1080P Gaming On a Budget

INTRODUCTION:

We’ve already seen the Nvidia GeForce GTX 950’s performance, and yet again another GTX 950 lands on our lab – This time, it’s the GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC, packing a non reference cooler and a core clock to match at 1102 MHz. GIGABYTE’s WINDFORCE cooler has blessed this card with the cooling prowess to reach those heights, and it just might be the GTX 950 that you have been waiting for with an 8, 450 SRP.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-1

Performance wise, we’ll see how it will fare against another GTX 950 from MSI. Leading early with a good price point, with it beat the MSI GTX 950 GAMING? There’s only one way to find out!

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS: CLICK HERE

The GTX 950 WINDFORCE from GIGABYTE is a non reference GTX 950 with a base clock of 1102 MHz, contributing to the maximum boost clock of 1279 MHz. Memory clock is also overclocked at 6610 MHz (1652 MHz). With those specifications, GIGABYTE is pressing that this card will deliver 41% to 100% improvements in frames per second at the most popular MOBA games around and those figures were based on 1440P WQHD and 4K UHD tests with playable frame rates.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-2

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-3

Chipset GeForce GTX 950
Core Clock Base/Boost clock: 1102 / 1279 MHz (standard:1026/1190)
Memory Clock 6610 MHz
Process Technology 28 nm
Memory Size 2 GB
Memory Bus 128 bit
Card Bus PCI-E 3.0
Memory Type GDDR5
DirectX 12
OpenGL 4.5
PCB Form ATX
Digital max resolution 4096 X 2160
Analog max resolution 2048 x 1536
Multi-view 4
I/O Dual-link DVI-I / Dual-link DVI-D / HDMI / DisplayPort
Card size H=42 mm, L=208 mm, W=136 mm
Power requirement 350W (with one 6-pin external power connector)

UNBOXING & BUNDLED ACCESSORIES:

Budget is a huge concern with the GIGABYTE GTX 950 to maintain a sweet price point, hence the lack of extravagant packaging we used to see from the other manufacturers. We are fine with this, as long as the packaging supports the card inside very well and is labelled with accuracy when it comes to features and specifications.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-3

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-2

No other accessories could be seen inside, except for a small user’s guide and a DVD which is practically useless unless you’re living in a cave and without an internet connection to boot.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-4

THE GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC:

The GTX 950  WINDFORCE is a stuart graphics card – meaning it’s short at around 8 inches in length, and 5.4″ in width. Just mm longer and wider than the reference GTX 950 from Nvidia. It sports a cool looking shroud that should appeal to younger generation of gamers.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-9

Cooling solution is provided by a dual fan that propels air towards the WINDFORCE 2X heatsink. The design of the heatsink isn’t particularly interesting, as it is only a slab of aluminum but it is enough to cool the GTX 950 inside so there’s no reason to go all out in terms of cooling performance.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-1

The back is devoid of anything unusual, and GIGABYTE deserves an applause for using a Black PCB as opposed to the usual Blue one found on their budget cards. Now with a single 6-pin PSU connector, power requirements should be within a 150W envelope or more precisely around 90W.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-6

Dual-link DVI-I, Dual-link DVI-D, HDMI, and a DisplayPort I/O populated the rear of the card – with the DisplayPort enabling a maximum of 4096 X 2160 resolution over the said port. Lastly, with a single SLI finger, the GTX 950 supports dual gfx card combination. Even a different brand works just so you know.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-7

TEST SYSTEM & SPECIFICATIONS:

Graphics cards are no strangers in our labs, but providing a precise result usually needs a lot of time and effort on our end. Helping us to do those things is an updated copy of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 and wide selection of the popular games that most probably, will sate your appetite. The BIOS/UEFI, Chipset, and Video Card drivers of the test system will be updated too, as much as possible.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-GPU-Z

No other softwares should be running while the benchmarks are on going, unless it is needed, or stated. As for the gaming benchmarks alone, tests should include 720P (1280 x 720), 1080p (1920 x 1080), 1440p (2560 × 1440), and 4K QHD resolution results if permitted by the games, and benchmarking tools, or if necessary. Games without benchmarking tools of their own will have the results recorded with FRAPS. Below are the test system’s specifications:

CPU Intel Core i5 4670K
MOTHERBOARD ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi AC
CPU COOLER Cooler Master Seidon 120XL
MEMORY ADATA XPG V2 @2400MHz 16GB
GRAPHICS CARD GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC 2GB
INT. STORAGE Kingston HyperX Fury SSD 240GB
PSU Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W
DISPLAY 27″ DELL U2715H WQHD IPS Panel
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 (Updated)
SOUND CARD Realtek ALC1150
EXT. STORAGE 2TB Western Digital My Passport

WHAT IS FPS ANYWAY?

For refreshment purposes, let us talk for a moment about FPS or Frames Per Second. Also known as Frame Rate, FPS is the general unit of which we measure a graphics card’s capabilities. Generally, the higher value, the smoother the gameplay should be, since higher FPS means higher frames are rendered each second. Higher FPS doesn’t just improve your gaming experience, as it also helps you to react faster especially in First Person Shooter & Racing Games. Please do note that Resolution and in-game settings has a huge effect too in any system’s frame rate. Better yet, check out the difference of 30 and 60 FPS here: LINK.

30-FPS-vs-60-FPS

BELOW 30 FPS: ABYSMAL GAMING EXPERIENCE. YOU EITHER NEED TO TONE DOWN IN-GAME SETTINGS TO ACHIEVE A HIGHER FPS COUNT OR JUST DON’T BOTHER GAMING AT ALL.
30 – 40 FPS: PLAYABLE, BUT GAMEPLAY IS CHOPPY. CONSIDER UPGRADING OR TONING DOWN THE SETTINGS FOR BETTER EXPERIENCE. *COUGH*, CONSOLES.
50 – 60 FPS: GOOD GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCE. USUALLY THE SWEET SPOT OF MID-RANGE GFX CARDS. NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENTS OVER 30 FPS.
ABOVE 60 FPS: YOU HAVE ASCENDED INTO A BEING FAR BEYOND HUMAN RECOGNITION WITH SILKY SMOOTH GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCE. YOU ARE NOW A PART OF THE PC MASTER RACE.

SYNTHETIC/GPU COMPUTE PERFORMANCE:

3DMARK (2013) is a multi-platform benchmarking tool from FUTUREMARK, consisting of comprehensive tests that aims to gauge your gaming hardware; be it a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop PC.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-2

CINEBENCH R11.5 is a real-world cross-platform test suite that evaluates the computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-1

Kishonti’s CompuBench is an easy to use, no frills high performance suite of benchmarks. It compares the strengths and weaknesses of different hardware architectures such as CPUs, GPUs and APUs using a series of tests.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-3 GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-4 GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-5

GAMING PERFORMANCE:

Dragon Age: Inquisition an action role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. It is the third major game in the Dragon Age franchise, and utilizes the Frosbite 3 Engine with the SpeedTree technology.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-7

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an action role-playing video game set in an open world environment, developed by Polish video game developer CD Projekt RED. It utilizes the REDengine 3.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-6

Battlefield 4 is one of EA and DICE’s most recent first person shooters utilizing the all new Frostbite 3 game engine featuring better tessellation effects and destruction compared to its predecessor.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-8

Dota 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video game developed by Valve and is the stand-alone sequel to the Warcraft III based Defense of the Ancients (DotA) mod.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-11

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena similar to, and exactly as popular as Dota 2. It is developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-12

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a popular online tactical first-person shooter developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve Corporation, utilizing the Source Engine.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-10

Grand Theft Auto V is an open world, action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-9

OVERCLOCKING PERFORMANCE:

Although we have tried GIGABYTE’s  OC GURU II – which we loved so much due to its simple yet engaging UI, The MSI Afterburner overclocking & GFX card statistics software is still our mainstay overclocking tool. With that said, we spared no idle time and went to overclocking the card right away. As expected, the GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC passed with flying colors, with an easily attained 1282 MHz core overclock (+180 MHz /16.3% Gain), and 1783 MHz memory clock (+260 MHz / 7.8% Gain). Power limit is set to max (118 %) and that’s just about it.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-GPU-Z-OC

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-15

A maximum of 9.2 % performance increase is seen with the overall score from 3DMark 2013, while a maximum of 10.8 % increase is seen from the graphics score of the GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC when overclocked. Good results.

TEMPERATURE & POWER CONSUMPTION:

FurMark is a very intensive OpenGL benchmark that uses fur rendering algorithms to measure the performance of the graphics card. To record the GPU’s maximum temperatures, I will run Furmark’s Fur Rendering Burn-in Test, and let it run for 30 Minutes. As always, we try to keep the results consistent by keeping the ambient temperature checked at 27ºC.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-13

We also check to see how the GPU impacts power consumption. The system is left to idle for 30 minutes before readings are taken, and load data is taken 30 minutes while FurMark is running. Power readings are taken for the entire system from the socket.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-WINDFORCE-OC-Benchmarks-14

VALUE & CONCLUSION:

The GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC is a proper GTX 950 from GIGABYTE, offering a solid gaming performance across the board with undeniably good 1080P gaming results without even hitting below the 30 FPS mark, except for some AAA title games which could be easily remedied by lowering the graphics settings especially at The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Other than that, MOBA games, and FPS games ran smoothly on our side. Silky smooth… On our side.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-8

Nvidia wants gamers with the GTX 650 and equivalent cards to upgrade to the GTX 950, which is reasonable, as most gamers (except for the budding enthusiasts) are upgrading their graphics cards every 3-4 years or until they breakdown. The GTX 950 and 650 also shares next to similar SRP at launch, so there’s a reason why Nvidia decided to compare the GTX 950 to the GTX 650 of the yesteryears. Even so, if you have a GTX 750 or 750 Ti, it is still a good proposition, as the difference in performance is also great. A difference that will even enable you to game at a higher resolution.

GIGABYTE-GTX-950-Review-5

The GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC, although lacking in extravagant presentation, features a good cooling performance. No fancy 0 dB fan here but the fans stayed quiet most of the time staying at 1547 RPM when idling and 1933 RPM at full load which is still rather acceptable. Power consumption wise, it bested the MSI GTX 950 by a margin at full load, yet it lost the gain when the system is idling due to its non 0 dB compliant fans.

Overclocking is nice, but still not the best we’ve seen. What’s great though is that it performance almost exactly the same with the pricier GTX 950 we’ve tested which is also longer than the GIGABYTE card we’ve got. One thing’s for sure though is that it is a GIGABYTE card with 3 years warranty, and with a price point of 8, 450 Pesos. Something that’s a little more closer than the competition when it comes to Nvidia’s set MSRP.

THE GIGABYTE GTX 950 WINDFORCE OC 2GB RETAILS FOR AROUND 8, 450 PESOS AND IS BACKED BY A 3 YEAR MANUFACTURER WARRANTY.
THE VERDICT
PROS:
  • GOOD FACTORY OC PERFORMANCE
  • SMALL AND QUIET
  • GOOD BUILD QUALITY
  • 3 YEARS TOTAL WARRANTY
  • GOOD VALUE FOR MONEY
CONS:
  • BARE PRESENTATION
SILVER