Nvidia is adding two new Pascal-based cards to its portfolio—one looks like a winner and the other...well, not so much.
The GeForce GTX 1050 employs the company’s GP107 processor with one of its six SMs disabled. The 640-core GPU operates at a base frequency of 1354 MHz and is complemented by 2 GB of GDDR5 at 7 GT/s. In the DirectX 12 games where AMD’s architecture typically shines, Nvidia manages to hold off the Radeon RX 460 4 GB. In DirectX 11-based titles, it’s quite a bit faster. Only one benchmark—Doom—puts the Radeon on top, and then only by a hair.
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti wields a complete GP107 with all 768 of its CUDA cores enabled and 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. There’s no doubt it’s faster than the vanilla 1050; we’re just not sure the difference is worth $30 more.
The narrow gap between 1050 and 1050 Ti is due at least in part to Nvidia’s 75 W ceiling on both cards. Fitting the 1050 Ti in under that threshold requires lower clock rates, whereas the 1050 spins up a little more freely. Board partners who add a six-pin power connector and exceed the official TDP have plenty of room to overclock and hit more aggressive frequencies. The MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4 GB our German team tested is a perfect example; it ran stably at 1900 MHz.
Should you buy either card? That’s going to depend on a few unknown (yet related) variables: market price, competitive pressure, and availability.
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti should be available starting today, and Nvidia says it’ll sell for $140+. We already know the GeForce GTX 1050 isn’t expected for a couple of weeks yet. Nvidia tells us that one should start at $110. Then again, we’ve already seen GeForce GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 launch at one price, garnering value-based praise, and then climb. AMD separately sent an email telling us it’s dropping the price of Radeon RX 470 and 460 as low as $170 and $100, respectively. But neither AMD nor Nvidia have satisfactorily explained to us the relevance of suggested pricing when board partners can opportunistically add premiums and dramatically alter the attractiveness of a given product. In some cases, we still consider previous-gen cards for our Best GPUs column because they make more sense than the latest marked-up models.
If GeForce GTX 1050 shows up at $110, it’ll almost assuredly take the place of GeForce GTX 950 in our monthly list of recommendations, besting the Radeon RX 460 (even if the 460 successfully lands at AMD’s $100 price point). This is the card able to change mainstream gaming, should Nvidia execute as-promised. The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti at $140 doesn’t do enough beyond the vanilla 1050, at least in the case of our power-limited GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4G OC, to warrant spending extra on it.
When it comes to the competition, Radeon RX 470 probably should have been a $170 card right out of the gate. We aren’t sure why it's still selling for $200, particularly after AMD made such a big deal about $200 RX 480s and then failed to maintain that model's price. The Radeon RX 460 is still a compelling mainstream board, particularly if you’re enjoying the latest DX12-based games. In older titles it’s beaten soundly. Bottom line: neither of AMD’s price adjustments overshadow what we see as the strength of a vanilla GeForce GTX 1050.
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