As fun as it is to drool over the specs of the latest high-end graphics cards like NVIDIA’s recent GTX 980 Ti, the fact that it costs a minimum of $650 to get your hands on one puts it well out of reach for a most people. It’s an enthusiast-level card though, so it’s not even meant for “most people” anyway. For those of you who still want a dedicated graphics card that can play all the latest games without breaking the bank, NVIDIA’s long-rumored GTX 950 may be the thing for you. The $160 card just launched and all the reviews have been pretty great.
High-end video cards like Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti and AMD’s Radeon Fury X are what many gamers aspire to, but the fact they’re aspirational means they’re not what most gamers actually purchase. Spending several hundred dollars (or more) on a video card is never easy to justify. Humble but capable budget cards represent what the bulk of gamers actually use. Nvidia has a long history of producing excellent cards for around $200 that can be traced back to the 8800 GT, an affordable choice that was able to play many games of the era at 2,560 x 1,600 resolution (back then, 16:9 was not the go-to form factor). Yet the company has arguably struggled when forced to limbo its price lower. Its current entry-level card, the GTX 750 Ti, is now over a year old, and there’s a big hole in the company’s line-up between it and the $200 GTX 960. The GTX 950 fills that hole. With prices starting at $160, the card is Nvidia’s response to AMD’s recently released R7 370, a card that typically sells at an identical price. Unlike AMD, which re-brands and slashes the price of older GPUs to create budget offerings, Nvidia is using its latest architecture, known as Maxwell, to back the 950. Let’s see which strategy works best.