ASUS STRIX GTX 950 2GB Graphics Card Review


Price / Where to Buy:

US – Approx. US$175 -ASUS Strix GTX 950
PH – Approx. PHP10520

As NVIDIA released the GTX 950, all brands have been given permission to immediately create custom PCBs for their rendition of the card and as with the generations before it, ASUS initially rolls out its debut model under the Strix series. Its no secret ASUS isn’t heavily marketing the DirectCU branding anymore and have indirectly rebranded it as the Strix series to play to gamers in particular. Today we’ll take a look at ASUS’ launch day offering for the GTX 950 line of cards with their Strix GTX 950 graphics card. Read on!

We’ve seen just how far NVIDIA has taken their 2nd-generation Maxwell GPUs with the GTX TITAN X and GTX 980 Ti and while the rest of the  GeForce 900 series Maxwell cards are keeping mainsteam to high-end fans happy, there’s still a sizable population of gamers that position themselves in the lower-mainstream segment. Based on our popular build guides, the GTX 650 and GTX 750 are still very popular cards and according to a July 2015 Steam Hardware Survey, the GTX 650 still sits at #8 as one of the most used card by Steam gamers.

The Maxwell architecture is NVIDIA’s greatest achievement as of late given its efficiency compared to the last generation. While it doesn’t serve as a great leap in terms of performance, many people are still convinced by the excellent performance-per-watt ratio. Both the GTX 980 and GTX 970 have been largely in-demand primarily for the efficiency but the Maxwell-based GTX GPUs also introduced some new features including NVIDIA Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI), Multi-Frame sampled AA (MFAA), and Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR). Maxwell GPUs also support Microsoft’s upcoming DirectX 12 API.

ABOUT THE GTX 950

The GTX 950 is another GM206 based card, which means it features the same architecture as previous 900 series Maxwell cards and the same excellent performance-per-watt ratio as the other cards. Aimed 1080p gamers, the GTX 950 is a lightweight version of the GTX 960 featuring some reduction in its configuration but still deliver performance fitting for its price range.

Model GeForce GTX 980 GeForce GTX 970 GeForce GTX 960 GeForce GTX 950
GPU GM204 GM204 GM206 GM206
CUDA cores 2048 1664 1024 768
Texture Units 128 104 64 48
ROP 64 64 32 32
Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Size 4 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s 224 GB/s 112 GB/s 105.6 GB/s

As indicated, the GTX 950 features 768 CUDA cores, that’s 3/4 of a GTX 960, running with a reference base clock of 1024Mhz and a Boost clock of 1188Mhz. At launch, only a 2GB GTX 950 is available and no word on any other memory capacity model yet. The memory runs at a reference 1650Mhz wired to a 128-bit bus. Similar to the GTX 960 also, the memory bus width might sound underwheling but thanks to delta color compression which enables the GM206 to better utilize its available memory bandwidth, its actually just right.

The GTX 950 will displace the GTX 750 Ti as the primary lower-mainstream card for NVIDIA. The GTX 950 will have an SRP of US$159 and the GTX 750 Ti will now be priced with an SRP of $119.

Optimized for MOBA

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The GTX 950 is mainly focused on MOBA gamers and feature a lot of optimizations and features dedicated to these games. MOBA gamers know how important a smooth experience is important in such a fast-paced game and with competitive DOTA2 and LoL now raking in millions of dollars in tournaments, those who want to perform at their peak need a similarly responsive machine. With the GTX 950 featuring superior performance over the GTX 650, NVIDIA is able to deliver a more responsive experience in MOBAs with the GTX 950.

image_qualityWith the various improvements NVIDIA has placed in the GTX 950, performance improvements and responsiveness in MOBAs show a significant jump in favor of the GTX 950 compared to the GTX 650.

optimize_mobaWith the arrival of the GTX 950, NVIDIA will be opening up new options in GeForce Experience to improve the performance and reduce latency in MOBAs.

GeForce Experience: More Ways to Share

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With the arrival of the GTX 950, GeForce Experience will also receive an update that enable a new overlay UI for sharing your gaming moments including an instant replay option to replay the last 20 minutes of your game, Record and entire session manually or broadcast directly to Twitch.

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A recorded gaming session can be trimmed and uploaded to Youtube all in the overlay which keeps you in the game.

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Another new feature for GeForce Experience is Gamestream Co-Op which allows gamers to stream their games to another person and allow both players to enjoy the game together either to play cooperatively or demo a game or broadcast their gaming session.

Maxwell Features

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The new Maxwell graphics cards introduces some new features to NVIDIA cards as mentioned earlier with the main highlights being VXGI and DSR amongst other things.
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VXGI or Voxel Global Illumination improves 3D scenes by introducing more realistic lighting to 3D scenes by introducing voxels or volume pixels which makes light interaction of 3D objects have a more dynamic and photo-realistic feel.features4

DSR or Dynamic Super Resolution is another new featured, integrated via the GeForce Experience application, which add downsampling capabilities to the GTX 900 series graphics cards which lets users of other monitor sizes experience larger resolutions in their monitors without needing say a 4K UltraHD screen or a 1440p monitor. Dynamic Super Resolution works by rendering in the desired resolution and then downscaling the image and applying a filter to the native monitor resolution for an improved image quality of the scene being rendered.

features8

In contrast to DSR, NVIDIA also introduces MFAA or Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing. This AA technique basically is a faster implementation of MSAA which should see 4xMSAA quality at the performance hit of only 2xMSAA. Implementation is in its early stages but is promising nonetheless. MFAA can be set via the GeForce Experience app.

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As expected given the earlier announcements, DirectX12 is in the works and the new GTX 900 series graphics cards fully support the DX12 API alongside its many new feature offerings including better CPU utilization and overhead reduction, improved multi-core utilization and efficiency, and plenty more features for developers to use.

All of these features complement the already existing feature set that NVIDIA offers including GeForce Experience and ShadowPlay, etc.

ABOUT THE ASUS STRIX GTX 950

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ASUS’ Strix cooler has been around for awhile and have received some cosmetic changes in the recent past but what’s still retained is the Strix’s focus in silence and durability. As with all ASUS graphics card, the Strix GTX 950 features choice components for a longer life expectancy. Its cooler also bears the same silent fans from the original Strix series which says a lot about the performance of the design. Specs-wise, the Strix GTX 950 receives a factory overclock of 1165Mhz with a 1355Mhz boost clock. Memory receives a modest bump.

Product Gallery

Overclocking

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Overclocking any graphics card is pretty straightforward nowadays provided you know what to do and given that most companies also have their own overclocking software, makes it so much more approachable. We use the latest ASUS GPU Tweak software for this test.

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ASUS particularly has the lowest out-of-box frequencies we’ve seen so far but as with most of the new Maxwell cards,  GPU Boost really plays a big role on how good these cards perform. In the case of the Strix GTX 950, we hit a modest 1260Mhz core clock and a GPU Bost of 1450Mhz and a memclock of 1850Mhz. This is shy of of our 1300Mhz + core and 8Ghz memclock OC but as you can see in the core clock under load in the screenshot above, GPU boost sends our card up to 1525Mhz which is really a good range considering we’ve seen this card do 1500Mhz regularly OC’d so its no surprise that ASUS’ cooling solution can handle the Strix GTX 950 higher.

PERFORMANCE

Test Setup Processor: Intel Core i7 3770K 4.4Ghz
Motherboard: MSI Z77 Mpower
Memory: Kingston HyperX Beast DDR3-2400 16GB
Storage: Kingston HyperX FURY 240GB
PSU: Seasonic P1000
Cooling: Custom loop (XSPC Raystorm block, XSPC D5 Dual Bayres, BlackIce Stealth GT 240 rad)
Monitor: LG 42UB820T UltraHD TV
VGAASUS STRIX GTX 950 2GB

We test our graphics card with a full-level playthrough of our selected game or the games’ built-in benchmark tool. We record the run with Fraps. Game settings are indicated in the charts. Resolutions are shown in the charts.

FullHD (1920×1080)

Battlefield 4 is one of the hottest titles of 2013 and continues to prove itself a worthy game. Based on DICE’s Frostbite Engine 3, this game’s lush details and visuals are just stunning but can really stress any modern GPU. Level tested is the escape from Baku with wide open space and collapsing building showing what the Frostbite 3 engine can do.

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The most visually intense game to ever been made. Prophet is back to take on the Ceph and Cell after a long sleep and the world isn’t what it was when before he got frozen. CryEngine 3 is behind this beautiful beast that will put a lot of systems to their knees. The opening level shows off the particle and water rendering of the engine.

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The most popular game on Steam and the biggest competition in eSports; DOTA 2 is powered by the Source engine. The game is fairly light on low to medium settings but maxed out with heavy action on screen especially during clashes can really stress some systsems.

We use the built-in timedemo and benchmarking tool. DOTA2 only shows average FPS so we will be reflecting that in this test. Our timedemo features a heavy clash in the bottom lane for the maximum real-world system load the game can generate. With the recent visual update, DOTA2 has received some graphic makeover that adds a bit of hit for the system and all our date are updated to reflect this.

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The reboot of the gaming phenomenon Tomb Raider puts players in Lara Croft’s hiking boots as she explores the ruin of Yamatai in this origins game. Powered by a modified Crystal Engine, the game features TressFX which creates beautifully rendered hair animation.

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Ubisoft’s hacker action puts you in the shoes of Aiden Pearce as you piece together a crime that has been haunting you since its occurrence. Rage through Chicago as presented by Ubisoft with its Disrupt engine utilizing vast video memory for high-resolution textures for visually stunning graphics.

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CD Projekt Red’s latest installment in the Witcher saga features one of the most graphically intense offering the company has to date. As Geralt of Rivia, slay monsters, beasts and men as you unravel the mysteries of your past. Vast worlds and lush sceneries make this game a visual feast and promises to make any system crawl at its highest settings.

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TEMPERATURE & POWER CONSUMPTION

To measure both power consumption and heat, we stress the video card and record the peak values for heat and wattage. We use default values on the cards and stress test them using a mix of Kombustor Dx11 Burn-In Test with Post-FX.

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In terms of efficiency, its practically even across the board for GTX 950s, what really interests us is the temps that we achieve with the coolers of these cards. Practically the Strix GTX 950 adopts the same cooler as GTX 960 so with a higher-rated cooler on it, its easy to see why it trades blows with the equally configured MSI GTX 950 card bearing the same cooler from its equally cooled GTX 960 brother.

CONCLUSION

The NVIDIA GTX 950 shows us what the company is looking to offer in the lower-mainstream market. With this segment proving to be a key market for gamers, NVIDIA has made the GTX 950 a solid product that boasts a great balance of performance, efficiency and price. Let’s break it down further:

Performance. The ASUS STRIX GTX 950 evens out with the GTX 950 from MSI, putting up a small variance in FPS counts despite its more modest clock speeds. An OC bump would literally take this card to a new level but for those looking for a more durable investment, the lower clocks result in lower temps which would really make this card last longer.

Build Quality. Picking up from that last statement, ASUS’ card quality has been one of their key selling point since time immemorial and the Strix GTX 950 is no different.

Functionality. We’d have placed the GTX 950 as lower-end mainstream card because of its position but from the performance we’ve seen we can safely say this card can go so much further and with SLI support included, those looking to just get a boost in their 1080p gaming can easily upgrade their systems with another GTX 950 for a highly-efficient setup.

Bundle. NVIDIA’s been very giving lately allowing buyers of GeForce cards to avail free games. Do check with the promo duration as which game you can get with your card. ASUS bundles World of Warship codes with this card so that’s also an extra bonus for those who play the game. Also included is a subscription to Xplit Gamecaster.

Value. At $175, ASUS still holds a premium over other cards in this category but as always, ASUS’ build quality is something some people actually value over performance and this is something that really underscores the company’s choice to remain steadfast in their pricing strategy.

The NVIDIA GTX 950 is an excellent card for its price and it really gives first-time builders something to experience high-performance gaming on a more modest budget. We’ve been recommending the GTX 750 Ti in our budget gaming PC builds and it seems like we have our new top recommendation offering bang-for-the-buck performance, cool operation and high efficiency. NVIDIA’s obvious focus on MOBA also opens up a new way for iCafes to build their machines and start offering high-performance gaming experiences to their customer base.

Price / Where to Buy:

US – Approx. US$175 -ASUS Strix GTX 950
PH – Approx. PHP10520

ASUS obviously didn’t try too hard in designing the Strix GTX 950; still, why change a formula that works? The Strix cooler design is effective and complements the Maxwell series of cards, operating silently and efficiently. The ASUS Strix GTX 950’s build quality is still a testament to the company’s stringent manufacturing standards and is definitely an easy choice for budget gamers who value quality above all.

If you’re trying to stretch your budget for your next gaming build but don’t want to go for a GTX 960 or can’t afford one yet, especially if you play mostly MMORPGs and MOBAs at 1080p then the GTX 950 is your top choice right now.

ASUS backs the Strix GTX 950 with a 3-year warranty. We give it our B2G Best Bronze Award!

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