When we last looked at AMD’s entry-level Radeon RX 460, I wasn’t too impressed, so can its nearly-but-not-actually competitor from Nvidia, the GeForce GTX 1050, do any better? Well, the answer to that is slightly muddled, as I’ve actually got the GeForce GTX 1050Ti – the 1050’s slicker, slightly more expensive sibling. So, can the Ti win where the 460 failed and deliver good-enough gaming at a budget price?
For starters, you’ll have to pay a lot more for a GTX 1050Ti than an RX 460, as the cheapest 1050Ti cards rock in at about £135 in Brexit tokens or about $160. This particular 1050Ti from MSI, meanwhile – the GeForce GTX 1050Ti Gaming X 4GB – really blows the budget at just under £160 in the UK and $180 in the US according to Newegg. This 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 8% over a standard 1050Ti and the promise of some additional overclocking headroom thanks to improved cooling and power supply.
Still, when your typical GTX 1050 costs around £120 / $130, the RX 460 (and its closely related successor, the RX 560) can be found cheaper still at around or just under £100 / $120, the GTX 1050Ti has a lot to prove to make it worth your time. Let’s see how it holds up, shall we?
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 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 RX 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 RX 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 RX 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.
There’s always a hope that things might be cheaper, but when its big brother, the GTX 1060, starts at around £200 for the 3GB version and £260 for the 6GB variant, the GTX 1050Ti is about as good as it’s going to get for under £200. It’s certainly money better spent than £100 or so thrown away on the miserable 2GB AMD Radeon RX 460 or its successor, the 2GB AMD RX 560, but you may want to opt for a slightly less expensive version than this £170 MSI affair.