Final Words and Conclusion
With this Xtreme Gaming (OC edition) Gigabyte offers their most comprehensive GTX 950 within their range. And though the 950 might sound a bit underspecced and under powered the truth remains simple, it is a pretty nice card in the 1080P monitor arena for those on a strict budget. Aimed in the 170 USD price bracket the card might not be cheap, but manages to impress (if you stick to Full HD gaming). Excellent build quality, a fantastic cooler and by far the best factory tweak we have seen from any manufacturer is what the card has to offer. You'll be surprised as to what this little 2GB card can achieve. The Xtreme Gaming card in its default configuration has no noise levels that you can perceive with your ears, it is silent. Next to that it has a HUGE factory overclock, nice looks and offer very capable 1080P performance. Temps wise things are lovely as well, roughly 60~65 degrees C is what we measured, and this card remains whisper silent. I would love to see a 4 GB model, though such a release is not confirmed (yet).
Maxwell GM206 GPU Overll Experience
The GeForce GTX 950 is a pretty complicated piece of technology in terms of what Nvidia offers to its partners and what they made out of it. I am afraid though that Nvidia took it a step too far trying to make the product as cheap as possible. Many of you will not get by the fact that the 128-bit memory bus combined with 2 GB of graphics memory will cripple anything after 1080P. I think people could have lived with the 128-bit bus if the product would have had 3 GB of graphics memory or the other way around. When you place all facts into perspective then we do feel the product is rather capable, but everybody certainly expected somewhat higher specs in this 175 EURO mainstream space. But performance wise the product will sit in-between a GeForce GTX 760 and a Radeon R7 270/370. Like the specs or not, this is still a respectable place to be at.
The reference products are set at an offset threshold of 80 degrees C. Gigabyte who uses the WindForce 2X model cooler offers roughly 225 Watts of cooling performance, it is a very sufficient dual-slot dual-fan cooler. Expect the temperature to hover around the 60~65 Degrees C threshold with games that are harder on the GPU. Remember, that is factory overclocked cooling performance for you in the highest category.
FLIR Thermal imaging
Yeah, you missed it right? Our thermal image camera is broken and in RMA, the SD card slot is broken hence we cannot include thermal images at this time. Once we get the camera back we'll update this article.
Cooling VS. Noise Levels
Cooling wise we can’t complain really, noise wise this is a downright excellent product as well. If you try very hard you might hear a tiny bit of airflow, but that's it. So expect sound pressure values in the 39 dBA range at best under load and warm circumstances. That's measured 75 cm away from the PC, thus a normal distance in-between you and your PC. That level is to be considered totally silent.
The performance of the GeForce GTX 950 series overall is okay if you stick to 1080P. The biggest danger lies in the fact that 2 GB of graphics memory these days isn't going to cut it with the modern game titles versus good image quality settings. Obviously you can forget about 2560x1440 WQHD resolution gaming unless you play older titles or lower image quality. In all fairness we need to say, this is really is an up-to 1080P card. Again, the most tricky thing will be the 2 GB, once the card runs out of memory frames will start swapping back and forth in the frame-buffer, resulting in a performance loss. The only way to solve that is to lower AA settings or image quality overall. Really we are not disappointed by the performance if 1920x1080 is your gaming domain and if you can accept the fact you'll be fiddling with your image quality settings every now and then to gain performance.
Without extra voltage tweaking you can expect a 1450~1550 MHz range for the boost clock frequency. Variables like your PC stability, power supply and so on are important to any overclock, keep that in mind. The memory is clocked standard at 7.0 GHz, you'll fairly easily achieve 7.7 GHz but the samsung memory can't go much further, you should probably settle at 7.6 GHz for the best stability. Since this card is so limited with its 128-bit memory bus, tweaking that memory will help as it increases memory bandwidth and thus performance as it gives the GPU a little more space to breathe.
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming OC edition is among the best entry level products available and it even comes with proper cooling, totally silent noise levels and a backplate. Combined with the rendering performance I'd call this product a capable 1080P graphics card. All boxes are ticked and that makes this a competitive product. Purchasing this product to game at WQHD / 2560x1440 is ill-advised though, 1080P is the maximum space and domain of the GeForce GTX 950. But that would be at pretty decent image quality settings. In the future we do hope to see a 4 GB version as well though. Gigabyte has a competitive product available on the market with this particular Xtreme Gaming (OC edition) model. It offers nice out of the box performance (within its performance class) and as such comes recommended for those on a budget. The basic models GTX 950 are going to cost roughly 179,00 EURO incl. VAT / $169 USD for the US. For build quality, immense factory tweak, excellent cooling and that back-plate we grant the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming OC edition a top pick award. Obviously the pricing for this range remains a topic of debate, and we totally understand you.
During September the 25-27th 2015 we are giving away this card in a competition, check that contest out right here.