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ASUS, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Review

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ASUS, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Closer Look:

ASUS brings the GTX 950 Strix to the table. Visually, the packaging is all ASUS with green highlights to let you know that you are purchasing an NVIDIA-based product. The front shows that this card is going to run 20% cooler than a reference design and is Win 10 ready. The back side of the package details ASUS' signature technology, including DirectCU II cooling, zero dB fan, Super Alloy Power II power components, and the inclusion of ASUS' own GPU Tweak tuning utility. At the bottom is a visualization of the GTX 950 Strix with a basic feature set to the left.

 

 

Inside is a plain brown shell that features the Strix logo to let you know that this is an ASUS board. Inside that, a cardboard framework holds the GTX 950 Strix in position. The accessory bundle is a bit on the slim side, but at this point a basic setup guide, driver and utility disc, and a Strix logo sticker round out the package. Many times the driver and software revision on the disc is older than what is currently available online at the time of purchase, but not everyone is able to hit those larger downloads with regularity.

 

 

ASUS builds the Strix using its own proprietary PCB and feature set. Built around NVIDIA's Maxwell GM 206 core, the ASUS GTX 950 Strix features a pair of dust free fans pushing air through the DirectCU II direct contact cooling solution. As the smallest card in this review, it is easily able to fit into smaller chassis at just 8.5 inches in length. On the back side of the PCB are a couple of the GDDR5 modules that make up the 2GB frame buffer and a trio of Super Caps to smooth out the voltage to the GPU core. Built to fit into a PCIe 3.0 16x slot, the GTX 950 Strix is backwards compatible with older PCIe slots. The top and bottom view give you an idea of how large the DirectCU II cooling package is. This implementation uses a pair of heat pipes running through the contact plate and into the fin array.

 

 

 

Display connectivity on this ASUS GTX 950 Strix is different from the reference design, using a pair of Dual Link DVI connections, a single DisplayPort 1.2 port, and an HDMI 2.0 port that supports up to four displays. The use of the non-reference design on the display connectivity compromises the potential airflow coming out of the I/O bracket, but in my testing that proved not to really matter. The back end of the card is open, with a 6-pin PCIe power connector showing.

 

 

With a board TDP of 90 watts, ASUS has equipped this card with only a 6-pin PCIe power supply for a total of 150 watts of power available for the card. ASUS includes a power indicator LED on the back of the PCB as an eye catching way to notifiy the end user that you will need to properly insert the 6-pin PCIe power connector. A 350 watt power supply is recommended for a system equipped with the GTX 950. NVIDIA enabled SLI support on the GTX 950 for up to two cards by way of the single SLI bridge connection.

 

 

Stripping the DirectCU II cooling solution off the PCB, you get a look at the power circuitry of the card. ASUS is using its Super Alloy Power components in the 4+1 phase power circuit. A brace is installed to assist in keeping the PCB from flexing and causing long term damage to the trace layout inside the custom PCB. The second set of GDDR5 memory modules take up residence on this side of the PCB.

 

ASUS' DIrectCU II Cooling solution consists of a pair of 8mm direct contact heat pipes that carry the thermal load from the GM 206 core to the aluminum fin array. The contact surface of the heat pipes has been machined flat for better contact, while the gaps are filled with solder to improve overall contact of the low power core. Cooling of the VRM circuit is handled by the airflow of a pair of fans that, when the card is idle, actually stop spinning to reduce the noise profile of this card.

 

 

The heart of the GTX 950 is a rendition of NVIDIA's highly efficient 28nm GM 206 Maxwell core. This modular core houses 2.94 billion transistors packed into a pair of Graphics Processing Clusters, six Streaming Multi Processors, 768 CUDA cores, 48 texture units, and 32 ROPs. A total of 2GB of GDDR5 memory from Samsung runs through a 128-bit (2x64-bit) bus delivering an effective memory clock speed of 6.6Gbps. Maxwell's efficient memory architecture allows just 2GB of GDDR5 to outperform older Kepler cards using the same memory capacity. The base core clock speed on ASUS GTX 950 Strix is 1165MHz with a GPU Boost clock speed of 1355MHz, but may run higher depending on the game.

 

 

ASUS is the first in the series of cards I am looking at today and offers a unique feature set, but let's take a look at the next soldier in line.




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