So yesterday I had the chance to check out the R7 370, AMD’s current budget video card. Well today Nvidia is officially announcing and releasing the GTX 950. The GTX 950 falls in between the GTX 960 and the GTX 750 Ti. This fills in a gap in the Nvidia lineup and should compete directly with the R7 370. Like I mentioned yesterday, this isn’t a price point that enthusiasts who are building high end PCs would be looking at but it does fall right into the sweet spot for budget gaming builds around the $600 price point. So with that in mind today we are going to see what the GTX 950 is all about, find out how it fits in between the 960 and 750 Ti in both performance and specifications, then find out if it is the right option for people looking at building their new $600 gaming PCs.
Product Name: Asus GTX 950 Strix
Review Sample Provided by: Nvidia
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|Graphics Engine||NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 950|
|Bus Standard||PCI Express® 3.0|
|Video Memory||2GB GDDR5|
|GPU boost clock||
OC Mode : 1355 MHz
Gaming Mode: 1329 MHz
|GPU base clock||
OC Mode : 1165 MHz
Gaming Mode: 1140 MHz
|Memory Clock||6610 MHz|
|Memory Interface||128 bit|
1x Native DVI-I
1x Native DVI-D
|HDMI Output||1x Native HDMI 2.0|
|DisplayPort||1x Native DisplayPort 1.2|
|Accessory Bundled||1x STRIX Laser Sticker|
|Software Bundled||ASUS GPU Tweak II & Driver|
Nvidia GTX 950
Before I dig into the GTX 950 Strix and get into testing I did want to talk a little about the GTX 950 itself. Specifically I wanted to talk about where it falls in the Nvidia lineup. It might be obvious given the name but the GTX 950 does fall in right behind the GTX 960. What gets a little weird is the card below the GTX 950 is the GTX 750 Ti. Rather than introducing a rebranded card Nvidia has just left the GTX 750 Ti in the product stack, we can assume they will replace it in the future but currently they have nothing announced there. So here is the current product stack and price list.
GTX TITAN X: $999
GTX 980 Ti: $649
GTX 980: $499
GTX 970: $329
GTX 960: $199
GTX 950: $159
GTX 750 Ti: $119
The GTx 950 falls right into a nice sweet spot when you consider the price point as well. The GTX 960 is on the high end of budget builds at $199, the GTX 950 is a little better priced and right at what you will be spending for a $500 to $600 gaming build. Then we have the GTX 750 Ti bringing up the rear at the $119 price point.
So beyond the price how does it compare to the GTX 960 and GTX 750 Ti? Well officially it is actually based on the same GM206 Maxwell GPu that the GTX 960 has. They did cut it down slightly from 1024 CUDA cores down to 768. The clock speed is a little unque, the core clock speed is lower than the GTX 960 but the boost clock speed is a little higher. The memory is slowed down slightly as well. These changes allow for less power usage lowering the TDp from 120 Watts to 90 Watts. A lot of people hated on the 128 bit memory controller that the GTX 960 has and the GTX 950 has that same controller and same 2GBs of memory. At the GTX 950’s launch price point its direct competition is the R7 370 and it does have a higher memory bus width and more memory. We will have to see in testing how they actually compare in performance though. Below I have included a full breakdown between the GTX 950 and the GTX 750 Ti/GTX 960.
|GTX 950||GTX 960||GTX 750 Ti|
|Core Clock||1024 MHz||1126MHz||1020 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1188 MHz||1178MHz||1085 MHZ|
|Memory Clock||6600 MHz||7000 MHz||5400 MHz|
|Memory Bus Width||128-bit||128-bit||128-bit|
|VRAM||2GB||2GB||1GB or 2GB|
|Transistor Count||2.94 Billion||2.94 Billion||1.87 Billion|
Beyond the GTX 950 Nvidia did introduce a few other new features with this launch. One a driver and software feature and the other was software only. The driver and software change was the result of Nvidia taking a hard look at one of the most popular game types, MOBAs. While I would argue that these changes are just as important on any competitive game, on our call with Nvidia they spoke a lot about how important response time is when playing DOTA 2 and LoL. Internally they did a lot of testing on the amount of time it takes for your game to render and show a mouse click. They setup a way to record when the mouse button was actually hit and measured how long it would be before it shows on screen. For the GTX 650 that they compared to they were seeing 80ms response times. Here is a video of their testing.
Now keep in mind they used the GTX 650 as this is the card they expect GTX 950 users to be upgrading from. On top of card performance improvements they went deeper into the issue and found that they could further improve the response time by cutting out some of the frame preloading. They preload to improve performance, but in this case it adds the response latency. So now with GeForce Experience they can set a maximum pre-rendered frames. The way they explained it is that currently people with the GTX 950 will see it automatically assuming they let GeForce Experience set their game settings. People running other cards will see it later as they finish more testing with those confirmations or you can manually go in and set it as well. You can do this in the manage 3D Settings page in Nvidia Control Panel.
The big software change isn’t live yet but is coming very soon. Some of you might be familiar with ShadowPlay, I know I have used it for streaming a few times and more than anything have used it to play games on my Shield devices. Well Nvidia is dropping the ShadowPlay name and adding new features. The features they currently have are staying but you can now open up a gallery and view images and videos you have recorded. Once you do that you can select a video you want to upload directly to YouTube and you can cut the video down and upload it all within the software.
The biggest addition is really just an extension on the on network streaming that the Shield devices have been doing, but it is still a huge feature in my opinion. Basically you can send an invite to any friend and invite them to join your game via a chrome browser extension. So it’s like twitch then right? Well not really, that person can watch you play the game live, you can mirror your controls and let them take over your game, or in games that support it you can actually play Co-Op together. They include integrated voice chat as well for communication. The examples Nvidia showed for this new features use were latency free 1:1 broadcasts, allowing your friends to demo new games, playing together in Co-Op, and helping your buddy beat a level. That last feature might be a little taboo for some people, while it isn’t anything crazy to have your brother or friend help you with a level you are stuck on when playing on a console, it isn’t something you see on PC gaming all that much. Even beyond that some games like League or Legends actually will ban people who have people (friends or otherwise) play on your account to boost your ranking. Nvidia did set a one hour limit on this new feature, I’m not sure what the reason for that was exactly but that might prevent people basically letting a friend play all the way through a game without buying it.
For me this feature interests me in a way that they don’t seem to be pushing just yet. One of the best things about the various Shield devices is being able to play your PC games on your mobile device or in the other room. I can see this feature being a sneaky way to log into your home PC and play games while on PCs that don’t have the power to game like at work or on your laptop. All in all I’m happy to see that Nvidia continues to develop their software to add more features for everyone. I’m sure it is a big financial investment for them but it adds a lot to the overall experience of suing an Nvidia card in your build.