Nvidia has launched the GTX 950 to combat AMD’s R7 370 at the £129 price point. We take a look at Palit’s factory-overclocked, dual-fan GTX 950 2GB StormX Dual graphics card to see what sort of performance the solution can offer.
We have taken a more in-depth look at the GTX 950 GPU in our review of the Asus STRIX model. This review will focus on the performance of Palit’s GTX 950 StormX Dual solution.
The Palit GTX 950 StormX Dual graphics card uses a dual-slot cooler with two 80m fans. This is similar to what we saw with Asus’ STRIX model, and it is representative of what we expect to see from many Nvidia partners shipping their factory-overclocked unit.
Referencing the newly-released GPU, Nvidia says that the GTX 950 is designed to offer the best performance in its class. With an MSRP of £129 and a TDP of 90W, the GTX 950’s goal is to beat AMD’s similarly-priced R7 370 while using less power to do so. Both in terms of TDP and price, the GTX 950 is sat directly between its GTX 750 Ti and GTX 960 siblings, both of which will remain in Nvidia’s current product stack.
GTX 750 Ti (Maxwell)
GTX 960 (Maxwell)
GTX 970 (Maxwell)
GTX 980 (Maxwell)
|Base Clock||1020 MHz||1024 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz||1126 MHz|
|GPU Boost Clock||1085 MHz||1188 MHz||1178 MHz||1178 MHz||1216 MHz|
|Total Video memory||2GB||2GB||2GB||4GB||4GB|
|Texture fill-rate||40.8 Gigatexels/sec||49.2 Gigatexels/sec||72.1 Gigatexels/sec||109.2 Gigatexels/sec||144.1 Gigatexels/sec|
|Memory Clock||5400 MHz||6600 MHz||7010 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||86.4 GB/sec||105.6 GB/sec||112.16 GB/sec||224 GB/s||224 GB/sec|
|TDP||60 Watts||90 Watts||120 Watts||145 Watts||165 Watts|
On a technical level, the cut-down iteration of the GM206 GPU is, in many areas, effectively 75% of the core used on a GTX 960. The GTX 950 version of the GM206 GPU ships with 768 CUDA cores and 48 texture units. Those numbers are more closely aligned with the GTX 750 Ti version of Nvidia’s first-gen Maxwell GM107 core, however specifically focussing on the number of ROPs puts clear daylight between the GTX 950 and its lower-end sibling.
The same 128bit memory interface found on the GTX 960 is present, however that may be less of a potential choking point given the reduced raw horsepower of the GTX 950’s cut-down GPU. As was the case with the GTX 960, the same argument for more efficient utilisation of the GM206’s 128bit memory interface, in comparison to Kepler, is made by Nvidia.
Clock speeds for the GTX 950 are sliced by comparison to GTX 960 frequencies. The reference core clock is rated at 1024MHz, with a maximum boost speed of 1188MHz. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory is rated to run at 1650MHz (6.6Gbps effective) to produce a bandwidth level of 105.6GB/sec. With that said, most board partners will be unlocking the GM206 core’s overclocking potential and shipping their cards with higher, factory-overclocked frequencies.
Palit, for example, ships the StormX Dual with a core clock of 1064MHz, boost frequency of 1241MHz, and memory speed of 6610MHz effective. At 40MHz over Nvidia’s reference core clock, and 53MHz greater boost, this is actually one of the more conservative overclocked GTX 950 configurations that we expect to see board partners shipping.
Extending to the GTX 950’s features, the card supports the DirectX 12 API at feature level 12.1. A H.265 (HEVC) encoder/decoder engine built into the GPU, along with HDMI 2.0, shout loudly for the GTX 950 to be used inside a gaming HTPC. With the 90W TDP being low enough to comfortably fit inside SFF cases, the ability to output 60Hz video to a 4K TV (most of which do not have DisplayPort connections) is an important feature. HDMI 2.0 is a feature that team red’s competitor card cannot offer.
One of the more notable changes between the GTX 75x cards and the GTX 950 is the TDP differential. While the GTX 750 Ti had a 60W TDP, the GTX 950 ups that number to 90W. Approximating TDP as an indicator of power consumption, the 90W rating narrowly tips the GTX 950 into a region where it requires a 6-pin PCIe power connector. This emphasises that Nvidia is focused on gaming performance with its new card, while the GTX 750 Ti, for example, still remains to cater for those wanting a graphics card to run on a PSU without a 6-pin PCIe cable (think Dell, HP, or some SFF units).
You can read more about the GM206 GPU’s architecture and feature support in my colleague Allan’s GTX 960 review HERE.