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Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 review: Bringing more oomph to budget gaming PCs

Brad Chacos | Aug. 21, 2015
Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 950 delivers a better-than-consoles gaming experience for just $150.

In other words, it’s pretty much a wash in terms of pure performance, folks. But hold your sighs!

While it would’ve been nice to see Nvidia’s GTX 950 come out and blow away the R7 370, it’s also nice to see Nvidia pull back into parity with AMD in the $150 to $175 price range. The older GTX 750 Ti leaned heavily towards power efficiency at the cost of performance. Now, no matter which side you choose, you’ll get a card that delivers a solid, 45fps-plus 1080p experience at high graphics detail settings in all but the most punishing new games, and 60fps-plus in less demanding games. That’s nuts compared to where we were just a few years back. 

By comparison, many games on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 struggle to hit 30fps at 1080p—and that's typically with lower graphics fidelity than the High settings in PC titles! You'll need to step up to a $200 GTX 960 or R9 380 if you want to consistently enable Ultra graphics or hit 60fps in most games at 1080p, however.

gtx 950 chip

Bottom line: The Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 delivers a nice 1080p gaming experience at a price that won’t break your budget.

With all else being equal, I’d probably personally give the GeForce card the nod over the R7 370/R9 270X due to Nvidia’s constant onslaught of Game Ready drivers and slick software ecosystem. And since the R7 370/R9 270X are built around a Pitcairn GPU from early 2012, they don’t support more recent technologies like HDMI 2.0 (for delivering 60Hz signals to a 4K monitor) or AMD’s stutter-killing FreeSync displays. The GTX 950 supports both HDMI 2.0 and Nvidia's G-Sync display technology.

If you don’t mind missing out on those capabilities, however, you can save some real dough with no major performance loss by looking for a R9 270X right now. They’re going for as cheap as $130 on the big retail sites right now as everyone clears out stock for the newer R7 370.

Finally, the launch of the GTX 950 doesn’t automatically render the older GTX 750 Ti obsolete—that’s why Nvidia’s keeping it around. Its small design and freedom from supplementary power cables means it can fit into cases where the GTX 950 and R7 370 simply can’t, and while it doesn’t provide as much visual firepower as either of those cards, the GTX 750 Ti still provides a huge boost over integrated graphics. Even better, you can find one for prices hovering around $100 if you look around, despite its new official MSRP of $120.

There's never been a better time to be a gamer on a budget.


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