MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G Video Card Review

The MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G is overall on the smaller side of a “full size” card. It measures in at 27 cm (10.63 in.)long and and at 13.7 cm (5.39 in.) wide. Length wise, the card just barely comes past the edge of the MSI Z97M Gaming motherboard that I test with. Width wise, it is wider than others in order to accommodate the fans and should fit into most cases and it is not obnoxiously wide.

The fan shroud is made of light weight plastic and follows the black and red gaming theme nicely. While the MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G is billed as a dual slot card, it is just barely so at 3.7 cm (1.45 in.) thick. When installed on the mATX board there is a little more room between the cards than I’ve noticed with other SLI solutions. Installing two cards (motherboard depending) shouldn’t really hinder the cooling performance of the top most card.

MSI doesn’t deviate from the Nvidia Reference design when it comes to the display outputs. The outputs include a DVI-I, HDMI 2.0, and three DisplayPort 1.2 connectors.

 

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A single 6-pin power connector powers the MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G and allows the card to pull an additional 75 watts of power above and beyond what the the PCI-E 3.0 slow can provide. With all the Maxwell cards that I have tested, the power connector has been rotated 180° from previous generations so the fan shroud doesn’t interfere with your fingers when plugging in or removing the PCI-E power connector.

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On the leading edge of the fan shroud is the LED lit MSI Dragon and Logo. This LED can be controlled through MSI’s Gaming App or Nvidia’s GeForce Experience. The options for the LED are off, No Animation (solid on), breathing (slow fade on and off), flash, double flash, and Random, Random cycles between breathing, flash and double flash.

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With the Twin Frozr V cooler removed, The MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G VRM design is exposed. The VRM is passively cooled with a finned heatsink and thermal tape that sits right under the finned portion of the main cooler. The VRM is positioned between the GPU and the rear output connectors.

The memory used on the MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G are Samsung K4G41325FC-HC28 which are designed to run at 1750 MHz or 7000MHz but on this card has been cut back to 1663 MHz or 6650 MHz. The memory bandwidth on the GTX 950 is 128-bit. Only the two near the GPU are actively cooled. The modules on the back of the board are not.  This is the same memory module used on MSI’s GTX 960 Gaming 2G.

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The GTX 950 is based on the GM206 GPU and technically is the GM206-250-A1 as seen below on the GPU die. The GTX 950 is built on the 28 nm process and is DirectX 12.0 compatible. Nvidia has limited the shaders on the GTX 950 to 768 shader units, 48 texture mapping unites and 32 ROPs.

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The VRM on their GTX 950 Gaming is a 4+1 phase design. An On-Semiconductor NCP81174 is used as the controller, configured to its full 4-phase function with two MOSFETs-per-phase (a On-Semi NTMFS4C05N with a NTMFS4C10N) with On-Semiconductor NCP81161 drivers. Output filtering uses four 0.20uH “Super-Ferrite” chokes and 4x 820uF solid capacitors. The memory power has an On-Semi NTMFS4C05N with an On-Semi NTMFS4C10N, a 1.0uH low-profile laptop choke and a single 820uF solid capacitor. A Texas Instruments INA3221 on the top edge is a 3-channel high-current bus and voltage monitor involved in power distribution.

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The Twin Frozr V is MSI’s current cooling solution and they are tailor made for each card so it’s not a one size fits all even though the PCB looks identical to the GTX 960 MSI released earlier, the cooler is not. There is not a back plate on this card nor is there any type of stiffening support.

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The Twin Frozr V features low profile fans with a unique dual-blade type design: one is a dispersion blade positioned slightly higher with a scooped design followed closely by a more traditional curved blade design. There are fourteen blades in total, paired into seven groups of two. The fans are made by Power Logic with model number PLD10010S12HH and rating of 0.40A.

 

The GTX 950 Gaming 2G heatsink is a densely packed fin array with two heat pipes that help wick away the heat from the CPU. MSI calls this layout the “MSI Super SU” layout. As you can see one heatpipe is S shaped while the other is a U shape. The heatpipes come in direct contact with the top of the GPU as you can see the copper showing through the nickle plating as the pipes run through the base of the cooler.

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The base is where the GPU->Heatpipe heat transfer takes place. The base is large in comparison to the GPU as evidenced by the residual thermal compound on the base. The thermal paste was different that most that I’ve seen on GPUs. It is extremely easy to clean and not as chalk like as others. It reminded more of the thermal paste we use for CPUs.  Minor machining marks are visible on the base. I’ve removed and reinstalled the heatsink several times and each time the thermal paste spread is even and the contact patch looks the same.

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