MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4 GB Review 61

MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4 GB Review

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Introduction

MSI Logo


The sub-$200 market-segment has been NVIDIA's problem area in terms of price-performance competitiveness with AMD, even though the company has had higher volumes. AMD's recent architecture launches focused heavily on this general market-segment with $250, $210, $180, and $110 products. AMD has a smaller war chest than NVIDIA and is hence focusing on the biggest segment within PC gaming - competitive e-Sports. Most games released for the competitive gaming crowd run great on sub-$300 graphics cards, and it's only blockbuster AAA titles with cutting-edge production designs that prompt people to invest in faster graphics solutions, where NVIDIA has established an unbeatable lead.

NVIDIA is getting hawkish and wants itself a bigger slice of the sub-$200 market-segment targeting e-Sports players. The company launched the $139.99 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and $109.99 GTX 1050 earlier this month with market availability and performance reviews set for today. The two SKUs are based on NVIDIA's smallest implementation of its "Pascal" GPU architecture, the GP107 silicon. This tiny chip packs up to 768 CUDA cores, 48 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and a 128-bit GDDR5 memory interface, holding 4 GB of memory on the GTX 1050 Ti.

These are still "Pascal" CUDA cores that tick at 1.35-1.45 GHz. NVIDIA's decision to go with a 128-bit wide memory bus shows that the GTX 1050 Ti has been built to a cost (with no more than four memory chips), which prepares NVIDIA for a price war with better-endowed (costlier to make) AMD offerings. NVIDIA managed to get the power consumption of the GTX 1050 Ti below the 75W mark, which makes it capable of sustaining itself on slot power alone. Its nearest rival from AMD, the Radeon RX 470 4GB, needs an additional 6-pin PCIe power connector to feed its 120W TDP setup.



In this review, we are testing the MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X, a premium custom-design graphics card by MSI that combines a factory-overclocked GTX 1050 Ti implementation with the company's signature Twin Frozr cooling solution, which turns its fans off when the GPU is idling, and a custom-design PCB that features an additional 6-pin PCIe power connector to help bolster the card's overclocking headroom.

GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Market Segment Analysis
 GeForce
GTX 950
Radeon
RX 460
GeForce
GTX 1050
GeForce
GTX 960
Radeon
R9 380
GeForce
GTX 1050 Ti
MSI GTX 1050
Ti Gaming X
Radeon
RX 470
Radeon
R9 390
GeForce
GTX 970
Radeon
RX 480
GeForce GTX
1060 3 GB
Shader Units7688966401024179276876820482560166423041152
ROPs321632323232323264563248
Graphics ProcessorGM206BaffinGP107GM206TongaGP107GP107EllesmereHawaiiGM204EllesmereGP106
Transistors2940M3000M3300M2940Munknown3300M3300M5700M6200M5200M5700M4400M
Memory Size2 GB4 GB2 GB2 GB2 GB4 GB4 GB4 GB8 GB4 GB8 GB3 GB
Memory TypeGDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5GDDR5
Memory Bus Width128 bit128 bit128 bit128 bit256 bit128 bit128 bit256 bit512 bit256 bit256 bit192 bit
Core Clock1024 MHz+1200 MHz1354 MHz+1127 MHz+970 MHz1290 MHz+1354 MHz+1206 MHz1000 MHz1051 MHz+1266 MHz1506 MHz+
Memory Clock1653 MHz1750 MHz1752 MHz1753 MHz1375 MHz1752 MHz1752 MHz1650 MHz1500 MHz1750 MHz2000 MHz2002 MHz
Price$120$120$110$175$175$140$165$170$290

$235

$250$210

Architecture

The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and its sibling, the GTX 1050, are based on NVIDIA's smallest silicon from the "Pascal" family, the GP107. With a die-area of 132 mm² and a transistor count of 3.3 billion, this chip is tiny, having been built with very clear cost objectives in mind.



NVIDIA has still made sure that unless a design choice doesn't substantially deviate from its cost objectives, it will implement it. A good example of this is the fact that the GP107 silicon, despite featuring just 768 CUDA cores spread across six streaming multiprocessors (SMs), is split into two graphics processing clusters (GPCs) of three SMs, each.

The decision to spread six streaming multiprocessors across two GPCs means that three SMs share a Raster Engine, specialized units with geometry/tessellation units. The streaming multiprocessor, the indivisible subunit of the GPU, is identical in design to those featured on NVIDIA's fastest TITAN X Pascal graphics cards. Each packs 128 CUDA cores, a PolyMorph Engine, and dedicated geometry processing components. The two GPCs are cushioned by a 1 MB L2 cache wired to a new-generation GigaThread Engine - the GPU's traffic cop - and a 128-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface.



At its reference clock speeds, the GPU has 112 GB/s of memory bandwidth at its disposal. This is bolstered by NVIDIA's lossless memory compression tech, which should increase effective bandwidth in a small but significant way. On the GTX 1080, NVIDIA claims this gain to be 20 percent in the best-case scenario. Something like that would certainly come in handy for the GTX 1050 Ti.



The "Pascal" architecture supports Asynchronous Compute as standardized by Microsoft. It adds to that with its own variation of the concept with "Dynamic Load Balancing."

Packaging

Package Front
Package Back




You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Documentation

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

The MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X follows the company's red and black theme introduced with the most recent TwinFrozr coolers. A backplate is not available and doesn't make much sense in this low-cost market segment. Dimensions of the card are 23.0 cm x 13.0 cm.

Graphics Card Height

Installation requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include a DVI port, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort. Unlike previous NVIDIA cards, the DVI port no longer includes an analog signal, so you'll have to use an active adapter. NVIDIA also updated DisplayPort to be 1.2 certified and 1.3/1.4 ready, which enables support for 4K @ 120 Hz and 5K @ 60 Hz or 8K @ 60 Hz with two cables.

The GPU also comes with an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 2.0b compatible, which supports HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies. The GPU video encoding unit has been updated to support HEVC at 10-bit and 12-bit.

Multi-GPU Area

The GeForce GTX 1050 Series does not support SLI.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back).
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