For most of this summer, much of the excitement in the GPU market has been focused on pricey, high-end products like the Radeon Fury and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Today, Nvidia is turning the spotlight back on more affordable graphics cards with the introduction of the GeForce GTX 950, a $159.99 offering that promises to handle the latest games reasonably well at the everyman's resolution of 1080p.
Like its elder sibling the GeForce GTX 960, the GTX 950 is based on the GM206 graphics processor. In this case, though, the GM206 has been hobbled a bit to cut costs. Two of its eight shader multiprocessor units (SMs) have been disabled, leaving the GTX 950 with 768 stream processors and a corresponding reduction in texture filtering power.
Here's how the GTX 950 fits into Nvidia's lineup:
|GTX 750 Ti||-||1085||16||40||640||128||5.4 GT/s||2 GB||-W||$119|
|GTX 950||1024||1188||32||48||768||128||6.6 GT/s||2 GB||90W||$159|
|GTX 960||1126||1178||32||64||1024||128||7 GT/s||2 GB||120W||$199|
|GTX 970||1050||1178||64||104||1664||256||7 GT/s||4 GB||145W||$329|
|GTX 980||1126||1216||64||128||2048||256||7 GT/s||4 GB||165W||$549|
Even with the cuts, the GTX 950 represents a nice step up from the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, Nvidia's previous offering for around this price. The 750 Ti has made room for the newcomer by dropping to $119.99, and Nvidia will continue to offer it as a budget option. Here's a look at the GTX 950's key graphics rates versus other current GeForces.
|GeForce GTX 750 Ti||17||43/43||1.4||1.1||86|
|GeForce GTX 950||38||57/57||1.8||2.4||106|
|GeForce GTX 960||38||75/75||2.4||2.4||112|
|GeForce GTX 970||61||123/123||3.9||4.7||224|
As you can see, Nvidia has built the GTX 950 to slot right into its spot. Since the GM206 is newer silicon and part of the GM200 series, the GTX 950 inherits a full suite of 200-series Maxwell features, including DX12-specific goodies like volume-tiled resources and conservative rasterization. Also, this GPU can accelerate H.265 video processing.
GTX 950 reference boards are tiny, around four inches long, and require only a single six-pin input from the power supply. Nevertheless, Nvidia has left SLI support intact on these cards, making multi-GPU teaming via the SLI connector a possibility.
Right on cue, Nvidia's partners have cooked up all manner of fancy variants of the GTX 950, elevating it from a frumpy-looking dwarf to something much more noble. Pictured above is Asus' Strix GTX 950, with a miniature version of the firm's handsome DirectCU cooler. The Strix comes with higher-than stock clock speeds and the works for a price of $169.99.
We also have a GTX 950 card from EVGA in Damage Labs for testing. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test the new GeForce before heading off to Michigan for the TR BBQ this past weekend and then to San Francisco for IDF this week, so our full review is still forthoming. We should have some interesting things to consider. The GTX 950 competes against the Radeon R7 370, a card from AMD's Radeon 300-series refresh that we haven't yet tested. The R7 370 is something like the fifth deployment for the GPU code-named Pitcairn, and AMD has promised additional goodness via microcode updates. Here's Sapphire's take on the R7 370:
Nvidia has some done some intriguing game-specific optimizations for the GTX 950 in order to reduce input lag in the three most popular MOBAs. These tweaks are being delivered via the GeForce Experience application. They're a collection of control-panel and game-specific options that involve reducing buffering and increasing refresh rates and FPS caps, and they make a lot of sense for non-CPU-bound games like Dota 2 and LoL. We'll have to try them out.
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