Today NVIDIA officially launched their latest mobile GPUs, the GTX 960M and 950M; on a quieter note, the 940M, 930M, and 920M also showed up. NVIDIA launched the high-end GM204 back in September/October last year and brought out the mobile GTX 970M and 980M using the chips, and they more recently launched the desktop GTX 960 using a new GM206 part with up to 1024 CUDA cores. Considering the GTX 965M has 1024 CUDA cores many felt it would use GM206 as well, but that didn’t happen; in a similar fashion, those expecting (hoping) GTX 960M and 950M would use a derivative of GM206 are also going to be disappointed and it continues to use the GM107 chip.

The new GeForce GTX 960M and 950M end up being clock speed bumps from the existing GTX 860M/850M, though this time the 960M is purely Maxwell based and there’s no Kepler alternative. The GTX 950M has 640 CUDA cores running at 914MHz (+ Boost), and it can be paired with either DDR3-2000 (yuck!) or GDDR5-5000, both using a 128-bit interface. While the additional bandwidth of GDDR5 may not matter too much at lower resolutions, we’ve seen in the past that it can have a significant impact on performance at 1080p and medium or higher settings.

Interestingly, the clocks and core configurations mean that potentially the GTX 950M is actually a bit slower than GTX 850M (640 cores at 936MHz + Boost compared to 914MHz + Boost), but NVIDIA doesn't disclose the full range of base clocks and Boost clocks so the 950M will hit higher clocks on average compared to 850M. 960M meanwhile represents a minor bump in clock speeds over GTX 860M, going from 1029MHz + Boost to 1096MHz + Boost; the RAM stays the same with GDDR5-5000 providing 80GB/s of bandwidth. Keep in mind that both the 850M and 860M are marketed with "up to xxx MHz" language where NVIDIA has now switched to advertising the base clock (no "up to"). Even so, the newer parts are likely only 10% (give or take) faster than the previous generation parts.

NVIDIA’s product pages for the three lower tier GPUs reveal precious little in the way of specifications; all we know is that the parts are DirectX 12 capable and that the 920M is rated as being ~3X the performance of Intel’s HD 4400 while the 930M and 940M are 3.5X and 4X the performance rating of the HD 4400. The 940M and 930M are derived from GM108 and will replace the existing 840M/830M, while the 920M is a Kepler design that replaces the existing 820M. While NVIDIA’s specifications rate the 840M at 5.0X the performance of the HD 4400 where the 940M is "only" 4.0X the performance of HD 4400, NVIDIA changes the games used for the performance score calculations each generation so they're not directly comparable; the newer parts however are all designed to be faster than the existing parts.

Here are the full specifications for the old and new GM107 based parts, the GeForce GTX 960M/950M and the 860M/850M:

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M/950M Specifications
  GTX 960M GTX 950M
GTX 950M
GTX 860M
GTX 860M
GTX 850M
Processor GM107 GM107 GM107 GM107 GK104 GM107
CUDA Cores 640 640 640 640 1152 640
GPU Clock (MHz) 1096 + Boost 914 + Boost 914 + Boost Up to 1029 + Boost Up to 797 + Boost Up to 936 + Boost
GDDR5 Clock 5GHz 5GHz 2GHz 5GHz 5GHz 5GHz
Memory Interface 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Maximum Bandwidth 80GB/s 80GB/s 32GB/s 80GB/s 80GB/s 80GB/s
Maximum Memory 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB
eDP 1.2 Up to 3840x2160
LVDS Up to 1920x1200
VGA Up to 2048x1536
DisplayPort Multimode Up to 3840x2160

Along with the new parts, NVIDIA and their partners have announced several new laptops using the “new” GPUs. Below are images of the new Acer Nitro V, Alienware 13, ASUS G501, HP Omen, and Lenovo Y50. Obviously there won’t be a major difference in performance between the new GTX 900M parts and the existing GTX 800M parts, so this is most likely just NVIDIA aligning the product names for use with the upcoming Broadwell systems.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    Generally speaking, the GTX 860M is nearly twice as fast as the GT 750M:
  • eanazag - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    The it is the exact same hardware as the 860M Maxwell part. What Nvidia and AMD tend to do is is differentiate supported features on the newer versus older model numbers. Otherwise it is a clock bump and likely a more mature process.

    In mobile both companies (A and N) rebadge frequently. AMD does this a lot on desktop too. AMD 7970 and R9 280 - same thing but different in driver support long term.

    I don't mind a rebadge if there is a difference in how it is treated from a feature standpoint. I have gripes with rebadging when it results in support mismatches - like DirectX versions or simple features missing.

    An example is AMD's R9 285. Having better software feature support than the R9 290 in the Omega driver. There are hardware differences and I understand that. I just don't get the best features go to a #3 card in the lineup. Release at the tippy top and refresh on down. Whatever.
  • Sushisamurai - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    Is it just me, or are the X60/X50 series degrading in performance? The process hasn't changed, but we're getting less and less shader cores and smaller memory interfaces. Sure we get more battery life, but with so many rebadges and little increase in performance I feel a little shafted from behind.
  • Gigaplex - Thursday, March 12, 2015 - link

    It's not just you.
  • Atakelane - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    "920M is a Kepler design", while the official source says it is of Maxwell gen
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    I believe the "official page" is wrong, as NViDIA technical marketing specifically told me it was based on Kepler. Plus:

    I've notified NVIDIA of the website error.
  • garadante - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    Somewhat offtopic but this is Nvidia and Maxwell. Are we ever going to see that 960 review?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    I'm not sure if Ryan will ever do a full 960 review at this stage, but the performance numbers will likely be included in upcoming GPU reviews. Fundamentally, 960 isn't much more than the same Maxwell 2.0 architecture in a different configuration (GM206 is half the shaders and memory bus as GM204), so performance, price, and power use are the only real factors to investigate.
  • Crunchy005 - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    Thanks marketing for ruining tech. These can barely be performance boosts at all, they rebrand to a new badge with the same tech and all they did was clock it a bit higher. It's like all the tech these days everyone makes a huge deal over 5% bump year to year if even that but they rebrand and advertise big performance increases to sell. Already hard enough to find a discrete GPU in a laptop with intel HD running wild, and companies hardly give you all the info you need if there is one. Good luck finding the specifics on that 950m, hope it isn't that DDR3 one. Nvidia makes great cards, but this is ridiculous.
  • mapesdhs - Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - link

    It annoys me intensely that so much of this stuff in the laptop world is dominated by
    what is (let's face) an unbelievable amount of jargon puking. It really should not be
    necessary for any end user to have to wade through this level of spec detail about
    laptop-based gfx options.

    For all the supposed specs given, they convey no real idea how one option compares
    to another, what level of gaming they're aimed at, how they compare to older products, etc.
    And like others, I loathe the rebranding and spec overlap for old vs. new. Much more so
    than desktop GPUs, laptop GPU tech feels again and again like marketing spin gone mad.
    It wouldn't be quite so infuriating if laptops were actually built to last more than a year.


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