Maxwell’s acclaimed architecture and which it brought some products both performance and relatively cold. If you remember the first Maxwell GTX 750Ti, it failed to provide even better performance for the segment to which it belongs and besides that did not require an external power supply. Obviously, there were models that needed a PCIe power connection, but those models was super overclocked.
GTX 950 launched with the primary goal is not to replace the GTX 750Ti market, but rather to fill that void enormously between GTX 960 and GTX 750Ti.
The ASUS variant we were sent for review comes with its own bells and whistles to write home about though. The phenomenal STRIX design is coupled with the DirectCU II cooling, ensuring that the card stays cool under load (with a maximum temperature peak of 71 degrees), but also incredibly quiet. When not in use, the fans won’t even spin – by far my favourite part of the STRIX design aside from its striking black and red coating. The GTX 950 doesn’t, however, ship with a backplate, which is fairly common on some low end hardware.
The card is also rather small as you might expect, and you’ll have absolutely no trouble getting it into most cases (unless you’re a mini-ATX kind of PC gamer). Better still is the power requirement, with the GTX 950 only needing a single six-pin source of power for the entire card. That helps the card maintain a ridiculously low TDP of just 90W – another facet of Maxwell architecture that simply sets the range above from the rest. The card also comes standard with a single HDMI connection, two DVI ports and one DisplayPort output.
But how good is it in some real tests? We negated some regular benchmark games in favour of online titles such as DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: GO, but kept some of the most demanding 1080p games on the market at the moment to get a good feel for just how far you can possibly push the card. It’s aimed at a particular market, but that doesn’t mean some gaming on the side should be completely relegated, right? Especially with its rather fast, factory overclocked 1355 MHz Boost Clock.
Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light still has one of the best benchmarking tools out there – pushing even modern hardware to the limit the further you notch up the resolution. The 2GB of memory just don’t cut it, but the fast clock speed keeps up the pace with regular 1080p gaming.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Moving onto something a little more recent, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is easily one of the best looking games out right now. It’s also a very hungry one, chomping memory up to keep the open-world flowing. At 1080p, the GTX 950 managed to remain playable with all the settings set to their max, meaning a smooth 60FPS would be easy with one or two dialled down to just High. Impressive for a fairly budget card.
But the GTX 950 is being marketed as a MOBA card, so we couldn’t leave out the biggest one on the circuit at the moment right? Firing up a (terrible) game of Dota 2 with Matty, the GTX 950 performed extremely well with everything set to max. There were one or two instances of weird slowdown (where those minimum frame counts come from), and I’m hoping its a simple driver issue But for 99% of the time, it locked to 60FPS.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The same goes for Counter-Strike: GO, which is also an extremely popular online shooter. Again playing second fiddle to Matty, we recorded results from multiple rounds of twitch moving and shooting – with the game never once dipping below anything close to optimal.
3D Mark FireStrike and FireStrike Extreme
Fire Strike 950
3DMark is always a reliable benchmark, and the GTX 950 did impressively on the lowest tier of FireSrike – scoring higher than 50% of all other systems using the benchmark. Ramping up to FireStrike Extreme (which just increases the memory requirement), things get a little worse, cementing this as purely a 1080p card and little more.
The results are telling of a story that we could’ve assumed at the beginning – as memory becomes more and more of a requirement in modern gaming, budget cards fall off pretty quickly. Just like the GTX 960, the GTX 950 manages just fine for admirable 1080p gaming, but anything above that is just pushing it. The 2GB ceiling also begs the question of longevity, making me wonder just how long it will be until even 2GB isn’t enough for a pass mark in HD gaming.
If you’re satisfied with good HD gaming that won’t break your bank, or simply want to upgrade your visual online arsenal for the next few years, the GTX 950 is a great choice. The ASUS Strix variant is a great fit too, offering cool temperatures and near silent fans all fitted to a gorgeous black and red body. The memory might become an issue faster than you think, but there are fewer budget cards that come close to the GTX 950 right now.