Nvidia GTX 950 Review


Today Nvidia has launched its “sweet spot” GPU, the GTX 950. Aimed at budget gamers who want to play at 1080p, it uses a slightly neutered version of the GTX 960‘s GM206 to bring down its asking price to $160. (Some aftermarket cards will go for more; the Asus card we tested is $170.)

This of course means you won’t be able to play with your graphics settings as high on the GTX 960—but before you dismiss the 950, know that the Maxwell architecture in this particular GPU has been tweaked to reduce latency. (That’s a first.) Nvidia’s also launching a suite of sharing and recording features that let you easily stream to Twitch, save gaming footage, edit clips and upload them to YouTube, and invite other players to watch or play your game. For budget gamers who lean more toward prioritizing cash over graphics, the 950 definitely delivers solid bang for your buck.

ASUS STRIX GTX 950

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You can check out the GTX 950’s full specs in the table below, but in a nutshell, it’s a 2GB dual-slot card that sports 768 CUDA cores and comes clocked at 1,024MHz with a boost clock of 1,188 in its stock configuration. (The Asus card we tested is clocked a bit higher, though, with a base clock of 1,165MHz and a boost clock of 1,355MHz.) It’s also shorter than the GTX 960 by a few inches, has just one six-pin PCIe power connector, and features three DisplayPorts, one DVI output, and an HDMI 2.0 port. The 950 also supports SLI.

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Nvidia has tweaked the rendering pipeline in this particular GPU to reduce latency. The company says it made the optimizations in response to requests from professional MOBA players; as an example of the improvements, it showed ademo where the measurable latency of a mouse-click in DOTA 2 was decreased from 80ms on the GTX 650 to 45ms on the GTX 950.

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THE BENCHMARKS

To test the Asus Strix GTX 950, we slotted it into our GPU testing rig that features an Asus Z97 motherboard, Intel Core i7-4790K CPU, and 16GB of Corsair memory. We compared the GTX 950 with the one card above it in the product stack, the $200 GTX 960, as well as the $120 GTX 750 Ti, the GTX 650 (no longer for sale), and the $150 Radeon R7 370.

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When examining our benchmark chart, keep in mind we enabled 4XAA. As a result, the 950 only hit 60fps once in our benchmarks, but it still was over 30fps in most; disabling AA would easily allow the card to make any game playable at Ultra settings in 1080p. That’s pretty awesome for $160 (our Asus Strix GTX 950 is an overclocked $170 model, but we don’t anticipate too much variance between it and the stock version), particularly since it beat the similarly priced AMD Radeon R7 370. The 950 is even a decent upgrade over the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti, and it simply destroys the much older GTX 650 in every benchmark.

OVERCLOCKING 

When examining our benchmark chart, keep in mind we enabled 4XAA. As a result, the 950 only hit 60fps once in our benchmarks, but it still was over 30fps in most; disabling AA would easily allow the card to make any game playable at Ultra settings in 1080p. That’s pretty awesome for $160 (our Asus Strix GTX 950 is an overclocked $170 model, but we don’t anticipate too much variance between it and the stock version), particularly since it beat the similarly priced AMD Radeon R7 370. The 950 is even a decent upgrade over the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti, and it simply destroys the much older GTX 650 in every benchmark.

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FEATURES 

The 950’s release also marks the launch of new sharing options in Nvidia’s GeForce Experience software. There’s a new in-game overlay that you can toggle on-and-off that offers four tabs: Instant Replay, Record, Broadcast, and Stream. Some of these features used to be available through ShadowPlay, but they’ve now been rolled into this one section of GeForce Experience.

  • Instant Replay: An always-on DVR for your games that will automatically record the last 20 minutes of whatever you are playing.
  • Record: This will let you manually stop and start recording your gameplay.
  • Broadcast: This lets you stream your gameplay to Twitch with just one click.
  • Stream: This is all-new, and lets you invite a friend to watch your game or play a game for you via a PC-to-PC link. If it’s a co-op game, they can also easily also join you as a second player (even if the game only supports local co-op). Voice chat is built into this feature, eliminating the need for another service to talk with your friend.

THE VERDICT

Overall, the Asus Strix GTX 950 is a solid GPU and one of the fastest mid-range cards we’ve tested. It’s cool, quiet, and overclocks like crazy–and when you throw in GeForce Experience’s new sharing features you have a pretty sweet total package for gamers on a budget. For now, this is the card to get at the $150-ish price point, but rumor has it that AMD will respond to this aggression. However, a faster card from Team Red won’t be enough, as the battle has now officially moved to two fronts–hardware and software. AMD will need the total package to dislodge Nvidia from this market segment.

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