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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 2GB Review - Maxwell for MOBA

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Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another Maxwell Iteration

The mainstream end of the graphics card market is about to get a bit more complicated with today’s introduction of the GeForce GTX 950. Based on a slightly cut down GM206 chip, the same used in the GeForce GTX 960 that was released almost 8 months ago, the new GTX 950 will fill a gap in the product stack for NVIDIA, resting right at $160-170 MSRP. Until today that next-down spot from the GTX 960 was filled by the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, the very first iteration of Maxwell (we usually call it Maxwell 1) that came out in February of 2014!

Even though that is a long time to go without refreshing the GTX x50 part of the lineup, NVIDIA was likely hesitant to do so based on the overwhelming success of the GM107 for mainstream gaming. It was low cost, incredibly efficient and didn’t require any external power to run. That led us down the path of upgrading OEM PCs with GTX 750 Ti, an article and video that still gets hundreds of views and dozens of comments a week.

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The GTX 950 has some pretty big shoes to fill. I can tell you right now that it uses more power than the GTX 750 Ti, and it requires a 6-pin power connector, but it does so while increasing gaming performance dramatically. The primary competition from AMD is the Radeon R7 370, a Pitcairn GPU that is long in the tooth and missing many of the features that Maxwell provides.

And NVIDIA is taking a secondary angle with the GTX 950 launch –targeting the MOBA players (DOTA 2 in particular) directly and aggressively. With the success of this style of game over the last several years, and the impressive $18M+ purse for the largest DOTA 2 tournament just behind us, there isn’t a better area of PC gaming to be going after today. But are the tweaks and changes to the card and software really going to make a difference for MOBA gamers or is it just marketing fluff?

Let’s dive into everything GeForce GTX 950!

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 2GB Graphics Card!!

GM206 Makes Another Appearance

As I mentioned above, the GeForce GTX 950 is based on the existing GM206 GPU found in the GTX 960 but with a slight reduction in compute hardware. Let’s take a look at the specifications table.

  GTX 950 GTX 960 GTX 970 GTX 980 GTX 760 GTX 770 GTX 780 GTX 660 GTX 670
GPU GM206 GM206 GM204 GM204 GK104 GK104 GK110 GK106 GK104
GPU Cores 768 1024 1664 2048 1152 1536 2304 960 1344
Rated Clock 1024 MHz 1126 MHz 1050 MHz 1126 MHz 980 MHz 1046 MHz 863 MHz 980 MHz 915 MHz
Texture Units 48 64 104 128 96 128 192 80 112
ROP Units 32 32 64 64 32 32 48 24 32
Memory 2GB 2GB 4GB 4GB 2GB 2GB 3GB 2GB 2GB
Memory Clock 6600 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 6000 MHz 7000 MHz 6000 MHz 6000 MHz 6000 MHz
Memory Interface 128-bit 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit 192-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 105.6 GB/s 112 GB/s 224 GB/s 224 GB/s 192 GB/s 224 GB/s 288 GB/s 144 GB/s 192 GB/s
TDP 90 watts 120 watts 145 watts 165 watts 170 watts 230 watts 250 watts 140 watts 170 watts
Peak Compute 1.57 TFLOPS 2.30 TFLOPS 3.49 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 2.25 TFLOPS 3.21 TFLOPS 3.97 TFLOPS 1.81 TFLOPS 2.46 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 2.94B 2.94B 5.2B 5.2B 3.54B 3.54B 7.08B 2.54B 3.54B
Process Tech 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP $159 $199 $329 $549 $249 $399 $649 $230 $399

The GTX 950 drops the GM206 from 1024 CUDA cores to 768, a decrease of 33%, along with the texture unit count. The memory configuration remains unchanged with a 128-bit memory bus, 32 ROPs and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. That memory does run a bit slower, 6.6 GHz rather than 7.0 GHz, and thus the memory bandwidth is lower as well hitting 105.6 GB/s compared to the GTX 960 reaching 112 GB/s.

Base clock speed is set at 1024 MHz with a typical boost clock of 1188 MHz. In reality we saw much higher than that in our gaming tests and we have cards from ASUS, EVGA and Zotac that come with further overclocks straight out of the box.

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That decrease in core count and clock speed help NVIDIA keep the TDP at just 90 watts for the GTX 950, a fantastic number for a mainstream product but that still requires the use of a 6-pin power connector. The GTX 750 Ti used the lack of external power requirements as a huge selling feature but the GTX 950 won’t offer that – the good news for NVIDIA and GeForce fans is that the GTX 750 Ti will continue as part of the overall product portfolio. The GTX 950 is not replacing the GTX 750 Ti.

With an MSRP of $159, the GTX 950 finds itself directly between the updated GTX 750 Ti pricing (now as low as $99 before rebates) and the GTX 960 (selling for $180-190). That price will adjust as stock starts to enter the market and from what we are hearing this is going to be a hard launch with plenty of stock available starting today. NVIDIA believes that the GTX 950 is really a replacement for the GTX 650, even going so far as including one in the box with our GTX 950 sample as a comparison point.  Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to compare it to it directly but it’s likely something we will get to with further testing in the coming days.

From the AMD side of things the “new” Radeon R7 370 is the best option to combat this new NVIDIA product. With a price tag of ~$175 but based on the aging Pitcairn GPU, the R7 370 also requires just a single power connector.


August 20, 2015 | 09:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

$160 for a non-Ti? LOL

August 20, 2015 | 09:21 AM - Posted by PCPerFan (not verified)

I notice you didn't include the average FPS comparisons like you did with the Fury and 980 ti reviews. I liked those tables showing the percent differences and think it would be nice to see % difference between 750 ti, 950, and 960 even for only game.

August 20, 2015 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah where is the avg fps?

August 20, 2015 | 09:28 AM - Posted by Branthog

So, like... for a dual 970 owner, how much longer am I going to have to wait before there's something worth upgrading to?

August 20, 2015 | 09:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

probably the rebrands of pascal in 2 years, unless VRAM becomes an issue.

August 20, 2015 | 09:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

970 is less than 1 year old, calm down!
a 7950 for example, still a decent card an all (better than the 960) is well past 3 years old...

I think you will be looking at mid or late 2016 for some new exciting stuff, but realistically, if you just want to upgrade, a 980 ti or Fury X is a lot faster than the 970, so go for it!

August 20, 2015 | 10:15 AM - Posted by RoboGeoff (not verified)

I would rather have a single 980 Ti than have two 970s.

August 21, 2015 | 08:26 AM - Posted by Philmoeslim (not verified)

Agreed. I had two 970 ftw's and I sold them both for the same price i got them and bought a 980 ti which is much better, the extra vram lets me run gta v and other games on 4k.

August 20, 2015 | 08:34 PM - Posted by Blair (not verified)

Well for one thing! You do not need to upgrade each year or each release! Another thing is: Even GTX 670 users do not need to upgrade yet! So it should be a while! That is the whole point in buying a high end GPU like the 970! So you do not have to worry for a long time!

August 20, 2015 | 09:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ease back. Branhthog just wanted to let us all know that s/he has two 970s in SLI. It's very impressive, Branhthog - yay you! Meanwhile, I'm still running an HD 6850 :/

August 20, 2015 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

this 950 is a very nice card, specially if the price drops a little, which is normally the case with products launched at this range,

decent performance lead over the 370 (and there is no 370X for now!), support for the GM206 stuff (HEVC, HDMI 2.0), I want one!

August 20, 2015 | 03:21 PM - Posted by Heavy (not verified)

when the 370 and 370x came out they where obsolete no dx12 or freesync it smarter to get and r9 380,gtx 960 gtx 950,or if you want something cheap the r7 360

August 20, 2015 | 08:38 PM - Posted by Blair (not verified)

Actually the R7 370 can run full DX12 features, So can the R7 265/7850!

August 20, 2015 | 09:43 AM - Posted by Keven Harvey (not verified)

Why compare the price of a 4GB 370? Clearly, nobody gets their money's worth buying that version. And why no overclocking ?

August 20, 2015 | 07:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree. Even comparing it to the 2GB card, the 950 is better. BUT comparing it the 4GB variant is disingenuous at best Ryan...

August 20, 2015 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Heavy (not verified)

i wonder if the 950 will take a bite of the 960 sales, by the looks of this i can just do some overclocking and might get around the same performance as a 960 stock with the 950

August 20, 2015 | 10:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Your math at the beginning is bad. It's a 25% decrease in shader processors, not 33%. The 960 has 33% more than the 950. Relative numbers are hard.

August 20, 2015 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Full size cards with such low performance. Is it 2005?

August 20, 2015 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Full size low end cards with such low performance. Is it 2005?

August 20, 2015 | 11:00 AM - Posted by collie

Huh. Looks like another product in a surprisingly crowded market concidering how few players there are. It's just a little to pricy to fill the 750ti space, for now, for me.

For quite a while it's been the same question and the same answer, over and over again "I dont plan on gaming BUT I would like that option if I change my mind, what should I get?" I fucking hate that question, and the answer has been "750ti, done"
Perhaps with a 10-20$ rebate, or a bundled game this would be a no-brain-er.

OOOOOOOOO on the spot idea, if they wana make this the go-to MOBA card then they should bundle it with some IN GAME currency , just a thought.

August 20, 2015 | 11:00 AM - Posted by collie

Huh. Looks like another product in a surprisingly crowded market concidering how few players there are. It's just a little to pricy to fill the 750ti space, for now, for me.

For quite a while it's been the same question and the same answer, over and over again "I dont plan on gaming BUT I would like that option if I change my mind, what should I get?" I fucking hate that question, and the answer has been "750ti, done"
Perhaps with a 10-20$ rebate, or a bundled game this would be a no-brain-er.

OOOOOOOOO on the spot idea, if they wana make this the go-to MOBA card then they should bundle it with some IN GAME currency , just a thought.

August 20, 2015 | 12:03 PM - Posted by Amdbumlover (not verified)

Seem nvidia snatched the moba card concept from amd, way to lead nvidia.

August 20, 2015 | 12:40 PM - Posted by funandjam

zzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

August 20, 2015 | 01:07 PM - Posted by Garry (not verified)

Having recently bought a MSI 980ti Gaming 6g I'd like to make a suggestion..

Save your pennies until you can pay for a 980 or 980ti.

I couldn't afford the 980ti until my tax refund came through, and I decided to buy because of the free game offer (Metal Gear Solid V) that was available right now. My monitor is still a 1680x900 (I think), I'll upgrade that when 1440p gsyncs are more plentiful and affordable.

In my mind it's not wise to buy without considering future needs. This 980ti replaced a 560ti which had been there for a few years... I'll be right for a few more now. Even the i7 2600k will keep serving me well for years as well..

IMHO there will be a few 950/960 buyers regretting their purchase in 12-18 months..

August 20, 2015 | 04:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I think they should start benchmarking these cards according to how long they last to provide a good gaming experience. They could for example take a console's lifecycle and compare it against that.

August 20, 2015 | 01:12 PM - Posted by ChrisA81 (not verified)

The sentence comparing card performance directly above the BF4 fps plot has a typo, 950 instead of 960.

August 20, 2015 | 02:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just wish they could have made a LP version without an additional power connector. Otherwise it would a great upgrade to a 750Ti used in a SFF/Slim case.

August 20, 2015 | 02:38 PM - Posted by Debasis (not verified)

is that a typo GTX 970 with 64 ROPs?

August 20, 2015 | 02:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No, it has 64 ROPs but some of them aren't being fed very well.

http://techreport.com/blog/27143/here-another-reason-the-geforce-gtx-970...

August 20, 2015 | 05:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How to these mid-range cards do in the new DX12 benchmark compared to one another ?

750 Ti
950
960
270X
370

August 20, 2015 | 05:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

PC Perspective....

a few estimates but should be close for BF4

300 560ti 1/11 20fps for 1gb unknown fps 2gb version - safe to guess 33?
250 560 5/11 22fps for 1gb unknown fps 2gb version - safe to guess 30?
230 660 8/12 37fps
250 760 6/13 48fps
200 960 1/15 48fps
160 950 8/15 46fps
6 years - price has come down 87% & performance has only jumped 39%

Wow that's some shitty perspective

August 20, 2015 | 05:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

5 years... poofta

August 20, 2015 | 06:16 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

Wonder how my 2012 era GTX 660Ti compares in performance to these new cards......

August 20, 2015 | 08:43 PM - Posted by BossTek (not verified)

Yo! eh Yo yo! Know what i'm sayin! I got one for free from a Nvidia BOSS I party with yo yo! Yeah! So I did not have to pay 4 shiz! And you do! But check it yo! I does it big with my 980 Ti I gots 4 free at the same party yo! Yeah! YO! YO YO YO YO YO YO YO YO!

August 20, 2015 | 09:11 PM - Posted by Garry (not verified)

The generosity must have been prompted by your contribution to the english language.

August 20, 2015 | 09:44 PM - Posted by Glenwing

Small correction.

"The GTX 950 drops the GM206 from 1024 CUDA cores to 768, a decrease of 33%"

768 is 3/4 of 1024. So going from 4 to 3 is a decrease of 25%. From 3 to 4 (768 to 1024) would be an increase of 33%.

August 20, 2015 | 10:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why was the 4GB version of the 370 tested as opposed to the 2GB version? The price point that you are showing for the 4GB version is probably where the 370X with 2 GB will be sitting and it will probably perform at a level above the 950 to make it worthy of that price point. Just saying.

August 20, 2015 | 11:05 PM - Posted by Giant Oyster (not verified)

http://cdn.wccftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Discrete-GPU-Market.png

Another nail in the coffin for AMD it seems. They're finished.

August 21, 2015 | 02:51 AM - Posted by anubis44

Ah, no. Not once DX12 picks up some steam. AMD CPUs and GPUs are dramatically boosted by that API. People are in for a rude awakening once they see how much faster Radeons are in DX12. They're probably gonna be pretty annoyed that they forked out for nVidia cards just in time to see them performing equally or even slower than AMD cards that were supposedly inferior.

August 21, 2015 | 02:49 AM - Posted by anubis44

Where are the DX12 benchmarks? Anyone buying a new graphics card at this point deserves to know how much faster Radeon cards are in DX12 compared to nVidia. Buying on the basis of DX11 alone is extremely misleading, and will lead to tremendous resentment.

August 22, 2015 | 10:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, DX11 is on its way out. Anyone who buys a card now will probably keep it for the next 1-3 years. DX12 benchmarks are very relevant with this in mind.

August 23, 2015 | 11:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There are only benchmarks available though. That's not going to give you any sort of idea of what that's going to translate to in FPS for any given game.

Planing for future growth isn't a bad idea, but I'd imagine anyone buying one of these plans to use it today, and showcasing what it can do with today's software makes a heck of a lot more sense. DX12 seems to show minor improvements all around. At most you can expect games to perform marginally better down the road.

August 22, 2015 | 10:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, DX11 is on its way out. Anyone who buys a card now will probably keep it for the next 1-3 years. DX12 benchmarks are very relevant with this in mind.

August 22, 2015 | 11:21 PM - Posted by HERITIC (not verified)

"A slightly cut down GM206 allows NVIDIA to take better advantage of its supply pipeline"
My translation-Allows Nvidia to utilize broken 960 dies.

AMD has me really confused at the moment-We had
270X full die-270 cut down/broken die
280X full die-280 cut down/broken die
Where are the 370X and 380X-Are we only getting
broken/cut down dies?????????????????????

August 25, 2015 | 03:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Jeez...for +$20 I'll get the 960

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