Intro and Design
I can't even recall how many times I've read or heard the phrase "PC gaming is too expensive and it's a pain to keep upgrading!" or something to similar effect. While I can definitely sympathize with those trying to stay on top of things, we've also never lived in more amazing times where powerful tech comes in extremely small yet affordable packages. I remember having to spend $400+ to get a card that ran most games with full detail and while 4K PC gaming still remains that way, not everyone needs or wants that much power or resolution.
When the opportunity arose to test out PNY's GTX 960 XLR8 Elite OC graphics card, I jumped right on it. When the package arrived, I have to say, I was more than a little hesitant of what it could truly could do.. Upon unpacking the card, the design was extremely straight forward and very compact. My expectations remained tamed, especially after seeing how much smaller it was next to my other GTX 960s and the nail in my excitement coffin was that it only had a single 6 pin PCI-e power connector. Could this card truly stand up to a few of the other stellar 960s I had tested? I scoffed at the idea even after loading up SW Battlefront..
There are certain times in our lives where we have to eat our own words, fall on our sword, whatever. After testing the XLR8 on SW Battlefront, I was stunned at the speeds and performance I was receiving. Maxed out on Ultra settings, at 1080p, I was getting nearly constant 60 FPS! The core was running at a stunning 1415mhz. WTF?! Well, no holds barred. I went for it. Let's just say that I was able to push the card to a very stable 1530mhz on the core and +400 on the mem. The PNY GTX 960 XLR8 is officially the best overclocker in the GTX 960 category I've tested to date. Constant 60 FPS in almost every game I tried at 1080p? Yep, and then some.
What started out as pure skepticism turned into pure joy and excitement. What amazing times we truly live in to be able to pump this type of graphical power out of such a compact and inexpensive card. The test system was only running on a 430W PSU as well so once again, you don't have to break the bank to have a quality gaming rig. Sure, it's got little to no frills but it doesn't need it. The core and mem ran stable under 70C the entire time. This is a massive powerhouse disguised in tiny package. Competition beware!
Value and Conclusion
Well, once again I stand corrected. I truly had very little expectations for this card and I walked away 100% impressed. The best part? I found it online on sale for around $200. Yep peeps, you truly can have high quality PC gaming for not a ton of cash. You don't even have to live in grandma's basement to afford solid 1080p gaming. Older and less demanding games, you could even go 2560x1440 but newer games you'll want to stick to 1080p. Just for kicks, I threw the card in my oldest rig, an old 4 Core AMD system with an old PSU, bam, performance still rocked in the games I tested showing that a quality GPU is the most important part of your system. On the nitpicking side of the house, the looks of such an impressively performing card could be spiced up, yet that is the only minor niggle I could even manage out of this small wonder. While PNY might not of have been on the top of my GPU list before, it certainly is now.