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Review: ASUS GTX950 Unplugged for low power PCs

xeromist
Moderator
ASUS sent me its new GTX950 Unplugged for some testing and this is my experience. Feel free to ask questions!

Look Ma! No wires!
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Overview
This is an entry level graphics card for buyers who are budget conscious, constrained by a PC with limited upgradability, or have power/thermal concerns. What makes this card special is that it is designed to operate on only 75 watts of PCI-E slot power. It requires no external power connections which makes it ideal as a drop-in upgrade for virtually any PC, including those not intended for gaming. It's also extremely quiet. This card has a standard dual fan open air cooler but the power target is lower than most cards so it generates less heat and the fans do not have to work very hard. This means in addition to budget PCs this is also ideal for HTPC (Home Theater PC) usage where noise and small stuffy spaces are big problems.

Obviously with only 75w of power to work with this card will not be a high performance GPU but how did it do? I don't have any similar GPUs for comparison or fancy charts so this will just be straight numbers.


Specs for GTX950-2G
2GB GDDR5
Dual-slot
DirectX 12 & OpenGL 4.5
1x DisplayPort
1x DVI Port
1x HDMI Port
SLI Bridge connector
3 Year warranty


MSRP $159.99USD
(At time of writing Newegg has a lower price and a $20 rebate which makes it $130)

Unboxing

Box front:
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Box back:
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Box contents - No frills keeps the price low:
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Behold the card! The removable protectors on the gold fingers are a nice touch:
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The back - No backplate on this model:
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I/O - DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI:
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Test system
Intel i7 2600k
ASUS Maximus IV GENE-Z
16GB DDR3 1600 Crucial Ballistix Sport
Patriot Pyro SE SSD


Tests Performed

3DMark's Firestrike: Results are slightly lower than your average GTX950 due to the power constraint and also potentially due to the older test platform. After several runs the best score was 5553.

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 at 2560x1440 using automatic graphics settings maintained 40 FPS and up.

The Witcher 3 at 1920x1080 on High settings with motion blur and Hair Works off consistently maintained 30+ FPS even in outdoor areas with fire spells.

Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 benchmark saw an average of 29 FPS for all batches and a minimum of 21 FPS was reached.

All of the above were using quality tuned settings so if you desire a higher frame rate, visual quality can be turned down for more performance.

Power consumption and noise
I don't have the ability to monitor individual components but I did verify total system draw with a power meter at the wall. Idle was right around 100w. Throughout testing *total system draw* was around 175w and peaked at just under 200w. This is in line with the rated 75w draw for this card.

Even during heavy benchmarking the GPU noise never got above the volume of the 120mm CPU cooler. This is with a completely stock fan profile. No need to adjust it. I'm impressed.

SUMMARY
For the price point this card performs very well. It also meets a unique need for those with limited systems or HTPC builds. In the right situations this is the ideal card. It sips power and runs quiet. However, the ASUS GTX950 STRIX is only $10 more and has better performance. Also the ASUS GTX960 STRIX has a rebate on Newegg which makes it $155. The two STRIX cards do require a 6-pin power connector but that can also be adapted from two 4-pin molex connectors if a power supply doesn't have a PCI-E power connector. That extra power even allows the STRIX cards to be overclocked a bit if the power supply is reasonably sized. So most buyers would get more value out of a STRIX if they can handle the extra heat and power requirement. But if 6-pin power is not possible or noise is critical then this Unplugged 950 will do the job quite well.

Overall I give this card a 8/10
Very well designed for a specific need but most buyers should also consider similarly priced ASUS products that offer a better price/performance ratio.
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xeromist
Moderator
Hi all,

I don't generally do reviews and I'm just your average gamer with pretty average tools. So I'm open to feedback on this. If there's anything that needs to be spruced up just let me know and I'll do my best.

I apologize for the grainy photos but I just have a regular point & shoot from a few years back. I have higher resolution versions upon request but I don't feel they captured much more detail than these resized images.

I'm willing to do more testing if anyone feels it would help but in general these results are pretty representative of the performance you can expect on current titles. This is a budget card so buyers should not expect miracles but by adjusting settings the vast majority of games will be playable.

Also, I upgraded my original score because I missed that this would be well suited in a HTPC. Given the lack of good options in that market sector it's definitely a point in this card's favor.

-xero
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Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
That's pretty decent performance for a GPU with no extra power requirements! If you had a GSync monitor you could game quite happily just turning down a setting or two

So when are you starting up Xereviews.com?

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
That's pretty decent performance for a GPU with no extra power requirements! If you had a GSync monitor you could game quite happily just turning down a setting or two

So when are you starting up Xereviews.com?


That's a good point on GSync. I don't have one to test but you're right. Since this card is a good fit for HTPC it would be nice to test it with a 50" adaptive sync TV. 😄

I respect those guys trying to make a living doing news & reviews. It's a tough gig so I don't think I'd ever attempt it but it's fun doing this as an amateur while I keep my cushy day job!
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station…