Review: Asus Strix GTX 950
Too often, the biggest and best gets looked at, ignoring the entry and middle echelons of graphics cards. While most die hard fans will tell you that the only way to game is with SLI, multimonitor crazy resolutions and everything running on max.
The truth is that a majority of machines running Steam are using 1080p or lower as a resolution. The vocal contingent is the minority here, looking for praise and bragging rights.
The Asus Strix GTX 950 is one of the cheaper offerings, but it still packs some heft. It makes use of a cut down version of the GM206 GPU used in the GTX 960 series. This dual slot, dual fan card is clocked at 1140 MHz on the core out of he box with a 1329 MHz boost frequency. The dual fan does a great job, keeping the GPU below 70 even in the middle of a 3D Mark benchmark test. Speaking of 3D Mark:
For comparison, the exact same PC with GTX 960 gets 6,700.
This is Tomb Raider’s built-in bencmark at 1080p, running with everything turned up to maximum settings:
While that minimum frame rate is quite low at 37, having and average of 50fps is really great. With a little tweaking you can hit a nice stable 60 fps without too much hassle. 1440p is a lot harder on the card, with average sitting at 30 fps and a minimum and maximum of 21.4 and 38.8. No, not commenting on other things that tend to run at 30 fps here.
The same happens in other games, I was pleasantly surprised that the 950 handled MGSV at 50 frames per second too. When you are running a value card, a bit of tweaking goes a long way to getting your games running with what you are most comfortable. Some games don’t need the blistering fast frame rate to look great, while others can do with less complex shadows without affecting your enjoyment. Here is an example using Batman: Arkham Origins as a test platform.
At max settings possible for 1080p, an average of 44 frames is achieved. With a bit of tinkering, like lowering geometry detail, dynamic shadows and ambient occlusion, an average fps of 88 is hit. That’s a easy to do change that took two minutes to test: finding better settings will take a little bit of experimentation (or you could let GeForce Experience do it for you), but great visuals at acceptable framerates can be found.
The biggest hurdle to the 950 is that 2GB of VRAM. Considering the rumours that the 960 will eventually only be available at 4GB, eventually with no restocking of the 2GB versions, the price gap between the 950 and the 960 might increase beyond the R500+ that would be required to jump from a 950 to a 960. Of course this in itself is a terrible slope of the hypothetical. Asking “why not save X to upgrade to Y” can be used ad nauseam until you reach a GTX Titan. Depending on your budget, the 950 might be the perfect place for you if you want something better than a console, without spending several times more than the cost of one.