NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2 GB Review 49

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • According to NVIDIA, GTX 750 Ti will retail starting at $149.
  • Epic power consumption improvements; most power efficient GPU ever built!
  • Quiet
  • Good overclocking potential
  • No power connector required
  • Low temperatures
  • Support for CUDA/PhysX
  • Relatively high price
  • NVIDIA power limiter restricts overclocking
  • Card could easily be single slot
  • No SLI support
NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 750 Ti unleashes the company's "Maxwell" architecture. It is a quantum leap forward in GPU technology, not because of its performance, but its performance with very little power consumed. NVIDIA has been hard at work fighting the biggest enemy of graphics technology today: power consumption. Every ounce of power a graphics card consumes is turned into heat, which has to be peeled off the GPU, generating noise in the process. Power efficiency is also very important in today's mobile sector because it eats into your battery capacity. What makes NVIDIA's achievement even more impressive is that they did it without new GPU manufacturing technology. These first Maxwell GPUs are still built on a 28 nanometer production process - you'd typically see big efficiency improvements only when moving to a new process node, which would be the 20 nanometer process coming in late 2014. So take NVIDIA's improvements today and factor in additional improvements from a 20 nm production process and we could see a new breed of high-end NVIDIA GPUs with less power consumption than existing mid-range GPUs today (think of a 100 W Titan).
Our GeForce GTX 750 Ti sample provided by NVIDIA reaches performance levels that sit roughly between the GTX 650 Ti and GTX 650 Ti Boost, which I find rather poor when looking at gaming performance only. Usually, you'd expect a new generation to be faster than the previous one, and in my opinion, the GTX 650 Ti Boost sets the bar as it is still 8% faster than the GTX 750 Ti. The GTX 750 Ti already uses Boost 2.0 technology, so unless NVIDIA introduces a new Boost algorithm, I doubt we'll see a GTX 750 Ti Boost. Compared to the just-released AMD Radeon R7 265, the GTX 750 Ti lags behind by 16%, which is quite a significant difference, especially in the entry level segment. I would even go as far to say that the GTX 750 Ti is not the right card for serious 1080p gaming; you'd have to sacrifice too many detail settings to get decent framerates. For lower resolutions or older titles, the GTX 750 Ti is a good card, though. It is 13% faster than AMD's R7 260X. If you want real 1080p gaming, you should look at NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660 and 660 Ti since both are still part of NVIDIA's product stack.
Let us now take a look at power/heat/noise. This is where the GTX 750 Ti really outshines everything on the market. As mentioned before, NVIDIA has improved power consumption, but I doubt anyone would have expected such a huge improvement. Work loads that previously required around 100 W are now handled by the GTW 750 Ti with a mere 52 W, which is almost twice as efficient. Our performance-per-watt charts nicely put this into perspective. The GTX 750 Ti does not need an extra 6-pin power connector, which will also make it an interesting option for system integrators, as it enables them to keep cost of pre-built PCs low. NVIDIA has also improved idle, multi-monitor, and Blu-ray power consumption, although all three are tests where the company's product stack already outshone AMD's competition. Now, we see the recently released AMD R7 265 use 5x as much power than the GTX 750 Ti in non-gaming states - yes, 500%! Reduced power consumption not only benefits your electricity bill, but also directly affects heat and noise. With just 66°C under load and 30°C idle, temperatures are incredibly low; and that with NVIDIA's cheap heatsink that is nothing more than a piece of metal with a small fan strapped to it. Even in that configuration, the reference card is very quiet, barely audible in both idle and gaming. We also reviewed cards with custom coolers from board partners today, and their cards improve on these noise levels some more, which makes the GTX 750 Ti an excellent choice if you don't need much gaming performance, but want a very quiet experience. Low power/heat/noise also makes these cards great choices for small form-factor PCs that have weak power supplies or very little airflow. I'm sure Valve is eyeballing the GTX 750 Ti for their Steam Machine project. I also hope that board partners will seriously consider making single slot, low-profile graphics cards based on the GTX 750 Ti, which should be relatively easy to do if NVIDIA permits such designs. Historically, the market for these compact cards is completely owned by AMD, and their HD 7750 is available as a low-profile, single slot card while the fastest competing product from NVIDIA is the much slower GT 640.
We are seeing very good overclocking potential from the GTX 750 Ti, though it could be even better if NVIDIA's power limiter wouldn't engage so quickly. You'd normally ramp clocks up until you'd run into stability issues, which won't happen with the GTX 750 Ti. The card will instead sense that its power limit has been exhausted and clock down. The way to look for a good overclock is to then increase the card's frequency in steps until you see a drop in actual gaming performance. We accounted for this in our OC testing, and the frequencies displayed represent the clocks with the highest performance. It's also nice that Elpida chips aren't found on these cards (yet?), which would limit manual memory overclocking potential. Chips from Hynix or Samsung just overclock so much better. Still, even with manual overclocking, the card can not beat AMD's R7 265, which also overclocks well on its own.
NVIDIA's MSRP for the GTX 750 Ti is $149, which is not cheap. We've seen the faster GTX 650 Ti Boost retail for around $130 until NVIDIA pulled it from the market, and the GTX 650 Ti was only $100. AMD recently released the R7 265, which also costs $149 but is 16% faster, making it the clear price/performance winner. If you are an entry-level gamer looking for the best deal around at the $150 mark, I'd consider looking for a GTX 650 Ti Boost first, maybe used. Definitely consider the R7 265 and carefully weigh if the power consumption improvements are really worth the extra cost to you. As much as I love quiet and efficient cards, where the GTX 750 Ti is without a doubt the best option, I find NVIDIA's current GTX 750 Ti pricing a bit too steep to really take over the market by storm. I am, however, anxiously waiting for NVIDIA's high-end Maxwell GPUs that could truly revolutionize gaming.
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