February 14, 2015

Unboxing & Review: ASUS Strix GTX960

As soon as NVIDIA announces its new Maxwell GM206 based mid-range GTX960 which positioned below the GTX970, renowned 3rd party manufacturers like EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, ASUS, etc already got something up their sleeves. Unlike any of the GTX X60 models in the past that runs on the faster 192-bit or 256-bit bus, the GTX960 runs only on 128-bit bus. 

ASUS announced its Strix GTX960 at the price of RM999, surprising many who is expecting a lower price tag. While the initial impression isn't really a good one, let's find out how will the Strix GTX960 perform!

Model Name
Graphics Engine
 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
Bus Standard           
PCI Express 3.0
Video Memory
Engine Clock
OC Mode - GPU Boost Clock : 1317 MHZ , GPU Base Clock : 1253 MHz
Gaming Mode - GPU Boost Clock : 1291 MHZ , GPU Base Clock : 1228 MHz
Memory Clock          
7200 MHz
Memory Interface
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (HDMI 2.0)
Display Port : Yes x 3 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
1 x DVI to VGA adaptor
1 x STRIX Laser Sticker
ASUS GPU Tweak & Driver
 215.2mm x 121.2mm x 40.9mm


The retail packaging for the STRIX line of graphic cards featured the head of the STRIX owl, which gives it a more distinctive appearance compared to the previous generation STRIX line that still uses the notable ripped metal design. A preview of the STRIX cooler is seen at the middle left of the box which looks pretty much the same with the design of the previous STRIX. 

At the bottom of the box, there's brief but detailed description of the ASUS STRIX GTX960's prominent features printed at back of the box as well. Similar to any graphics card from ASUS, the ASUS STRIX GTX960 comes with a limited 3 year warranty - as stated at the bottom right of the box.


Inside the box you'll find a user's guide, driver CD, DVI-VGA adapter, Strix reflective sticker and the ASUS Strix GTX960.

It might look identical to the 0 dB fan design on the Strix GTX970 and GTX980 where the fan remains stationary until the temperature hits above 65°C, but the temperature that triggers the fan operation here appears to be lower - roughly around 55°C. The shroud design is identical to both Strix GTX970 and GTX980, except it's in a smaller scale. 

Despite the smaller size, the Strix GTX970 comes equipped with 4 nickel-plated copper heat pipes of the DirectCU II cooler.

A single 6-pin PCIe power connector is required to power up the Strix GTX960.

The distinctive fan with stickers that resembles a pair of glowing red eyes of an owl.

ASUS is generous enough to include a backplate that reduces PCB sagging as it improves the rigidity of the card itself.

SLI finger for dual NVIDIA GPU configuration.

The ASUS STRIX GTX960 has 5 display outputs to satisfy your need for multiple display monitors - 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI-I.

Dismantling the cooler, you'll find the copper heat pipes base which is designed to be in direct contact with the GPU - that's how the directCU II cooler got its name, direct copper contact.  

The core of the graphics card, the NVIDIA Maxwell GM206 GPU.

Although the capacitors used isn't the 10k black capacitors found on higher end models, we did find the Super Alloy Power (SAP) chokes and capacitors which ASUS boasts to have higher lifespan and increases the overclocking headroom of the graphics card itself.

Among three main memory chips used for graphics card (Elpida, Hynix, Samsung), Samsung chips are known to be the best performer. Since the Samsung made K4G41325FC-HC28 chip was found on the Strix GTX960, we're expecting a decent overclocking result from it.

Performance Test

Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Corsair H100i
Intel Core i7 4770K
ASUS Maximus Gene VI 
Kingston HyperX Savage 16GB
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power Supply
Be Quiet! Straight Power 10 600W
Vector Benchcase

We've conducted our test by installing the ASUS STRIX GTX960 to our test bench as above and each and every benchmark is conducted in a room with 30C° ambient temperature.


We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmarks in our possession at the resolution of 1920 x 1080, 4x Anti-aliasing.The final result of each benchmark is presented in the form of the graph below:

Overclocking and Temperatures

Due limited voltage adjustment, we've only managed to push the ASUS STRIX GTX960 to its a highest stable clock that is able to complete Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark of the following values:
  • GPU Clock on 1456 MHz
  • VRAM on 8312 MHz
  • 1.2V on the GPU Voltage

The initial Fire Strike score with the Strix GTX960 on stock clock speed is 6968.

After applying our overclock settings, we manage to achieve a higher score of 8017. Compared to the initial run result of 6968, that's a 15% improvement in performance.

Moving on with the games benchmark, we're seeing a pretty good performance gain for most games tested:

  • Unigine Valley -  6.5%
  • Unigine Heaven - 12.2%
  • Tomb Raider - 14.3%
  • Battlefield 3 - 10.7%
  • Battlefield 4 - 17.6%
  • Crysis 3 - 22.5%
  • Far Cry 4 - 18.0%
  • Bioshock Infinite - 14.3%
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - 4.0%

Performance gain via overclock seems pretty good for a card that runs only on 128-bit memory bus, but what impressed us more is its cooling performance. With idle temperature s hovering around 40°C under fanless condition (fan not operating) and peaked only at 66°C when stressed with FurMark, the Strix GTX960 isn't that bad after all.

Although NVIDIA's motives of having the GTX960 running on 128-bit memory bus is unknown, but from our test we can see that the ASUS STRIX GTX960 delivers rock solid performance despite the 128-bit memory bus limit and we believe it'll do even better if its' on 192-bit or 256-bit memory bus. 

Aside of being just a good looking graphics card, the ASUS Strix GTX960 has proven itself to be quite capable when it comes to overclocking. With limited voltage tweaking, we've managed to get the GPU clock to run on a stable 1456 MHz and memory clock of 8312 MHz. Compared to the GPU stock boost clock of 1317 MHz and memory clock of 7200 MHz, a 15%-ish improvement in Fire Strike result and a good average performance gain for the game benchmarks. 

ASUS Strix series graphics card is known for its unique 0db fan design but its SRP of RM999 isn't that tempting as you could probably opt for a higher end GTX970 of other brands for a little more. Given its good performance, temperature and decent overclocking capability, we'd say that the ASUS Strix GTX960 is still considered to be worthy. Thus, the ASUS Strix GTX960 is awarded with a silver award from us at


  • Aesthetic appearance
  • Factory overclocked
  • Decent performance even though it's running on 128-bit memory bus
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Comes with a metal backplate for enhanced rigidity and protection against PCB sagging
  • Able to maintain a decent idle temperature even without cooling support from fans
  • Low temperature on full load


  • Costly
  • Limited overclocking capability due to NVIDIA's Green Light Program
  • Performance could be better if it's running on 192-bit or 256-bit memory bus