Card Layout and Photos
If you haven’t seen one of Asus’s Strix cards the GTX 960 Strix would be a bit of a surprise. The Strix lineup doesn’t really look like a traditional Asus card, but it does have its own look going on. They dropped the metal fan shroud for plastic and gave the new shroud a more aggressive look. Part of that is a more angular design but the red design in between the fans also contributes.
One of the biggest things that sets one manufacture apart from another in the video card market is in their cooler design. Form the Strix Asus uses a cooler design that is designed to run cool enough that the card will run with the fans off a good portion of the time. The card is designed to turn on 0dB mode at between 55 and 57 degrees. To keep things cool Asus uses four large heatpipes to pull the heat directly from the GPU out into the heatsink, spread out across the entire surface. Most manufactures put their heatpipes up top, Asus went a different direction with the GTX 960 Strix and put them on the bottom of the card. This keeps the cards height even with the PCI slots, something we don’t see very often anymore. Asus extended the length of the card by almost two inches to pack in its two fans and also to add a considerable amount of surface area to the heatsink. If you look from the top of the card we can see how thick the heatsink is beyond the PCB. This design is similar to other aftermarket coolers in that it blows air toward the PCB where a reference design typically pushes the air across the PCB toward the PCI slots. That means the GTX 960 Strix does vent almost all of its warm air into your case, so keep that in mind.
For power the GTX 960 Strix just has the single 6-pin power connection. Asus did flip the connection around from how they are traditionally orientated though. To make room for the clip the PCB is knocked as well. This allows them to fit the heatsink as close as possible to have the highest amount of surface area. The design also has two small LEDs on the back side of the PCB that will light up depending on if the card has power or not. This is a nice way to see if the connection is loose for example.
For SLI the GTX 960 has a single SLI bridge so you are limited to just two way SLI. That is more than enough to get you a healthy update later on in the cards life when the cards have gone down even more in price!
So the GTX 960 Strix has a whole selection of options on the rear of the card. You get an impressive three full-sized DisplayPort ports. Along with that you get a full sized HDMI port and a DVI connection that supports VGA pass-through. There is also a small half height vent, but the card isn’t really designed to push air out the back. I love the additional DisplayPort connections but I do still miss having two DVI ports.
So the GTX 960 Strix has a flat black PCB but you only get a small glimpse of it. Asus went with a full coverage backplate on the card. The backplate has the Asus logo on it flipped upside down so that when you have the card installed in a standard PC you can read the logo. The backplate helps protect the card from getting bumped and gives a little additional strength to the PCB to keep it from deforming. Having a backplate also helps spread out heat on the back of the card to keep temperatures low.