NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review: 1080p Gaming without a Power Connector

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
by Rob Williams on February 24, 2014 in Graphics & Displays

It’s often hard to get excited about a new $149 graphics card, but NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 750 Ti becomes one of the rare exceptions. For starters, it doesn’t require a power connector, and it has half the TDP requirement of its nearest competitor – all despite promised performance improvements. What more can be said? Read on!

Overclocking & Power, Final Thoughts

I admit that for the most part, I find GPU overclocking to be unimportant. As an end-user, I just couldn’t justify putting extra stress on an already-complex piece of hardware in order to gain, at best, 10% on the framerate. However, I will say one thing: Where real advantages of GPU overclocking can be seen is at the low-end of the spectrum, such as with the GTX 750 Ti.

I’m pleased to report that this holds true with this card. Its default clocks are 1020MHz for the GPU and 1350MHz for the memory, and using EVGA’s Precision tool, I was able to achieve a stable overclock of 1155MHz on the GPU, and 1550MHz on the memory.

In what’s sure to be an NVIDIA limitation, which undoubtedly has to do with the fact that the 750 Ti doesn’t require a power connector, every GPU overclocking tool I’ve tried capped the GPU at around 1155MHz. This is despite EVGA offering a 750 Ti model clocked at 1176MHz – clearly, a custom BIOS has been implemented there.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti - Overclock

To give these overclocked settings a quick test, I reran all of the “Best Playable” settings using them, and imported the same results from the default clocks to produce this graph below:

NVIDIA GeForce 750 Ti - Overclocked Results

The results were kept just about identical for AC IV, but all of the other games saw some rather substantial gains – at least +6 FPS, and more often +7. In the case of Blacklist, the overclock managed an additional 10 FPS, equivalent to a 14% gain.

Power & Temperatures

To test graphics cards for both their power consumption and temperature at load, we utilize a couple of different tools. On the hardware side, we use a trusty Kill-a-Watt power monitor which our GPU test machine plugs into directly. For software, we use Futuremark’s 3DMark to stress-test the card, and AIDA64 to monitor and record the temperatures.

To test, the general area around the chassis is checked with a temperature gun, with the average temperature recorded. Once that’s established, the PC is turned on and left to site idle for ten minutes. At this point, AIDA64 is opened along with 3DMark. We then kick-off a full suite run, and pay attention to the Kill-a-Watt when the test reaches its most intensive interval (GT 1) to get the load wattage.

NVIDIA GeForce 750 Ti - Temperatures

NVIDIA GeForce 750 Ti - Power Consumption

Given the lack of a need for a power connector, the power draw results above don’t strike me as too much of a surprise, but the temperature results sure do. AMD’s R7 260X has a substantial-looking cooler, while NVIDIA’s GTX 750 Ti is about as simple as it gets. Despite all that, the 750 Ti didn’t edge past 66°C. This is interesting, because with temps this low, it makes the larger coolers seen on retail cards look a bit foolish. It’s as though no vendor wanted to stick with this simple design based on the fact that it wouldn’t give the allure of the 750 Ti being a powerful card.

It doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: Impressive results here.

Final Thoughts

We discovered above that the 750 Ti is much more power-efficient than AMD’s R7 260X (and no doubt the R7 265, as well), and it also runs a lot cooler. But power and temperatures are not all that matters with a GPU, so overall, how does the GTX 750 Ti fare?

If the R7 260X were still selling for $149, the GTX 750 Ti would be a no-brainer, given the just-mentioned benefits and the fact that it performs better than AMD’s card in most tests. However, with the release of the R7 265, AMD has dropped the price of the R7 260X to $120, a price that can be had right this moment at popular e-tailers. When looking at things from the cost angle, the 750 Ti’s performance does not match its price-premium (25%).

For those looking to achieve the best bang for the buck, it’s with AMD’s R7 260X in this match-up. Plus, given the 14% boost in core count the R7 265 sees, it should match the 750 Ti in most gaming tests and perhaps best it in others – and because it’s set to retail at the same $149 price-point, that’s important. However, that assumes that the R7 265 will at some point become available for purchase, something I’ll have to see to believe.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti - Overview

So when looking at the facts here, what would cause someone to spend 25% ($30) more for NVIDIA’s GPU, which performs just 0~10% better? Well, for starters, there’s the NVIDIA-specific perks, like ShadowPlay (a technology I wouldn’t want to live without at this point). There’s also things like PhysX, but that’s about as useful on a low-end discrete card as DirectX 11 is on integrated graphics – it’s best left to the big guns.

Given the results we’ve seen, I do believe that the 750 Ti could use a bit of a price adjustment, but let’s not gloss over the fact that NVIDIA’s card is far more power-efficient than AMD’s, and will run a lot cooler. Remember, AMD’s R7 260X peaks at 81°C, whereas the 750 Ti with its simplistic cooler was capped at 66°C – a staggering drop of 25°C. There’s also the fact that it manages to be faster overall, but consume 31W less at full load.

And while it won’t affect most 750 Ti owners, I’m sure, the fact the card doesn’t require a power connector is major. That allows those with restrictive OEM PCs the ability to upgrade to a card that can deliver 1080p gaming with ease, all without the likely need of a PSU upgrade. While an OEM PC might include a PSU as small as 300W, that’s quite substantial when dealing with such low-power parts. At 60W, that’s a mere 1/5th of a 300W unit, and bear in mind, our test rig, which has 5 high-speed fans, an overclocked six-core Intel processor, and 32GB of RAM, peaked at 242W – nowhere near a 300W cap.

And yet, all of the games we tested could be enjoyed at 1080p resolution and with good detail. That, to me, is damned impressive.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti - Techgage Editor's Choice
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti

  • Casecutter

    Rob, very nice write-up. Nice to see the “playable setting” something l’d like to see more at this level of card. Also I’ve never seen a review state the “Vendor Favoritism” to what group (AMD/Nvidia) that assisted in backing the release… kudos! One thing, I know this reasons you work from the i7 (and OC’d), but I believe it should be stated that those Max settings results, especially when it comes to minimum frames from either card would in actuality take a notable hit, to in some cases not offer playable results. Most buying this level card at top would mean working from some i5-4440 at minimum, while plenty of older i3 and Phenom II X4 like 945 Deneb 3.0GHz.

    As to power I’m surprised that the power delta under load wasn’t more, I mean it’s really only 10-12% difference. It’s good but IDK, considering the R7 260X gives you ZeroCore, which in today’s world when most “sleep” their computer that 3-5W drop over days will adds up… more than the 10% when gaming a few times a week.

    Another is the fact that the basic versions that held the $150 price point have evaporated (some say “sold-out” but either way I’d see them as a rare birds anymore) and now all that out ther are the AIB customs with as you put it the “beefier-looking coolers”. The problem with that is Newegg is pricing them at $170-180 now. Sure that perhaps the new-ness factor, let’s hope that price is tempered a little over the next few weeks. Heck with Nvidia work from a 7% smaller die they should be able to be more value oriented than the R7 260X, which today is like $120-130 even one at $110 working a $20 rebate. That 40% difference pays for a lot of electricity.

    Here my thinking you be better off dumping the old and most likely inefficient 300W (or less) PSU for something like the Corsair CX430M 80+ Bronze Modular Active PFC PSU that $30 –AR$20. Then if really entry gaming like a young teen a 260X is acceptable; want really more often higher settings/some AA see about a R7 265 or a good deal on a GTX660. If spending $170 to comprise on power as not buying as PSU is throwing good money after bad. This 750Ti is most sensible if building a HTPC, but it falls a little short on price for any gaming machine/upgrade.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      Thanks for the detailed comment, once again!


      You deserve the kudos for actually noticing :-)

      “I know this reasons you work from the i7 (and OC’d)”

      I agree. I’ll add a note to the page soon about that, and keep that mention there in future content. I’ve been questioned about the decision to use high-end gear like that, but at the end of the day, the goal is to rid all bottlenecks (as it seems you are completely aware). I actually think we’re reaching a time where the CPU can be more of a bottleneck to a game than some people give credit, so it sounds like the premise for an article down the road.

      “As to power I’m surprised that the power delta under load wasn’t more”

      You’re not alone; basic logic would suggest that with the 260X being a 115W TDP card, and the 750 Ti a 60W one, we’d see more than a 31W delta, but not so. The reason could be that the reported TDPs are inaccurate, or there’s simply something else at play. Admittedly, I report the maximum value spotted during testing (twice over to verify), so we might very well see larger deltas if I were to record the wattage-over-time from a real-world game, and not a benchmark. Of course this would be in a perfect world; in my world I have a Kill-a-Watt.

      “Another is the fact that the basic versions that held the $150 price point have evaporated ”

      Ahh, fantastic =/ I looked at EVGA’s site and all of them have changed to “Auto-notify”. I’ll check with NVIDIA to see if I can get a reason for it, and see if a solution is en route, but I expect them to play coy as usual.

      With AMD’s inflation and now this, the GPU market has truly been put into a blender lately.

      I like your analysis at the end. It’s kind of frustrating just how much constant research people have to do to find the perfect GPU… things seem to change on a daily basis. When this article was pubbed, a $150 Ti was great; things are skewed when it becomes $180. Granted, the cards I see at Newegg are all overclocked, but even so… why on earth would there be stock of those and not the regular variants? Honestly, I find it odd that there’s OC variants of such a card at all… at $150 it’s already a bit overpriced; it just happens to offer unparalleled power consumption which helps negate that premium.

  • Casecutter

    Here’s how I see this, the 750Ti is what comprises the “entry, no 6-pin, plug-n-play market”; no different than the 5670 was back in beginning of 2010… so 4 years ago. Similar for that time 1680x was resolution of the day for the category, the 5670 could give you most titles on medium settings, but at that time it was a $75-80 upgrade with 1Gb GDDR5. In four years it’s at minimum 100% increase, that doesn’t fly!

    Against the 650Ti which MSRP for $150 I suppose it seems good, but that was overtly priced, as that used a 221mm die. Sure it was hard for Nvidia to get that down much more, but now it’s like 33% smaller and can’t provide some relief?

    If we look at what PC Perspective learned in their Upgrade Story we find that they couldn’t or didn’t feel they could provide the best graphic/playable experience most often with low settings, although Grid and Syrim provide medium that was with the best OEM box, a Core Gateway DX4885 with a i5-4440. I think working from that i5 machine or a Phenom II X4 like 945 Deneb 3.0GHz set-ups, and use a R7 250/7750 (no 6-pin), the R7 260X, and then find the best playable. I don’t consider the experience that comes across on the screen any much different between R7 250 and a GTX750Ti, while I’d say the GTX750Ti / R7 260X would basically spar with same settings and FpS. The difference the R7 260X leaves money for a nice Bronze+ PSU and Zerocore. If two twin machines… slept, browsed, and gamed identically over a month what either Kill-a-Watt record as total power used? That’s the story…

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      You certainly remember things are lot better than I do; I curse my horrible memory sometimes. Once a new series comes out I quickly forget about the one before it.

      “Sure it was hard for Nvidia to get that down much more, but now it’s like 33% smaller and can’t provide some relief?”

      I think this comes back to the “Because it can” scenario, where it doesn’t feel compelled to lower its prices because people are paying what it’s asking. It’s better for the bottom-line, after all, to not discount prices when it’s not needed. Unfortunately, such a stance should prove to be a great thing for AMD, it not for the inflation issues. Once those pass, I’m sure NVIDIA will become price-competitive once again out of nowhere, as if nothing happened.

      I hadn’t heard about that PC Per article until now; it’s quite a good angle to tackle a card like this from. Given the way Ryan tested the systems, it’s pretty hard to compare his results to mine. That Gateway machine packs a pretty decent modern Intel quad-core (3.0GHz) with 8GB of 1600 RAM, so that to me shouldn’t prove to be too much of a bottleneck. But despite that, Crysis 3 was benchmarked @ Low, whereas I found Medium to be playable, and likewise, GRID 2 was tested at Medium, whereas I found it to be completely playable with almost maxed-out settings.

      Ryan might have been stuck between a rock and a hard place though, choosing presets that could be run across each setting. I’m not sure that gives the consumer a great idea of what the card could do when manual tweaking is involved, though. The problem with using presets is that certain settings can be applied that can cripple a game. In the case of a game like GRID 2, Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination are sme real killers; so which would you prefer? GRID 2 @ Medium, or nearly max with 4xAA + GI/AO disabled? The same could be said for Crysis 3; I found Medium to be playable when Water, Shadows were put to Low and AA was disabled, while Ryan chose the Low preset.

      Either way, I don’t have those systems so I can’t claim that the Best Playable I found for this card would carry over perfectly to even that Gateway rig with ample Intel quad-core. It’s an interesting look, nonetheless.