Today, NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 950, its new entry-mainstream graphics card priced at $160. Sub-$200 has always been a problematic area for NVIDIA because of price-performance comparisons to AMD, with the company selling more volumes only because of a better-proliferated sales and marketing network. AMD's recent product launches, such as the Radeon R7 360, R7 370, and R7 380, put even more heat on NVIDIA. Particularly the Radeon R7 370 irritates NVIDIA. Priced at $149, the card offers better performance than the similarly priced GTX 750 Ti. It takes a $199 GTX 960 to outperform it, and so the company's $150-ish price-point is left rather vulnerable. This necessitates a new SKU, the GeForce GTX 950.
NVIDIA gave the GeForce GTX 950 a solid and cost-effective foundation in the 28 nm GM206 silicon on which the GTX 960 is also based. This is a tiny chip, and compared to the R7 370, it has a narrower 128-bit memory bus for just four memory chips on the card. NVIDIA makes up for some of the deficit with lossless texture compression tech, which improves effective bandwidth by around 20%. The sheer pixel-crunching muscle of the Maxwell architecture takes care of the rest, which creates immense room for future cost-cutting measures.
The GeForce GTX 950 is carved out of the GM206 silicon, by disabling two of its eight streaming multiprocessor (SMM) units. It's a rather huge 25% drop compared to the GTX 960 and results in a CUDA core count of 768. At 48, the TMU count is proportionately lower as well. At 32, the ROP count is the same, and so is the memory bus of 128-bit. 2 GB is the standard memory amount, and unlike with the GTX 960, we don't expect NVIDIA to introduce 4 GB variants. The core is clocked at 1024 MHz, with a GPU Boost frequency of 1188 MHz, and the memory ticks at 6.60 GHz (GDDR5-effective), which gives you 105.6 GB/s memory bandwidth.
In this review, we will test the GIGABYTE GTX 950 WindForce OC, which comes with a mild GPU overclock to 1102 MHz out of the box. Memory remained at NVIDIA reference of 1653 MHz.
With only a $10 premium, the price increase over reference is relatively small, bringing the total to $170.