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

Crazy Performance For A 60 W Card

Last week, AMD made two announcements. First, it was dropping the price of its Radeon R7 260X to $120, effective immediately. Second, it previewed the Radeon R7 265 at $150. Today, the 260X remains a mostly-$140 card. And the 265 isn’t expected for a couple of weeks yet.

So, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2 GB, which it says will be available by the time you read this for $150, really does battle with AMD’s Radeon R7 260X and what’s left of the outgoing GeForce GTX 650 Ti. Based on our benchmarks, we know that the GM107-powered board is quicker than both slightly cheaper cards. At least from a gaming angle, Nvidia’s pricing seems appropriate, though not particularly value-oriented.

Then again, this is perhaps the most volatile we’ve ever seen the graphics card market. If AMD manages to ship its R7 265 at $150, it’ll have a much faster card—something better-suited to battling GeForce GTX 660, currently selling for closer to $200. Gamers with modest power supplies would likely find that their best bet in a pure breakdown of performance per dollar.

It’s difficult to make this story all about frame rates when we’re comparing 60 and 150 W GPUs, though. Surely, power and efficiency have to also come into play. We tend not to dwell on those figures too intently because gamers don’t lie awake at night, worried about how many cents per kilowatt-hour they’re spending. But power does come into play when you’re eyeballing small form factor cases, when you’re trying to upgrade an old tier-one box, and when you’re mining cryptocurrencies.

In each of those situations, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti turns the Maxwell architecture’s significant efficiency improvements into palpable benefits. The card is small, for starters. Although every implementation we’ve seen thus far chews up two expansion slots, it should still fit in spaces less forgiving of longer boards. And we’re hoping to see single-slot implementations, too. Of course, it helps that 60 W of heat is easier to dissipate in the confines of a compact gaming box.

Or how about an older hand-me-down system with integrated graphics and a 300 W power supply? Without the extra connectors to support a modern discrete graphics card, you’re forced to either buy a new power supply or settle for the highest-end card with no other dependencies. Previously, that was AMD’s Radeon HD 7750. Now, it’s the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 Ti, based on the Maxwell architecture, offers solid performance at 1920x1080 and is only rated for 60 W, so it doesn't need auxiliary power. This makes it ideal in aging gaming PCs or small form factor enclosures.

And then there’s the cryptocurrency mining story, which currently shoulders the blame for unreasonable prices on most of AMD’s line-up. In absolute terms, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti is just about as fast as Radeon R7 265. But again, that’s a 150 W GPU. The new GeForce uses just 40% of its power. You could throw four onto a motherboard for $100 less than one Radeon R9 290X, use less power, and achieve higher hash rates. Let’s just hope Nvidia’s Maxwell-based parts don’t similarly suffer from their own aptitude in this discipline.

In the end, there are a number of situations where Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 750 Ti cannot be matched by any card from either vendor. In other comparisons, the GM107-based card is strong, but simply priced fairly based on its competition. And then there is an as-of-yet unrealized match-up where AMD can deliver a stunning value-packed counter-punch, though we remain skeptical of Radeon R7 265’s price and availability.

Even if it is able to deliver plenty of 265s at its promised price, AMD will undoubtedly be facing other Maxwell-based part in the near future. And based on GM107’s showing, we’re excited to think about what Nvidia might do with this architecture and a 250 W power budget.  

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.