ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition 2 GB Review 9

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition 2 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The ZOTAC GTX 950 AMP! Edition will retail for $175.
  • Large overclock out of the box
  • Memory overclocked too
  • Fans turn off in idle and light gaming
  • Full-metal cooler construction
  • Great power efficiency
  • Backplate included
  • Compact card
  • HDMI 2.0
  • Noisy during gaming
  • Too expensive compared to other options
The GeForce GTX 950 is NVIDIA's contender for the entry-level $150-$190 segment, where it will compete with AMD's Radeon R7 370 and R9 285. ZOTAC's AMP! Edition comes with a large overclock out of the box on both the GPU and memory, which makes it the fastest GTX 950 we've reviewed today. This results in a 12% performance improvement over the reference GTX 950, which allows the card to beat the R7 370 conclusively with a 24% performance gap. The R9 270X is 12% behind and the R9 285 is just 6% faster. Against its bigger brother, the GTX 960 it is based on, the ZOTAC GTX 950 AMP! delivers nearly the same performance, as it is just 3% behind. I would recommend the GTX 950 for 900p gaming, or 1080p gaming with reduced details or less demanding games, like MOBA titles.

I have to say I love ZOTAC's new cooler design. The top shroud is made from metal, which adds a distinct feel of quality to the product. Unlike other manufacturers, ZOTAC has included a backplate, which wraps around the card nicely, making this the GTX 950 with the best feel and look. The cooler does a good job at keeping temperatures low and will stop the fans in idle and light gaming for a perfect noise-free experience. However, once you start a demanding title, the fans will quickly ramp up to 38 dBA, which is roughly as noisy as a high-end card - that's not acceptable for a card like the GTX 950. Other manufacturers are doing much better here as their cards are whisper quiet, or even quieter!

The GTX 950's power efficiency is excellent, just like on all recent NVIDIA Maxwell cards. In all non-gaming states, which includes Blu-ray playback, we see power draw hover at around the 10 watts mark, which makes it a good candidate for a quiet media PC. With the ZOTAC AMP! Edition, typical gaming power draw is increased by around 20% over other cards, which is due to the large overclock on the GPU and memory. The difference is acceptable, though, because ZOTAC's card is also the fastest of the bunch. Still, even the weakest PSU should be able to handle it.

Overall, the GeForce GTX 950 seems like a very good card, but it is held back by pricing, just like the GTX 960 it is based on. The GTX 950 is basically a cheaper GTX 960 with proportionally less performance but the same feature set. NVIDIA's MSRP is $160, and ZOTAC is asking another $15 for their AMP! Edition, a reasonable increase if you consider the metal cooler and large overclock. The boost in performance actually bumps the card's performance-per-dollar score up and above that of the GTX 950 reference design. Still, the price is dangerously close to the GTX 960 that can be had for $190 and offers better performance. When looking at price/performance only, AMD's R9 285 should be on your shopping list as it offers much better performance at an excellent price of $170, a price that could be lower if you are on the market for used cards. AMD's R7 370 is too slow and barely cheaper, and the same goes for the R9 270X. NVIDIA's GTX 960 is another good option if you have a few more dollars to spend.
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