The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M is an upper mid-range, DirectX 11-compatible graphics card for laptops unveiled in March 2015. It is based on Nvidia's Maxwell architecture (GM107 chip) and manufactured in 28 nm. The GTX 960M offers 640 shader units clocked at 1097 - 1202 MHz (Boost) as well as fast GDDR5 memory (128 bit, 5000 MHz effective, 80 GB/s).
Compared to the previous and technically very similar GTX 860M, the GTX 960M is clocked slightly higher.
Compared to Kepler, Maxwell has been optimized in several details to increase power efficiency. Smaller Streaming Multiprocessors (SMM) with only 128 ALUs (Kepler: 192) and an optimized scheduler should lead to better utilization of the shaders. Nvidia promises that a Maxwell SMM with 128 ALUs can offer 90 percent of the performance of a Kepler SMX with 192 ALUs. GM107 features 5 SMMs and thus 640 shader cores, 40 TMUs and 16 ROPs (128-bit interface).
Another optimization is the massively enlarged L2 cache (GM107: 2 MB). The increased size can handle some of the memory traffic to allow for a relatively narrow memory interface without significantly reducing the performance.
GM107 supports DirectX 12 with feature level 11_0 only.
Although the GTX 960M has the same memory bandwidth as the previous GTX 860M, its higher core clock leads to a slightly better performance. Overall, the 960M is almost 10 percent faster and similar to the desktop GTX 750 Ti.
Many games of 2014/2015 can be played fluently in FullHD resolution and high detail settings. However, very demanding games such as Assassin's Creed Unity will require lower resolutions and/or details.
GM107 integrates the sixth generation of the PureVideo HD video engine (VP6), offering a better decoding performance for H.264 and MPEG-2 videos. Of course, VP6 supports all features of previous generations (4K support, PIP, video encoding via NVENC API). Unfortunately, HDMI 2.0 is still not supported.
The power consumption of the GeForce GTX 960M should be similar to the old GTX 860M (about 60 watts). Therefore, the GPU is best suited for 15-inch laptops or larger. The 900M series also supports Optimus to automatically switch between an integrated graphics card and the Nvidia GPU.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with the Max-Q design is a mobile high-end GPU from the Pascal series. It is designed for thin and light laptops and about 10-15% slower than a regular GTX 1080 for laptops based on the cooling capabilities. The base frequency (1101-1290 MHz) is also much lower than on the regular GTX 1080 (1566 MHz, at least -18%) and the Boost (1278-1458 MHz) is also much lower compared to 1733 MHz (at least -16%) for the regular GTX 1080. The memory clock, however, is identical.
The clock is not the only difference compared to the regular GTX 1080 though. The drivers for the Max-Q version were optimized for efficiency (and not performance; only for Max-Q models), there are optimized voltage converters for 1V operation, high-end cooling methods, and a 40 dB limit for the fan noise (with clock adjustments to ensure this at all times).
The performance is nearer to the normal (Max-P) GeForce GTX 1070 than to then GTX 1080 (at least in the Asus Zephyrus). Therefore, most demanding games should be playable in full HD and maximum detail settings (see game benchmarks below).
The GP104 chip is manufactured in 16nm FinFET process at TSMC and offers a range of new features. DisplayPort 1.4 (ready), HDMI 2.0b, HDR, Simultaneous Multi-Projection (SMP), improved H.265 video en- and decoders (for PlayReady 3.0) are only some of the improvements. See our detailed Pascal architecture article for more details.
The power consumption of the Max-Q design is notably lower than the normal GTX 1080 for laptops and ranges between 90 and 110 Watt (TGP) according to Nvidia.
Average Benchmarks NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M → 100%n=28
Average Benchmarks NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q → 389%n=28
- Range of benchmark values for this graphics card - Average benchmark values for this graphics card * Smaller numbers mean a higher performance 1 This benchmark is not used for the average calculation
The following benchmarks stem from our benchmarks of review laptops. The performance depends on the used graphics memory, clock rate, processor, system settings, drivers, and operating systems. So the results don't have to be representative for all laptops with this GPU. For detailed information on the benchmark results, click on the fps number.