Palit GTX 960 Super JetStream 2GB Graphics Card Review

The Maxwell architecture is NVIDIA’s greatest achievement as of late given its efficiency compared to the last generation. While it doesn’t serve as a great leap in terms of performance, many people are still convinced by the excellent performance-per-watt ratio. Both the GTX 980 and GTX 970 have been largely in-demand primarily for the efficiency but the Maxwell-based GTX GPUs also introduced some new features including NVIDIA Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI), Multi-Frame sampled AA (MFAA), and Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR). Maxwell GPUs also support Microsoft’s upcoming DirectX 12 API.

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About GeForce GTX 960

The GTX 960 is, to be very concise, a GTX 980 split in half as the table below indicates. Whatever made the GTX 980 a great card has been cut in half, castrated and reduced to make the GTX 960. That means its still the same 28nm Maxwell GPU featuring the same number of transistors but bears the GM206 name whereas the GTX980 and GTX970 bear the GM204 GPU.

Model GeForce GTX 980 GeForce GTX 970 GeForce GTX 960
GPU GM204 GM204 GM206
CUDA cores 2048 1664 1024
Texture Units 128 104 64
ROP 64 64 32
Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Size 4 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s 224 GB/s 112 GB/s

As indicated, the GTX 960 will feature 1024 CUDA cores running with a reference base clock of 1126Mhz and a Boost clock of 1178Mhz. At launch, only a 2GB GTX 960 is available and no word on any other memory capacity model yet. The memory runs at a reference 1753Mhz wired to a 128-bit bus. That last part may sound a bit underwhelming but thanks to delta color compression which enables the GM206 to better utilize its available memory bandwidth (148.8GB/sec effective in GTX 960 vs 144.2GB/sec in GTX 660).

The GTX 960 is aimed squarely at 1080p gamers and the launch price places the GTX 960 at the sweet spot at which most mainstream gamers currently sit with a SRP of $199. AIB partners and their custom boards are expected to hover just below $230 but still, this is lower than the GTX 760’s launch price of $250.

Features

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The new Maxwell graphics cards introduces some new features to NVIDIA cards as mentioned earlier with the main highlights being VXGI and DSR amongst other things.
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VXGI or Voxel Global Illumination improves 3D scenes by introducing more realistic lighting to 3D scenes by introducing voxels or volume pixels which makes light interaction of 3D objects have a more dynamic and photo-realistic feel.features4

DSR or Dynamic Super Resolution is another new featured, integrated via the GeForce Experience application, which add downsampling capabilities to the GTX 900 series graphics cards which lets users of other monitor sizes experience larger resolutions in their monitors without needing say a 4K UltraHD screen or a 1440p monitor. Dynamic Super Resolution works by rendering in the desired resolution and then downscaling the image and applying a filter to the native monitor resolution for an improved image quality of the scene being rendered.

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In contrast to DSR, NVIDIA also introduces MFAA or Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing. This AA technique basically is a faster implementation of MSAA which should see 4xMSAA quality at the performance hit of only 2xMSAA. Implementation is in its early stages but is promising nonetheless. MFAA can be set via the GeForce Experience app.

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As expected given the earlier announcements, DirectX12 is in the works and the new GTX 900 series graphics cards fully support the DX12 API alongside its many new feature offerings including better CPU utilization and overhead reduction, improved multi-core utilization and efficiency, and plenty more features for developers to use.

All of these features complement the already existing feature set that NVIDIA offers including GeForce Experience and ShadowPlay, etc.

About the Palit GTX 960 Super JetStream

Super-JetStream

The Jetstream series of Palit is the companies top-end offering and during last generation’s release of graphics cards saw a souped-up iteration being released dubbed the Super Jetstream. The Super Jetstream series from Palit marks the company’s 3rd refresh of the Jetstream design and now features a new color selection of Red on Black in addition to the Gold on Black.

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The Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream comes factory overclocked at 1279Mhz with a Boost frequency 1342Mhz. The memory clock also comes OC’d at 1800Mhz making the Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream one of the highest clocked GTX 960 out of the box.

Official product page

Product Gallery

Pardon the dust. 🙂

Overclocking

Overclocking any graphics card is pretty straightforward nowadays provided you know what to do and given that most companies also have their own overclocking software, makes it so much more approachable. We use the latest MSI Afterburner software for this test.

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One of the main promises of the Maxwell GPUs is greater overclocking. As the stock clocks already demonstrate, we have pretty high frequencies in stock already and we’re able to flex that around more using an overclocking tool like MSI Afterburner. All of our units are retail samples off the shelves and aren’t cherry picked so our OC’s should be more comparable to what’s achievable in most cases.

Given the already high frequency that the Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream ships with, its not surprising that we can only push it just a bit higher. As you can see though from the screenshot above, we’re getting a 1410Mhz Boost frequency which the GTX 960 really utilizes well because of its cooler operating temperatures making the card soar past rated frequencies.

PERFORMANCE

Test Setup Processor: Intel Core i7 3770K 4.4Ghz
Motherboard: MSI Z77 Mpower
Memory: Kingston HyperX Beast DDR3-2400 16GB
Storage: Kingston HyperX FURY 240GB
PSU: Seasonic P1000
Cooling: Custom loop (XSPC Raystorm block, XSPC D5 Dual Bayres, BlackIce Stealth GT 240 rad)
Monitor: LG 42UB820T UltraHD TV
VGA: Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream

We test our graphics card with a full-level playthrough of our selected game or the games’ built-in benchmark tool. We record the run with Fraps. Game settings are indicated in the charts. Resolutions are shown in the charts. Unlike our standard benchmarks, we’ll save OC results for another article or update as needed as we still collect data.

FullHD (1920×1080)

Battlefield 4 is one of the hottest titles of 2013 and continues to prove itself a worthy game. Based on DICE’s Frostbite Engine 3, this game’s lush details and visuals are just stunning but can really stress any modern GPU. Level tested is the escape from Baku with wide open space and collapsing building showing what the Frostbite 3 engine can do.

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The most visually intense game to ever been made. Prophet is back to take on the Ceph and Cell after a long sleep and the world isn’t what it was when before he got frozen. CryEngine 3 is behind this beautiful beast that will put a lot of systems to their knees. The opening level shows off the particle and water rendering of the engine.

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The most popular game on Steam and the biggest competition in eSports; DOTA 2 is powered by the Source engine. The game is fairly light on low to medium settings but maxed out with heavy action on screen especially during clashes can really stress some systsems.

We use the built-in timedemo and benchmarking tool. DOTA2 only shows average FPS so we will be reflecting that in this test. Our timedemo features a heavy clash in the bottom lane for the maximum real-world system load the game can generate. With the recent visual update, DOTA2 has received some graphic makeover that adds a bit of hit for the system and all our date are updated to reflect this.

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Batman: Arkham Origins is the prequel to the highly successful Arkham series of Batman games from RockSteady. Rocking Unreal Engine 3, the game has superb detail and puts a decent load on modern systems.

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2560×1440

Battlefield 4 is one of the hottest titles of 2013 and continues to prove itself a worthy game. Based on DICE’s Frostbite Engine 3, this game’s lush details and visuals are just stunning but can really stress any modern GPU. Level tested is the escape from Baku with wide open space and collapsing building showing what the Frostbite 3 engine can do.

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The most visually intense game to ever been made. Prophet is back to take on the Ceph and Cell after a long sleep and the world isn’t what it was when before he got frozen. CryEngine 3 is behind this beautiful beast that will put a lot of systems to their knees. The opening level shows off the particle and water rendering of the engine.

Palit_GTX960_Super_Jetstream_1440p_0002

The most popular game on Steam and the biggest competition in eSports; DOTA 2 is powered by the Source engine. The game is fairly light on low to medium settings but maxed out with heavy action on screen especially during clashes can really stress some systsems.

We use the built-in timedemo and benchmarking tool. DOTA2 only shows average FPS so we will be reflecting that in this test. Our timedemo features a heavy clash in the bottom lane for the maximum real-world system load the game can generate.

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Batman: Arkham Origins is the prequel to the highly successful Arkham series of Batman games from RockSteady. Rocking Unreal Engine 3, the game has superb detail and puts a decent load on modern systems.

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TEMPERATURE & POWER CONSUMPTION

To measure both power consumption and heat, we stress the video card and record the peak values for heat and wattage. We use default values on the cards and stress test them using a mix of Kombustor Dx11 Burn-In Test with Post-FX.

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NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs are the pinnacle of efficiency when it comes to existing GPUs in the market right now and the 2nd-gen Maxwells baked into the GTX900 series are certainly the most impressive we’ve seen to date. The GTX 960 continues the great trend in power efficiency, bringing with it better temps and power draw.

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The Super Jetstream cooler doesn’t really make much difference aside from looks from its predescessors. Its still made of lighter materials thus thermal dissipation is heavily dependent on the fan keeping the aluminum fins cool. That said, we’ve seen the Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream have more active time with its fans than the other GTX 960s we’ve tested before. Its also one of the hottest at a peak of 73*C.

Power draw looks curiously a bit on the high side and even after swapping out with our other samples to verify integrity, our system with the Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream somehow sucks in more power for some reason. We will try with another sample for now, we’re leaving this date for your information only and we’ll update once we get some time with it again.

CONCLUSION

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Let’s break down the card further:

Performance. NVIDIA tags the GTX 960 for a sweet spot position namely the 1080p market with its [email protected] campaign. We try and fit our benchmarks to the most active games that set a benchmark for today so Battlefield 4 and DOTA2 are up in there with performance definitely well in the playable range. BF4 does hover below 60FPS with in-game settings set to Ultra with 4xMSAA enabled. A few touches down AA should improve performance overall though.

Build Quality.  We’re really surprised Palit still insists on extending their card sizes by using extra space on the far end of their cards. While we do like the appeal of the cooler, for a card like the GTX 960, a mid-length cooler should be enough. Also, Palit’s noticeable laziness when it comes to PCB polish shows with our sample laiden with flux residue on the backside. Other than that, continuous heavy usage proves the card’s got plenty of punch even with the rather thrift build quality.

Functionality. The GTX 960 is a good mid-range card with power draw perfect for an everyday gaming PC and also an HTPC. Sadly though, Palit overcompensates for a few things hence the length of this card and thus we recommend this model for mATX and ATX builds mostly.

Bundle. Quite bare but we do get a Palit sticker.

Value. At $220 launch price, the GTX 960 Super Jetstream is priced a bit steep, actually even steeper than ASUS and MSI but looking around most etailers we found the price to actually hover around $199 – $209 and some even lower living up to Palit’s position as a budget-friendly option. That said, The Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream offers a good factory overclocked option for the price and the cooler, should it appeals to you, is plenty enough to keep the card chugging for its lifetime.

The GTX 960 promises good 1080p gaming and while we didn’t see consistent numbers even in NVIDIA-optimize titles like Batman: Arkham Origins, pumping up the screen to 1440p still sees lower drops vs. those we see in AMD cards in these titles so a few tweaks with GeForce Experience or the in-game details could get the card really flowing in the the [email protected] range for many titles.

The power draw is really where its at and if you are really mostly gaming in the 1080p resolution or heavily focused on MOBAs with a touch of AAA games here and then, the GTX 960 is surely a top choice for you.

The Palit GTX 960 Super Jetstream offers one of the highest factory OC amongst GTX 960s in the market right now and anyone who want the most out of their cards without fiddling much but want to keep it just within a budget, this card is just right.

PALIT backs the GTX 960 Super Jetstream with a 2-year warranty. We give it our B2G Bronze Award and B2G Value Award.

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