Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming 2GB Review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK price (as reviewed):
£145.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $179.99 (ex Tax)

The GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming is one of the cards in Gigabyte's new line that also includes higher end Nvidia parts and seems designed to compete with other manufacturers' top-end SKUs. The Xtreme Gaming parts feature significant overclocks, beastly custom coolers and upgraded PCB components. Naturally, they come at a cost, and at over £140 the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming is almost as expensive as a basic GTX 960 2GB or R9 380 2GB, and one of the dearest GTX 950s there is. You do currently get a free Heroes of the Storm Kaijo Diablo Bundle download with your purchase, though that's true of any GTX 950 or GTX 960. Meanwhile, in the box you get DVI to VGA adaptor but nothing else.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review
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As you might hope given the price, the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming offers an impressive factory overclock. Its base clock, at 1,203MHz, is 17 percent higher than the reference clock, and gives it a rated boost clock of 1,405MHz. This is matched by models from EVGA and Zotac but, as far as we know, isn't beaten by any other models on the market – this is effectively as fast as a GTX 950 will run out of the box. Gigabyte only uses select GPUs for this card, selected through its GPU Gauntlet binning process which seeks out good power switching capabilities for higher overclocking, so hopefully we'll be able to squeeze a fair amount more from it.

The 2GB of GDDR5 has also been overclocked from 6.6GHz effective to 7GHz effective, a 6 percent boost – not as big as the core but still good to see given that few manufacturers bother to do this. With its 128-bit memory bus, the GTX 950 is starved of memory bandwidth compared to other cards so any help it can get here is definitely a good thing. Similar to the GPU, Gigabyte only selects what it calls Tier 1 memory chips for this card, though the binning process is not elaborated on.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review *Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review
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The card has the modern set of Nvidia display outputs that includes a trio of DisplayPort 1.2 connectors alongside one DVI-I and a HDMI 2.0 port. This is an upgrade over the other GTX 950s we've seen which have used the older reference connections with two DVI ports. Naturally, this card also includes a single SLI connector so you can pair it up with another. The power input has been upgraded from a single 6-pin connection to an 8-pin one. This makes extra juice available to the card so again hopefully it will be a potent overclocker.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review
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Physically, the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming is pretty bulky for a card of this calibre. It measures 227mm long and fits the standard dual-slot form factor. The build quality is good and is aided by the presence of a brushed metal backplate which looks good and gives the card some added protection and rigidity. Two of the card's four GDDR5 memory chips are located on the back of the PCB, but Gigabyte does not use the backplate to cool them directly as there are no thermal pads between them.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review
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The cooler is very open at the sides so the vast majority of heat will be exhausted into your chassis, though the GTX 950 is hardly a hot-running GPU. The construction uses a single S-shaped heat pipe which makes direct contact with the chip. Oddly, one of the memory chips has a thermal pad on, which means the heatsink directly cools it, but the second chip on the front side of the PCB is left uncovered. Why Gigabyte didn't just cool all four chips is beyond us. Still, the MOSFETs used in the 4+1 phase power arrangement near the rear I/O are all directly cooled by their own small heatsink, so it's a fairly complete solution.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review
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The cooler also supports a semi-passive mode – to be honest, any custom GTX 950 cooler that doesn't needs to have a serious look in the mirror. Below a certain temperature, usually around 55-60°C, the two fans will switch off entirely. Gigabyte includes indicator LEDs along the top of the card as part of this functionality – the Silent and Stop logos light up white when the fans are off and when they turn back on the Windforce logo lights up to a colour that you can select through Gigabyte's overclocking software, OC Guru II.

*Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming Review
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Gigabyte boasts of the PCB having an aerospace-grade coating to protect it against moisture, dust and corrosion. The card also uses the company's Ultra Durable VGA components.

Specifications

  • Graphics processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 950, 1,203MHz (boost 1,405MHz)
  • Pipeline 768 stream processors, 48 texture units, 32 ROPs
  • Memory 2GB GDDR5, 7GHz effective
  • Bandwidth 112GB/sec, 128-bit interface
  • Compatibility DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5
  • Outputs/Inputs 3 x DisplayPort 1.2, Dual Link DVI-I, HDMI 2.0
  • Power connections 1 x 8-pin PCI-E, top-mounted
  • Size 227mm long, dual-slot
  • Warranty Three years

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