Nvidia has a new entry-level GPU out in the GTX 950, and it’s the least expensive new-generation chip on the market at the moment. This is the cheapest way for you to get hold of a new, DirectX 12-compatible graphics card from Nvidia — it’d be a smart choice if you were building a new budget machine running Windows 10. If you’re building a new MOBA rig, it’s even smarter.
The GTX 950 is the natural successor to Nvidia’s older GTX 750 and 750 Ti cards, and being a relatively low-end card it’s more suited to the mass-market MOBA crowd than the gamer who wants a top of the line, water-cooled, sixth-generation Core i7 rig.
With Nvidia’s middle-of-the-road 28-nanometre GM206 chipset, 768 CUDA compute cores, 2GB of 6.6GHz-clocked GDDR5 RAM through a 128-bit memory bus, it sits slightly below the identical-chipset GTX 960, which itself sits below the GTX 970 — which uses a twice-as-gutsy GM204 core. While the GTX 970 still looks like the best value-for-money Nvidia GPU overall (and the flagship 980 Ti is ridiculously cheap for how powerful it is), the 950 is undeniably cheaper.
Nvidia is positioning the GTX 950 as the card to get if you’re going to be building a machine for MOBA — we’re talking LoL and DotA and HotS and all those other hugely popular online team games. Because it’s a relatively affordable card, it’s also accessible to younger gamers. The MOBA market is huge; 30 million gamers a month, 300 per cent growth in 3 years, and that extraordinary $18 million prize pool recently for The International 2015 DotA 2 finals.
Versus the two-generation old GTX 650 — still the most popular mainstream GPU according to Steam surveys — GTX 950 is promising significant frame rate improvements with newer games, according to Nvidia. Over an average of a bunch of benchmarks from Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, The Witcher 3 and others, running at 1080p with medium settings and some moderate antialiasing, the GTX 950 clocks an average of just over 60fps where the 650 will only reach around 20fps.
Nvidia is selling a difference in latency, of all things, as an improvement — 80ms to 45ms from 650 to 950, purely though latency optimisations alongside a faster overall render. Given how mediocre Australia’s internet is, it’s likely there are more important things than graphics pipeline optimisations for MOBA gamers, but the improvement is still very welcome. And, at the end of the day, that reduction in latency might be the difference between life or death in a particularly twitchy match.
Alongside the new GTX 950, there’s an overhaul for Nvidia’s GeForce Experience middleware, which offers one-click settings optimisation for more games than ever, ShadowPlay recording and live-streaming through Twitch and other similar services. The GTX 950 price isn’t yet, clear, but will be in between the GTX 960’s and the previous-gen GTX 750. [Nvidia]