by Rob Williams on October 25, 2016 in Graphics & Displays
Since the first Pascal release this past spring, NVIDIA has rolled-out a handful of high-end (and really high-end) GPUs, so now, it’s time to get the low-end settled. That’s fulfilled with the release of the GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti – both 75W parts. Priced at $109 and $139, respectively, both cards target the 1080p resolution. Let’s see how they fare against each other, and AMD’s Radeon RX 460.
With the winter months ahead of us, we’d assume a GPU vendor would release a card hot enough to heat a room, but today, we have the opposite. In fact, these new GPUs (yes, two!) don’t even require a power connector. So, if your goal is to bask in the warmth of your PC while gaming, you better get on overclocking that CPU.
With its GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, NVIDIA sneaks in past AMD’s Radeon RX 460 and sits somewhere in the middle of that card and the RX 470. The non-Ti model, as you might suspect, targets the RX 460 head-on. Which of those two will rule supreme? Well, it’s not often that a new model comes out targeting another that doesn’t come ahead, so that should answer your question up-front.
Both of these GPUs are suitable for 1080p gaming, but there are some caveats to be aware of. The GTX 1050 includes a meager 2GB of VRAM, so you’ll need to prepare to adjust settings quite heavily in today’s games if 60 FPS is your target. And even then, it’s probably best to assume that you won’t be achieving 60 FPS outside of simpler games. As for the Ti model, it sports twice the VRAM, a typical 4GB. That alone makes it a more appropriate 1080p card in 2016, but pushing things even further, it also includes 20% additional cores.
While all of the usual vendors are releasing their own takes on the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti today, the models we received came from MSI. NVIDIA’s suggested pricing for the non-Ti model is $109, whereas the Ti model is $139. As we’ll see in the results, that extra $30 can go a long way.
Here’s a quick roundup of NVIDIA’s current crop of cards:
|NVIDIA GeForce Series||Cores||Core MHz||Memory||Mem MHz||Mem Bus||TDP|
|GeForce GTX 1080||2560||1607||8192MB||10000||256-bit||180W|
|GeForce GTX 1070||1920||1506||8192MB||8000||256-bit||150W|
|GeForce GTX 1060||1280||≤1700||6144MB||8000||192-bit||120W|
|GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||768||≤1392||4096MB||7000||128-bit||75W|
|GeForce GTX 1050||640||≤1455||2048MB||7000||128-bit||75W|
Something tells us the TITAN X doesn’t have much to worry about! Starting with our last GPU review, we’ve begun putting together a simple chart that gives our impressions of where a particular card is best-suited, resolution-wise. In the GTX 1050’s case, we can’t in good conscience call the 1080p performance anything but “Poor”, but that doesn’t mean that it’s pointless. It simply means that 60 FPS shouldn’t be an expectation, and if you are fine with that, then the card should suit you well. As for the Ti, it gets upgraded to “Good”, thanks not only to its increased framebuffer, but also the additional cores. These are not ratings we’re hauling out of our butts; these are based off of our hands-on testing (minus the TITAN X; those are educated assumptions since we never received the card.)
I should also note that these ratings have the potential to change over the next couple of days. Due to a lack of time, I was unable to spend some honest time tweaking each game on each card to figure out its best playable result, so that will be taken care of after this review. If any of the ratings deserve to be changed, I’ll update the table below. Why would they have the potential to change? Simply because our benchmarked settings are sky-high; already inappropriate for such cards. Hence the need for further testing.
|NVIDIA GeForce Series||1080p||1440p||3440×1440||4K|
|GeForce GTX 1080||Overkill||Excellent||Excellent||Good|
|GeForce GTX 1070||Excellent||Great||Good||Poor|
|GeForce GTX 1060||Great||Good||Poor||Poor|
|GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||Good||Poor||Poor||Poor|
|GeForce GTX 1050||Poor||Poor||Poor||Poor|
Writing this review has come down to the wire, so if you need clarification on something, or if I forgot something, please feel free to leave a comment and berate me. In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at our test system:
Framerate information for all tests – with the exception of certain time demos and DirectX 12 tests – are recorded with the help of Fraps. For tests where Fraps use is not ideal, I use the game’s built-in test (the only option for DX12 titles right now). In the past, I’ve tweaked the Windows OS as much as possible to rule out test variations, but over time, such optimizations have proven fruitless. As a result, the Windows 10 installation I use is about as stock as possible, with minor modifications to suit personal preferences.
In all, I use 8 different games for regular game testing, and 3 for DirectX 12 testing. That’s in addition to the use of three synthetic benchmarks. Because some games are sponsored, the list below helps oust potential bias in our testing.
(AMD) – Ashes of the Singularity (DirectX 12)
(AMD) – Battlefield 4
(AMD) – Crysis 3
(NVIDIA) – Metro: Last Light Redux
(NVIDIA) – Rise Of The Tomb Raider (incl. DirectX 12)
(NVIDIA) – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(Neutral) – DOOM
(Neutral) – Grand Theft Auto V
(Neutral) – Total War: ATTILA
If you’re interested in benchmarking your own configuration to compare to our results, you can download this file (5MB) and make sure you’re using the exact same graphics settings. I’ll lightly explain how I benchmark each test before I get into each game’s performance results.
Note: For some reason, Hitman gave me unexpected results, so those were scrapped for this review. The same applies to power consumption; our test rig was drawing more power than usual, and I’m not sure why. Due to tight timing, I was not able to investigate before publishing.