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Can The GTX 1050 Ti Outperform 2012’s $500 Flagship GTX 680?

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Hey guys welcome back to another Hardware Unboxed video, for this one we have a bit of an unusual comparison.

If you owned one of these back in 2012 you would have been pretty chuffed. As Nvidia’s’ flagship GPU of the time the GTX 680 packed quite a punch and upon release did just enough to dethrone AMD’s Radeon HD 7970. AMD of course returned fire soon after with an overclocked GHz Edition of the 7970, but that’s not the point of this story.

Recently when putting together a massive Titanfall 2 GPU comparison featuring over 40 graphics cards I noticed that the new GTX 1050 Ti was actually able to beat Nvidia’s 2012 flagship GPU.

On paper this doesn’t seem possible, the GTX 680 features twice as many CUDA cores, packs much more compute performance and considerably more bandwidth. In fact, for virtually every comparison you can make the GTX 1050 Ti is much slower, the exception of course the being operating frequency.

Officially the 1050 Ti is clocked a little over 30% higher. However we know that for the most part this GPU operates well above the suggested 1392 MHz boost frequency. Our MSI card works at over 1.8 GHz for the most part, making it at least 70% faster in terms of operating frequency.

We also know that the GTX 680 is based on the Kepler architecture and since then we have seen quite a large improvement in performance and efficiency, most of which was delivered by the previous Maxwell generation.

Probably the most interesting fact here being that four years ago the GTX 680 was released at $500 US or $680 for us Aussies, whereas today the GTX 1050 Ti can be picked up for just $140 US or $225 Aussie. Costing 3.5x less we wonder, can the 1050 Ti deliver a similar level of performance? Well let’s go find out.

Benchmarks

First let’s see how the two compare in the new Titanfall 2 game. In the initial stages of our test both GPUs are able to push over 50fps at 1080p. The 1050 Ti is consistently faster though and even pushes over 60 fps at times. Once we reach the cutscene the frame rate takes a strong hit on both GPUs, dipping down into the 40’s. Performance here is very similar though the 1050 Ti does still stay ahead. In the end the 680 drops as low as 35 fps while the 1050 Ti only dipped to 40 fps. On average the 1050 was 14% faster in this test averaging 50 fps to the 680’s 44 fps.

For some reason we were having issues getting the RivaTuner overlay to show up in Gears of War 4. The in-game statistics are quite small you will might find them difficult to follow, nevertheless the minimum and average frame rate results for both cards can be found below. The 1050 Ti only dropped down to 52 fps which was slightly higher than the 50 fps the 680 dropped two. The average frame rate was also quite similar, the 1050 Ti was just 3% faster here.

For testing F1 2016 we used the ultra quality settings with SMAA enabled. The in-game benchmark was used with the heavy rain option enabled. 4 years on it is impressive to see that the GTX 680 is able to deliver playable performance with the game maxed out. Still 2016’s low to mid-range GTX 1050 Ti was a bit more punchy, only dipping to 38 fps while averaging 48fps. This made Nvidia’s new budget GPU almost 12% faster than their four year old flagship part.

Despite its age the GTX 680 still looks to be fairly well optimized for what is arguable 2016’s biggest first person shooter. The 1050 Ti might have been 9% faster on average but that still allowed the 680 to deliver a very playable 53 fps, while it never dipped below 40 fps. It is worth keeping in mind that we are testing using the ultra quality preset with TSAA enabled. Even at 1080p the game looks absolutely amazing and it is hard to believe that today PC gamers can enjoy these kind of visuals and frame rates on a $140 graphics card.

Overwatch isn’t a demanding game but we wanted to include it as there aren’t really any new technologies here that would favor the newer GTX 1050 Ti. As a result both GPUs provided very similar performance. Both only dropped as low as 79 fps while the 1050 Ti was just 2% faster on average for a negligible 2 fps difference. The game played extremely well at 1080p using the Ultra quality settings. Because we tested with bots enabled the runs aren’t exactly the same but over the length of the run they seem to balance out quite well.

Finally a quick look at Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Here both GPUs provided similar average frame rates, the GTX 1050 Ti was just 3% faster. The 1050 Ti did maintain a slightly better minimum frame rate, here it was 7% faster, and we believe that is mostly down to the larger memory buffer. That said memory allocation on the GTX 1050 Ti didn’t rise above 1.9GB, where as it did on the 680. Perhaps this is evidence of Pascal’s improved memory compression technology.

The previous gameplay footage was recorded on our Core i7-6700K test system. However these power consumption results have been recorded using the Core i3-6100T system.

The average load consumption results were taken from six games tested while the idle result was reported after a few minutes of system idle at the Windows 10 desktop. The gameplay footage shown here is simply included for color and movement, in other words it’s a cunning ploy to try and keep you interested in whatever it is we are saying at the time.

So then looking at the 1050 Ti we see it pushed the Core i3 system to a total consumption of 116 watts, very impressive stuff. Holy load Batman, just check out the figures from the GTX 680 though.

Sucking down a total of 224 watts made out Core i3 rig look like a real power pig. This thing just isn’t polar bear friendly. That’s more than a 90% increase in total system power consumption.

Conclusion

Well there you have it, to think that just four years ago the GTX 680 was at the top of the single GPU graphics card pile commanding a $500 US asking price. Today, that same performance, or rather slightly better performance can be had for just a fraction of that price.

This time last year, gamers were paying slightly more for the GTX 950, and yet the 1050 Ti is over 20% faster!

The 1050 Ti isn’t just significantly cheaper than the 680 either, it also consumes a fraction of the power making it cooler, quieter and a little easier on the power bill.

The 1050 Ti really is an awesome little graphics card as I said in my original review. However, for a few extra fuel units you might be able to land something a lot better. This will be the premise for an upcoming video next week, so be sure to keep your eyes out of that one.

Finally from all of us here at Hardware Unboxed, I’m Steve, you stay classy!

Matt Knuppel Matt is a tech enthusiast, gym owner, and very part time gamer. In between making tech videos, he can be found watching the UFC, NBA, and AFL, as well as at music festivals and deep down rabbit holes on reddit.

Comment(2)

  1. Yeah, this is trully what I Love about hardwareunboxing, comparison with (much) older GPU architecture vs the newer one , because my GPU today are still a humble GTX 660(waiting for yearly bonus to upgrade ) .
    More of This please… and just one question, have you ever been togo to Bali before ?
    Just curious 😀
    And

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