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GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review: Maxwell Adds Performance Using Less Power

GPU Boost And Overclocking

Factory Clock Rates and GPU Boost

We already know that the base clock rate of Nvidia's GPUs isn't indicative of what those processors can run at under load thanks to the company's GPU Boost technology, so long as certain conditions are met.

Base and GPU Boost frequencies can be set in firmware by board partners. So, depending on the card and its cooler, you might see varying Boost ceilings, even between products with the same base clock. In the following chart, Gigabyte posts the most conservative ceiling. However, it's able to sustain a frequency that does not fluctuate. The other three boards, lacking auxiliary power connectors, do bounce around more.

Overclocking? Yes, But Only A Little

After long stability tests using the partner cards, we settled on ~1.3 GHz as the highest usable GPU Boost clock rate. At that point, the power limit was intervening fairly restrictively. Unfortunately, this limit is set to 100%. Until Nvidia fixes whatever is preventing higher power targets, it won't be possible to push the board harder (up to the PCI Express slot's 75 W ceiling).

In terms of performance, the Gigabyte and MSI boards fare similarly. The GTX 750 Ti Gaming OC does manage to push higher peak clock rates, but then has to dial back more often due to the TDP limit. Gigabyte's offering delivers more rounded behavior. It also operates at an incredibly-cool 46 °C, despite our overclocked settings.

First, we'll compare base clock rate settings to observed GPU Boost frequencies:

It's clear that as you push overclocked frequencies higher, the card steps in more often to dial back down. In reality, this means you don't get a ton of benefit in real-world gaming. Let's compare the increased frequencies to the corresponding frame rates in Metro: Last Light and Crysis 3, which we normalize and average together.

Roughly 14%-higher base clock rate (11% GPU Boost) yields about 7% more gaming performance. Power consumption barely budges though, and the GeForce GTX 750 Ti continues respecting its TDP limit. Short-term peaks (102%) are countered immediately with a clock rate reduction. But by capping the power limit to 100%, we end up with fairly modest gains, regardless of whether more power is available through a six-pin connector or not. Nvidia needs to fix its software-imposed ceiling before we're able to push higher.

  • meluvcookies
    on performance, I'll take the extra frames of the 265, but damn, for 60w, I'm totally impressed by this card. both the 750Ti and the R7 265 would be decent upgrades from my aging GTX460.
    Reply
  • s3anister
    But without the big cooler, GTX 750 Ti is daintier than a lot of sound cards we've tested.

    I'm pretty sure you meant to type "video cards" on page one there. Cheers.
    Reply
  • Bloob
    Ah, I just love some healthy competition.
    Reply
  • Bloob
    Also
    It’s difficult to make this story all about frame rates when we’re comparing a 60 W GPU to a 150 W processor
    Is a bit confusing.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    But without the big cooler, GTX 750 Ti is daintier than a lot of sound cards we've tested.
    I'm pretty sure you meant to type "video cards" on page one there. Cheers.
    Actually meant sound card :) It's definitely smaller than a small video card, but I even have sound cards here that are larger.
    Reply
  • Sangeet Khatri
    Well.. there is not a lot of performance in it, but I love it for a reason that it is a 60W card. I mean for 60W Nvidia has seriously nailed it. The only competition is way behind, the 7750 performs a lot less for similar wattage.Let's see how AMD replies to this because after the launch of 750Ti, the 7750 is no longer the best card for upgrading for people who have a 350W PSU.I don't generally say this, but Nvidia well done! Take a bow.
    Reply
  • houldendub
    Nice little card, awesome! I feel like this would be an absolutely awesome test bed for a dual chip version, great performance with minimal power usage.
    Reply
  • Randy David
    Anybody else notice the lesser shaders and TMUs on the Zotac card in GPU-Z?
    Reply
  • thdarkshadow
    The whole time I was reading the review I was like it isn't beating the 650ti boost... :( but then I remembered it uses less than half the power lol. I am impressed nvidia. While I make purchases more on performance than power consumption I can still appreciate what nvidia is doing
    Reply
  • houldendub
    12707408 said:
    Anybody else notice the lesser shaders and TMUs on the Zotac card in GPU-Z?

    Don't take this as fact, but the drivers look newer for the Zotac card than the others, possibly just a bug with the older drivers? The cards are advertised as having 640 shaders anyway.

    Also weird, the GPU-Z screenshot is taken with Windows 8, whereas the Gigabyte and MSI cards are on Windows 7. The mystery continues...
    Reply