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Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI

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Hi GT!!! This time I don’t have so much interesting hardware to make a huge post, but there is something relevant. So I want to share with you my thoughts and impressions on two things. First, about the new mouse from Mad Catz. Mad in it literally everything : from price to customization. And secondly – about something that a lot of people wouldn’t do, but the very fact that it is possible made me check it out… So, I took two GTX 950 and combined them into SLI.
About : Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI

Mad Catz R.A.T. Pro X – Frankenstein’s monster and the crown of evolution

The guys from Mad Catz showed the frankenshin mice a long time ago – the replaceable construction parts were hinged to the skeleton, and the rodent was transformed beyond recognition – from a super-compact mouse for finger-grip lovers to a huge monster that comfortably fits the whole palm. It seemed like what could be improved?
Yes, the older lines had problems with the, ahem, let’s just say, weird companion app. But the new line of mice works with the new software, where all the functions work properly, and the only thing left out of the "cracks" is a somewhat confusing and weird interface. But the interface is a thing of the past.
Anyway, Mad Catz thought and thought, and decided that changeable panels and mouse shape are not hardcore. That it’s necessary to customize everything. They did.

Given in full!

The Pro X does not seem to change only the number of zeros on the price tag. The sensor module itself is removable. There are three options to choose from right now, only one is included "out of the box". In my case it is the Pixart ADNS-9800, a popular "flagship" eye, used in many top-level gaming mice. The add-ons are only 30 bucks each (for a ~200 price per mouse). One of them is the equally popular Philips PLN2037 TwinEyeLaser, the other is for "old-school" fans – Pixart PMW3310 optical quality.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
The shape of the wheel and its "sensitivity" is adjustable. You lift the stem where the wheel is mounted, you tighten or loosen the free travel with the built-in screws.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
The side panel with the forward/backward buttons is replaceable. You want simple little buttons with no frills, you’re welcome. High panel and thumb pad? Done.
Another sidebar? Check. A resizable mouse back? Okay just the size, here you can tilt/rotate it to fit your hand too.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
And the best part is the magnetic mount for the slide pads and two sets of slide pads in the kit. The default is the classic "black" stickers: medium slip, medium or low abrasion resistance. The second set is the "white" ceramic feet. They have very low resistance, the mouse literally glides as if lubricated. Despite the tangible weight, the movements are surprisingly light, the feeling is very reminiscent of… probably a trackball. At the same time you can feel the mass and the absence of any resistance, only a slight inertia.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI


In terms of design – typical Mad Catz, elevated to the absolute. There is a sense of continuity, it is clear what and how they changed to support the new features, in general – there is no sense of foreignness. If you have already used some R.A.T number series – you will find comfortable values of the design-transformer and modules that fit your personal grip. Everything else, I think you can see in the photo :
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI

Inner world and impressions

I personally got the urge to buy the mouse purely because of this feeling of amazing ease of movement. But take your time, it has its disadvantages.
The wheel has force control, but the clicks when scrolling are weak, decreasing as the wheel relaxes, but there is no fully inertial scrolling. Here I would like just the possibility of easy switching of such modes, like some Logitech MX Revo.
The surface is marky and collects prints, dust, and dirt in literally minutes :
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
The side panel with replaceable buttons is cool. Wanting to make the design cheaper, the developers made it with push rods inside (the clickers themselves stand in the base of the mouse), rather than a full-fledged module with its own features. I understand why it was done that way, but if you play for all your money (and the mouse costs a modest $200-250), you could have put a full-fledged replaceable unit. You want the convenience of a graphics package, buy yourself a second wheel and forward-backward buttons. You play some WOW – MMO block with a dozen programmable keys. Don’t like frills, bought a mouse as a game mouse for shooters – a simple panel with one/two/three buttons.
And also at the time of release and testing the software was obviously raw – now I’m sure it has been brought up to date and it sees all the features of the mouse as it should. At least none of my friends who have been with Pro X since me have not complained about the software.


The price of this miracle rodent starts with obscene 12.5 thousand rubles, and ends up in really obscene figures. However, if to consider this little work of art as an avant-garde and impressive solution, which has no analogues I personally know, then 13 roubles is quite an acceptable price for such a toy.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
The model has a little brother, the R.A.T. Pro S – but don’t let the similarity of the name fool you. The Pro S is a touring solution. Minimal customization, a comfortable and versatile optical sensor and a reasonable price of 70 bucks (and about 5-6 thousand rubles here). This is more of a replacement for the not so successful R.A.T TE line, rather than a "simplified flagship".

GTX 950 SLI using Palit GTX 950 StormX Dual as an example

A new generation of graphics cards entered the market and many people rushed to sell their old ones for next to nothing to get a newer one. The 950s are NVIDIA’s youngest graphics cards which can be combined into SLI.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
NVIDIA GTX 950 itself – it’s a little "cut" 960, which uses as a core "junior" line of chips of architecture Maxwell: GM206. Simply put – all graphics cards based on Maxwell (and any other, with some abstraction) consist of the same blocks-clusters (GPC – Graphics Processor Cluster). Inside these GPCs hold unified SMM blocks, connected to the rasterization block and memory controller. The flagship TitanX and GTX 980 (chip GM200) have six of these blocks, GTX 970 and 980 (GM204) have four, but junior GTX 950 and 960 have only two:
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
Since each cluster contains its own memory controller which evenly "distributes" the memory bus across the SMM blocks, the video cards have a fixed total memory bus (348bit for GM200, 256bit for GM204, 128bit for GM206)
The 950 uses the same GM206, but only 12 of the 16 SMM blocks are still working.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
What does this give us in practice? With such a memory bus and only two memory controllers the video card will only have 2 GB of video memory – it simply won’t have time to process more. The memory bandwidth of GTX 950 is ~ 112 Gbit/s. So even if the GTX 950 hypothetically came out with 3 or 4 GB of memory, the difference in performance would be much less than the difference in price. Roughly the same, by the way, now with GTX 960 – for FullHD take 4GB variant, paying extra $50 (almost ⅕ the price of the video card) – stupidity, and at higher resolutions video card will be limited by a more modest capacity computing unit. Yes, in this case there are rare exceptions in the form of a couple or three games, and if the video card is taken just for them… But that’s not what we came here for.
So, two 950’s can be combined with an SLI bridge and make them work together. If you roughly "add up" their processing power, you get almost GTX 970, but unfortunately we have SLI, not Crossfire, and to get at least 80% increase would be nice. By the way, here’s a GTX 950 side by side with the HD7970 for comparison. The two 950’s should just about match the performance of this heavyweight.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI

How SLI works

Very briefly, SLI (at least before the Kepler family, something new was introduced there) works on the basis of legacy crutches. One video card is considered the "master", the rest are subordinate to it. The load can be distributed in two ways. The first option is to let one video card render from 30 to 70% of the upper part of the frame (the proportion varies dynamically with the complexity of the scene), the other – the lower part. Variant two – video cards draw frames in turns (one – even, the other – odd).
Both variants have their disadvantages. In the first case there may be "gaps" in performance, and overhead resources for synchronization are higher, in the second – it requires a full duplication of data in memory cards, and there is some chance that the load from frame to frame will be uneven. However, in modern AAA-tyles the load is such that it is more than enough for both cards.

What can be achieved on two 950 in SLI

So, let’s say you have 2 GTX 950s, an SLI bridge, and a desire to experiment. I’ve done tests on three games in four variants, the rest are taken from public sources. The desire to use two 950s in SLI might come up when using a monitor that supports high resolution – 2560×1440 or 3820×2160. In the case of the 4k2k I want to say thanks to the folks at MMD MonitorsDisplays for loaning the Philips 288P6LJEB. It’s a great mid-range on a nice TN matrix. After the calibration gives acceptable colors, eyes don’t get tired, no complaints about the ergonomics.
If one video card is not enough to work at native resolution, then two cards have a good chance to show decent results.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
To give you a clear example, let’s take a game that still produces a stunning picture, even though it itself is far from being new. GTA V is a huge open world, stunningly designed, detailed and stylish. The game is resource-hungry, but is pretty good even on medium configurations – of course, with lowered settings. It’s also great at digesting any number of resources available to it.
So, one GTX 950 at native resolution 2560×1440 with "all on high" settings produces 18.5 to 22-24 frames depending on the scene. The main problem is the lack of memory. Abrupt change of environment, rapid movement (especially flying) lead to FPS slumps and frees / subloads. On 4k2k situation is even sadder – there 20 FPS is the limit of dreams.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
Two graphics cards allow you to get a playable 30 FPS on 4k2k and… ~the same 31 FPS on average on 2560×1440.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
An attentive reader has probably already guessed that if the performance does not change when the resolution increases, then we are not limited to the computing power of video cards. That’s right! The problem is the amount of available memory. In spite of the fact that the games see the total capacity of 4 GB of video memory, the reality is that a maximum of 2 GB is used for each frame, and they are connected via a 128-bit bus. Decreasing the main "load" memory setting – texture resolution – to "medium", and in 4k2k maximum FPS grows to 39.1, in 2560×1440 – to 51. FullHD with "medium" textures gives a solid 60+ FPS (and is limited by Vsync of regular monitors), and we are not interested in more – without vertical sync to play and watch the rips – still a pleasure.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
What’s interesting, with "high" texture settings even FullHD periodically begins to sag – which means the weakest point of the pairing – just the bandwidth (and volumes) of memory. It remains to be seen what exactly is lacking – quantity or quality. GDDR5 memory responds well to overclocking. Every megahertz in the control panel will give us 4 real ones (for data, not instructions), the "factory" video card runs the memory at 6.6-6.7 GHz, the best instances easily add 1 effective gigahertz to these results.
My graphics cards were able to take 7.4 Ghz without too much trouble. Let’s see what has changed at 2560×1440 and 4k2k resolution with "medium" textures. The average FPS went up almost 7%.
In this case, we got a nice performance boost from the second graphics card, but GTA in general is written so that no matter how much you give it… But, for example, in Dark Souls III at the release there was simply no SLI support (rather, there was, but not working for everyone – in my case the second graphics card was kicking a bolt and was loaded by 5-7%), in some (crooked, in my opinion) potato engines, the presence of a second graphics card is a lottery and can lead not to improvement, but to deterioration average FPS. So there is a two-edged sword here.
2 grand GTX 950gives "acceptable" > 30 FPS at resolutions up to 4k2k in many modern games (BF Hardline, Thief, GTA V, Crysis, LotR:BFME HQ, WarThunder, Dark Souls III), and even in hot new products like Doom or Forza Motorsport 6 Apex.) However, with a 4k2k monitor and its pixel density you can safely play at an "incomplete" resolution, with anti-aliasing, and enjoy a much smoother picture – the main thing is to remember that you have a modest 2 GB of video memory to spare.
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
Well for FullHD it’s a great option, really… most likely if you built/upgraded your computer and got yourself a GTX 950, it’s unlikely you have the PSU and CPU power to install a second one.

Summing up the results

SLI of 950s has a right to live if you had one graphics card, and the other one you found on the street / borrowed from your friend for a beer / stolen from kindergarteners or just snatched for free. You will get great FullHD resolution results in the games where SLI will work fine (especially if you don’t go overboard with memory size dependent settings). Moreover, you will have access to 2560×1440 and even 4k2k resolutions (with certain expenses, of course), although with "console" graphics and FPS rates.
But to buy a second (new!) graphics card for SLI would be less rational than to sell your current one at the secondary market and buy one powerful one, like GTX 970. (And ideally, wait for the official prices of the RX 480 and compare it to the GTX 970). The price difference between the GTX 970 and GTX 950 almost twice as much – and by buying two (or adding another one) 950 you will spend roughly the same amount (considering the separate purchase of the SLI bridge) but the average performance gain will not be as great as a direct upgrade. Add to this the requirements for a suitable motherboard (with two full-speed PCI-E x16 soldered onto the motherboard), a good power supply, higher than in the case of a single graphics card overhead CPU resources… Also, now there is a new generation of top-end NVIDIA, and the prices of older cards of the past will go down dramatically. All in all, it’s worth the trouble if you happen to get the second graphics card for next to nothing and the rest of your hardware allows you to use SLI.
P.S.: Say hello to those morons who came up with this :
Trolling Bread: $200+ mouse and GTX 950 in SLI
Thanks guys, it was just so much fun trying to open the lock.

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