Following a major test system failure (the CPU died, would you believe?), we've rebuilt a test system and taken the opportunity to add new benchmarks – 3D Mark Fire Strike and Time Spy for synthetic, easy-to-compare DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 results respectively; Battlefield 1 and Deus Ex, both running with the DX12 API; and Doom, which we test running with the Vulkan API.
3DMark shows us roughly what we can expect from the games. This overclocked GTX 1050 Ti is 40-55 percent faster than an overclocked Radeon RX 460 2GB, with the lead being greater in DirectX 11 than DirectX 12. On the flip-side, a typical overclocked RX 470 4GB holds a lead of between 42 and 52 percent. The GTX 1050 Ti is priced almost exactly between the RX 460 and RX 470, and similarly it appears poised to neatly fill the gap in performance between these two parts.
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Boost speeds in OC Mode, Gaming Mode and Silent Mode were recorded as 1,759MHz, 1,747MHz and 1,670MHz respectively. These are small differences, and as 3DMark Fire Strike shows the consequences in terms of performance are minimal – barely 3 percent between the fastest and slowest modes. Just switch to OC Mode and forget about it.
So, what about actual in-game performance? Overall, the GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G does rather well. It manages minimum frame rates of at least 30fps in all but one of our games when running at 1080p with ultra settings. Dropping to high settings across the board brought about smoother frame rates, and this time all games had minimum frame rates in between 30 and 60fps and averages were often, but not always, around the 60fps mark too.
Compared to the previous generation GTX 950, the GTX 1050 Ti offers about a third more performance – probably not enough to warrant an upgrade, although Nvidia is open about targeting those on longer refresh cycles. We don't have a GTX 650 to compare to, but we've no doubt it would be crushed by the new card, especially in the latest titles. Next to AMD's RX 460, this overclocked GTX 1050 Ti offers close to 50 percent more performance.
On the flip-side, and as is always the case with cards in this price bracket, the GPUs above the GTX 1050 Ti on both sides of the fence offer considerably more performance: The GTX 1060 3GB and RX 470 4GB both offer more than 50 percent additional performance on average over this card, with the latter card doing especially well in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Doom, suggesting an advantage for AMD in newer APIs.
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The power consumption figures are excellent: 161W total system power consumption is quite something given the performance seen. It's only a fraction more than the RX 460 and knocks about 30W off the GTX 950's figure, standing in stark contrast to the considerably more power hungry AMD RX 470 4GB.
Temperatures are also very low. In all three clock speed modes during our load testing, the GPU got warm enough for the fans to kick in (just over 60°C), but they simply stayed at between 21 and 23 percent duty – less than 800 RPM – for a few minutes, which was enough to cool the GPU to the point where the fans actually switched off again. With enough time, the fans would likely be on constantly, but you can certainly be sure of very low temperatures and virtual silence when gaming with this card.
Overclocking sees performance increase by between seven and 10 percent: a nice boost, but nowhere near enough to properly close the gap on the cards above. Power consumption increased by 13W at the new speeds.
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The GTX 1050 Ti exists to plug a gap in the market – the one between AMD's RX 460 and RX 470 GPUs – and it does so successfully. For a strict budget of £150, the GTX 1050 Ti is really the only card on the market to consider.
The question then becomes, which one? MSI's GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G undeniably leans towards the more premium end of the scale, and the £165 asking price is going to be tough for many users to justify given that you can get decent RX 470 4GB and GTX 1060 3GB cards for £190 – as the performance figures show, there's a very strong argument for saving up for one of these higher end models, although that's nearly always the situation in this market segment. The factory overclock is appreciated, but it's not massive, although we were able to reach what seem to be the current maximum GTX 1050 Ti clock speeds. This card isn't suitable if you don't have a PCI-E power connection spare but the cooler is excellent: silent and very cool. Yes, it's oversized, but most cases will house it without qualm and the size does pay off.
Ultimately, it's not a perfect card, and certainly not the best value GTX 1050 Ti option, but if low noise is of critical importance, the GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G is priced just low enough to earn a Recommended badge. However, it's also worth considering saving a little longer for one of the near-£200 cards on the market for the additional performance you'll net.