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ASUS, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Review

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ASUS, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Conclusion:

After having some time to put the GTX 950s from ASUS, EVGA, and MSI through their paces, you come to the conclusion that you get a known commodity when it comes to the overall performance. Each card delivered performance results indicative of their base and GPU Boost 2.0 clock speed. Putting that in perspective shows that ASUS, EVGA, and MSI all did their homework to deliver excellent mid-range gaming performance. In just about every test, the delivered FPS performance was within 1-2FPS, both stock and overclocked. Pretty impressive, to say the least.Putting a pair of these cards into an SLI configuration and bumping the clock speeds up to a level about 40Mhz lower than the maximum single card overclocking results delivers amazing performance results. While running some quick SLI benches, I found that I could get GTX 980 performance from two GTX 950s in SLI. When you look at the costs savings for that level of performance, you end up saving about $150. Going to a resolution higher than 1920 x 1080 won't really be feasible, but sticking at 1920 x 1080 gets you a ton of fun for your investment.

Regardless of base core clock, when run within the confines of the power limit and thermal profile, the GTX 950s are boosting on their own to over 1400MHz on the core to push that performance envelope. Manual overclocking allows the end user to push a bit harder and I was able to hit GPU Boost speeds of 1551MHz on the EVGA SSC, 1538MHz on the MSI Gaming, and 1569MHz on the ASUS Strix. Overclocking of the 2GB of GDDR5 memory on each card was just as fruitful, with speeds in excess of 1855MHz on each of the three cards.

Running cool and quiet in your gaming rig is all the rage now, with cards that don't cut the mustard on fan noise getting eviscerated in the online communities. ASUS, EVGA, and MSI all have put in the work to deliver zero noise solutions that make the video card an after thought when you think of the noise profile of your PC. ASUS' DirectCU II cooling solution on the GTX 950 Strix is a bit more modest than the larger cooling solutions used on the EVGA and MSI cards, and that lack of size hurts its comparative performance at both stock and overclocked settings. EVGA does a bit better with its ACX 2.0 big heat pipe solution when overclocked, but at stock speeds the low dBi BIOS keeps the temperatures up a bit higher to minimize the noise profile. The best thermals were delivered by MSI and the Twin Frozr V cooling solution. A pair of 100mm propeller blade fans with directional vanes in the fin array help keep the card running cool. Not that the EVGA and ASUS cards are hot by comparison. When you look at power consumption all three boards hit the same marks and work within roughly the same envelope.

For this launch, NVIDIA is upping the game with its Geforce Experience tool kit by replacing ShadowPlay with a tool called Share that really opens up a lot of possibilities to, in essence, share your gaming experiences. You get game optimizations for both high and low latency MOBA gaming and standard optimized profiles for a wealth of titles. During my testing, I had a chance to really try this out and I was prepared to get a dose of less than optimum eye candy with the FPS jacked way up, but found that I got great fluid gameplay with enough eye candy to make me happy. Add in the back end work with GameWorks and you have a winning combination.

Overall, the GTX 950 is a great addition to NVIDIA's Maxwell product stack. As the next step up the performance ladder for those currently running on-board graphics or a card along the lines of the GTX 650, you really cannot go wrong with the price/performance point that NVIDIA has targeted with this series of cards. With prices starting at $159.99 and these cards going for a bit more thanks to their non-reference designs and factory overclocked DNA, you really do end up getting a lot for your money. Especially when you look at the ecosystem you are buying in to.

ASUS GTX 950 Strix:

Pros:

  • DirectCU II cooling
  • Performance
  • NVIDIA ecosystem
  • Overclocking
  • Power consumption
  • Feature set

Cons:

  • None

 

EVGA GTX 950 SSC:

Pros:

  • ACX 2.0 cooling
  • Performance
  • NVIDIA ecosystem
  • Dual BIOS
  • Overclocking
  • Power consumption
  • Feature set

Cons:

  • None

 

MSI GTX 950 Gaming:

Pros:

  • Twin Frozr V cooling
  • Performance
  • NVIDIA ecosystem
  • Overclocking
  • Power consumption
  • MSI Military Class V feature set

Cons:

  • None

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