Overall and Final Verdict
As I mentioned earlier I have been extremely happy with MSI cards in the past, specifically with their Twin Frozr cooler. With the new design I was excited to see what they had improved on. For starters, the new design has a great looking fan shroud that really catches your eye. They did drop the metal fan shroud that past MSI card had though. I love the new look but will miss the quality feel that the all-metal fan shroud would give MSI cards. The new backlit logo is a nice touch as well.
Where the MSI really excelled was in the noise testing. At idle the fans aren’t running and it doesn’t put out any noise. Even when I manually turned the fans on it still stayed nearly at the bottom of all of the cards we have tested. As for the rest of the performance, the MSI does have a slightly lower overclock than the Asus GTX 960 that I tested at launch so it fell just below it in most tests. The MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G performed well when testing at 1080p and fell off hard when turning the resolution up. If you are planning on gaming at 1080p this is the sweet spot for getting good performance without getting more performance than you need. If you think you will be gaming at 1440 in the future I would recommend looking at a card with a memory interface larger than 128 bits.
As far as the price goes the Gaming 2G comes in at the same price as the Asus 960 as well as most of the other overclocked GTX 960’s. That means your decision will really depend on if you prefer the new aesthetics of the MSI and if the low noise performance is important. Personally I think it is a tossup between the MSI and the Asus, with the rest of the competition coming in behind those two currently.