For the GTX 1050 release I am doing things a little differently, though ultimately the end result will be much the same. Rather than kick things off with a big benchmark video, I am going to check out the MSI partner cards in what will be a more standard graphics card review. By this I mean just half a dozen new triple A titles will be tested. I will also be looking at overclocking, temps, power consumption and of course MSI’s board design.
This will give us a good idea of what the GTX 1050 series is all about. However don’t fret we aren’t getting lazy on you guys. Later this week we’ll put together an in depth head to head comparison with the 1050 2GB and RX 460 2GB graphics cards. Shortly following that, the same head to head style comparison will be made with the 1050 Ti and RX 460 4GB cards.
So there are plenty of budget GPU benchmark battles incoming. For now let’s see what MSI has in store for us with their GTX 1050 2G OC. Ohh and for those wondering you can find the MSI GTX 1050 Ti 4G OC video here as Steve takes care of that one!
There is no reference or rather Founders Edition version of the 1050 so MSI’s design should be truly unique. MSI are offers the prestigious Gaming X version featuring the Twin Frozer VI cooler but we have what I feel are the more sensible options in the these basemodel OC versions.
Here the massive Twin Frozer cooler has been swapped out for a much more compact design which will make installing these new budget graphics cards in even the smallest of Mini-ITX cases possible, providing they dual slot cards.
The card itself measure just 177mm long though the PCB is just 150mm long. Disappointingly MSI has added an extra 27mm to the length of this card for no reason. Overhanging the PCB is a plastic shroud, no fans or heatsink so this is an aesthetic choice then. Had MSI not done this their 1050 would have been the exact same length as the R9 Nano.
The entire card weighs just 329 grams and the cooler accounts for just less than 60% of that weight. Including the fan, plastic shroud and tiny aluminium heatsink the cooler totals 193 grams. The heatsink itself tips the scales at 118 grams and measures just 95 mm long, 90 tall and 18mm thick, yep it’s a baby.
Knowing all this it will be interesting to see how thermal performance checks out and how loud the card gets under full load. Under the cooler we find the itty bitty GP107 die sporting 640 CUDA cores. Along with that we have four GDDR5 memory chips made by Hynix that operate at a base frequency of 1750 MHz.
By default the GTX 1050 doesn’t require an external 6-pin PCIe connector so for this model MSI has decided not to add one. They have also stuck with a basic 3+1 power phase design though this should be more than enough to keep this 75-watt TDP card happy.
Around at the I/O end we find a DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0 and Dual-Link DVI output. These outputs should have most users well covered and all three can be used simultaneously if need be.
Nvidia has set the default clock specifications for the GTX 1050 at 1354 MHz for the base clock and 1455 MHz for the boost clock. MSI has beefed up these frequencies at tad by pushing the base to 1404 MHz resulting in a boost frequency of 1518 MHz. This is a 4% overclock so we aren’t expecting huge improvements here.
For testing our trusty little Core i3 test system has been used and we feel this is a more sensible way to test sub $200 graphics cards. So I guess the only question that remains now is “how does this entry-level $110 Pascal graphics card perform?” I am glad you asked….
Benchmarking was often kicked off with Battlefield 4, so it is fitting we continue that tradition with the latest version, Battlefield 1. For testing with have stuck with the DX11 API for now, there are still a few strange bugs with DX12 that heavily impact frame time and minimum frame rates. Using the ultra quality settings at 1080p the MSI GTX 1050 was good for 49 fps, this made it just 2 fps faster than the 950 and 6 fps slower than the 960. Interestingly it was 14 fps faster than the RX 460, a 40% performance advantage in Nvidia’s favor here.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
As an AMD favorite we thought Deus Ex: Mankind Divided would be interesting to include. Using the medium quality settings at 1080p the 1050 averaged just 33 fps. Meanwhile the RX 460 was good for 36 fps making Nvidia’s new budget GPU around 8% slower.
DOOM using Vulkan is another AMD special though we have some very interesting results here. Using the Ultra quality preset the 1050 crushes the RX 460 with ease. Even at 1080p Doom really requires at least 3GB frame buffer. However Nvidia’s Pascal memory compression technology seems to get them out of trouble here and allows the 1050 to pull well ahead of the 2GB RX 460. A disappointing result for AMD here then.
Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 is one of 2016’s most impressive game releases on PC so it was a title we had to include. Here the 1050 roughly matches the old 950 which isn’t overly impressive. That said this did make it 15% faster than the RX 460.
Sadly Mafia III is one of the worst Triple A titles to be released this year, boiled down it is just a horrible console port. Still the game does have a large fan base and it was just recently released, so we included it. If you do want to play Mafia III with these entry level gaming GPUs be prepared to load up the ‘low’ quality preset. Even with the lowest possible quality settings enabled at 1080p the 1050 was good for just 41 fps on average. That said this did make it 24% faster than the RX 460.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Next up we have Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and here the 1050 averaged roughly 60 fps using the medium quality settings. This meant it was 18% faster than the RX 460 which just touched on 50 fps for the average frame rate.
Overwatch might not be the most demanding game but it is epicly popular and a heap of fun to play, so naturally we included it. Both the RX 460 and GTX 1050 had no trouble delivering highly playable performance at 1080p using the ultra quality settings. That said the 1050 was 34% faster.
Quantum Break is 2016 release that has had a rough road. Since hitting Steam the game plays pretty well though DirectX 12 support has been lost. The GTX 1050 managed to stay above 60fps in our test using the medium quality settings. With an average of 68 fps it was a whopping 45% faster than the RX 460.
Overclocking: Gears of War 4
When it came time to overclock the GTX 1050 we maxed out the power limit and got to it. The end result was a 100% stable base frequency of 1575 MHz with a boost clock of 1689 MHz. However when gaming the core clock speed fluctuated between 1840 and 1860 MHz. The memory was also boosted from 7Gbps to 7.5Gbps.
This overclock increased performance in Gears of War 4 by 7% taking the average frame rate from 54 fps to 58 fps.
Overclocking: Deus Ex
The same overclock was enough to boost performance in Deus Ex Mankind Divided by 9%, allowing the MSI 1050 to match XFX’s RX 460 2GB card.
Here we see our Core i3 test system consumed just 115 watts when configured with the GTX 1050, pretty incredible stuff. That means the 1050 uses slightly less power than the 750 Ti while delivering considerably more performance.
Even with that tiny heatsink strapped on the GP107 die this MSI model never exceeded 66 degrees in our game tests. That result in itself is surprising enough, what’s even more surprising is the fact that the card was virtually silent under load.
Efficiency really is king and the GeForce GTX 1050 has proven this once again. As promised it delivers very playable 1080p performance in the latest titles using respectable quality settings. Having now seen how the 1050 handles itself we aren’t surprised that AMD made the pricing adjustments that it did over the weekend. That said how does the 1050 stack up again the RX 460 at its revised price point? Let’s take a look…
Cost Per Frame
As you can see even at $100 the RX 460 2GB struggles against the GTX 1050, costing around 14% more on a cost per frame basis. It is interesting to note that although much slower than the RX 470, the 1050 matches the value of AMD’s mid-range contender at its new $170 MSRP.
Based on the games we tested the RX 460 2GB would need to retail for just $85 to roughly match the cost per frame of the new GTX 1050.
There was one instance where the RX 460 was seen to be faster, that instance being Deus Ex Mankind Divided. Doom using Vulkan was another game where we expected AMD to come out on top. Interestingly whereas the 2GB VRAM buffer kills off the RX 460 it doesn’t hamper the GTX 1050’s performance nearly as much.
As we expected the 1050 is also incredibly efficient. Even so it was hard to believe our Core i3 test system was belting out almost 100 fps in Overwatch, while consuming a little over 100 watts for the entire system.
MSI’s little 1050 2G OC card also managed to run reasonably cool which was surprising given the tiny heatsink. The card was also surprisingly quiet, even under full load. The fact that you can slot this thing into pretty much any system with a PCIe x16 slot is amazing as well.
Overall the GTX 1050 is an exciting entry-level GPU and graphics cards like the MSI GTX 1050 2G OC are really going to ignite budget PC gaming. AMD’s move to discount the RX 460 was smart and I am keen to see how the two compare when testing over 20 of the most recent games. For now the future of PC gaming looks bright, what do you think? Is the GTX 1050 what you have been waiting for? Let us know in the comments and I’m your host Matt, as always. -whisper