While we would all love to be able to own one, two, or even three PNY 980 OC cards the reality is most consumers ultimate decision depends on the perceived value of a card. Simply put customers are willing to spend $200-250 instead of $150-$200 but only if the card offers tangibly better value. Unfortunately, the most often – and most valid – criticism leveled against NVIDIA’s x60 series is that they are a value orientated card that sometimes lacks value.

On the surface offering customers half the CUDA Cores, ROPS and texture units of their 980 video cards for about 1/3 the price does sound like a winning combination. In theory that should even allow customer who have the budget for one reference GeForce 980 GTX the luxury of saving some money without negatively impacting performance.

Sadly, the reality is that along with the other cuts NVIDIA has also cut the memory bus in half – and thus the memory bandwidth potential in half. This is what causes the typical reference 960’s price to performance ratio to plummet, why fewer customers go the SLI route instead of the single card route, and why AMD holds such a strong grip in this price range.

intro - PNY Geforce XLR8 GTX 960 Elite

What if we told you that this does not need to be the case and that the majority of the problems with a reference 960 can be overcome with copious amounts of overclocking? At least that is what PNY believes as their newest GeForce GTX 960 is not the typical 960. Instead the all new PNY GeForce 960 GTX Elite OC comes with one of the highest factory overclocks you can find. To be precise they have taken the stock settings of 1,127MHz base /1,178MHz boost and cranked them all the way to 1,304MHz / 1,367MHz.

While such an high factory overclock on the GPU was not carried over to the memory – it is still at a reference 7010Mhz – this brute force approach may just help alleviate the rather anemic performance that can sometimes plague stock 960s…and if it doesn’t the custom heatsink should allow customers to pump up the memory speed – and thus the bandwidth.

When you mix in a lifetime warranty that covers the factory overclock, the PNY 960 Elite OC sounds like a rather impressive take on what a mid-range card should be; however what really will catch consumers eye is the fact that PNY has done all this and only increased the asking price by 20 dollars. Personally we would gladly spend twenty dollars just to get rid of the reference blower fan solutions that most GeForce 960’s use – as they are sub optimal to say the least. If however PNY is correct their 960 Elite OC may just not only regain ground that NVIDIA seceded to AMD, but may be one of the best blends of performance, price, and warranty that the market has seen in recent history.