AMD has historically been strong in the sub-$200 graphics card market, and its focus on capturing key price points between $250 and all the way down to $100 with its latest "Polaris" architecture shows just how important this market has become. Besides affordability, these graphics cards are priced to cater to the competitive e-Sports market, which marked the single biggest revival of PC gaming. These games run great on sub-$300 graphics cards, and anything above those is overkill. Only blockbuster AAA titles with cutting-edge production designs warrant spending more money on expensive graphics cards. NVIDIA has all but captured this market with its GeForce 10 series.
Integrated graphics solutions have come a long way. Succeeding generations of Intel processors (eg: Haswell vs. Skylake) have shown bigger leaps in integrated GPU performance than CPU core performance. AMD has also used its richer GPU IP than Intel to good effect and armed its processors with the latest Graphics CoreNext tech that supports async-compute, FreeSync, etc. These advancements from Intel and AMD spelled doom for discrete GPUs below a certain price range. The $60-ish entry level graphics cards have all but vanished. The new breed of e-Sports games have breathed life back into the viability of $100 graphics cards.
Before titles like "Overwatch" and "Paragon," you had e-Sports titles that ran on pretty much any graphics solution (eg: "DOTA 2," which runs fine on IGPs). The new MOBA titles need certain amounts of GPU power, but not too much. Something like a GTX 1070 would be way overkill for e-Sports gaming builds; at the same time, an integrated GPU would be underpowered. You wouldn't want frame drops when hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money are on the line. Hence, the sub-$200 market has been sliced across several price points, beginning with the one set at $100-$110. AMD's offering in this segment is the Radeon RX 460, which, after its recent price-cut, goes for $99.99.
NVIDIA launched the new GeForce GTX 1050 at $109, alongside the more powerful GTX 1050 Ti, which starts at $139. This card is based on NVIDIA's smallest GPU based on the "Pascal" architecture, the GP107. It has fewer CUDA cores than the GTX 1050 Ti, although NVIDIA saw it fit to clock the card higher. The card has 640 out of the 768 CUDA cores present on the chip, and 40 out of 48 TMUs, yet an untouched 32 ROPs and a 128-bit GDDR5 memory interface, holding 2 GB of memory. Its power consumption should be lower still than the GTX 1050 Ti, although NVIDIA has rated its TDP at 75W. You're more likely to see GTX 1050 rather than GTX 1050 Ti cards without any power connectors.
In this review, we are testing the MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Gaming X, a premium custom design graphics card by MSI that combines a factory-overclocked GTX 1050 implementation with the company's signature Twin Frozr cooling solution, which turns its fans off when the GPU is idling, and there is a custom-design PCB that features an additional 6-pin PCIe power connector to help bolster the card's overclocking headroom.
|MSI GTX 1050 |
GTX 1050 Ti
|GeForce GTX |
1060 3 GB
|Memory Size||2 GB||4 GB||2 GB||2 GB||2 GB||2 GB||4 GB||4 GB||8 GB||4 GB||8 GB||3 GB|
|Memory Bus Width||128 bit||128 bit||128 bit||128 bit||128 bit||256 bit||128 bit||256 bit||512 bit||256 bit||256 bit||192 bit|
|Core Clock||1024 MHz+||1200 MHz||1354 MHz+||1418 MHz+||1127 MHz+||970 MHz||1290 MHz+||1206 MHz||1000 MHz||1051 MHz+||1266 MHz||1506 MHz+|
|Memory Clock||1653 MHz||1750 MHz||1752 MHz||1752 MHz||1753 MHz||1375 MHz||1752 MHz||1650 MHz||1500 MHz||1750 MHz||2000 MHz||2002 MHz|