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September 22, 2015

Unboxing & Review: ASUS STRIX GTX 950


On August 20, 2015, NVIDIA launched its latest entry level mainstream GPU based on the Maxwell GM206 chip, the GeForce GTX 950. Positioned under the GTX 960 and comes with a total of 768 CUDA cores, 128 bit memory bus and support for the latest DirectX 12.1, the GTX 950 is meant to arm MOBA gamers with a competitive edge - in which NVIDIA claimed.


Our greatest appreciation to ASUS in provision of the ASUS Strix GTX 950 for today's review. As NVIDIA has claimed its target audience and the type of games they are playing, we've decided to take it a little further with our usual test and see if the ASUS Strix GTX 950 is capable of handling games outside the suggested range. Let's play the future!


Specifications
Model Name
STRIX-GTX950-DC2OC-2GD5-GAMING
Graphics Engine
 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
Bus Standard           
PCI Express 3.0
Video Memory
2GB GDDR5
Engine Clock
OC Mode - GPU Boost Clock : 1355 MHZ , GPU Base Clock : 1165 MHz
Gaming Mode - GPU Boost Clock : 1329 MHZ , GPU Base Clock : 1140 MHz
CUDA Core
768
Memory Clock          
6610 MHz
Memory Interface
128-bit
Interface
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I), Yes x 1 (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1 (HDMI 2.0)
Display Port : Yes x 3 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories
1 x STRIX Laser Sticker
Software                   
ASUS GPU Tweak & Driver
Dimensions
 220mm x 125mm x 40mm

Unboxing

As usual, the retail packaging for the STRIX line of graphic cards featured the head of the STRIX owl, which gives it a more distinctive look to the STRIX series graphics card. 


Behind the box, there's brief but detailed description of the ASUS STRIX GTX950's prominent features. As with any Asus graphics cards, the STRIX GTX950 comes with a limited 3 year warranty - as stated at the bottom right.


The contents? a user's guide, driver CD, Strix reflective sticker and the ASUS Strix GTX950 graphics card.


Similar to the Strix GTX960, the Strix GTX950 comes with the same owlish shroud design and 0db fan technology that triggers the fan to spin only when the GPU temperature hits 60°C.


Instead of having a big chunk of Aluminum heatsink to cool down the GPU like any previous generation graphics card of its category, the Strix GTX 950 is equipped with a smaller scale of ASUS' previous DirectCU cooler - much to our surprise. 


Here is how the dual nickel-plated copper heat pipes at the base of the smaller scale DirectCU cooler.


A single 6-pin PCIe power connector is required to power up the Strix GTX950.


There's no additional backplate on the back of the PCB like the Strix GTX 960, but you'll still get a metal bracket mounted on the side for that extra rigidity.


This is the heart of the Strix GTX 950, the NVIDIA Maxwell GM206-250.



Among three main memory chips used for graphics card (Elpida, Hynix, Samsung), Samsung chips are known to be the best performer. Since the Samsung made K4G41325FC-HC28 chip was found on the Strix GTX950, we're expecting a decent overclocking result from it.


Although the capacitors used isn't the 10k black capacitors found on higher end models, we did find the Super Alloy Power (SAP) chokes and capacitors which ASUS boasts to have longer lifespan while increasing the overclocking headroom of the graphics card itself.



The ASUS STRIX GTX950 has 5 display outputs to satisfy your need for multiple display monitors - 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI-I.

Performance Test
Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Corsair H100i
CPU
Intel Core i7 4770K
Motherboard
ASUS Maximus Gene VI 
Memory
Kingston HyperX Savage 16GB
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power Supply
Be Quiet! Straight Power 10 600W
Chassis
Vector Benchcase

We've conducted our test by installing the ASUS STRIX GTX950 to our test bench as above. Each and every benchmark is conducted in a room with 30C° ambient temperature.


Performance, Overclocking
We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmark in our possession on 1080p with the highest achievable clock speed for both its memory and GPU that is stable enough to be able to complete each benchmark with the following values:

  • Maximum boost clock of 1475MHz 
  • 8012 MHz on the memory clock
  • 1.2V on the voltage for GPU


That's a 120MHz gain from the stock boost clock of 1355MHz for GPU and 1402MHz gain from the stock memory clock of 6610MHz in total.

Performance

We ran a few graphically demanding games and synthetic benchmarks in our possession on a selected settings, which is considered as high for much of our test as usual.The final result of each benchmark is presented in the form of the graph below:




3D Mark Test (Default Clock)








3D Mark Test (Overclocked)










Temperature
We've ran a 15 minute burn-in test on the FurMark GPU stress test utility with the fan operate under normal mode and maximum fan speed mode and the temperature for both test is recorded and populated in the graph below.




Verdict
While it is marketed as an entry level mainstream GPU, the ASUS Strix GTX 950 turns out to be quite capable for a card of its category.Not only that it's factory overclocked to a much higher GPU and memory clock than the reference unit, we're still able to overclock it a little more to squeeze more performance out. Although it's not as much as what we've hope for, the unusual big boost we've achieved on the memory clock is still something that is worth to keep an eye on.

Temperature wise, the Strix cooler is doing a pretty good job in keeping the GPU cool, though going to maximum fan speed kills the acoustic performance. The trade off for ramping up the fan speed to maximum is a 4°C off, but it isn't something that we would recommend as it defeats the purpose of Strix's marketed silent cooling.  

The ASUS Strix GTX 950 retails at RM 899, a little expensive but still pretty good entry level mainstream GPU that is able to perform pretty well on some of the games that is heavily taxing on the GPU. 

Pros

  • Comes factory overclocked
  • Decent overclocking capability on the memory
  • Near silent 0db fan design
  • Decent performance from a entry level mainstream GPU that runs on 128-Bit memory bus
  • Good form factor that makes it an ideal choice for small form factor system


Cons

  • A little expensive
  • Limited overclocking headroom on GPU
  • Performance could be better if it's running on 192-bit or 256-bit memory bus

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