NVIDIA has just launched its mid-range line of chips based on the company’s Maxwell Architecture. We have discussed Maxwell abundantly already, but if you missed it, it’s a graphics processor (GPU) architecture that doubled the Performance/Watt ratio when compared to previous generation NVIDIA GPUs, which were already quite good. With NVIDIA’s Maxwell, it is possible to push the performance to higher levels at any given power level, or decrease power consumption and cooling requirements significantly.
The GeForce GTX 960 will occupy the space previously held by GeForce 560, 660 or 760 in the $199-$250 space. This is typically a much larger market than the high-end $400+ cards because it’s where users can find the best Performance/Price ratio. “Bang for the Buck” is the most important metric for anyone who’s a bit cost conscious but still wants great performance.
It’s also often (financially) smarter to stay just behind the curve and update a mid-range graphics card regularly than trying to jump onto a high-end card and stick with it for a very long time. Already, independent benchmarks are confirming NVIDIA’s claim that the GTX 960 is very much more efficient as the GTX 660 — many times by as much as 100%."60FPS FIRMLY ENTERING THE MID-RANGE MARKET"
In practice, this means that a lot of games that were running at 30FPS in 1080p resolution or so (which is deemed the acceptable speed by a lot of gamers) will now run at 60FPS. This is a remarkable progress and most definitely an impactful improvement to the gameplay, especially on fast-paced games — and all that often running with the highest quality graphics settings (your luck may vary depending the game).
When I met with NVIDIA prior to the launch, we discussed the performance of their MFAA (Multi-Frame sampled AA) anti-aliasing technique as well (not to be confused with MSAA, or Multi-Sample AA). This is used to smooth out the edges of objects to avoid having a pixilated aspect when there is a strong contrast between the contour of an object and the background.
First, you can see MFAA in action here, compared against the older TXAA technique, but the important part of MSAA (Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing) is that it allows to use more flexible pixel sampling positions, and spread the sampling over multiple frames, thus largely reducing the compute resources and bandwidth, without visible effects on image quality."SILENT GAMING AT FULL FRAME RATE"
“Silent Gaming PC” seems like and odd thing to say, but NVIDIA has demonstrated that a GeForce GTX 960 could in fact run a game a full frame rate, with passive cooling when running at 30W. The card also support the flicker-free GSync technology, up to 144 FPS, if you have the right monitor. This is a nutty framerate to play at.
Interestingly, NVIDIA says that specific markets such as gamers of World of Tanks, League of Legends ($1B in revenues) or Dota 2 were big enough to justify a particular attention and resources from the GPU company.