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As far as graphics cards are concerned, EVGA needs no introduction. They have always been and continue to be a popular choice among PC and overclocking enthusiasts. EVGA has a full array of graphics cards planned to complement the release of NVIDIA’s new GTX 960 GPU. Today, we’ll be looking at the GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ that comes factory overclocked and includes EVGA’s new cooler in the ACX 2.0+. The GTX 960 series of graphics cards aims to offer excellent performance at an affordable price. Let’s get started and find out if EVGA was able to accomplish that.
Specifications and Features
The factory overclock EVGA applied to this card is quite substantial. The reference design GTX 960 comes with a clock speed of 1127 MHz base/1178 MHz boost. With the 1279 MHz base/1342 MHz boost clocks of this card, we end up with a +152 MHz base/+164 MHz boost overclock… Impressive! Even more impressive is the actual boost clock when the card is put under load, which held steady at 1430 MHz during our testing. All the latest NVIDIA Maxwell GPU features are available, as well as full support for DirectX 12. Display connectivity holds true to the reference design of one HDMI, one DL-DVI-I, and three DisplayPort.
|EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ Specifications|
|Resolution & Refresh|
Looking at GPU-Z, we can confirm what we see above and a few additional details. The 2 GB of onboard GDDR5 memory sits on a 128-bit bus and offers 112.2 GB/s worth of bandwidth. There are 1024 Unified Shaders, and the ROP and TMU counts come in at 32 and 64 respectively.
The improved ACX 2.0+ cooler now offers 0 dB operation, straight heatpipes, and a memory/MOSFET heat plate. The 0 dB operation basically means the BIOS has been programmed to keep the fans from spinning until the temperature reaches 60 °C. The straight heatpipe design is said to provide 6% better heat dissipation when compared to a curved heatpipe design due to less thermal resistance. EVGA claims the cooling plate reduces memory and MOSFET temperatures up to 9 °C and 11 °C respectively. The fans found on the ACX 2.0+ cooler feature a double ball bearing design and Swept fan blades. The following images and descriptions courtesy EVGA.
The GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ comes with a dual BIOS switch that offers a couple of advantages. The first being the ability to experiment with alternate BIOS files, troubleshoot, and tweak the card, while always knowing you have a fall back should things go wrong. Left in its default form, the two BIOS’ offer a 0 dB mode and low RPM mode.
EVGA claims 33% higher power over the reference design cards due to optimal tuning of the power target.
On the software side, EVGA’s PrecisionX offers everything you need to get the most from your graphics card. With a full set of overclocking, monitoring, and temperature controls, PrecisionX is a viable option for desktop control of your GPU.
EVGA also has a utility called OC ScannerX that has an updated interface to work seamlessly with the GTX 960. It comes with a stress test, burn-in module, and the ability to log information.
As you work your way around the retail box, it’s evident that EVGA does a very good job of providing information on the product. An overlay sleeve attached to one side of the box explains the advantages of the ACX 2.0+ cooler, and the rest of the box front has EVGA branding and a few high-level features. Around back, you’ll find more detailed product information including the specifications, features, and a breakdown of the display connectivity. EVGA also provides a cutout on the back of the box that lets you ensure the model and serial numbers on the card match those printed on the box.
Once inside the box, you’ll find the graphics card and accessories resting in and around a sturdy plastic clam shell. Accessories include a DVI-to-VGA adapter, power adapter cable, support DVD, and a nifty case badge. Also included are a host of documentation, stickers, and an EVGA wall poster.
Worth noting is how well EVGA protects the video card by surrounding it with plastic film, very nice touch there. Needless to say, the card arrived with nary a scratch anywhere. The following pictures should give you a good idea of the card’s aesthetics, which include an almost entirely black theme with a sleek design. You might notice the absence of a factory installed back plate; but if you think you need one, EVGA has them available for purchase.
The EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ Up Close
The display connectivity options are housed in a well-ventilated, dual-slot bracket and include one Dual-link DVI-I, one HDMI, and three DisplayPort connections. At the top of the card is a single SLI bridge connection, which tells us the card is 2-way SLI ready. EVGA implements an 8-pin PCI-E power connector for this card, which is an upgrade from the reference design’s 6-pin connector. At the top-rear of the card is where the dual BIOS switch is found.
With the ACX 2.0+ cooler removed, we can see the GPU core is perfectly centered on the base plate. The thermal interface material was well applied and appeared to be of good quality.
Removing the shroud exposes the double ball bearing fans that feature a Swept fan blade design. The fans measured right at 90 mm outside diameter, and each fan consists of 11 blades. The fans are said to have a 3-phase/6-slot motor that can reduce the power needed to operate them by up to 250% compared to other designs on the market. The power that fans use counts toward the overall power target limit, so reducing this can add to the overall overclocking headroom. As mentioned in the features section above, the fans also offer improved strength, lighter weight, longer lifespan, and greater efficiency when compared to competitor solutions.
The copper base plate incorporates three 8 mm heatpipes that EVGA states offer better heat dissipation than coolers using bent or curved heatpipes. The three heatpipes run the entire length of the aluminum fin stack and travel through the center of the copper base plate.
The memory/MOSFET heat plate provides an additional layer of cooling and uses thermal pads to cover the memory and MOSFET areas. There are two additional memory chips on the back of the PCB that do not benefit from any additional cooling. The heat plate also adds rigidity to the card in the absence of a back plate.
With the heat plate removed, we can get a good look at the beefed up power delivery area. EVGA uses a 6+2 power phase design, which basically doubles what is found on the reference design cards.
ON Semiconductor’s NCP81174 handles the voltage regulation for the GPU power phases, and an unidentifiable VRM on the back of the PCB handles voltage regulation for the memory/PLL power phases.
The 2 GB of onboard GDDR5 memory comes via Samsung’s K4G41325FC-HC28, which carries a rated speed of 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 SuperSC ACX 2.0+|
|Cooling||EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump|
We’ve got a pretty good assortment of comparison cards from the Red and Green teams for today’s charts. We’ll use the recently reviewed 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. Lastly, we’ll drop back a generation and include a GTX 760 for comparison as well.
We’ll stick with 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 link provided 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.
Using the PrecisionX software that we outlined in the features section above, we were able to get a 24/7 stable overclock of 1375 MHz base/1438 MHz boost clock. The memory overclocking took us to 1950 MHz (7800 MHz effective). If those numbers look familiar, they should. This is exactly where the previously reviewed ASUS STRIX GTX 960 ended up too, but with one major difference. That difference is the actual boost clock when the card is under load. The ASUS card’s actual boost clock topped out at 1488 MHz, but the EVGA card went all the way up to an astounding 1551 MHz… now that’s impressive. I suppose when EVGA touts their “Optimized Power Target” feature we discussed above, they mean business!
Here is a little snippet of GPU-Z’s monitoring log showing the actual boost clock reaching 1551 MHz when the card is overclocked and under load.
Beginning with our synthetic tests, you can see the EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ has no problem besting the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 because of its higher factory overclock. Beating out the R9 280 and GTX 760 wasn’t a problem either, and by substantial margins in most cases. As expected, overtaking the R9 280X was a bit more of a challenge with only a win in the 3DMark 11 benchmark. Once the EVGA GTX 960 SSC ACX 2.0+ was overclocked, it performed right on par with the R9 280X and outperformed it in a couple of these tests. Admittedly, the GTX 970 results look a little out of place here, but we thought you’d like to see the difference one step up the NVIDIA ladder makes.
Moving over to the gaming benchmarks, we see a very similar pattern as above with the EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ handling the R9 280, GTX 760, and ASUS STRIX GTX 960. When the card was overclocked, it held tight to the R9 280X and actually beat it in a few of the game benchmarks.
Temperatures and Power Consumption
The temperature testing was performed using the default BIOS, meaning the 0 dB feature is in effect. If you prefer, you can throw the BIOS switch to the other position (low RPM Mode), and the fans will run at all times. The fans are extremely quiet during normal operation, but do make some noise when ramped up to full speed. In all honesty though, there is no reason to ramp the fans up that high because the ACX 2.0+ cooler is perfectly capable of keeping the card well below the thermal threshold when left on its auto setting.
One of the things NVIDIA brings to the table with their Maxwell GPUs is incredibly low power consumption. As witnessed by looking at the chart below, we couldn’t even get 250 watts of total system draw with the card overclocked and under full load. Low power draw such as this is very attractive to people with older systems who have been looking to upgrade their video card. In most cases, you won’t have to incur the added expense of purchasing a power supply.
Pushing the Limits
Our final overclocking attempt was to see how far we could go, and then get a run of 3DMark Fire Strike to complete. We landed at 1400 MHz base/1463 MHz boost clock, and the memory went up to 2025 MHz (8100 MHz effective). The GPU’s actual boost clock at this setting was 1576 MHz, which provided a 3DMark Fire Strike score of 7695. It’s pretty tough to complain about the overclocking ability of the EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+… It’s a very capable graphics card, that’s for sure!
EVGA definitely has a winner on its hands with GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+. From great cooling to even better overclocking, it has what PC enthusiasts and gamers on a budget are looking for. Performance, power consumption, and aesthetics are top notch for a card in this class. The upgraded ACX 2.0+ cooler and memory/MOSFET cooling plate are up to the task of keeping the card cool under the most demanding situations and only add value to the card. The dual BIOS switch is another nice touch that’s usually reserved for higher-end graphics cards.
The GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ currently sells for $209 at Newegg, which makes it the highest factory overclocked card at that price. There are even GTX 960s out there costing $30 more that don’t come with as high of a factory overclock. So, nothing at all to complain about on the pricing front.
In the end, we have a great performing card with a great set of features, all at an excellent price. If you’ve had a GTX 960 on your radar, it’s going to be tough to beat the EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+.