EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ Graphics Card Review

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When the NVIDIA GTX 960 GPU was released a couple months ago, almost immediately there were calls from the enthusiast community for a 4 GB version to better support high-resolution and multi-monitor gaming. As a company driven by the needs and wants of the enthusiast community, it’s no surprise EVGA added 4 GB versions to all three of their GTX 960 offerings. Today, we’ll be looking at the SuperSC ACX 2.0+ version, which comes decked out with the newest rendition of their GPU cooler and a pretty stout factory overclock. It all sounds good on paper, so let’s go check it out!

Specifications and Features

Below are the specifications as provided by the EVGA product page. The factory overclock given to the card is impressive when compared to the reference design. A +152 MHz base/+164 MHz boost is the factory overclock EVGA managed to pull off here, which is one of the higher speed cards in its class. The actual boost clock will get to 1442 MHz as long as you keep the GPU temperature below 60 °C. Once the GPU temperature gets to that point, it will settle in at 1430 MHz. All the latest NVIDIA Maxwell GPU features are available, as well as full support for DirectX 12. Display connectivity is true to the reference design of one HDMI, one DL-DVI-I, and three DisplayPort.

EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ Specifications
  • Base Clock: 1279 MHZ
  • Boost Clock: 1342 MHz
  • Memory Clock: 7010 MHz Effective
  • CUDA Cores: 1024
  • Bus Type: PCI-E 3.0
  • Memory Detail: 4096MB GDDR5
  • Memory Bit Width: 128 Bit
  • Memory Speed: 0.28ns
  • Memory Bandwidth: 112.16 GB/s
  • Display Connections: DVI-I, HDMI, 3x DisplayPort
Key Features
  • EVGA Backplate
  • NVIDIA Dynamic Super Resolution Technology
  • NVIDIA MFAA Technology
  • NVIDA GameWorks Technology
  • NVIDIA GameStream Technology
  • NVIDIA G-SYNC Ready
  • Microsoft DirectX 12
  • NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0
  • NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync
  • NVIDIA Surround Technology
  • NVIDIA SLI Ready
  • NVIDIA CUDA Technology
  • OpenGL 4.4 Support
  • OpenCL Support
  • HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2 and Dual-link DVI
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • EVGA ACX 2.0+ Cooling
  • Quick Switch Dual BIOS
  • Straight Heatpipes
  • Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate
  • Quick Switch Dual BIOS
  • Optimized Power Target
  • dB Inverter
  • 3-year warranty
Resolution & Refresh
  • Max Monitors Supported: 4
  • 240Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • Max Analog: 2048×1536
  • Max Digital: 4096×2160
Dimensions
  • Height: 4.376in – 111.15mm
  • Length: 10.1in – 256.5mm
  • Width: Dual Slot
Requirements
  • 400 Watt or greater power supply
  • PCI Express, PCI Express 2.0 or PCI Express 3.0 compliant motherboard with one graphics slot
  • An available 8-pin PCI-E power connector
  • Windows 8 32/64bit, Windows 7 32/64bit, Windows Vista 32/64bit

Having a look at GPU-Z, we can confirm most of what we see above and additional details. The 4 GB of GDDR5 sits on a 128-bit bus and provides 112.2 GB/s worth of bandwidth. The ROPs and TMUs come in at 32 and 64 respectively.

GPU-Z

GPU-Z

Two things stand out as major additions when compared to the 2 GB version of the GTX 960 SuperSC. The first of course being the added onboard memory, which helps with texture quality and 4K performance. The other thing that stands out is the preinstalled backplate, which was not present on the 2 GB version. Great addition there! Images and descriptions below courtesy EVGA.

NOW AVAILABLE WITH 4GB OF GDDR5 MEMORY

The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 delivers incredible performance, power efficiency, and gaming technologies that only NVIDIA Maxwell technology can offer. This is the perfect upgrade, offering 60% faster performance and twice the power efficiency of previous generation cards*. Plus, it features VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution for 4K-quality gaming on 1080P displays. The latest versions come outfitted with 4GB of high speed GDDR5 memory giving you higher texture qualities and better 4K performance!

The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11°C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5°C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.

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BUILT WITH 4GB OF HIGH PERFORMANCE GDDR5 MEMORY

4GB of High Performance Memory running at over 7,000MHz giving you higher texture qualities in games, better 4K gaming performance and optimized for the next generation of gaming.

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The exploded view of the GTX 960 SuperSC highlights several features of the card and the ACX 2.0+ cooler. The cooler features 0dB operation, which means the fans will not begin spinning until the GPU temperature reaches 60 °C. Alternatively, you can throw the BIOS switch to the other position if you prefer to keep the fan spinning at all times. The fan motor is made using a 3-phase/6-slot design that is said to reduce power requirements by up to 250%. The fans also utilize a double ball bearing design for longer lifespan, better efficiency, and feature a stronger and lighter blade design. Attached to the top of the PCB is a memory/MOSFET cooling plate to keep those critical components cool. The ACX 2.0+ uses three straight 8 mm copper heatpipes designed to reduce thermal resistance and provide up to 6% better heat dissipation when compared to a curved heatpipe design. All of the above work in conjunction with an 8-pin power connector and EVGA’s Optimized Power Target to provide greater overclocking ability.

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dBi – dB Noise Inverter

EVGA’s ACX 2.0+ fan turns off below 60 °C, generating 0dB of noise.

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MMCP+ – Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate+

Full size cooling plate makes direct contact with memory and MOSFETs, reducing memory up to 9 LC and MOSFET up to 11 °C

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QSD BIOS – Quick Switch Dual BIOS

Multiple integrated BIOSes allow you to switch to the secondary with the flick of a switch

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OPT – Optimized Power Target

The power target is precisely tuned for the perfect balance of thermal, power and performance, offering 33% more power over reference.

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SHP – Straight Heatpipes

Triple 8mm straight heatpipes offer 6% better heat dissipation than bent heatpipes with reduced thermal resistance.

A pair of software utilities complement the GTX 960 SuperSC – PrecisionX 16 and OC Scanner. PrecisionX has evolved into one of the best GPU utilities over the years and offers everything you need for overclocking, monitoring, in-game screenshots, and it also works with Logitech’s LCD monitoring.

EVGA PrecisionX – Redesigned to harness the power of GPU Boost 2.0, EVGA PrecisionX sets another baseline for what overclocking software should be. Learn more and download it at the PrecisionX site!

Key Features

• GPU and Memory Frequency/Clock Offset
• Temperature Target Control
• Pixel Clock Overclocking
• Robust monitoring allowing ingame, system tray and/or Logitech LCD monitoring
• In game screenshot hotkey, supports BMP, PNG and JPG formats

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OC Scanner is a very useful utility in its own right. It allows users to use benchmarking tools, artifact scanning, and much more.

EVGA OC Scanner X – The Essential GeForce Companion

Introducing EVGA OC Scanner X, the essential utility for any EVGA GeForce card. This application allows you to take your card to the limit with exclusive built-in artifact scanning, benchmarking tools, GPU vitals information, CPU burn in utility and built-in log functionality. When combined with EVGA Precision X, your GeForce overclocking experience is complete!

Features:

• CPU Burn In Module
• NV-Z GPU Info Module
• Built-in stress tester to find and report artifacts
• Benchmark function to quickly test your performance
• GPU vitals show clock speeds and temperatures
• GPU protection feature allows automatic shutoff at a set temperature
• Customizable screen resolutions
• Customizable background image, fur color texture and OSI color
• Built-in log functionality
• SLI support

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Packaging/Accessories/First Look

The retail packaging does a superb job letting a potential buyer know what they get for their hard earned dollar. The box front gives you model information, a few features of the ACX 2.0+ cooler, and a banner across the top declaring it’s the 4 GB version. Around back, you’ll find the features and package contents in a multilingual format, and a breakdown of the available display connections. The window on the back of the box allows you to match the serial number on the card with the serial number on the box. The box sides have additional product information and branding.

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Inside the box is a plastic clam-shell that tightly secures the GTX 960 SuperSC inside. On the top of the clam-shell are the accessories, which include the following.

• PCI-E Power Adapter Cable
• DVI to VGA Adapter
• Product Documentation/User’s Manual
• Support DVD
• Two “Enthusiast Built” Stickers
• EVGA Case Badge

Not pictured in the slideshow below is the full sized wall poster that’s also included in the package.

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Before we take an up-close look at the EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC, here are several pictures that give you a good idea of the cards aesthetics. It’s pretty much an all black affair, less the two emblems between the fans. The included backplate finishes off the looks nicely. Definitely a nice looking card from all angles.

Overhead View angle 1

Overhead View Angle 1

Overhead View Angle 2

Overhead View Angle 2

Overhead View Angle 3

Overhead View Angle 3

Overhead View Angle 4

Overhead View Angle 4

Side View 1

Side View 1

Side View 2

Side View 2

Side View 3

Side View 3

Side View 4

Side View 4

The EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ Up Close

We’ll start at the front of the card and the display connection area. There are three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI-I ports available. Along the top edge are the BIOS switch, 8-pin power connector, and the SLI connection.

Display Connections

Display Connections

BIOS Switch

BIOS Switch

8-Pin Power Connector

8-Pin Power Connector

SLI Connection

SLI Connection

The ACX 2.0+ cooler is attached with four screws accessed from the back of the card. Once removed, we see the copper block is perfectly centered over the GPU core, and the TIM was well applied. Looking closer at the ACX 2.0+ reveals the three 8 mm straight heatpipes. All three heatpipes run the length of the aluminum fin stack and terminated at each end. The copper base plate is relatively smooth, but not what we’d call a mirror type finish.

ACX 2.0+ Cooler Removed

ACX 2.0+ Cooler Removed

Bottom Side Overview

Bottom Side

Heatpipes - Short Side

Heatpipes – Short Side

Heatpipes - Long Side

Heatpipes – Long Side

Copper Base Plaate

Copper Base Plaate

With the fan shroud removed, we get a closer look at the fan’s swept blade design. They are said to use much less power than competitor designs, which leaves those extra few watts available for additional overclocking headroom. Yes, even the power the fans use count towards your power target limit. The fans measure right at 90 mm each and include double ball bearings with a 3-phase/6-slot motor.

Fan Shroud Removed

Fan Shroud Removed

Rear Fan Up Close

Rear Fan Up Close

Front Fan Up Close

Front Fan Up Close

Fin Stack and Fans

Fin Stack and Fans

Fin Stack and Fans

Fin Stack and Fans

Next, we removed the backplate and memory/MOSFET cooling plate. Both of them have thermal pads that make contact with critical components on the PCB.

Backplate Removed

Backplate Removed

Cooling Plate Removed

Cooling Plate Removed

With the plates removed, we can see the 6+2 power phase design, which is basically twice that of the reference design.

Six GPU Power Phases

Six GPU Power Phases

Two Memory Power Phases

Two Memory Power Phases

ON Semiconductor’s NCP81174 handles voltage regulation duties for the GPU power phases, and an unidentified VRM on the back of the PCB handles voltage regulation for the two memory power phases.

GPU VRM

GPU VRM

Memory VRM

Memory VRM

The 4 GB of onboard GDDR5 memory is provided by Samsung’s K4G41325FC-HC28, which is rated for 1750 Mhz (7000 MHz effective) at 1.5 V. The last picture below is of the NVIDIA GM206-300-A1 GPU core.

Samsung Memory

Samsung Memory

NVIDIA GM206-300-A1 GPU

NVIDIA GM206-300-A1 GPU

Performance and Overclocking

Test System

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Formula
CPU Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB @ 1866 MHz 9-9-9-24
SSD Samsung EVO 500 GB SSD
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ (Driver 347.88)
Cooling EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump
OS Window 7 64-bit

We’ve got a good assortment of comparison cards from both team Red and the Green team. We’ll use the ASUS STRIX GTX 960, a R9 280 and R9 280X from HIS, and toss in results from a GTX 970 to compare a card higher up the food chain. We’ll also include the 2 GB version of this card and drop back a generation to include a GTX 760 for comparison as well.

We’ll adhere to the Overclockers.com GPU test procedure that’s been in place since the Haswell platform was released. If you’re not yet familiar with our methodology, then click on the provided link for additional information. For quick reference, below is the down and dirty version of what we do.

Minimum System Requirements

  • i7 4770K or i7 4790K @ 4 GHz
  • Intel Z87 or Z97 Chipset Motherboard
  • Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1866MHz 9-9-9-24
  • GPU @ stock and overclocked
  • Monitor capable of 1920×1080

Synthetic Tests

  • 3DMark Vantage – DirectX 10 benchmark running at 1280X1024 – Performance preset.
  • 3DMark 11 – DirectX 11 benchmark running at 1280X720 – Performance preset.
  • 3DMark Fire Strike – DirectX 11 benchmark running 1920X1080 – Standard test (not extreme).
  • Unigine Heaven (HWBot version) – DX11 Benchmark – Extreme setting.

Game Tests

  • Batman: Arkham Origins – 1920X1080, 8x MSAA, PhysX off, V-Sync off, The rest set to on or DX11 enhanced.
  • Battlefield 4 – 1920X1080, Ultra Preset, V-Sync off.
  • Bioshock Infinite – 1920X1080, Ultra DX11 preset, DOF on.
  • Crysis 3 – 1920X1080, Very high settings, 16x AF, 8x MSAA, V-Sync off.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – 1920X1080, Maximum preset.
  • Grid 2 – 1920X1080, 8x MSAA, Intel specific options off, Everything else set to highest available option.
  • Metro Last Light – 1920X1080, DX11 preset, SSAA on, Tessellation very high, PhysX off.

Overclocking

Our overclocking adventure landed us at 1375 MHz base/1438 MHz boost clock speeds. The actual boost clock at those settings stabilized at an impressive 1564 MHz… awesome! The memory was able to reach 1950 MHz (7800 MHz Effective), which again is pretty darn good. Keep in mind, this is a 24/7 stable overclock with no artifacts, jitters, or any other annoyances noticed. We’ll see what’s left when we get to the Pushing the Limits section of the review.

HWBot Heaven Overclocked

HWBot Heaven Overclocked

3DMark Fire Strike Overclocked

3DMark Fire Strike Overclocked

Screenshot of GPU-Z Monitoring Log Overclocked

Screenshot of GPU-Z Monitoring Log Overclocked

Beginning with our synthetic tests, you can see the EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ has no problem topping the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 because of its higher factory overclock. Outperforming the R9 280 and GTX 760 wasn’t much of a problem either, and by quite a bit is some cases. As expected, topping the R9 280X was a bit more difficult, but it did mange a win in the 3DMark 11 benchmark. Once overclocked, it managed a few victories over the R9 280X and performed right on par with it. The GTX 970 results look a little out of place here, but we thought it’s interesting to see what one step up the NVIDIA pecking order gets you. As a side note, the 2 GB and 4 GB versions of this card were right on par with each other as expected. The 4 GB version ever so slightly outperformed the 2 GB version in most cases, but that’s probably more due to newer drivers being used.

HWBot Heaven Results

HWBot Heaven Results

3DMark Fire Strike Results

3DMark Fire Strike Results

3DMark Vantage Results

3DMark Vantage Results

3DMark 11 Results

3DMark 11 Results

Moving over to the gaming benchmarks, we see a repeat performance as above with the EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ handling the R9 280, GTX 760, and ASUS STRIX GTX 960. Once overclocked, it held right with the R9 280X and actually beat it in a few of the game benchmarks. Just as expected the 2 GB and 4 GB versions of this card had almost identical scores across the board.

Batman: Arkham Origin Results

Batman: Arkham Origin Results

Battlefield 4 Results

Battlefield 4 Results

Bioshock Infinite Results

Bioshock Infinite Results

Crysis 3 Results

Crysis 3 Results

Final Fantasy XIV: ARR results

Final Fantasy XIV: ARR results

Grid 2 Results

Grid 2 Results

Metro: Last Light Results

Metro: Last Light Results

NVIDIA Surround Testing

We took several of our most popular game titles and ran them through NVIDIA Surround testing to see how the GTX 960 SuperSC performed with its 4 GB of onboard memory. None of the games we tested reached the 30 FPS we call playable with the card at stock speed. However, keep in mind we leave all the game settings maxed out, just as we do with single monitor testing. You’ll have to relax an in-game setting or two, but Surround game play is definitely possible with this card at decent game settings.

NVIDIA Surround Results

NVIDIA Surround Results

Temperatures and Power Consumption

The ACX 2.0+ cooler is a very capable solution for keeping the card’s temperatures under control. As you can see in the graph below, even leaving the fan control set to automatic keeps the card well below 80 °C. With the fans cranked all the way up, the highest temperature recorded was 50 °C while overclocked and under load. The fans get noticeably louder when at full speed, but there is really no need to run them that fast. Somewhere in the mid range will keep the fans quiet and the GPU nice and cool.

Temperature Test Results

Temperature Test Results

Power consumption numbers continue to impress with anything Maxwell GPU based. When I compared the below numbers to the 2 GB version of this card, it used just a few extra watts of power due to it having twice the onboard memory. Still, very impressive power consumption numbers here.

Power Consumption Test Results

Power Consumption Test Results

Pushing the Limits

Our final push entails seeing how far we can take the card and get a run of 3DMark Fire Strike to complete. We landed at 1412 MHz base/1475 MHz boost clock on the GPU core, and a memory setting of 2050 MHz (8200 MHz effective). The GPU’s actual boost came in at a steady 1601 MHz, which is pretty darn impressive. At those settings we acheived a 3DMark Fire Strike score of 7766. It’s pretty tough to argue with the overclocking ability of the EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+… a very capable card indeed!

3DMark Fire Strike - Pushing the Limits

3DMark Fire Strike – Pushing the Limits

GPU-Z Monitor Log - Pushing the Limits

GPU-Z Monitor Log – Pushing the Limits

Conclusion

The EVGA GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX2.0+ is an affordable mid-range video card that packs quite a punch. As witnessed above, the performance is great and the overclocking ability is impressive. The 0dB operation works well and is perfectly suited for quiet operation during those less demanding times. When you’re ready for intense gaming, the ACX2.0+ cooler is up to the task of keeping the card’s temperatures under control. If you’re old school and want the fans to spin at all times, EVGA has you covered with the Quick Switch Dual BIOS. Multi-monitor and 4K gaming should be no problem by relaxing an in-game setting or two, and 1920X1080 single monitor gaming should handle most games at their maxed out settings.

Pricing on the GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX2.0+ sits at $239 from Newegg, which is roughly a $30 premium over the 2 GB version. Not only do you get the extra 2 GB of memory for the added price, but a backplate is included this time around too. Right now, you also get a free copy of the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt game, which adds even more value to the card. Of the five 4 GB GTX 960s listed at Newegg, this card has the highest factory applied overclock there is, except for EVGA’s own FTW offering.

EVGA checked all the right boxes with the GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX2.0+. When you combine the price, performance, and features the card offers, it might just be the top pick in its class. It’s an easy call this time around… Overclockers Approved!

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Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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