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Nvidia is launching a series of new desktop graphics chips for PC gamers, and this one is aimed at the sweet spot of the market. These chips are one of the necessary ingredients, in addition to Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system announced yesterday, that could deliver a big boost for PC gaming this year.
Targeted at $200 graphics cards, the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 chip is the latest based on the Maxwell architecture that was first introduced last year. Nvidia has already launched high-end Maxwell-based graphics chips dubbed the GeForce GTX 980, which the graphics chip maker said was the world’s fastest graphics processing unit (GPU). These chips are aimed at mainstream gamers, like those who play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as League of Legends, the world’s most popular online PC game. These gamers want a lot of performance for the dollars they spend.
The difference you’ll notice about computers running the GeForce GTX 960 is that the machines are virtually silent. The chip is twice as power efficient as its predecessor in terms of performance per watt, and that means it runs quietly and generates very little heat when running a heavy-duty game, said Scott Herkelman, Nvidia’s GeForce general manager, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We think these technologies are going to make mainstream gaming much more viable,” Herkelman said. “In 2015, if you look at the games coming out, we think it’s going to be a great year.”
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The GeForce GTX 960 supports Maxwell graphics features such as multiframe sampled anti-aliasing (MFAA), which reduces the jagged edges in game scenes without consuming too much processing power. It also has the “voxel” technology — dubbed Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI) — in the chips, which enables developers to create better lighting for complex scenes with lots of movement, lighting, and shadows. And it has dynamic super resolution, which renders a game in 4K in the background and outputs it to whatever quality can be displayed on your device, such as 1080p, or high-definition TV. The resulting image is better than directly rendering an image to 1080p.
“It gives you 2X efficiency, gives you 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second, and it’s perfect for MOBA games,” Herkelman said. “The people who are playing the most popular games in the world will be ready to upgrade.”
Gamers will be able to get 5 percent to 10 percent improvements in performance by “overclocking” the chips, or running them beyond the standard spec. And they can do it without melting their computers, Herkelman said.
While the high-end GeForce GTX 980 runs at 165 watts, the new GeForce GTX 960 runs at just 120 watts. It’s kind of like the “gateway to high-end gaming.” That means you’ll get hooked on the GeForce GTX 960 and then upgrade to a more expensive machine later.
In terms of performance, the GeForce GTX 960 is 60 percent faster than its predecessor GeForce GTX 660, and it is twice as power efficient.
The GeForce GTX 960 has 1,024 processing cores, and it runs at 1,126 megahertz before overclocking. It can support display resolutions up to 5K, or better than the newest 4K TVs on the market. The memory interface runs at 7 gigabits per second. It has 2 gigabytes of graphics memory.
The chips are available today from a bunch of computer and board makers, including Asus, Gainward, Gigabyte, and others.
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