Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050Ti: Affordable Graphics That’s Actually Gaming-Worthy?

Last time, we had a sniff around AMD’s latest entry-level pixel pumper, the Radeon RX 460. It was not impressive. This week, it’s time for the 460’s nearly-but-not-actually competitor from Nvidia, the GeForce GTX 1050. Except I’ve actually got the 1050Ti, which is in turn the 1050’s slicker, slightly more expensive sibling. So, can the Ti win where the 460 failed and deliver good-enough gaming at an affordable price?

Immediately, let’s be frank, the answer is no. The cheapest 1050Tis rock in at about £135 in Brexit tokens or about $140. This particular Ti from MSI, meanwhile, the GeForce GTX 1050Ti Gaming X 4GB really blows the budget at about £170 in the UK.

That is getting on for an entry-level 3D board even if you do get a little extra for your cash in the form of a factory overclock of around eight per cent over a standard 1050Ti and the promise of some additional overclocking headroom thanks to improved cooling and power supply.

But whether it’s this board or a cheaper, no-frills 1050Ti, the immediate temptation is to see what £150 will snag you second hand. It’s almost bound to be more performance. It’s all an awfully long way from the days when AMD in particular said it was targeting £200 as the sweet spot for price and performance for serious gaming.

Anywho, the prices are what they are, so what is the 1050Ti like? Again, I covered off the speeds in feeds previous here. But here’s the key passage covering the 1050 and 1050Ti’s inner workings:

“They’re based on the same new graphics chip, codenamed GP107, but there are a few differences reflected in official US pricing of $109 and $139, which also puts them right in the RX 460’s wheelhouse.

The CUDA core counts (shaders by another name) are 640 and 768 respectively and both sport 32 render outputs and a 128-bit memory bus. For context, a GTX 1060 has 1,152 cores, while a GTX 1080 rocks 2,650 of the little pixel prettifying beasties.”

Critically, the 1050Ti only comes in 4GB trim, which is arguably the minimum amount of graphics memory you want these days if you are remotely serious about gaming and a metric by which the basic AMD RX 460 2GB board we sampled a fortnight ago conspicuously failed.

Still, with raw graphics processing power of less than one third of the mighty GeForce GTX 1080, expectations clearly need to be kept in check regards the 1050Ti. But dare we hope for tolerable 1080P general-purpose gaming, which is exactly what the AMD 460, at least in 2GB trim, simply cannot deliver?

The 1050Ti with its nearly-but-not-actually competitor, the 2GB XFX Radeon RX 460…

Actually, yes. I jumped straight into Doom running the same medium-ish (technical term) settings at 1080P that I’d last dabbled with running the RX 460 and, bingo, the result is slick, smooth gaming around the 60 to 70 frames per second mark. In other words, there are a few frames to spare if you wanted to up the image quality a little.

It’s a similar story in Witcher III with the 460’s carry-over settings. It’s properly playable at 1080P. Toggle high in the global image quality settings and you lose some of the fluidity, but it’s still eminently playable. Thus, your choice is between quality of visuals and maximising smoothness and response. The ultra setting is clearly a step too far, but the overarching point is that you have options and you will find a set up you can live with at 1080P.

Much the same applies to Total War: Attila. It really flies on the medium settings inherited from the AMD 460 and gives you options for running with more bells and whistles while keeping the frames up at decent levels. It’s really only when zoomed right up close and personal with the troop action that proceedings are less than buttery smooth at 1080P.

With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that Shadow of Mordor, which is a fairly undemanding and consolely affair in terms of graphics, zips along sweetly even at ultra image quality settings. That in turn means that the 1050Ti is much more what I was hoping for from this generation of entry-level cards. It’s a board you could absolutely live with as a proper gaming solution for a 1080P screen and even has a little headroom to spare for the inevitable uptick in demand from future games, albeit you won’t be playing them at anything like maximum detail.

The problem, of course, is price. I’m just about OK with the notion of a cheap 1050Ti for roughly £135. It’s certainly money better spent than £100 or so thrown away on the miserable AMD Radeon RX 460 in 2GB trim. At nearer £170 for this MSI board, the proposition is far more marginal and thoughts turn to the second hand market. You’d fairly easily pick up a GeForce GTX 970 for that kind of money, which I’d find hard to overlook.

But then the second hand market comes with added risk. Exactly how you price that is the big question. You pays you money. You takes your choice. The 1050Ti is at least a proper gaming board you could live and not a completely pointless false economy of a card that will make you very sad. It has that much going for it.

TL;DR
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050Ti is pricey but worth a look if you favour new over second hand.

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31 Comments

  1. Nauallis says:

    Comparing the two, based on the review of the RX460 two weeks ago, wouldn’t this be suggesting that the 1050Ti is a better buy for the price for low-cost GPUs, regardless of whether a user prefers new or used, since it runs 1080P graphics at the industry-standard “medium-ish” settings with 60-70 FPS? Just wondering!

  2. dahools says:

    Interesting that this card seems to be getting closer to what we are after at 1080p, however it is over 50% more expensive than the XFX card you reviewed earlier.
    At £170 it kinda puts it at the price bracket of entry RX 470’s, see if you can get hold of one of these for a review link to scan.co.uk and see if its any better as a price comparison. It will obviously perform better than the 460 but see hoe it compares to the card you have reviewed above.

    Edit: the OC saphire card is an extra £4.50 on the same site too. link to scan.co.uk

    • Horg says:

      This is your friendly reminder to not buy anything from Scan.co.uk. Their customer service is appalling.

      • dahools says:

        I have used them for over 10 years (probably nearer 15) and on the two or three times I have required their customer service I have not encountered any problems what so ever.

        But I can only speak from my own experience so if you have had problems then fair enough but I would recommend them to anyone if they asked me.

        I have used Overclockers, Nova tech, Dabs, Ebuyer too over the years. I wouldn’t call myself loyal to any particular one, I normally go for where the best deal is at the time. Plus Scan’s location for pick up was usually a factor too in the past, where as I’m actually nearer Overclockers nowadays.

        Ha shows how long ago it was I was on Dabs lol. Its closed and redirects you to BT now and I dont trust them even if im stuck with their broardband

      • Paul B says:

        From my own (circa 10 year) experience, I’ve always received good customer service from Scan. Also, they use DPD for delivery, who give you a 1-hour time-frame for dispatch on the day of delivery (which comes in very useful)

      • aircool says:

        I’ve been using Scan for about 15 years as well and whilst no-one is faultless, their customer service is excellent and their PC builds have been bulletproof.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        Scan’s customer services are great until you need to do an RMA and then they are totally awful. I bought a build in parts off of them and the hard drive was DOA, it took 3 days of emails to get them to agree to an RMA and then another week for them to even book the return in. After spending £1400 with them and paying for their equivalent of PPI they basically left me with a useless box for 2 weeks while they made me sweat over a £70 hard disk, surely a company with good customer service would just send you a new drive or at least a swapout in a situation like that, but no they wasted my time and made me beg. I had to put my old iMac hard disk (5400RPM) in there for a fortnight to be able to use the thing.

        • Horg says:

          It was an RMA that turned me against them as well. I was strung along for two months over a dud graphics card, then they accused me of fraud (they literally claimed I sent them a dead card from ebay and kept the working model). Very nearly had them in the small claims court before they gave up and sent me a working replacement. Bad customer service happens from time to time, but Scan took it to another level, enough for me to warn other people away which I wouldn’t do for anyone else.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I’ve been buying off scan for years and I’ve had a few RMAs and mostly they’ve been excellent (the time they refunded me more than I paid for a out-of-stock graphics card was nice).
        The most recent time it took 10 days for me to get a replacement motherboard, which I’d put down as merely ‘ok’. Generally though I recommend them.

    • Vesperan says:

      The Radeon RX470 utterly smashes the 1050ti, so if theyre at about the same price its a no brainer to go with the RX470.

      If you want to max out a 1080P monitor then the RX470/480 are the way to go, or the Nvidia 1060. Its kind of bizarre that before I get my next graphics card in a couple of years, I will need a better monitor.

  3. aircool says:

    I’m looking at getting a standard 1050 for the gf’s PC. She doesn’t play graphically demanding games, bit SimCity would look a shit-ton better on a 1050 than the Intel HD530 on-board graphics.

    The biggest pull of a 1050 over a second hand card is power usage; her PC has a low Watt PSU which makes any second hard card out of the question, especially those that need a power connector.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Don’t waste your money. The fact that you can get a second hand gtx970 for less than the RRP of this card should be a no brainer, and was way understated in this article.
      EDIT: for low power usage you could pick up an iitx 970

      • aircool says:

        Even that uses about twice the power of the 1050 and still needs a direct connection to the PSU.

  4. fish99 says:

    Kinda unrelated to anything but do we have to see a woman being eaten by a shark every other time we visit RPS?

  5. nomilarac says:

    The first paragraph is one of the most unfair beginnings of an article I’ve read in recent times. Didn’t you trash enough the RX460 in your very unproffesional last article, that you now compare it the 1050ti, a much better card that in many markets costs almost 50% more than the Rx460?

    Get your act together, RPS:
    – The world is full of fantastic PC games that don’t even require a dedicated video card, and
    – The world is full of PCs without dedicated videocards, or PCs where putting anything more powerful than a RX460 or a 1050(ti) is pointless, or just not possible due to power requirements.

    There’s a perfectly valid market for this type of videocards, and there’s life beyond Dishonored2-performance-class videogames. You of all Pc Games websites should know the best.

    :angryface:

    • FriendlyFire says:

      So let me get this straight: you’re complaining about a gaming hardware post talking about gaming hardware and recommending stuff that plays AAA titles well enough?

      If all you’re playing is Super Meat Boy, this entire article is not addressed to you.

      • Vesperan says:

        The problem is that the author reviewed the Radeon 460 2gb, which is no way intended to handle the AAA games at high quality levels, and utterly slammed it for failing.

        That prior review was pretty bad, and so I expect a few people (and yes, including me) were riled up and waiting for this follow up.

        This said, while I have a few nitpicks overall this new review is ok. I’m sure Mr Laird will now sleep peacefully with this opinion from an internet nobody.

        This review is actually how the 460 review should have played out – jump into a game at medium level details and see how it goes. However last time he started at ultra settings at let the slagging go on.

        The review tackles the main problem with the reviewed 1050ti – price. Its hugely more expensive than the 460. Its one of those premium versions of a card where you’re actually better going up to the next tier of card completely. For example, a few extra pounds would get you an RX470 that would stomp the reviewed 1050ti.

        Overall this review reminds me of the articles earlier in the year where Mr Laird kept harping on about the upcoming Nvidia cards and ignoring AMD. His later articles always covered AMD to make it a more complete picture.

        • gruia says:

          author is ignorant ) .. but heck, such is life, you ignore the things that dont matter and focus on the valid input..
          thats how you get shit done, use the resources you have.

      • mukuste says:

        You seem to ignore that there is a whole spectrum of games between AAA and Super Meat Boy; for instance, older AAA games, MMOs and MOBAs and such. That’s the market these low-end cards are made for, and that’s the context in which their performance should be evaluated.

        Me, I’ve been gaming on a R7 260X for the last few years, playing mostly games that are a few years old, and it’s served me very well. Even the lowly RX 460 is a considerable step up from that.

        • aircool says:

          Indeed. Anything released in the XBox 360/PS3 era will run well on this type of card; that’s a lot of great, cheap gaming.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Those older or less-demanding games are increasingly well-served by integrated cpu graphics. Jeremy may be thinking a little too far ahead of the curve, as tech reviewers are wont to do, but the use cases for budget graphics are disappearing.

          Which is unfortunate, because the price for a basic gpu that can run new games at decent settings is getting a bit out of hand.

  6. Ejia says:

    Without the prefix I’ve started confusing the RX 460 and the GTX 460. I wonder if anyone’s tried selling the older one as the newer one in a scam.

    • pepperfez says:

      The companies almost simultaneously exchanging three- and four-digit model numbers was a strange, anti-clarity coincidence.

  7. ColonelFlanders says:

    Funny how you decimated the RX460 for being a dreadful card, then unfairly compared it with this overpriced piece of garbage, while praising said piece of garbage. You already said in your review that you could buy a second hand GTX970 for the same price (i got mine for 120 quid, LESS than the asking price of the 1050ti), which is so many miles ahead that this nonsense card shouldn’t even be considered for purchase. At least AMD could be afforded the distinction of trying to provide reasonable performance at a low price. This is just price gouging bullshit.

    • nottorp says:

      It really depends. If you only care about price/performance, you’re right.
      If you care about power consumption (i.e heat, and more importantly, noise), anything but the current nvidia cards are out of the question.
      The 1050Ti is enough to play Doom 4 on high at 1080p, there is one in my house that I’ve seen live. The particular card I bought is also small and does not require an extra power cable.

  8. mattevansc3 says:

    In future articles aimed at the budget/mainstream market is it possible to include some sort of size comparison?

    My last mainstream card was the Radeon 5770 and that was a tight squeeze to get in a midi case with the HDD bays. So even if the 970 is better value if its designed for one of those monstrous cases its not really a viable upgrade.

    • nomilarac says:

      While yours is a completely reasonable request, I’m afraid the current generation of budget/mainstream cards vary greatly in size, even between different models from the same manufacturer with the same GPU.

      Case in point, the dual fan cards pictured in this article are a bit longer than the norm, while there are some other 1050ti’s much more restrained in size.

      You’re mostly right about the 970 size, *most* current higher end cards are indeed “huge” compared to 5770s and the like, which weren’t particularly big usually. They’re not really an option in many cases.

  9. zat0ichi says:

    for 60fps at 1080p with almost all bells and whistles on high/max the 970 is well worth the risk second hand. It runs so cool you’d have to be really unlucky to find someone that clocked and cooked it.
    I almost caved and got a 1070. But the price!
    For a mid tier card its ridiculous.

    Tinfoil hat time.
    I ditched the gtx760 after 9months for a 970 because the performance was a major step up but the whole 3.5gb of vram thing makes more sense now. They deliberately scupper a perfect 1080p card with a shitty vRam setup to make the next gen cards sell better.

    Saying that I’ve not sat down and analysed the performance blips I get and attribute them to the 500mb of cheese or bad game design.

    Lets see if the 11 series are more sensibly priced as an incremental update.

  10. KingFunk says:

    Perfectly happy with my 1050Ti for £145. Was an upgrade from a 4870, so something of a leap. I use it for 1080p via Steam Link or 1650×1080 at my desk and am happy with the results in either case. Plays Ethan Carter on max with no issue, as well as Skyrim SE and DSR makes older games look much better. Also runs without a dedicated power supply and doesn’t run hot like my old card and so doesn’t require rather loud fan settings. Haven’t even tried OC’ing yet as I’m not sure my CPU (Intel 2 Quad 9450 running at 9650 settings) won’t just bottleneck any added advantage…

    Considering that I spent a grand on my rig in 2007(? – shortly before Fallout 3) and have spent only about £175 since I’m happy that this card and a bit of old RAM brought me back into the modern era…