Final Words and Conclusion
MSi has one of the best cards in the GTX 950 range, it performs, is factory tweaked, it is silent and has the cool looks. next to that it is an insane overclocker as well. The 950 might sound a bit underspecced and under powered the truth remains simple, it is a pretty terrific card in the 1080P monitor arena and for those on a strict budget. Now the hottest game titles versus the best image quality settings is a no-go, however if you lower your settings just a notch, then you'll be surprised as to what this little card can achieve. MSI is on a roll with the Maing series, this model with the Twinfrozr dual-slot dual-fan cooler is doing its jobe really well. The 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 nice factory overclock, nice looks and capable 1080P performance. Temps wise things are fine, roughly 65~70 degrees C is what we measured, but this card remains whisper silent. So yes, if you are gaming at a monitor resolution up-to 1920x1080 then this product will be pleasant (but not perfect) in terms of price versus performance versus a nice quiet product. I would love to see a 4 GB model, though such a release is not confirmed. We did notice an empty SMT trace on the PCB, that would allow for extra memory ICs.
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. MSI uses the Gaming Twinfrozr model cooler under that cover, we measured that this cooler offers roughly 250 Watts of cooling performance, it is a very sufficient dual-slot dual-fan cooler. Expect the temperature to hover around the 65~70 Degrees C threshold with games that are harder on the GPU. Remember, that is factory overclocked cooling performance for you in the highest category. If you increase fan RPM, the card will still remain silent and the temps can drop to even the 50 Degrees C range.
Cooling VS. Noise Levels
Cooling wise we can’t complain really, noise wise this is a downright excellent product. If you try very hard you might hear a tiny bit of airflow, but that's it. So expect sound pressure values in the 37 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 game with 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.
What about SLi you might wonder ? Scaling is really good, but 2GB graphics memory above 1080P just doesn't make much sense in this day and era. Also the per card costs would now outweigh the benefits of a high-end single GPU card. My advice, look for a GeForce GTX 970 or 980.
Without extra voltage tweaking you can expect a 1450~1500 MHz range for the boost clock frequency. With an added 100Mv on the GPu core we reached a stable 1575 MHz (Boost clock = dynamic though). 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 6.6 GHz, you'll fairly easily achieve 7.5 GHz up towards 8 GHz, you should probably settle at 7.8 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 MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming is one of the best GTX 950 cards we have tested. It has an impressive yet totally silent cooler. Increase fan RPM and you'll be amazed how silent the card remains and how cold your GPU will get. That adds benefits to overclocking and tweaking. This product offers proper cooling and totally silent noise levels. 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. We do hope to see a 4 GB version as well though. These cards might not be the greatest performers, but we certainly like what they offer. Decent gaming performance in a cool package with interesting tweaking options and for a product in this class, very nice looks with a proper cooler. We like it, nice.
Update, the basic models GeForce GTX 950 are going to cost roughly 179,00 EURO incl. VAT and $159 USD for the US. When did entry level gaming become this expensive ?