We tested using our updated 2015 Single-GPU test bench, detailed in the table below. Our thanks to supporting hardware vendors for supplying some of the test components.
The latest AMD Catalyst drivers (15.7.1) were used for testing. NVidia's 355.65 drivers were used for testing. Game settings were manually controlled for the DUT. All games were run at 'ultra' presets, with the exception of The Witcher 3, where we disabled HairWorks completely, disabled AA, and left SSAO on. GRID: Autosport saw custom settings with all lighting enabled. GTA V used two types of settings: Those with Advanced Graphics ("AG") on and those with them off, acting as a VRAM stress test.
Each game was tested for 30 seconds in an identical scenario, then repeated three times for parity.
Average FPS, 1% low, and 0.1% low times are measured. We do not measure maximum or minimum FPS results as we consider these numbers to be pure outliers. Instead, we take an average of the lowest 1% of results (1% low) to show real-world, noticeable dips; we then take an average of the lowest 0.1% of results for severe spikes. Anti-Aliasing was disabled in all tests except GRID: Autosport, which looks significantly better with its default 4xMSAA. HairWorks was disabled where prevalent. Manufacturer-specific technologies were used when present (CHS, PCSS).
Thermals and power draw were both measured using our secondary test bench, which we reserve for this purpose. The bench uses the below components. Thermals are measured using AIDA64. We execute an in-house automated script to ensure identical start and end times for the test. 3DMark FireStrike Extreme is executed on loop for 25 minutes and logged. Parity is checked with GPU-Z.
|GN Test Bench 2015||Name||Courtesy Of||Cost|
This is what we're testing!
|CPU||Intel i7-4790K CPU||CyberPower
|Memory||32GB 2133MHz HyperX Savage RAM||Kingston Tech.||$300|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1||GamersNexus||$285|
|Power Supply||NZXT 1200W HALE90 V2||NZXT||$300|
|SSD||HyperX Predator PCI-e SSD||Kingston Tech.||TBD|
|Case||Top Deck Tech Station||GamersNexus||$250|
|CPU Cooler||Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3||Be Quiet!||~$60|
A Note on Validating Input Latency Metrics
Testing input latency on the GTX 950 would be a fun project – but we can't do it right now. Input latency testing requires a hardware middle solution (like an Arduino computer) to sit between the input simulation and the receiving software.
This is something we're working on developing in the immediate future and hope to deploy for GPU benchmarking. As of now, we cannot independently validate nVidia's claims of latency reduction, nor can we test the competing hardware's own input latencies.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – The Witcher 3
The GTX 950 isn't particularly playable in the Witcher 3 unless we drop to 'medium' settings, at which point its 48FPS average is barely passable. Further tweaks – follow our optimization guide for that – would allow a higher average FPS.
At medium settings, the GTX 950 is comparable to the R9 280 in average FPS, but outperforms the R9 280 handily in 1% and 0.1% low frame metrics. We see the R9 270X (about where the R7 370 would rest) fall behind the GTX 950 substantially in 1% and 0.1% low metrics; the average FPS delta is ~8.7%, favoring the GTX 950.
The GTX 960, R9 285, and AMD R9 380 both perform at an arguably playable 56FPS average, a ~15% gain over the GTX 950.
Against the GTX 750 Ti, the gap widens (28.5%) such that settings would have to be driven into the floor to conjure fluid frame delivery.
The Witcher 3 is effectively unplayable at higher settings.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – Metro: Last Light
We ran Metro at the usual Very High / High configuration (1080p), finding the GTX 950 to hold a 9% advantage over the R9 270X and 27.8% advantage over the GTX 750 Ti. Looking to the +$40 range, the GTX 960 and R9 280X experience a rough ~16% gain.
Again, the GTX 950 lands squarely between its two flanking price categories – not wholly surprising. One place the GTX 950 does continually excel, though, is its low frametime performance.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor is another game that we had to tweak for the bench. We normally run Mordor at the “Ultra” preset for GPU benchmarking, but found the GTX 950's 32FPS average performance to be unsatisfactory. Hoping to more accurately create a user scenario, we dropped the settings to 'medium' and retested a suite of similarly-priced cards.
The R9 285 flies past everyone at 93FPS average, but that's not to say the GTX 960 doesn't make its own efforts to leave the 950 in the dust (+15%). The GTX 950 is capable of playing Shadow of Mordor at medium / 1080p without sacrificing fluid gameplay. The R9 270X, although similarly performant in average metrics, dips and drags with its 29FPS 0.1% low.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 fronts similar performance differentials between the 960, 750 Ti, and new 950, but the R9 270X outperforms the GTX 950 admirably in this instance.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – GTA V
“High” settings permit fluid gameplay on the GTX 950 in GTA V. We see an FPS output of 79 (average) against the 960's 83 and 380's 78. Not a bad delta. The GTX 750 Ti pushes 52FPS – just shy of the golden '60' metric, but passable for most players – and provides the GTX 950 a proving ground for its market positioning.
Moving to the usual 'very high' and 'high' mix (maxed-out settings, aside from AA and advanced graphics), the GTX 950 falls to 47FPS average, but still retains its high “low” metrics. The GTX 960 now sits at the passably playable 52FPS range, illustrating that the gap between the GTX 960 & R9 380 vs. the GTX 950 is wide enough that settings must be lowered.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – GRID: Autosport
GRID plays on the GTX 950 (and 750 Ti, for the most part) readily at 1080p / ultra. The R9 270X / R7 370 performs only marginally worse than the GTX 950.
GTX 950 vs. 960, 380, 750 Ti Benchmark – CSGO & DOTA 2
These benchmarks are a little boring, but we felt inclined to include them. Above, you'll see the CSGO and DOTA2 performance results alongside IGP FPS. Note that DOTA 2's framerate locked to 120FPS.
Continue to the final page for power consumption & thermal metrics, alongside our conclusion.