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|
|Resolution & Refresh|
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.
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.
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.
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.
OC Scanner is a very useful utility in its own right. It allows users to use benchmarking tools, artifact scanning, and much more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the plates removed, we can see the 6+2 power phase design, which is basically twice that of the reference design.
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.
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.
Performance and Overclocking
|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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.