Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 3GB Review: (Mostly) Faster Than 1050 2GB

Nvidia’s mainstream graphics card lineup is already dense. And yet, with its GeForce GTX 1050 3GB, the company attempts to slip another model between GeForce GTX 1050 2GB and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB. Back in 2016, those two cards started a mere $30 apart. So how the heck does Nvidia see room for additional segmentation?

According to our sources, it really doesn’t. Slowly but surely, GeForce GTX 1050 3GB cards will start replacing 2GB boards, particularly as the 512MB memory chips used on those 2GB implementations become harder to source. A 3GB version gives Nvidia's partners another option for satisfying demand using higher-density GDDR5. In turn, we’re told that GeForce GTX 1050 2GB and 3GB should be priced similarly.

Surprisingly, our benchmarks do show GeForce GTX 1050 3GB trailing the 2GB model in a couple of games. More often, though, it’s a fair bit faster. That’s why you won’t catch us gnashing our teeth over Nvidia’s naming strategy this time around, even though GeForce GTX 1050 3GB is based on a distinctly unique GPU configuration. We want clarity when an inferior product may be confused for something better. Here, GeForce GTX 1050 3GB is at least comparable to the family’s lowest-end member and deserving of its designator.

Meet GeForce GTX 1050 3GB

Notice that you haven’t seen any GeForce GTX 1050 3GB cards for sale yet. Launch plans are still in a state of flux, it seems, and our test sample’s manufacturer is camera shy as a result. For now, we’ll have to do without any glamuor shots.

Just imagine a small PCB with a GP107-301 processor, flanked by four memory emplacements, three of which are populated by 1GB GDDR5 packages. In comparison, GeForce GTX 1050 2GB has its emplacements occupied by four lower-density chips, while GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB employs a quartet of 8Gb packages. All three configurations offer 7 Gb/s data rates.

The display output configuration is similar to what we’ve seen from other GeForce GTX 1050 models: there’s one DisplayPort 1.4-capable connector, HDMI 2.0b, and a dual-link DVI port.

Really, though, what makes the GeForce GTX 1050 3GB unique is its GPU. Nvidia uses a GP107 with all six of its available Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs) enabled. Each SM features 128 single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units, totaling 768 CUDA cores and 48 texture units across the processor (similar to the front-end of a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB).

But the company disables one of GP107’s four 32-bit memory controllers, taking the aggregate bus down to 96 bits. Armed with 3GB of the same 7 Gb/s GDDR5 used on GeForce GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti, the new card’s theoretical memory bandwidth drops to 84.1 GB/s. This also results in the loss of one Render Output Unit (ROP) partition, taking the ROP count down to 24, and reducing the GPU’s available L2 cache by 256KB.


GeForce GTX 1050 3GB

GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB

GeForce GTX 1050 2GB

GPU

GP107

GP107

GP107

SMs

6

6

5

CUDA Cores

768

768

640

Base Clock

1392 MHz

1290 MHz

1354 MHz

GPU Boost Clock

1518 MHz

1392 MHz

1455 MHz

GFLOPs (Base Clock)

2138

1981

1733

Texture Units

48

48

40

Texel Fill Rate (Boost Clock)

72.9 GT/s

66.8 GT/s

58.8 GT/s

Memory Data Rate

7 Gb/s

7 Gb/s

7 Gb/s

Memory Bandwidth

84.1 GB/s

112.1 GB/s

112.1 GB/s

ROPs

24

32

32

L2 Cache

768KB

1MB

1MB

TDP

75W

75W

75W

Transistors

3.3 billion

3.3 billion

3.3 billion

Die Size

132 mm²

132 mm²

132 mm²

Process Node

14nm

14nm

14nm

In order to help compensate for fewer back-end resources, Nvidia specifies a more aggressive GPU clock rate. GeForce GTX 1050 3GB sports a 1392 MHz base frequency with a typical GPU Boost rate of 1518 MHz. That’s higher than either GeForce GTX 1050 2GB or 1050 Ti 4GB. And in our gaming tests, it was common to see clock rates start in excess of 1800 MHz, stabilizing around 1750 MHz after warming up.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content

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21 comments
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  • caledbwlch
    Any chance we can get a comparison of the 1050 3GB with the memory overclocked in comparison to the 1050 Ti?
  • dudmont
    These 1050s are begging for some OEM to add a 6pin PCIE connector and rework the power limits on the cards. With good cooling, I'm betting 2GHZ isn't out of the question, with a good GPU.
  • closs.sebastien
    would be good if compared with a 1060
  • King_V
    bit_user

    Well, our somewhat opposing speculations when the 3GB version announced pretty much are BOTH confirmed with this test.

    Sometimes it achieves parity with the 1050Ti, and sometimes it dips below 1050 performance.

    Depends on the game.

    One thing neither of us considered in our conversation - the need for higher clocks pushes up power consumption to the point where spikes occasionally exceed the specs for the PCIe slot.

    Still, the results are interesting - and my curmudgeonly side somewhat objects to the idea of cutting memory bandwidth and compensating for it by cranking up the power.
  • Giroro
    Since this is basically an overclocked 1050 ti with one memory chip missing, I figure it should be no problem to overclock any 1050 Ti to the same rate as the 1050 3GB.
  • redgarl
    Why this product is even released...?
  • BulkZerker
    @redgarl
    Second paragraph of the article.
    "According to our sources, it really doesn’t. Slowly but surely, GeForce GTX 1050 3GB cards will start replacing 2GB boards, particularly as the 512MB memory chips used on those 2GB implementations become harder to source. "
  • littleleo
    Better to test the real product when it shows up. Things must be slow at Tom's.
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    Any chance we can get a comparison of the 1050 3GB with the memory overclocked in comparison to the 1050 Ti?


    I've been playing with this a bit. Wanted to get the GDDR5 fast enough to give 112 GB/s but realistically it's going to take down-clocking the 1050 2GB, overclocking the 3GB card, and then seeing what difference the missing ROP partition/L2 makes. Will continue trying to come up with a good comparison.
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    Better to test the real product when it shows up. Things must be slow at Tom's.


    It *is* a real product. There's a model number and everything :) I've been itching to do something with graphics for months!
  • stdragon
    Anonymous said:
    These 1050s are begging for some OEM to add a 6pin PCIE connector and rework the power limits on the cards. With good cooling, I'm betting 2GHZ isn't out of the question, with a good GPU.


    The entire point of the 1030 and 1050 series is so that you're not required to have a PSU connector. While I get bus powered GPUs are not high-end gamer market products, they do make for good low to mid-range upgrade; specifically for OEM computers such as Dell and HP units. Though honestly most of those budget machines don't have a 300W PSU which is what nVidia is requiring as minimum for for a 1050 card.
  • Tom_207
    So what I read was a defective GP107 running higher clock speeds draws more power, makes perfect sense.
  • leonhartfvii8
    Why is the GTX 1050 Ti below 1050 from 2GB in Starcraft 2? WTF position error?
  • Trevor98
    Anonymous said:
    Why this product is even released...?


    Answer: product/market segmentation.
  • Stardude82
    Disappointing. The GTX 950 I bought 3 years ago for $100 trades blows with this card and even about the same power consumption.
  • 10tacle
    Anonymous said:
    Disappointing. The GTX 950 I bought 3 years ago for $100 trades blows with this card and even about the same power consumption.


    Well at such a low level GPU hierarchy, you are not going to see as big of a leap as you would say in higher level 9xx vs. 10xx GPUs. Not only that, but 3GB vs. 2GB doesn't mean much if you only have a 128-bit memory bandwidth bus and clock speeds won't help that much more either. It's like trying to push more traffic on a clogged freeway.

    And if I could only afford this level of a GPU for PC gaming in this day in age with Gen-8 console gaming graphics quality for 1080p and optimized games for utilizing that, I'd just buy a console (no offense intended as one who owns a retro gaming Pentium IV PC running a GTX 275).
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    Why is the GTX 1050 Ti below 1050 from 2GB in Starcraft 2? WTF position error?


    From the analysis on that page: "Nvidia dominated in StarCraft II, with all three GeForce cards hitting a platform-imposed bottleneck." Because that combination of settings is limited by something other than graphics, the variation in performance isn't indicative of those three cards' capabilities.
  • ET3D
    Worth mentioning is that NVIDIA's PlayReady 3.0 implementation requires a card with at least 3GB, so people who want a cheap HTPC card for Netflix in 4K (and a bit of 1080p gaming on the side) will now have another option.
  • 80-watt Hamster
    Anonymous said:
    Disappointing. The GTX 950 I bought 3 years ago for $100 trades blows with this card and even about the same power consumption.


    Right? This article inspired me to look at how my R9 380 (now with one dead fan) stacks up in the current market. It's fascinating that there are, at the moment, exactly zero cards available that outperform or even equal it for the $180 I paid in January 2016. (Substitute GTX 960 if Team Green.) One can easily spend that or much more on a 1050 ti for less performance.
  • King_V
    Anonymous said:
    Why is the GTX 1050 Ti below 1050 from 2GB in Starcraft 2? WTF position error?


    I wondered about that as well, but immediately below, it's stated:

    Quote:

    Nvidia dominated in StarCraft II, with all three GeForce cards hitting a platform-imposed bottleneck.


    So, my assumption would be that the slight variation between their FPS ratings are probably within a margin of error, and possibly that ordering is not consistently reproducible.

    That's just a guess on my part, though.

    EDIT: ah, right, cangelini already answered this question.