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Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB: A Cost-Effective Alternative

By Koh Wanzi - 8 May 2015
Launch SRP: S$359

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB: A Cost-Effective Alternative

At first glance, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB already looks like the smaller sibling of the triple-fan GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming.

An affordable and silent GeForce GTX 960 contender

As we noted in our three-way shootout of custom iterations of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 from ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI, the GeForce GTX 960 is indeed a card priced for and targeted at the masses. NVIDIA’s x60 series of cards have always offered good price-to-performance ratios, and the GeForce GTX 960 is no exception.

Many manufacturers offer the GeForce GTX 960 in several flavors, and today we’ll be looking at another GeForce GTX 960 card from Gigabyte - the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB. 

A quick specs overview of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC graphics card.

Like the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming, the two-fan Gigabyte card comes with two performance profiles: Gaming mode and OC mode. The card is set to Gaming mode straight out of the box, with a GPU base clock of 1216MHz and boost clock of 1279MHz. In OC mode, the card ramps up slightly to a 1241MHz base clock and 1304MHz boost clock. Its 2GB of GDDR5 video memory is clocked at 7012MHz.

But unlike the triple-fan Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB sports a dual-fan Windforce cooler, making for a shorter card that will fit in a greater variety of compact cases. It is just 257mm long, as compared to 295mm for the G1 Gaming.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB is shorter than the G1 Gaming, so there should be fewer compatibility issues with smaller cases.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB shares a very similar design philosophy with the GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming. It sports the same stealth black color scheme with subtle contours and angles to break the monotony of the cooling shroud.

The 2X Windforce cooler takes a leaf from the design book of its larger sibling.

The two 90mm fans sport a unique 11-blade design, where each fan blade has five raised ridges running across its middle and a triangular protrusion. According to Gigabyte, the triangular protrusion helps split air that passes over the fans, and the channels between the ridges in turn help to guide the air smoothly through the fan.

Each fan blade is criss-crossed by 5 raised ridges and sports a triangular protrusion from its middle to help direct airflow.

Four 6mm heat pipes are also in direct contact with the GPU to help channel heat away from it – these aren’t the thickest we’ve seen on a card, but they do their job quite well.

Two of the four 6mm-thick heatpipes are seen here. They are in direct contact with the GPU to help channel heat away from it.

This all sounds a bit vague, but it certainly seems to be borne out by the card’s stellar cooling performance, as we’ll see later in the results section. The card is also tuned for silent operation and the semi-passive fans on the Windforce cooler are able to power down entirely when the GPU is idle or under low loads. This ensures as quiet an operating environment as possible, and we weren’t disturbed by the card at all during our tests.

Gigabyte is actually positioning the GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB as a cost-effective alternative to its GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming. Given its more affordable price, something has got to go, and Gigabyte has chosen to omit the solid metal backplate that we saw on the G1 Gaming. We definitely miss the extra rigidity offered by the metal backplate, but the card isn’t that much worse for the wear - its shorter length means it’s less susceptible to flexing, eliminating the need for the backplate to begin with.

As compared to the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming, the shorter card has an exposed PCB, but it's more manageable length means it doesn't really need one in the first place.

Moving round to the back of the card, we see dual-link DVI-D and DVI-I ports, three DisplayPort outputs and a single HDMI 2.0 port. The card supports Gigabyte’s Flex display technology, which supports up to 4 monitors at any one time using a combination of the various display outputs. For instance, users could combine both DVI ports with a DisplayPort and HDMI port for a total for four displays. This sounds nifty, but keep in mind that it's only useful for your productivity needs and the card (and its GPU) aren't made to handle multi-monitor gaming as it just doesn't have that kind of throughput, nor the video memory capacity.

The card supports Gigabyte's Flex display technology, which allows combinations of ports to be used to power up to four displays.

This diagram helps illustrate the different combinations of ports that can be used to output to multiple displays. (Image Source: Gigabyte)

Finally, the card is powered by two 6-pin PCIe connectors. Gigabyte recommends that you have at least a 400W power supply to run this card, which sounds valid considering the entire system's power needs.

The card will run just fine on two 6-pin PCIe connectors.


Test Setup

These are the specifications of our graphics testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X (3.3GHz) ASUS P9X79 Pro (Intel X79 chipset) Motherboard
  • 4 x 2GB DDR3-1600 G.Skill Ripjaws Memory
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive (OS)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 7200 RPM 1TB SATA hard drive (Benchmarks + Games)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

We’ll be comparing the card with other NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 custom cards from ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI to gauge where it stands among similarly-performing cards. The cards are all listed accordingly below:-

  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB (Forceware 347.88)
  • ASUS Strix GeForce GTX 960 2GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 347.25)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming 2GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 347.25)
  • MSI GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 2G 2GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 347.25)



Since the full performance characteristics have already been set out in our original review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 reference card, we’ll be running a narrower set of synthetic and real-world gaming benchmarks to test the card.

This is the list of benchmarks we used:-

  • Futuremark 3DMark 2013
  • Crysis 3

3DMark 2013’s FireStrike Extreme benchmark was also used for our temperature, power consumption and overclocking tests.


Gaming Results

As expected, the results are all very close to each other. The lower out-of-the-box clock speed of the dual-fan Gigabyte card in Gaming mode penalized it in tests against the other cards. The GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB has a base clock of 1216MHz whereas its triple-fan counterpart has a GPU base clock of 1266MHz, and a boost clock of 1329MHz – among the highest of the lot – which helps to explain its position near the top of the benchmarks.

In 3DMark FireStrike, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB was just under 4% slower than its three-fan counterpart, but in Crysis 3, the difference was limited to within three frames of the fastest card. That’s not a difference we’d lose sleep over, especially since the other cards were set to their baked-in OC profiles during benchmarking. Given that the shorter Gigabyte card comes in at 1241MHz and 1304MHz base and boost speeds in OC mode, we’d expect it be easily capable of catching up with the other cards in these gaming tests.

Overclocking Results

Like its bigger brother, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB proved to be quite a capable overclocker. We were able to push the base clock speed to 1391MHz before we noticed artifacts in 3DMark FireStrike, 50MHz higher than the G1 Gaming. This translates into a boost clock of 1454MHz. Its memory modules were also overclocked to 7652MHz, the highest out of all the cards here.

These results are borne out in our overclocking tests on 3DMark 2013, where the card surged to the front of the benchmarks, behind only the G1 Gaming card. Overall, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB managed just under an 11% increase in 3DMark FireStrike when overclocked. In comparison, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 G1 Gaming – which was the top performer in our custom GeForce GTX 960 shootout when it came to overclocking - posted an 8% improvement versus its non-overclocked scores in FireStrike.


Temperature and Power Consumption Results 

Gigabyte’s dual-fan Windforce cooler powers ahead - or should we say, behind – in our temperature tests. The card peaked at a cool 52°C even after looping 3DMark FireStrike Extreme for a good half an hour. These are really some impressive figures, beating out even the triple-fan G1 Gaming card which sports the same Windforce cooler.

This can probably be partly attributed to the lower clock speeds of the smaller-sized card, but a quick glance at the temperature graph on MSI Afterburner during our run of 3DMark FireStrike Extreme while overclocked showed only a few °C increase over our recorded result here. Clearly, Gigabyte has done something right with this cooler.

When it came to power consumption, the power-sipping MSI card still reigned supreme at just 255 watts under load. The smaller Gigabyte card performed respectably, coming in at 271 watts under load, which was lower than the other two cards. However, this can again be explained by the lower clock speeds of the card. In an overclocked state, the card would probably post numbers on par with the ASUS and Gigabyte G1 Gaming.



When it comes to gaming performance, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 2GB OC is on par with the cards from the other manufacturers. It suffers a little in the initial benchmarks due to its lower clock speeds, but it proves that it has the chops to take on the other cards in our overclocking tests.

After taking into account its lower clock speeds, its power consumption figures are not too noteworthy, sitting in line with the ASUS and other Gigabyte G1 Gaming card. But when it came to temperature performance, the two-fan Gigabyte card proves itself to be a stellar performer, handily eclipsing the other cards in our comparison.

At just S$359, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB is slightly cheaper than the G1 Gaming triple-fan card, which retails for S$379. As mentioned previously, Gigabyte sees the card as a more affordable alternative to the G1 Gaming, and our tests show that for S$20 less, you still retain more or less similar performance and go on to gain better cooling performance and compatibility with a wider range of cases.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 Windforce 2X OC 2GB  delivers great cooling and decent performance for its price.

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  • Performance 8
  • Features 7.5
  • Value 9
The Good
Great value for money
Windforce cooler performs excellently
Good overclocking performance
The Bad
No metal backplate
Low out-of-box clock speeds
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