Last month, GIGABYTE introduced a brand new series under its wing called Xtreme Gaming which is aimed towards gamers and enthusiasts alike. Given the target market, one might expect that the Taiwanese company would kick-start the series with a high end product.
Instead, GIGABYTE decided to release a graphics card that is based on NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 – a card that is meant for the mainstream market. Then again, there are indeed a couple of things that separates the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming from other GTX 950 graphics cards by GIGABYTE. In fact, maybe even other GTX 950s out there.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
Due to its Windforce 2X cooling system, the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming is slightly bigger than NVIDIA’s original GeForce GTX 950 reference design as well as other GIGABYTE GTX 950 cards, although it is still considerably smaller and shorter than many of its higher-end siblings. While the housing of the card’s cooling system may be crafted from plastic, its back plate is made from metal and an interesting addition given that the GTX 950 is generally positioned as a mainstream graphics card.
Physical design aside, one of the card’s other main selling points is its clock speed which is factory overclocked. The GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming runs at a base clock speed of 1,203 MHz and can even be boosted further to 1,405 MHz – as compared to NVIDIA’s reference design which runs at 1,026 MHz and 1,190 MHz respectively.
As for the memory, the 2GB GDDR5 chip on GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming also runs at 7,000 MHz by default instead of 6,610 MHz as per NVIDIA’s reference design. Another difference of the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming one should take note is that this card is equipped with an 8-pin power connector instead of the 7-pin connector on most of other GTX 950 variants.
Not to forget, the card also comes with two dedicated fan indicators with one of them comes in the form of Windforce logo that would light up when the card’s dual fans are in operation. Once the card is deemed cool enough, the fans will then go off (a standard feature on most GTX 950 cards out there) and the second indicator which is clearly labelled as Silent will go on.
TEST SYSTEM AND REVIEW UNIT SPECIFICATIONS
To test the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming’s capability, we ran it through a number of benchmarks and games running at full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. Do note that for games, 30 fps is what we consider as a minimum playable average framerate.
According to GIGABYTE, the NVIDIA GPU chip that the company used on the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming is specially chosen via the company’s GPU Gauntlet sorting process which apparently ensures that the chip is much more durable to overclocking. Hence, we decided to do simple overclocking* using GIGABYTE’s own O.C GURU II software on the card and here is what we were able to achieve with our review sample:
*We didn’t tamper with the card’s default voltage or temperature threshold. Note that overclock results varies from one unit to another due to numerous factors.
THERMAL & OPERATIONAL NOISE
With the help of its Windforce 2X cooling system, the temperature of the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming consistently stayed at 60C during operating. In fact, the cooling system is so good that it was able to reduce the card’s temperature from 60C to 44C in just 42 seconds and once that happened, it will run on silent mode with the fans deactivated. Meanwhile, the card is pretty quiet although the two thermal fans did produce tiny buzzing sounds, but were only audible when you try to listen to it closely.
Using a power meter plugged into the wall socket together with Unigine Valley Benchmark on Extreme HD preset as the test load, these are how much power the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming draws:
At RM 945 (inclusive of GST), the GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming generally costs just a little bit more than a standard GTX 950. However, consumers might actually able to obtain the slightly more powerful GTX 960 graphics card within the same price range or even lower if they are lucky enough.
While the GTX 950 might be generally targeted to the MOBA market, but from what we’ve seen through our tests, the GIGABYTE GTX 950 Xtreme Gaming GPU packs enough punch to power games that have even higher graphics resources. The factory overclocked factor certainly gives extra value to the card while it still has headroom to be overclocked even further.
At the same time, the Windforce 2X cooling system works pretty well to keep the temperatures under control even when the card is pushed even further. Not only that, the cooling system’s ability to reduce the card’s operational temperature to run on Silent mode in just under 1 minute is really impressive.
The LED indicators for the fans are certainly helpful especially when one is getting used to the fans’ dynamic behavior and the card’s Silent mode. The only main concern would be the price, since that RM 945 price tag makes it very close, or even surpasses some of the GTX 960 graphics card in the market – and that’s an easy choice to make for many consumers.
Still, what GIGABYTE has cooked here is undeniably a rather impressive variant of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 graphics card.