Notebookcheck

Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M Review

Florian Glaser (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 03/12/2015

High-end or mainstream? While the GeForce GTX 980M and the GeForce GTX 970M are based on a completely new architecture compared to their predecessors, the GTX 960M is just a small update. Our review shows if the performance can still convince us.

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For the original German review, see here.

We reviewed the GTX 860M almost 11 months ago (link) and Nvidia now presents the successor. Both the performance and the specifications of the GTX 960M are right between the mainstream and the high-end sector, which is the most appealing for core gamers. Thanks to the support of Schenker Technologies, we had the chance to review a corresponding notebook ahead of the launch.

Test System

The XMG A505 is another gaming device in the portfolio of the German computer company. Contrary to the XMG P505 and XMG U505, which are available with different graphics chips, you are limited to the GTX 960M when you order the XMG A505. The N150SD chassis is provided by the barebone experts from Clevo, and it is not too bulky with a weight of 2.5 kilograms and a height of 2.9 centimeters.

Schenker XMG A505 (Clevo N150SD)
Schenker XMG A505 (Clevo N150SD)
Schenker XMG A505 (Clevo N150SD)
Schenker XMG A505 (Clevo N150SD)

The heart of the XMG A505 is a quad-core processor from Intel. The Core i7-4720HQ with a clock between 2.6-3.6 GHz is not based on the brand-new Broadwell architecture, but the CPU is powerful enough for games. It is unfortunate that the Core i7-4720HQ in our pre-production unit could not fully utilize its Turbo Boost potential. The clock was reduced to the nominal value as soon as we stressed more than one core. The majority of games, however, are limited by the graphics card, so the inactive Turbo Boost does not have a big impact – at least with high or maximum settings. If anything, the device should only be a couple of percent faster with the full Turbo Boost.

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Motherboard
System info CPUZ Memory
System info CPUZ SPD
System info HWiNFO
System info GPUZ (HD 4600)
System info GPUZ (GTX 960M)
System info Nvidia
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load

Our review unit is otherwise equipped with 16 GB DDR3 memory (2x 8 GB dual-channel) as well as two storage drives. While the 64-bit edition of Windows 8.1 was installed on a 256 GB SSD (Micron M600), we installed the benchmarks on the 1.75 TB hard drive (Samsung Spinpoint M9T). If you select these components on the Schenker website and add an LTE module, you will get a device for almost 1,800 Euros (~$1897). The base configuration (no OS, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD) of the XMG A505 is available for "just" 1,199 Euros (~$1263). We used the GPU driver ForceWare 345.05.

Review configuration Schenker XMG A505 (Clevo N150SD)
Mainboard Intel HM87 Chipset
Processor Intel Core i7-4720HQ
Memory 2x 8 GB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM (1600 MHz)
GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M (ForceWare 345.05)
Storage OS Micron M600 MTFDDAV256MBF (256 GB SSD)
Storage data Samsung Spinpoint M9T ST1750LM000 (1.75 TB HDD)
Operating system Windows 8.1 64-Bit

Technology

The technical specifications of the GTX 960M are not very spectacular because the predecessor was already based on the Maxwell architecture. There was a Kepler version of the GTX 860M that had an MXM interface as well as 80% more shader units, but it was rarely used due to the lower performance. Look at the most important specs and you can see that the GTX 960M and the Maxwell version of the GTX 860M are very similar. Both GPUs are based on the GM107 chip and can use 640 Unified Shaders as well as 2,048-4,096 MB GDDR5 video memory, which is attached via 128-bit memory interface.

Smaller differences are revealed when you look at the core clock: Instead of 1,029-1,097 MHz, Nvidia increases the clock of the GTX 960M to 1,097-1,202 MHz, which results in an advantage of 7-10%. According to the tool GPU-Z you also get higher values for the pixel fill rate, the texture fill rate and the number of TMUs, although this might also be a bug in the application. But small improvements or not: The graphics cards hardly differ in practice, which is also confirmed by our benchmarks.

The hardware specifications are much weaker compared to the top models. The GTX 980M has more than twice as many shaders (1,536 CUDA cores) and 4 up to 8 GB GDDR5 video memory (256-bit interface) is better for the future as well. The GTX 970M is also better suited for gaming when you consider the 1,280 shaders and 3 up to 6 GB video memory (192-bit interface).

All in all, the performance of the GTX 960M is close to the GTX 965M, which also suffers from the small memory interface (128-bit) in some titles and even has a slightly lower clock (924-950 MHz). Still, thanks to the higher number of shaders (GM204 chip with 1,024 CUDA cores), the GTX 965M is faster nonetheless.

Graphics card GeForce GTX 860M Kepler GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell GeForce GTX 960M GeForce GTX 965M GeForce GTX 970M GeForce GTX 980M
Manufacturing process 28 nm 28 nm 28 nm 28 nm 28 nm 28 nm
Chip GK104 GM107 GM107 GM204 GM204 GM204
Architecture Kepler Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell
CUDA Cores 1152 640 640 1024 1280 1536
Core clock base 797 MHz 1029 MHz 1097 MHz 924 MHz 924 MHz 1038 MHz
Core clock Turbo 915 MHz 1097 MHz 1202 MHz 950 MHz 1038 MHz 1127 MHz
Memory clock 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 2500 MHz
Maximum VRAM 4096 MB 4096 MB 4096 MB 4096 MB 6144 MB 8192 MB
Memory type GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5
Memory interface 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 192-bit 256-bit

Synthetic Benchmarks

The results of the synthetic benchmarks are not really surprising, starting with the Sky Diver test of the current 3DMark: The GTX 960M manages a GPU score of 14,178 points, which is 54% behind the GTX 980M (30,797 points @MSI GT72 2QE) and exactly 40% behind the GTX 970M (23,619 points @Alienware 15). A GeForce GTX 965M is 21% faster in this scenario (17,096 points @Schenker XMG P705).

We want to use the GPU score in the Fire Strike sequence for a comparison with the GTX 860M: 4,418 points results in an advantage of 12% over the Maxwell predecessor (3,936 points @Schenker XMG A504) as well as 39% over the Kepler GTX 860M (3,174 points @Schenker W504), although this card was tested with an older GPU driver.

The differences are similar in the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark, but the Kepler architecture can actually close the gap a bit. With 56.3 frames per second, the GTX 960M is between the Maxwell GTX 860M (49.5 fps) and the GTX 965M (66.3 fps). Once again, the new GPU cannot compete with the top models: +69% for the GTX 970M (91.6 fps) and + 111% for the GTX 980M (119 fps).

3DMark (2013)
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
4418 Points ∼16%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
3174 Points ∼12% -28%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
3936 Points ∼14% -11%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
5394 Points ∼20% +22%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
7440 Points ∼27% +68%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
9809 Points ∼36% +122%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
4071 Points ∼17%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
2880 Points ∼12% -29%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
3676 Points ∼16% -10%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
4810 Points ∼21% +18%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
6508 Points ∼28% +60%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
8364 Points ∼36% +105%
1280x720 Sky Diver Graphics (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
14178 Points ∼16%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
17096 Points ∼19% +21%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
23619 Points ∼26% +67%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
30797 Points ∼34% +117%
1280x720 Sky Diver Score (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
12472 Points ∼33%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
15139 Points ∼40% +21%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
18030 Points ∼47% +45%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
21576 Points ∼56% +73%
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
5446 Points ∼15%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
5165 Points ∼14% -5%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
4946 Points ∼14% -9%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
7136 Points ∼20% +31%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
9439 Points ∼26% +73%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
12781 Points ∼35% +135%
1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
5639 Points ∼25%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
5349 Points ∼24% -5%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
5224 Points ∼23% -7%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
7249 Points ∼32% +29%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
8636 Points ∼38% +53%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
11173 Points ∼49% +98%
Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
56.3 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
45.2 fps ∼17% -20%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
49.5 fps ∼18% -12%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
66.3 fps ∼25% +18%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
91.6 fps ∼34% +63%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
119 fps ∼44% +111%
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
24.99 fps ∼17%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
20.81 fps ∼14% -17%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
30.1 fps ∼21% +20%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
33.59 fps ∼23% +34%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
2.49 fps ∼2%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
2.25 fps ∼2% -10%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
3.15 fps ∼3% +27%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
4.03 fps ∼3% +62%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
23.5 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
19.81 fps ∼18% -16%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
25.65 fps ∼23% +9%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
34.49 fps ∼31% +47%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
14.4 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
14.88 fps ∼28% +3%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
14.11 fps ∼26% -2%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
21.18 fps ∼39% +47%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
34.03 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
30.37 fps ∼19% -11%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
40.6 fps ∼25% +19%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
47.59 fps ∼29% +40%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
0.73 fps ∼1%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
0.74 fps ∼1% +1%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
0.71 fps ∼1% -3%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
1.02 fps ∼2% +40%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
12.78 fps ∼12%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
11.1 fps ∼10% -13%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
18.63 fps ∼17% +46%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
22.11 fps ∼20% +73%
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
17.84 fps ∼13%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Schenker XMG A504
16.53 fps ∼12% -7%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
22.91 fps ∼17% +28%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
30.1 fps ∼22% +69%

Gaming Performance

Discussion

The differences are also huge in gaming benchmarks. If you look at all the tested titles you can see that the GTX 960M is more than 60% behind the GTX 970M and more than 100% behind the GTX 980M in the Ultra-preset (1920x1080, maximum detail, anti-aliasing). The GeForce GTX 965M, however, only has an advantage of 15% (GTX 860M: -8% @ Maxwell, -17% @ Kepler).

That 2 GB video memory is not really sufficient anymore is apparent when you want to play Shadow of MordorAssassin's Creed Unity or Watch Dogs, for example. Those titles run slightly better on the Kepler GTX 860M (4 GB video memory). Wolfenstein: The New Order requires at least 3 GB VRAM for the highest settings.

Speaking of the highest settings: As expected, the performance of the GTX 960M is not always sufficient for the maximum details. Besides Hitman AbsolutionThief and Ryse: Son of Rome, you also have to live with dropped frames in the Ultra-preset in Crysis 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition. The performance of the GTX 960M is, however, sufficient for the High-preset and 1600x900 pixels. Less demanding titles like F1 2014Tomb RaiderFIFA 15Dota 2GRID Autosport and The Sims 4 do not require any compromises (>50 fps @Ultra).

Evolve - 1920x1080 Very High Graphics Quality AA:1TX SM (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
31.8 fps ∼18%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
27.6 (min: 24) fps ∼16% -13%
GeForce GTX 970M (mixed)
Schenker W504
51.4 (min: 41) fps ∼29% +62%
GeForce GTX 980M (mixed)
Schenker W504
61.9 (min: 44) fps ∼35% +95%
The Crew - 1920x1080 Ultra Video Preset (modified) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
33.2 fps ∼55%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
25 (min: 19) fps ∼42% -25%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
34.2 fps ∼57% +3%
GeForce GTX 970M (mixed)
Schenker W504
47 (min: 39) fps ∼78% +42%
GeForce GTX 980M (mixed)
Schenker W504
59.7 (min: 54) fps ∼100% +80%
Dragon Age: Inquisition - 1920x1080 Ultra Graphics Quality AA:2x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
22.5 fps ∼18%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
18.3 (min: 14) fps ∼15% -19%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
27.1 fps ∼22% +20%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
35.9 fps ∼29% +60%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
Schenker XMG P505
48.9 fps ∼40% +117%
Far Cry 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Graphics Quality AA:SM (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
30.8 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
23 (min: 20) fps ∼20% -25%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
32.4 fps ∼29% +5%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
48.1 fps ∼42% +56%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
Schenker XMG P505
59.4 fps ∼52% +93%
Assassin's Creed Unity - 1920x1080 Ultra High Graphics Quality AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
11.9 fps ∼22%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
13.1 (min: 11) fps ∼24% +10%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
13.7 fps ∼25% +15%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
22.9 fps ∼41% +92%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
Schenker XMG P505
33.3 fps ∼60% +180%
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - 1920x1080 Extra / On (Cache Shadow Maps Off), 2x Supersampling AA:2x SM (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
30.4 fps ∼39%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
24.4 (min: 20) fps ∼32% -20%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
35.8 fps ∼46% +18%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
46.4 fps ∼60% +53%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
Schenker XMG P505
57.9 fps ∼75% +90%
Civilization: Beyond Earth - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
39.8 fps ∼28%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
34.2 (min: 15) fps ∼24% -14%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
49.9 fps ∼35% +25%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
67.5 fps ∼48% +70%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
80.4 fps ∼57% +102%
F1 2014 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
79 fps ∼66%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
83 (min: 69) fps ∼69% +5%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
99 fps ∼83% +25%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
109 fps ∼91% +38%
Ryse: Son of Rome - 1920x1080 Very High Texture Res. + High Graphics Quality (Motion Blur & Temporal AA On, Rest Off/Disabled) AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
27.4 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
21.4 (min: 16) fps ∼21% -22%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
33.4 fps ∼32% +22%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
45.1 fps ∼44% +65%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
41.3 (min: 33) fps ∼40% +51%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
54.7 fps ∼53% +100%
Alien: Isolation - 1920x1080 Ultra, On, Shadow Map 2048, HDAO AA:2x SM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
46.6 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
39.8 fps ∼18% -15%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
54.8 fps ∼25% +18%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
75.7 fps ∼34% +62%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
96.1 fps ∼43% +106%
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (HD Package) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
27.9 fps ∼17%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
26.4 (min: 12) fps ∼16% -5%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
28.8 fps ∼18% +3%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
51.2 fps ∼32% +84%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
Schenker XMG P505
67.6 fps ∼42% +142%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
65 fps ∼40% +133%
Fifa 15 - 1920x1080 High Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
136 fps ∼46%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
119.5 (min: 47) fps ∼40% -12%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
155.2 fps ∼52% +14%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
217.8 fps ∼73% +60%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
240.4 fps ∼81% +77%
Sims 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
64.6 fps ∼44%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
54.9 (min: 38) fps ∼37% -15%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
70 fps ∼47% +8%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
77.2 fps ∼52% +20%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
93.8 fps ∼63% +45%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
97 fps ∼66% +50%
GRID: Autosport - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
51.9 fps ∼35%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
42.6 (min: 35) fps ∼28% -18%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
58.2 fps ∼39% +12%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
69 fps ∼46% +33%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
82.3 fps ∼55% +59%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
107.1 fps ∼71% +106%
Watch Dogs - 1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
15.4 fps ∼22%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (mixed)
Schenker W504
18.9 (min: 14) fps ∼27% +23%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
17.7 fps ∼26% +15%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.73)
Alienware 15
33.4 fps ∼48% +117%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
34.4 fps ∼50% +123%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
45.9 fps ∼66% +198%
Thief - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
28 fps ∼25%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
22.6 fps ∼20% -19%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
24.9 fps ∼22% -11%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
34.2 fps ∼30% +22%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
47.9 fps ∼42% +71%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
62.1 fps ∼55% +122%
Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
33 fps ∼19%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
26.2 fps ∼15% -21%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
28.9 fps ∼16% -12%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
39.1 fps ∼22% +18%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
54.8 fps ∼31% +66%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
72.9 fps ∼41% +121%
Saints Row IV - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:8x MS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
36.3 fps ∼39%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
31.1 fps ∼33% -14%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
34.6 fps ∼37% -5%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
40.7 fps ∼43% +12%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
58.8 fps ∼63% +62%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
72.5 fps ∼77% +100%
Dota 2 - 1920x1080 High / On, Render Quality: 100 % (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
83.1 fps ∼69%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
58.3 fps ∼49% -30%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
83.1 fps ∼69% 0%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
97.7 fps ∼81% +18%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
113.4 fps ∼95% +36%
Metro: Last Light - 1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
31.9 fps ∼23%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
23.7 fps ∼17% -26%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
28.6 fps ∼20% -10%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
38.7 fps ∼28% +21%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
53.3 fps ∼38% +67%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
66.8 fps ∼48% +109%
BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
46.8 fps ∼26%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
35.9 fps ∼20% -23%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
42.7 fps ∼24% -9%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
53.3 fps ∼29% +14%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
72.5 fps ∼40% +55%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
91.2 fps ∼50% +95%
Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
50.8 fps ∼18%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
43 fps ∼16% -15%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
44.8 fps ∼16% -12%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
57.3 fps ∼21% +13%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
80.3 fps ∼29% +58%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
104.5 fps ∼38% +106%
Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:2xSM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
20.6 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
18.4 fps ∼18% -11%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
19 fps ∼19% -8%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
23.9 fps ∼24% +16%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
33.4 fps ∼33% +62%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
43.3 fps ∼43% +110%
Hitman: Absolution - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 960M (345.05)
Schenker XMG A505
26.4 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
19.6 fps ∼20% -26%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
24 fps ∼25% -9%
GeForce GTX 965M (344.54)
Schenker XMG P705
28.1 fps ∼29% +6%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
41.2 fps ∼42% +56%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.48)
Schenker XMG P505
54.6 fps ∼56% +107%
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
54 fps ∼56% +105%
low med. high ultra
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 75.371.357.726.4fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 113.281.154.920.6fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 260.7181.9114.750.8fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 162.6128.6118.346.8fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 98.691.459.931.9fps
Dota 2 (2013) 117.5105.183.1fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 88.177.157.636.3fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 141.811481.833fps
Thief (2014) 75.964.955.228fps
Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014) 606048.6fps
Watch Dogs (2014) 63.754.629.915.4fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 194.6106.883.651.9fps
Sims 4 (2014) 191.2112.273.364.6fps
Fifa 15 (2014) 201.7187.3136fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 1318142.727.9fps
Alien: Isolation (2014) 155.3122.766.446.6fps
Ryse: Son of Rome (2014) 62.557.629.427.4fps
The Evil Within (2014) 92.368.241.3fps
F1 2014 (2014) 1191089479fps
Civilization: Beyond Earth (2014) 100.667.346.139.8fps
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014) 127.781.653.630.4fps
Assassin's Creed Unity (2014) 50.839.726.411.9fps
Far Cry 4 (2014) 84.374.238.130.8fps
Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) 70.559.933.522.5fps
The Crew (2014) 59.959.851.733.2fps
Evolve (2015) 37.836.435.131.8fps

Verdict

The GeForce GTX 960M is an interesting solution for price-conscious users in particular that do not want to spend more than 1,500 Euros (~$1582) for a new notebook. You will be pretty happy with the GTX 960M if you don't mind reducing some settings if necessary and do not have to play every title with activated anti-aliasing.

The performance of the Maxwell chip is not really future-proof. The small memory interface and the 2 GB video memory could be a frequent limiting factor in the next couple of years. You can actually already notice this issue with the GTX 965M. If you plan to get a new notebook every 1-2 years anyway or – as we mentioned earlier – can live with some compromises in respect of the details and resolution, then the GTX 960M is a good choice.

We have to criticize Nvidia for the price. We think that both the GTX 980M as well as the GTX 965M or GTX 960M, respectively, are a bit too expensive. Based on the price-performance ratio we would recommend the GTX 970M for gaming enthusiasts: It is almost 45% faster than the GTX 965M but only 100 Euros (~$105) more expensive (upgrade @P/W/U-series).

Graphics card Overall performance (Ultra-preset)
GeForce GTX 980M +104 %
GeForce GTX 970M +64 %
GeForce GTX 965M +15 %
GeForce GTX 960M Base
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell -8 %
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler -17 %
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M Review
Florian Glaser, 2015-03-12 (Update: 2015-03-27)