Today, Nvidia announced the latest additions to its mobile GPU family with the GeForce GTX 960M and GTX 950M. We weren't able to get our hands on a reference system ahead of time, so we have no early benchmarks to share, but we do, at least, have specs and some details.
As far as specifications go, both the GTX 960M and 950M are actually very similar. The GPUs on both feature 640 Cuda cores. The GPU on the GTX 960M runs at 1096 MHz, and will boost higher when it has the thermal headroom; the GTX 950M will run at up to 914 MHz plus Boost.
Do consider, though, that these won't be the operating speeds in all laptops, as thinner and lighter laptops may not have the cooling power to keep the GPUs running at these speeds all the time. In these situations, even environmental conditions can affect actual performance.
Both of the cards have GDDR5 memory that runs at 2500 MHz over a 128-bit memory interface. The GTX 950M, however, also comes in a variant that has DDR3 memory instead, which runs at 1000 MHz over the same 128-bit memory interface. This one will probably go for a little less, and be featured in systems aimed more towards media consumption than gaming systems.
Naturally, both the GPUs are based on the Maxwell architecture, are fabricated on the 28 nm lithographic process, and come with support for Microsoft's upcoming DirectX 12 baked in.
Like the previously-launched GTX 980M and 970M, the new 960M and 950M offer Nvidia's BatteryBoost technology, which intelligently dials down frame rates when the GPU's full resources aren't needed. The more efficient GPU usage thus prolongs battery life. BatteryBoost should work hand in hand with Nvidia's Optimus technology, which trades off the notebook's GPU workload between integrated and discrete graphics, optimizing battery life without denting performance.
The GPUs also offer ShadowPlay, Nvidia's game capture and streaming tool that's been part of the GeForce experience since version 1.7 landed back in the fall of 2013.
Along with the launch of the 960M and 950M, it appears that there are a slew of notebooks from your favorite vendors now available with the new chips.
Nvidia noted that the Alienware 13, HP Omen, and Lenovo Y50 will all be updated with the new GPUs. We also have forthcoming details on the Razer Blade Pro (GTX 960M with 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM) and the Acer V Nitro (GTX 960M, no mention of VRAM), and MSI has several updated SKUs. These include the 15-inch GE60 and 17-inch GE70 Apache, 15-inch GP60 and 17-inch GP70 Leopard, and the 24-inch Gaming 24GE AIO gaming PC.
One thing you'll notice about most of these gaming notebooks is that they're rather thin; it seems the age of the heavy, chunky gaming laptop is ending. We'll be curious to see how the 960M, 950M and 940M help these more svelte gaming notebooks handle that oh-so-important balance of power and cooling.