Audio, Thermal And Power Testing
Asus equips its GTX 950 Strix with pair of 80mm fans, so this card was never going to be loud. We’ve tested these fans before and found them to be nearly silent, and the DirectCU II cooler has proven itself to be a robust and capable heat sink. With the ability to have the fans spin down under GPU temperatures of 60 degrees, Maxwell-based cards are often completely silent at idle.
Asus’ GeForce GTX 950 Strix is no exception. In fact, it ended up being one of the quietest graphics cards I’ve tested. Since my equipment doesn’t read below 35 dB(A), and I could make out some noise in a silent room, I listed it as 34 dB(A) under load. It may be slightly quieter than this in reality. The only other card that was too quiet for my equipment was the MSI GTX 960 I tested back in May.
At idle, the fans don't move. The temperature sits around 40 degrees in this semi-passive mode.
Having worked with several different iterations of the Maxwell architecture, as well as a number of different DirectCU coolers from Asus, I had a pretty good feeling I would see excellent cooling performance from this card. Even with just two heat pipes and a much smaller fin array, I expected Maxwell's efficiency to shine.
In testing, the card never exceeded 67 degrees, even after overclocking. As you can see from the graph, the temperature ramped up quite a bit quicker with the GPU overclocked, but it settled back down at just two to three degrees warmer than the stock speeds under load.
There are two interesting observations here. First, the Radeon R7 370, which draws quite a bit more power, actually runs cooler than Asus' GTX 950 Strix. AMD cards have a reputation for running hot, so this caught my eye. Of course, I'm sure the outcome has a lot to do with fan speed, which is made apparent in our noise test. The other stand-out was how cool the GeForce GTX 650 runs. It's nowhere near as powerful, but you can see that it doesn’t generate anywhere near the same levels of heat either.
Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture is renowned for its efficiency. The company has made some incredible progress in improving performance per watt. Pair that with the value nature of the GTX 950, and it was pretty safe to assume that this card's consumption would be fairly low.
That assumption proved correct. Surprisingly, Zotac’s GTX 960 AMP idles slightly under the GTX 950 Strix, though just over half of one watt is negligible. The load power test was again surprising, as the GTX 960 managed to draw 6W less in Battelfield 4. Comparing Asus’ GTX 950 Strix to the Gigabyte GTX 650 tells a much better story. The older/slower GPU's power requirements are significantly higher than the new GTX 950, drawing as much as 45W more under load.
AMD’s R7 370 matches the idle power draw of the GTX 950, but Nvidia’s GPU is quite a bit more efficient when we tax it.