Nvidia 1050: Cheap 1080p/60FPS Graphics?

I’ve been lucky/dorky enough to live a life in the mid-range of graphics cards, so I must confess that what goes on with entry-level boards is a bit mysterious to me. Clearly though, that’s where a whole heap of people need to focus their interests – in many cases purely because of cost, in others because they’re stuck with some nasty off-the-shelf PC that doesn’t have enough space or power supply connectors for a Big Mama card. Nvidia’s next, the GeForce GTX 1050, is for those folk – the idea is it can do most modern games at medium settings in 1080p, at a cost of approx $110/£115.

Haven’t used one myself, so can’t give you first-hand experience: this is just a heads up sorta thing. If you prefer red to green, AMD’s RX 460 is more or less equivalent, with its 2GB version running about a tenner cheaper and the 4GB a tenner dearer than the 1050. On paper the 1050 is a little faster, but in practice YMMV – some games play nicer with GeForces, some with Radeons.

The 1050 also comes in two flavours, the standard and the Nvidia-traditional Ti boosted version. Numbers, if you want ’em: 768 CUDA cores, 4GB of GDDR5 memory and max clockspeed of 1392MHz for the Ti, but 640 CUDA cores, 2GB and 1455MHz for the standard. If you’re thinking about one of these, I’d nudge you towards the £139 Ti, primarily because of the memory. 4GB allows a lot more headroom for decent textures, which are one of those things which can make the difference between a game looking a bit haggard and relatively sharp’n’shiny.

Nvidia are pushing the 1050 towards the esports market, as yer Dotas and LOLs don’t tend to ask too much in terms of hardware requirements. If you’re still toting a four-to-two year old low or even mid-range card, this should be a decent jump for a whole bunch of other stuff too – should get you the magic 60 frames per second at 1080, potentially making the difference between that and dropping down to your monitor’s non-native and therefore sludgy-looking 720p.

Nvidia claim you’ll get your 60/1080 in big mainstream hits such as Overwatch and GTA V, which perhaps makes it appealing as part of a ‘not too much more than a console’ gaming box.

Possibly the main draw here, though, is that the thing doesn’t require any power connectors and is fairly short – so you should be able to drop it right into a PCI-E slot on even the most basic motherboard, without worrying that you don’t have the cables or the space. Most variants of the 1050 do still take up two slots in your case, however, so check you’ve got the room for that.

People who’ve felt painted into the corner by their old Dell or HP system should be able to avail themselves of this. And folk with low-profile or otherwise teeny cases may want to plump for this to power a TV PC or similar too.

Again though, you should be able to achieve something very similar with AMD’s only slight older RX 460. See which you can turn up cheapest, I reckon.

The first GTX 1050 Ti cards are due on on October 25th, while the GTX 1050 is due “on or before” November 8th.

If you want my advice, I’d strongly recommend trying to get your hands on another £100 somehow and picking up either a Radeon RX 480 or GeForce GTX 1060 – both come in between around £210 and £250 depending on manufacturer and store (and, as with the 1050 and 460, both are better and worse than each other in different ways). You get a whole lot more poke for your money and thus it’ll be longer before you need to upgrade again, but if you are one of those without a roomy case and a power supply with a bunch of unused plugs, that might not be plausible.

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  1. SteelPriest says:

    Power supply connectors should never limit your graphics card choice :S

    • Bremze says:

      Unless you want it to work

      • SteelPriest says:

        So get a £2 molex adapter?

        It’s not at all unusual to have a PSU that has more than enough capacity for a ~250W card but not enough 8/6 pin graphics power connectors, especially considering how power hungry some older gen cards were.

        • Bremze says:

          Molex adapters are a good way to kill your pc. If your PSU doesn’t have the required connectors, it’s either a) ancient and should be replaced or b) a no name OEM unit that should be replaced.

          The PSU is something that you never ever cheap out on.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            I’ve cheaped out on them for 25 years, never had one pop.

          • Regicider 12.4% says:

            I had a cheap one that blew and took the RAM and GPU with it on months old mid-range build once. Wasn’t fun.

            It’s a bit overkill to buy some S+ Elite 1200W Pre-Order Deluxe Navy Seals Special Forces F4tality Sellout Edition with blinking laser light fans if you don’t need it but it’s worth to pay a bit more for a better brand and some Watts overhead just to avoid annoying coil whine after some use.

          • Vorrin says:

            after a lifetime of mixed fancy, semi-fancy and bog standard PSUs, I also feel somewhat skeptical of this (‘The PSU is something that you never ever cheap out on.’) statement

          • Premium User Badge

            phuzz says:

            I’ve never had a PSU pop, but I have had no end of problems from cheap ones that took ages to diagnose.
            If your PSU isn’t up to snuff it can cause all the other components to act a bit wonky, which makes tracking down the actual problem much harder. Random crashes, random bluescreens, programs that would just sometimes refuse to run for no reason.
            A half decent PSU just makes life so much easier when troubleshooting. It doesn’t have to be 1000+ Watts, but a decent brand with a proper warranty is worth it imo.

        • Cantisque says:

          Wouldn’t help with my HTPC case, the card is almost flush with the top of the case, which is where most PCIE connectors go. I would either need some right-angled, flat connector, find a model that has the connector on the end of the card instead, or preferably get a GPU that doesn’t need the connector at all.
          So yeah, this feature is a big draw for me, especially if it performs as well as I hope against the GTX 750 Ti. Being an HTPC, it doesn’t need to be anything above entry level for gaming, but native h.265 decoding and a relatively large performance boost might make it worth the investment.

  2. Blutsuechtiger says:

    What about this little snuff in SLI?

  3. Optimaximal says:

    …but if you are one of those without a roomy case and a power supply with a bunch of unused plugs…

    Or someone who just naturally dislikes AMD/ATI products?

  4. syllopsium says:

    Or ‘people who have used ATI products before, and got fed up at them being less functional (i.e. stereoscopic 3D being a payable addon), less stable, and less well supported’

    I have a HD6950, and some GTX480s. Old, I know. The Unix compatibility with the GTX480 is far better, and it is *still supported right now*. The 6950 stopped being supported a year ago, and the last released drivers are utter shit – they blue screened a PC repeatedly on installation, until manually installed.

    Sure, it’s an old card, but the pattern with ATI is consistent : drop old cards sooner, and support less.

    • Premium User Badge

      hemmer says:

      Are you talking purely unix-based systems here? Because on Windows my experience is exactly the reverse, nvidia drop their cards rather soon – which is what makes them age badly because nivida get their usually very good performance from optimisation – while my old HD7850 still works nicely in a friend’s pc.

      Both manufacturer’s obviously have their upsides and downsides, especially with changing years and technologies, often the trends even reverse, which is why I found your statement so interesting.

      • syllopsium says:

        No, I’m mostly talking Windows. If I target Unix in this instance there was a new FreeBSD driver a whole eight days ago for the GTX480, last AMD driver for the 6xxx series was in 2015. I seem to remember AMD dropping support for a large number of cards when Windows Vista/7 came along, and NVidia not doing so on the same scale, but I’m happy to be corrected.

        Nvidia are by no means perfect, but on the whole I think their support is better. AMD always seem to pursue technologies in a half hearted manner, and choose new ideas when there’s no compelling reason to do so. NVidia seem to innovate more, even if it is in an annoyingly proprietary manner.

        It’s not so much that I think it is entirely unreasonable to drop support for a five year old card, but it annoys a little when the drivers are buggy (the only reason I upgraded was to run the Mos Eisely tech demo, which informed me my drivers weren’t good enough), their final replacements clearly weren’t properly tested, and their competitor provides better support.

        To be fair AMD have some compelling products – their integrated APUs are ok, they do some great embedded chips, and the Firepro S series look very interesting for VDI. However, they’re the underdog, and to beat NVidia they need to be significantly faster, more stable, just as functional, and notably cheaper. They won’t win (at least me) just on price, over a multi year lifetime of a card, I care little about saving thirty quid.

      • syllopsium says:

        Also in part, I think the slowing of performance improvement is important. When released the HD6950 was worth £240, the GTX480 was £400, they can be bought on ebay for £50 or less now.

        To consistently get improved performance, however, will cost somewhere in the region of £150 for a new card, somewhat less if double precision floating point performance is not important. The minimal depreciation is remarkable.

        If they’re still good enough to run a reasonable number of modern games, it makes justifying dropping their support more difficult.

        • fabronaut says:

          In your case, it might just be misfortune of missing the architectural cutoff for optimizations?

          I have a 7950 and have been looking to upgrade, but it still works really well. I’m only just starting to hit titles that want a bit more raw power at 1080p to prevent noticeably annoying framerate drops. (Doom 2016 is mostly fine, Rainbow Six Siege is a bit hungrier but still well optimized.)

          I think the general consensus (on Windows) is that AMD does a much better job of grandfathering older cards in on driver updates. From what I’ve read, Nvidia moves along quickly every year or two, commensurate with their vastly larger R&D budget, whereas AMD has kept reusing bits of their older pipeline structure, such that the optimizations trickle down somewhat on common GCN 1.2 platforms up to present day. (Hawaii and Tahiti codename GPUs and forward.)

          I kinda want to grab one of the cheaper 1060 cards, although I’d love a 1070. RX 480 pricing here is slightly more expensive for generally a bit less raw power… But I would like an asynchronous refresh monitor eventually, and I don’t think I want to shell out for GSync ever, unless I were to get it used. Seems to add 20%+ to the base msrp of expensive high end monitors here, and AMD has been a generally a bit more price competitive for the bracket of card I tend to buy. (mainstream performance, a coippe notches down from the flagship tier stuff)

          • Pretzelcoatl says:

            I think I’m in a similar boat; I’m currently running a 7/8/50, and it’s…fine? It’s approaching three years old, and wasn’t even close to top of the range then, but it’s been consistent.

            I’ve been looking for an upgrade, and £150 for the Ti doesn’t sound bad at all, but I’m worried about support for it being dropped soon after shelling out. I’ve only ever experienced an nVidia card via a laptop, and while I know it’s irrational, it haunts me to this day.

  5. Jetsetlemming says:

    Ooh, I’m definitely liking the price point, especially: I’ve been wanting to upgrade from my GTX 550ti for months now, but the 750 and 950 models have been consistently at ~$130+ this whole time, and I can’t afford that. I still can’t afford $110, but hopefully this pushes down the other prices.

  6. HexagonalBolts says:

    I had some silly issues with ordering parts as you might have seen on the RPS forums and accidentally ended up with two GTX 1060s because of my idiocy, I’m selling one (brand new) for cheaps on ebay if anyone is interested: link to ebay.co.uk

  7. Targaff says:

    An announcement of this sort seems somewhat inevitable given my finally upgrading my GPU – and to a 950 – for the first time in 4 years in the week prior.

  8. trjp says:

    What bothers me about GPUs is that prices are drifting upwards (esp here in the UK but also in the EU) whilst capabilities aren’t – or at least not at the same rate…

    Also – telling someone to get a £200+ card instead of a £100-and-a-bit card is hardly useful – if they had the money, they’d do that??

    I generally say you buy either

    a – last gen low-mid range card used
    b – current gen higher-end card (because it will be worth something when you resell it to the people doing a!)

    New low-end cards lose value/are quickly relatively worthless so either take advantage of that on eBay or save-your-pennies and get a better card but get OUT of it before it’s worthless?

  9. fish99 says:

    1080p/60fps in GTAV, but they’re talking about medium settings.

  10. Vermintide says:

    And here I am using a GTX760 that a) still seems to sell for mid to high end prices and b) still gets very playable frame rates at high to ultra settings in the vast majority of games.

    I feel like it SHOULD be getting towards the time to upgrade but the market seems to have gone nowhere- Originally, my plan was to let prices drop, then pick up a cheap second one for SLI to give me another couple of year’s use out of it, but the things are still selling for over £250, I didn’t even pay that much when I bought it…

    I don’t even the hardware these days

    • melnificent says:

      I’ve experienced the same thing with my 290x. Managed to pick one up for £200, as it was the day before the 390x embargo ended and everyone expected an improvement instead of… yeah.

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