It is mid-2016, and we already have AMD and NVIDIA having played their cards in the GPU market for the rest of the year in the form of Polaris and Pascal. However, what one cannot help but notice is the lower-end user not being recognized by the green team, leaving last year’s champion for the eSportsman, the GTX 950 to continue to battle it out with the RX 470 and the 460. Asidcast takes a look into how this Maxwell card of 2015 ages into the current trend of 14-nm FinFET technology in your GPUs. Do take note that we will be specifically catering to the people whom we believe would be on the lookout for cards in this price range a.k.a your DotA, Counter-Strike and Overwatch addicts while also checking out how well does the card fare with its GM206-based GPU in 1080p casual gaming, before concluding whether the 950 can quench a budget enthusiast’s thirst even today.
1.Overall Looks and Built – First Impressions
The ASUS Strix 950 looks as Strix as it gets. With red flaring all over its metallic body alongside a nice and thick heatsink, you most definitely couldn’t ask for a better looking budget card. Keeping in mind that it is but a budget card, there really isn’t a lot to talk about it’s aesthetics side. Nobody expects RGB LED Lighting and GPU Backplates at this price range.
ASUS still continues to be the only company that has their entire manufacturing process automated, and along with it you also get fans that stop once you are operating below certain temperatures which is great for people into non-demanding games such as LoL.
The 950 in general requires a 6-pin power connector while it continues to draw most of its power from the motherboard. On the side are the HDMI 2.0 connector, the DisplayPort 1.2 connector and 2 DVI connectors.
2. Specifications Chart[table id=1 /]
The ASUS GTX Strix 950 comes empowered with the same GPU that powers the 960, but just in a slightly toned down condition. However, as we can see here, ASUS surely has done its best it trying to make the 960 nearly obsolete in terms of FHD gaming at that price with those factory overclocks. We will see ahead in our benchmarks how true these words are for sure, but I’d also like to point out that the GTX 960 does come in a 4 GB variant. There is still a big difference in terms of their CUDA cores or even the Texture Units, but as the product at hand has been marketed, eSport games such as DotA and Counter-Strike hardly require the processing of a wide variety of terrain and thus make mapping less required thus allowing way higher framerates and less lag in the system from your mouse click to your monitor.
3. Our Test Setup
We proceeded to benching video games and benchmarks on:
- ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero
- Intel Core-i5 6600k
- Cooler Master GX 650W
- G-Skill Trident Z – 3600 Mhz
- Samsung EVO 850 256 GB SSD
For games that do not have an in-game benchmark, we ran 90 seconds of Fraps for our minimum, average and highest set of frames per second.
We would like to mention hear that we received the motherboard from ASUS India for this particular review!
4. Games and Benchmarks
We ran DotA 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, The Witcher 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Bear in mind that all these were run on the factory overclock presets, untouched.
DOTA 2 (All settings at Very High, With Immortal Gardens)
Amidst reddit going ham over how poor the performance of DotA has become in the past few updates and patches, we however got excellent results on our Strix 950. Running on the new API that is Vulkan, we reproduced results that are sure to make this card worth every penny spent on by DotA enthusiasts, whether it be for 720p or even 1080p. I ran 90 seconds of an intense moment of the grand finals between DC and Wings with the Immortal Gardens terrain, and we received the following FPSes above.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (All settings low – 4x MSAA, Dust2)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is by far THE most demanding eSport out there. Anything under 200 FPS and pro players easily find the game unplayable, not keeping the refresh rate of the monitor in mind currently. That being said, we still do recommend the 950 for CS: GO also. We ran the game once on the maps Dust2 and then on Nuke simply because of the difference in how taxing those maps are. There wasn’t a significant difference. For achieving constant 200+ fps on the 1080p parameter though, you might need to shell a few more bucks to get your hands on the lower end Pascal or the RX 480.
Overwatch (All settings Very High – 2x MSAA)
For the graphics provided by Blizzard for their hero shooter, Overwatch sure is not that heavy to run. Hence, it might come as a major surprise to see this game in benchmarks. The results that we received from a lower-end card released back in mid-2015 on a game that was released in 2016 are sure to surprise you. Overwatch demands your average 60 FPS+ to run smoothly or even play competitvely, and this card has provided us with way more than that.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (DirectX 12)
Now, coming to casual FHD gaming, its main competitor still is and will be the RX 460 and the RX 470, who simply are way ahead in terms of technology (14 nm FinFET). Still however, let us take a look at how the 950 fights it out against them in the current generation. We decided to run ROTR in DX12 and see how well can Maxwell’s cheapest handle it, and it does deliver to a certain extent. It still would be considerably behind though mainly because of it packing only 2 GB of VRAM, which simply doesn’t do the job for such games in 2016!
The Witcher 3 (DirectX 11)
In another game in that demands quite a lot from your hardware to run efficiently, here is what we could squeeze from the GOTY, The Witcher 3. We fiddled with the graphic settings here and there to come up with 3 stratas of difference in performance at 1080p. Talking about the game itself, its scenic views that has been candy for the eye for every video game photographer there is comes at a heavy cost itself. Bearing in mind that the 950 has only but 2 GB of VRAM, rendering those iconic places itself would be a nightmare for the ‘toned-down 960’. Depth of field along with foliage took a massive beating during our benchmark.
5. Overclocking Capabilities / Factory Overclock Comparisons
We ran a wide variety of synthetic benchmarks on the GTX 950 and have checked out how well does it fare in various stages, one with its stock overclocking done by ASUS with the 950, then with a factory OC version that comes with its GPU TweakII software, and finally with our own tinkering at hand. We kept pushing almost 25 Mhz each run before we peaked at 1500 Mhz crashing ROTR even at almost 1.2 V. We found ourselves running the GPU quite comfortably with a base clock of 1475 Mhz and the memory clocked at 7000 Mhz, which is considerably good keeping in mind that its boost clock is at 1329 Mhz and its memory performing at the speed of a GTX 960. And without much further ado, here are the results:
The 950 scaled amazingly as we progressively began trying out an overclock on the GPU. Fans at full sure were very noisy as we began settling around 1400 Mhz creeping our way till we hit the wall at 1475 Mhz. We could run a few games for some time without the setup going potato, and then decided to take it for synthetic benchmarking. It is clear that ASUS has done a swell job with their DirectCU III heatsink as our temperatures peaked only but at 65 C during the ordeal. For it being 10 mm in thickness, it did the job for sure. We did not push it any further than 1.2 V as we also maxed out at a memory clock of 7000 Mhz, which can be found in the GTX 960, which in itself was a ridiculous thing we could draw out of this.
The main competitors of the GTX 950 are the RX 460 and then RX 470, with the former priced at INR 12,500 that too for a 4 GB variant while the latter is priced at INR 19,500, again for the 4 GB variant. In such a market wherein the sole competitor for the red brigade is a year old Maxwell-based GPU running 2 GB of VRAM with no reduction in pricing as it stays afloat at INR 14,500, one cannot help but wonder that NVIDIA simply has abandoned ship for customers looking to purchase a GPU under INR 20,000. There of-course is the GTX 1060 3 GB variant but again priced at INR 18,500 making it almost a more viable option too than the GTX 950 in 2016. Infact, we still are to bring the 2 GB variant of the 460 priced at an aggressive INR 9,500 into the picture. Keeping in mind that the consumer of the said product is looking to be able to run eSports such as Counter-Strike and DotA at the playable FPSes considered for each at a budget price, even the 2 GB RX 460 powered by 4th generation architecture itself is another viable product in this foray. How well did the 950 scale into 2016 being the only competitor from the green team? Not so well.
We at Asidcast rate the ASUS Strix GTX 950 4/10 (Bear in mind that the card has been reviewed September 2016) as newer cards, way cheaper than the 950,are delivering similar/better performance in games.