With all of the noise happening at IDF 2015 right now, you may have forgotten that NVIDIA launched a new graphics card in the market – the GeForce GTX 950. Serving as a replacement for the GTX 750 Ti, this is NVIDIA’s offering for gamers looking for a video card that can push games at high settings at the full 1080p resolution with decent framerates. For a while this mid-range series has been NVIDIA’s bread and butter, so the GTX 950 is sure to be another popular option for gamers who are looking at budget rigs that don’t need monstrous power supplies.
Falling in with the GM206 family, the GTX 950 shares much of its DNA with the larger Maxwell-based cards like the GTX 980. Although it is similar to the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, NVIDIA has updated some parts of the architecture, most notably to include support for HDMI 2.0 and HEVC H.265 decoding. It also steps a little closer to full DirectX 12 level 1 support, although it isn’t compliant with everything in that spec. That job is left up to NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture, due to launch in 2016.
Compared to the GTX 960, the GTX 950 loses two SMM modules, each with 128 CUDA cores (256 in total) and a fair amount of texture units, although it retains the same amount of L2 cache. Most of the other little things like ROP counts and the memory bus size remain the same as well. NVIDIA seems to have figured out where to draw a line for the clock speeds and memory frequencies to make the GTX 950 just temping enough to consider an upgrade from older cards like the GTX 650, GTX 650 Ti Boost and possibly even the GTX 560 Ti. With an extra 30W of power draw over the GTX 750 Ti, there’s a lot of scope for overclocking headroom to be as high as the GTX 750 Ti’s was, which could be an exciting prospect for anyone not afraid of increasing clock speeds for extra performance.
In terms of pricing, the GTX 950 is launching in the US at $159, which is typically $10 more than the GTX 750 Ti, and $50 less than the GTX 960. How does this compare to local pricing? Check out the table below to see for yourself.
|ASUS GTX 950 MINI OC 2GB||R3,096||R3,200|
|ASUS Strix OC GTX 950 2GB||R3,570||R3,487||R3,815||R3,569|
|EVGA GTX 950 ACX 2.0 FTW 2GB||R3368|
|EVGA GTX 950 Superclocked ITX 2GB||R3,195||R2,934|
|GIGABYTE GTX 950 OC Windforce ITX 2GB||R3,242||R3,167||R3,399|
|GIGABYTE GTX 950 OC Windforce 2X 2GB||R3,413||R3,334||R3,499|
|MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2GB||R3,467||R3,173|
|Galax GTX 950 EXOC White 2GB||R3,199|
|Galax GTX 950 EXOC ITX 2GB||R2,899|
Overall, it seems like prices are decent enough, but there’s the issue of some GTX 960 cards, like GIGABYTE’s Windforce 2X 4GB version, being priced close to R3,500. You may as well pony up the extra cash in return for a card that won’t run into VRAM management issues for the short term, as well as having the option of getting Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for free. The TDPs aren’t even that far out, and the extra performance on tap is well worth the money when you look at an overall comparison.
Should you buy the GTX 950? That’s a debate that will carry on for some time, at least until a price drop takes place and NVIDIA launches a GTX 950 Ti (though I don’t know where they’d put it, or what they’d disable). For now, its a decent card if you’re buying a variant like the EVGA Superclocked ITX 2GB, but I’d really recommend that you wait for a price drop, or to save up more funds and buy a GTX 960.