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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M DDR3 vs. GDDR5 Review

DDR3 or GDDR5? Nvidia's GTX 950M is available in two different memory configurations. We compare the performance of the DDR3 and GDDR5 version.

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MSI PE60
MSI PE60

For the original German review, see here.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 950M is the smallest graphics card within the GTX lineup and is used for many multimedia notebooks. So far, we were only able to check the DDR3 version of the GTX950M, which is significantly behind the GeForce GTX 960M in terms of performance. This gap is now supposed to be filled by the GTX 950M with GDDR5-VRAM. We were able to evaluate the performance of the latter in a pre-production sample of the MSI PE60 2QD. We have already reviewed this model in a slightly different configuration (2QEi581).

The technical specifications of the two versions are very similar. Both are based on the GM107 chip (Maxwell architecture) and have 640 shader units. There are differences in terms of the clock, because the DDR3 version runs at a core clock of 993 MHz, while the GDDR5 model only reaches 914 MHz. The maximum GPU-Boost is also limited to just 928 MHz and therefore basically non-existent. However, the memory itself is much more important  because the GDDR5 memory manages a much higher memory bandwidth (80 GB/s vs. 28-32 GB/s). The 128-bit memory interface, however, is identical for both models. All in all, the GDDR5 version should have an advantage over the DDR3 version, despite the lower core clock. More technical information about the GTX 950M is available here.

The GTX 950M GDDR5 is therefore a lower clocked version of the GTX 960M (also GDDR5, 80 GB/s, 128-bit interface). The GTX 960M can run at up to 1176 MHz via GPU-Boost, which is almost 30% faster, compared to the GTX 950M GDDR5.

GeForce GTX 950M (DDR3)
GeForce GTX 950M (DDR3)
GeForce GTX 950M (GDDR5)
GeForce GTX 950M (GDDR5)
GeForce GTX 960M
GeForce GTX 960M
GeForce GTX 950M (GDDR5) idle
GeForce GTX 950M (GDDR5) idle
GeForce GTX 950M (GDDR5) load FurMark
GeForce GTX 950M (GDDR5) load FurMark

Synthetic Benchmarks

We start our performance evaluation with the synthetic benchmarks of the 3DMark series. We are mainly interested in the Graphics sub-score to rule out other influences (e. g. the processor). The current 3DMark 2013 shows that the GTX 950M with the faster GDDR5-VRAM is pretty much right between its two siblings GTX 950M DDR3 and GTX 960M. It is between 11-16% ahead of the DDR3 model and 17-22% behind the GTX 960M in the demanding Fire-Strike test (Graphics). The result in 3DMark 11 is rather sobering, where the faster memory does not make a difference. The GDDR5 version even falls behind the DDR3 model due to the lower core clock.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
4372 Points ∼100% +22%
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
4232 Points ∼97% +18%
Asus GL752VW-T4168T
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
4211 Points ∼96% +17%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
3591 Points ∼82%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
3238 Points ∼74% -10%
Toshiba Satellite P50-C-188
6200U, GeForce GTX 950M
3159 Points ∼72% -12%
HP Envy 17-n107ng
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
3093 Points ∼71% -14%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
31219 Points ∼100% +24%
Asus GL752VW-T4168T
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
29343 Points ∼94% +17%
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
29118 Points ∼93% +16%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
25091 Points ∼80%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
21715 Points ∼70% -13%
HP Envy 17-n107ng
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
20707 Points ∼66% -17%
Toshiba Satellite P50-C-188
6200U, GeForce GTX 950M
20018 Points ∼64% -20%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
5557 Points ∼100% +31%
Asus GL752VW-T4168T
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
5114 Points ∼92% +20%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
4482 Points ∼81% +5%
HP Envy 17-n107ng
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
4444 Points ∼80% +4%
Toshiba Satellite P50-C-188
6200U, GeForce GTX 950M
4306 Points ∼77% +1%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
4258 Points ∼77%

Gaming Performance

Our gaming tests support the result of the synthetic benchmarks, although the differences can vary depending on the game and the settings. In general, the GTX 950M with the faster GDDR5 memory fills the gap between its two siblings very well and the performance is usually sufficient for medium or high details in Full HD. Only very demanding games like “The Witcher 3” or “Rise of the Tomb Raider” will also require a reduction of the resolution as well as the details.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FX AF:16x
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
21.2 fps ∼100% +23%
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
20.1 (min: 18) fps ∼95% +17%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
17.2 (min: 15) fps ∼81%
Toshiba Satellite P50-C-188
6200U, GeForce GTX 950M
14.8 fps ∼70% -14%
1920x1080 High Preset AA:FX AF:4x
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
26.4 (min: 24) fps ∼100% +26%
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
23.8 fps ∼90% +13%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
21 (min: 19) fps ∼80%
Toshiba Satellite P50-C-188
6200U, GeForce GTX 950M
16.9 fps ∼64% -20%
BioShock Infinite
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF)
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
44.8 fps ∼100% +17%
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
44.1 fps ∼98% +15%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
6300HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
40.8 fps ∼91% +7%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
38.3 fps ∼85%
MSI GP62-2QEi781FD
5700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
29.6 fps ∼66% -23%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
26.9 fps ∼60% -30%
1366x768 High Preset
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
115.7 fps ∼100% +17%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
6300HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
108 fps ∼93% +9%
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
106.9 fps ∼92% +8%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
99 fps ∼86%
MSI GP62-2QEi781FD
5700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
89.8 fps ∼78% -9%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
78.2 fps ∼68% -21%
1366x768 Medium Preset
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
131.3 fps ∼100% +16%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
113 fps ∼86%
MSI GP62-2QEi781FD
5700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
110.1 fps ∼84% -3%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
96.2 fps ∼73% -15%
The Witcher 3
1920x1080 Ultra Graphics & Postprocessing (HBAO+)
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
15.2 fps ∼100% +31%
Nexoc G515 II
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
14.4 fps ∼95% +24%
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
13.7 (min: 11) fps ∼90% +18%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441231
4710HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
13.7 fps ∼90% +18%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
11.6 (min: 7) fps ∼76%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
11.2 fps ∼74% -3%
Asus N751JX-T4056H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
10.7 fps ∼70% -8%
1920x1080 High Graphics & Postprocessing (Nvidia HairWorks Off)
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
27.4 fps ∼100% +23%
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
27.1 (min: 21) fps ∼99% +22%
Nexoc G515 II
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
26.6 fps ∼97% +19%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441231
4710HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
26.3 fps ∼96% +18%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
22.3 (min: 19) fps ∼81%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
19.7 fps ∼72% -12%
Asus N751JX-T4056H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
19.2 fps ∼70% -14%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
18.6 fps ∼68% -17%
1366x768 Medium Graphics & Postprocessing
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441231
4710HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
55 fps ∼100% +35%
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
52.3 fps ∼95% +29%
Nexoc G515 II
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
50.7 fps ∼92% +25%
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
49 (min: 42) fps ∼89% +20%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
40.7 (min: 33) fps ∼74%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
37.6 fps ∼68% -8%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
35.6 fps ∼65% -13%
Asus N751JX-T4056H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
35.1 fps ∼64% -14%
1024x768 Low Graphics & Postprocessing
MSI GE62-6QD16H11
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
83.6 fps ∼100% +25%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441231
4710HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
81.1 fps ∼97% +21%
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
80.6 (min: 72) fps ∼96% +20%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
67 fps ∼80%
Acer Aspire V5-591G-71K2
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
60.9 fps ∼73% -9%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
58.3 fps ∼70% -13%
Asus N751JX-T4056H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
57.8 fps ∼69% -14%
Battlefield 4
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
6300HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
33.8 fps ∼100% +19%
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
33.4 fps ∼99% +17%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
28.5 (min: 24) fps ∼84%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
20.8 fps ∼62% -27%
1366x768 High Preset
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
81.2 fps ∼100% +18%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
6300HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
80.8 fps ∼100% +17%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
69 fps ∼85%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
55 fps ∼68% -20%
1366x768 Medium Preset
Acer Aspire V Nitro 7-791G-70TW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
110.8 fps ∼100% +17%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
95 fps ∼86%
Asus GL552JX-CN154H
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
77.6 fps ∼70% -18%
XCOM 2
1920x1080 Maximum Preset (8xMSAA instead of FXAA) AA:8xMS AF:16x
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
8.7 (min: 7) fps ∼100% +30%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
6.7 (min: 5) fps ∼77%
1920x1080 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
19.4 (min: 17) fps ∼100% +21%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
16 (min: 14) fps ∼82%
1920x1080 Medium Preset AA:FX AF:2x
Schenker XMG A505
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M
32.2 (min: 28) fps ∼100% +20%
MSI PE60 2QD
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 950M
26.8 (min: 24) fps ∼83%

Verdict

The GeForce GTX 950M GDDR5 is a nice upgrade over the existing DDR3 model. The chip is basically a GTX 960M with a lower core clock and without GPU-Boost, but all the other specs are identical. The previously big gap between the GTX 950M (DDR3) and GTX 960M is successfully filled by the GDDR5 model. You can expect performance gains between 10-25 % depending on the settings when you play games, but we still recommend the faster GTX 960M for more serious gaming ambitions.The GeForce GTX 950M GDDR5 is a nice upgrade over the existing DDR3 model. The chip is basically a GTX 960M with a lower core clock and without GPU-Boost, but all the other specifications are identical. The previously big gap between the GTX 950M (DDR3) and GTX 960M is successfully filled by the GDDR5 model. You can expect performance gains of between 10 and 25%, depending on the settings when you play games, but we still recommend the faster GTX 960M for more serious gaming ambitions.

More information and gaming benchmarks of all reviewed notebooks and versions are available in the constantly updated GPU article of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M DDR3 vs. GDDR5 Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2016-02-22 (Update: 2016-02-22)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.