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