBA
Multi-Screen 4
Max Resolution 4096×2160 (Digital)
Power Input One 6-Pin
Bus Type PCI-Express 3.0 x16
Dimensions:
Length 9.5″
Height 4.376″
Width Dual-slot
  • NVIDIA Super Resolution technology
  • NVIDIA GameWorks technology
  • NVIDIA GameStream technology
  • NVIDIA G-Sync-Ready
  • NVIDIA SHIELD-Ready
  • Microsoft DirectX 12
  • NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0
  • NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync
  • NVIDIA Surround technology
  • Support for four concurrent displays including:
    • Dual-link DVI
    • HDMI
    • Three DisplayPort 1.2
  • NVIDIA SLI®-Ready
  • NVIDIA CUDA® technology
  • PCI Express 3.0 support
  • OpenGL 4.4 support
  • OpenCL support

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - fan

 

First impressions are a little disappointing to be honest as the card’s design seems to follow that of the box and that’s to say it’s somewhat understated (and to be fair that’s putting it politely!). Let’s take a tour around the outside of the card and see what’s what, shall we…

 

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - front PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - back

 

Looking at the front of the all black PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 we can see that the main body of the card is covered by a fully enclosed plastic shroud. The main section of the shroud is covered with a black sticker showing the PNY logo and the ‘XLR8 Play Like you mean it’ slogan along with the card type and memory size (2048MB).

At the far end of the card there’s a single impeller that sucks in cool air from inside the case and exhausts it out of the back.

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - bottom

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - top

Looking at the sides of the card and the PCIE 3.0 connector there’s very little to see other than the two screws that help hold the shroud in place, and a raft of part/sku/model numbers on the left. What’s both interesting and confusing is that after studying all of the number on the card and the box none of them seem to match!?

Looking at the other side of the card (the bit we tend to stare at!), there’s even less to see other than the single 6-pin power plug that’s required to power the card. I do feel that PNY really could have done a little more to give their card a little bit of extra bling, as it does indeed look a little dull (sorry PNY).

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - outputs

PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - end

Looking at the ends of the card, at one end we find the main outputs for the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960; x1 DVI-D, x3 DisplayPort and x1 HDMI, this end of the card is also peppered with triangular holes, allowing that blower to exhaust as much hot air as possible out of the back of the card. At the other end of the card there really is nothing to see, no really there isn’t…

 

Hardware Installation

 

Installation into our Test Rig‘s motherboard and case was pretty simple, despite the fact that the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 is actually rather long (especially for a GTX 960) at 245mm. Compared to the Zotac 960 (at 208mm) it seems too long! The card was then simply powered up by a single 6-pin PCIE power plug.

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer CPU Intel Core i5-4690K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - installed (above) PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - installed (side)

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    Our Test Rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional N 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers also installed. Nvidia’s 347.52 was downloaded and installed and used throughout testing.

    For testing purposes we use MSI Afterburner (here), to help us with our testing and overclocking.

     

  • Overclocking the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 using MSI Afterburner (Version 4.1.0)
  •  

    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 - OC settings Nvidia’s Boost clock (Nvidia Boost 2.0) is a bit of a difficult thing to explain, but the bottom line is that it runs at whatever the best speed it can while trying to remain within its TDP of 120W (READ: whilst staying cool!). With the card at stock this saw it Boosting up and beyond its Stock Boost Clock (1178MHz) to 1291MHz. But obviously we wanted more…
    Via MSI Afterburner I raised the Power Limit to 108% (the maximum supported) overclocked the Core (Boost) Clock by an impressive 250MHz and overclocked the Memory Clock by a further 500MHz. While also turning the fan speed to manual and setting it to 100%, in an attempt to keep the thermal throttling at bay.

    The end result is a card with a theoretical Core Boost Clock of 1428MHz and a Memory Clock of 8010MHz. Of course (due to Nvidia GPU Boost 2.0) what shows on screen at any time is anyone’s guess (I saw 1541MHz, which is impressive), as the card it constantly balancing within its TDP. BUT of course the final net result is that the card does run quicker, woohoo!

     

    Hardware Performance

     

  • PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 – STOCK (Core: 1178MHz / Mem: 7010MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 21.00 75.00 54.00 123.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 21.00 70.00 49.00 58.6 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 21.00 75.00 74.00 53.00 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 21.00 70.00 49.00 816
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 21.00 66.00 45.00 6174

     

  • PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 – OVERCLOCKED (Core: 1428MHz / Mem: 8010MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 22.00 65.00 43.00 141.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 22.00 63.00 41.00 67.5 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 22.00 66.00 44.00 61.67 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 22.00 60.00 38.00 955
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 22.00 59.00 37.00 7101

     

    Comparative Test Results (at stock):

    NOTE: Please note that all of these benchmarks are valid and correct at the time of review and we do not use historical data. Each benchmark is re-run every time (against our Test Cards) for each new GPU review using the latest Drivers at that time. Therefore the scores may fluctuate between reviews as Driver optimizations come into play…

     

  • BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS
  • Batman Arkham Origins - Benchmark Settings
    Results measured in FPS (average)
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    226
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    183
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    179
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    141
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    129
    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960
    123
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    102
    All Graphics Card Results 2015
  • TOMB RAIDER
  • Tomb Raider - Benchmark Settings
    Results measured in FPS (average)
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    109.7
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    90.6
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    87.1
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    69.0
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    60.1
    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960
    58.6
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    49.3
    All Graphics Card Results 2015
  • METRO: LAST LIGHT
  • Metro: Last Light - Benchmark Settings
    Results measured in FPS (average)
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    87.33
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    81.33
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    74.67
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    58.33
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    55.33
    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960
    53.00
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    43.33
    All Graphics Card Results 2015
  • UNIGINE HEAVEN 4.0
  • UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 - Benchmark Settings
    Benchmark Results
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    1693
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    1417
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    1302
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    938
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    844
    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960
    816
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    733
    All Graphics Card Results 2015
  • 3DMARK (Firestrike)
  • 3DMark - Benchmark Settings
    Benchmark Results
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    10809
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    9636
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    9052
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    7281
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    6406
    PNY GEFORCE GTX 960
    6174
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    5718
    All Graphics Card Results 2015

     

    Out of the box the PNY GEFORCE GTX isn’t a great performer, although we’d be foolish to expect too much from Nvidia’s budget Graphics Card. But the PNY was slower than the Zotac GTX 960 AMP! in every test, this is due to the stock nature of the PNY compared to the (out of the box) overclocked nature of the Zotac. Therefore once we get down and dirty with the cards and look at overclocking the playing field should be levelled (logically)…

    And it sure is! Looking at the results for both card’s overclocked, the lie if the land is pretty much even. In fact the PNY now trumps the Zotac in four of the five tests and matches it in the Batman test, now that’s better! What this really proves is that both cards have the ability to overclock to a similar level, it’s just with the Zotac it’s guaranteed out of the box and with the PNY it isn’t. But then with the PNY you’re not paying for it either! 😉

    While running overclocked it’s worth noting that we are running the fans (fan the case of the PNY) at 100%. Now while this did an amazing job of keeping temps lower than stock temps at less than 66 degrees Celsius, there’s obviously a lot of associated (and probably unwanted) noise. At full speed the single impeller style fan on the PNY stock cooler emits approximately 56dB of noise. Of course the temperature/noise equation can be balanced (to your liking) via MSI Afterburner.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    The PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 has proved itself to be a bit of a wolf in a black sheep’s clothing; it may look a little dull, but it sure can pack a punch once overclocked… 😉

    The PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 arrived at pcG in a rather nondescript black box, inside there’s a rather nondescript Graphics Card too, a Drivers CD, a Quick Start Guide and a DVI – D-Sub adapter. Yes that’s right even the PNY 960 itself is a little nondescript, dare I say it’s a little dull to look at thanks to its plain black plastic exterior and a rather cheap looking black sticker with the XLR8 logo on it.

    OK so the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 may not be the best looking Graphics Card on the planet, but the real question here is how does it perform?

    Out of the box the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960’s performance is a little lacklustre, but to be fair this is due to the stock nature of the card. Although it’s still consistently better than AMD’s 270X.

    The PNY 960 really comes to life though with a bit of overclocking. I was able to add a further 250MHz to the Boost Clock and a further 500MHz to the memory. The end result was a 960 with a theoretical Core Boost Clock of 1428MHz and a Memory Clock of 8010MHz, although in testing (thanks to good thermals) I saw the card boosting as high as 1541MHz! This saw the PNY 960 surpass the performance of the Zotac 760 in all but one of our benchmarks where that score was simply matched. Overall then, after a bit of tweaking we end up with an impressive performing GTX 960.

    Of course during testing we are running fan speeds at 100% which is obviously a little noisy. The PNY GEFORCE GTX 960’s single impeller styled fan output 56dB with the fan at 100%, but the end result is that temperatures never rose above 66 degrees Celsius and that’s pretty impressive!

    The PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 may not be the best looking Graphics Card around, but the bottom line is that it’s got it where it counts!

     

    Verdict

    Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…

    dabs.com

    pny960
    PNY NVIDIA GTX 960

    button_buy_now

     

    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the PNY GEFORCE GTX 960 a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to PNY for providing this sample for review

     


    1. Carlos
      July 28th, 2015 at 21:08 | #1

      Hey, nice review. I have this very same card, but i have an 600w power supply. How much can i overclock it? i also have an fx 8350

      • James
        July 29th, 2015 at 02:14 | #2

        Thanks Carlos – You will be able to Overclock it as much as you like, your 600W Power Supply is unlikely to limit you in any way…

        😉

    2. Dragunuov
      August 19th, 2015 at 18:35 | #3

      Hi i have the pny 960 with fx 6300 and i tried overclocking whilst playing the witcher 3 but i didnt see any fps improvements. I average about 35 on ultra and 46 on high. How can i overclock to see atleast some improvements

      • James
        August 19th, 2015 at 23:22 | #4

        Try using Unigine Heaven and taking a score while the GPU is at stock, then overclock and see if you get any gains. The Witcher 3 may just be masking the little gain your getting. See how close to our Unigine score (816) you can get! 😉

        UNIGINE HEAVEN HERE (it’s free): https://unigine.com/en_us/products/benchmarks/heaven/

    3. Dragunuov
      August 20th, 2015 at 20:30 | #5

      @James

      This is what i got when i oc’d the gpu clock to 250 mhz and vram to 500mhz

      Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0

      FPS:
      54.9
      Score:
      1382
      Min FPS:
      4.9
      Max FPS:
      107.0

      Platform:
      Windows 7 (build 7601, Service Pack 1) 64bit
      CPU model:
      AMD FX(tm)-6300 Six-Core Processor (3515MHz) x6
      GPU model:
      NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 10.18.13.5560 (2048MB) x1
      Settings

      Render:
      Direct3D11
      Mode:
      1920×1080 2xAA fullscreen
      Preset
      Custom
      Quality
      Ultra
      Tessellation: Disabled

    4. Dragunuov
      August 20th, 2015 at 20:44 | #6

      @James

      and everything maxed out i was close to your score…

      Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0

      FPS:
      33.2
      Score:
      836
      Min FPS:
      4.6
      Max FPS:
      71.1
      System

      Platform:
      Windows 7 (build 7601, Service Pack 1) 64bit
      CPU model:
      AMD FX(tm)-6300 Six-Core Processor (3515MHz) x6
      GPU model:
      NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 10.18.13.5560 (2048MB) x1
      Settings

      Render:
      Direct3D11
      Mode:
      1920×1080 8xAA fullscreen
      Preset
      Custom
      Quality
      Ultra
      Tessellation:
      Extreme
      Powered by UNIGINE Engine

      • James
        August 22nd, 2015 at 13:47 | #7

        Hey that’s a pretty good score… 😉

    5. Dragunuov
      August 24th, 2015 at 17:58 | #8

      @James
      would you say this model’s fan is a bit too loud ? when i crank up the fan speed to atleast 60% throttle i noticed it gets pretty darn loud

      • James
        August 24th, 2015 at 19:03 | #9

        Maybe! At 60% it shouldn’t be too loud! But then there’s loud and LOUD! 😉 You know what I mean…

    6. Dragunuov
      August 24th, 2015 at 21:46 | #10

      I have my setup on my first floor in my house, i could hear the fan spinning from the second floor and even the basement !

      • James
        August 25th, 2015 at 07:47 | #11

        Yep, that’s too loud!

    7. Ripper2860
      April 27th, 2016 at 02:42 | #12

      Hi! Very good review. I’m upgrading systems and am replacing an old Radeon 5550 graphics cars with the PNY GTX-960 and am hoping to see a significant performance increase. In your review, the stock cooling is really causing me concerns. Can one remove the PNY shroud and fan assembly and replace it with an after-market cooling system or are we stuck with the PNY shroud/fan. If so, any suggestions for a quieter and more effective cooling solution?

      Thanks and keep up the great work!!

      • James
        April 27th, 2016 at 07:07 | #13

        The noise output from the card when left at stock is fine at around 40dBA, it’s only when overclocked it starts to get noisy, but that’s down to you as to what level of overclock/noise you’re after…

        Not sure it’s worth putting an after market cooler on a 960, you may be better off buying a better/cooler card!

        😉