MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G Review

MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G Review

NVIDIA launches its new GeForce GTX 1050 Ti to not just compete, but beat AMD's budget Radeon RX 460. We check out MSI's Gaming X 4G version.

| Oct 25, 2016 at 8:00 am CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction

NVIDIA has been on a rampage throughout 2016 with GPU announcements and launches, starting it all off in May with the reveal and release of the first consumer graphics card based on the Pascal architecture in the form of the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070.

VIEW GALLERY - 27 IMAGES

Between May and now, we've also had the new Titan X and GeForce GTX 1060 revealed, as well as notebook GPUs launched at NVIDIA's London event in August. So to say 2016 has been busy has been an understatement - and trust me, I've spent over 200 hours flying around the world to these GPU events (not just NVIDIA, but AMD's events as well) - and it never stops. We're back again with the GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti, with the first card off the GP107 rank being MSI's GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G.

But before we dive into MSI's card, let's walk through what NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is capable of, and what type of performance/feature benefit we're going to experience coming in from the GTX 600, GTX 700 and GTX 900 series graphics cards.

GIVEAWAY: MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING X 4G / 2G (running for the next two weeks)

FTW: Continued Focus on eSports

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NVIDIA has been heavily focused on eSports for a while now, and it's something that I admire about the company. It has nothing to do with the review and won't change my thoughts on the card, but the mid-range market is where gamers will be upgrading their PCs and setting up new PCs - and millions of them watch, participate, and love eSports.

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The money being pumped into eSports continues to skyrocket, with 206 million eSports fans in 2014 - growing to a huge 292 million in 2016, and the year isn't even over yet. DOTA 2 continues to pile money onto the mound, with $20 million+ offered during the last The International tournament.

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This is where NVIDIA steps in with some facts on the gaming industry, with the GeForce brand being the #1 brand in PC gaming with over 100 million GeForce gamers in the world now. NVIDIA's graphics card hardware is #1 on Steam, #1 for iCafe use, and #1 for professional eSports.

What's the Difference? GeForce GTX 1050 + GTX 1050 Ti

NVIDIA has launched two new graphics cards, with the GeForce GTX 1050 and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, which are both quite similar in some aspects, and in others, they are very different beasts.

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Starting with the GeForce GTX 1050, we have 640 CUDA cores from the Pascal architecture, 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, and a 75W TDP. The faster GeForce GTX 1050 Ti has 768 CUDA cores, 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, and the same 75W TDP. Both graphics cards are launching today, October 25 - with retail availability expected for November 8.

Price wise, NVIDIA has priced the GeForce GTX 1050 at $109 while the higher-end GTX 1050 Ti has a price of $139.

Specs, Cooling Tech & Detailed Look

MSI has one of the best GPU coolers in the business with its Twin Frozr technology, using the same cooler that the higher-end GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080 graphics cards are cooled with. Since the GTX 1050 Ti is aimed at the mainstream and mid-range markets, silent operation is a nice touch for the price - with the fans not spooling up until the card hits 60C.

NVIDIA's impressive Pascal architecture has some nice tricks under its 16nm FinFET hood, but the Twin Frozr VI cooler is 40% quieter than its predecessor (the Twin Frozr V), and it also keeps the card 20% cooler. Mix this in with NVIDIA's GPU Boost 3.0 technology, and you have a graphics card that looks after itself on both sides of the GPU coin.

Slick Looks Also Return

MSI has one of the best-looking graphics cards on the market, most of it thanks to the slick style of the Twin Frozr cooler. This is a personal thing, but there are also waves of MSI and general GPU/technology enthusiasts and fans that love the style as well.

It's not all great if the card looks great and doesn't perform well, but we know that MSI cards aren't just great on the outside, they're also kick ass on the inside.

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The front of the card, featuring the super-awesome looking Twin Frozr VI cooler and its dual fans.

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There's not much going on round back, with the cheaper GTX 1050 Ti not rocking a backplate.

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Gone is the usual 3 x DP connectivity of the higher-end GTX 10 series cards, with 1 x DP, 1 x HDMI 2.0 and 1 x DVI connector.

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The top of the card, with the MSI logo and iconic dragon to the left, and the LEDs to the right - just next to the single 6-pin PCIe power connector.

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Speaking of the 6-pin PCIe power connector, the GTX 1050 Ti has one, but the GTX 1050 does not, it's powered purely from the power supplied by the x16 PCIe port.

Testing Methodology & Test Setup Configuration

The games with built-in benchmarks were run on Ultra (or their highest preset, but by another name) with AA (anti-aliasing) disabled. Overwatch and Battlefield 1 are run in real-time multiplayer matches, with their highest settings enabled and once again, AA disabled. We played two full-length games (5-10 minutes each) of Overwatch, while we played around 5 minutes of BF1 64-player matches in Conquest mode playing in one map with clear weather, and another map with dynamic weather and then averaged the results from these two runs.

This will provide us with enough variety, but I'm on the hunt for new benchmarks all the time. Now that both Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Battlefield 1 are here, I've now revamped my entire graphics card review structure to include those games. Both of them work with DX12, so we can get a good look at the performance not just between DX11 and DX12, but the performance difference between AMD and NVIDIA in both DX11 and DX12.

Included in our changes of the games we play and test, is Overwatch. Overwatch is a great game to test to see how the mid-range cards like the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, because it can easily hit 60FPS, and still be a great looking game that is incredibly fun, too. We run Overwatch in real-time matches with 12 players, with all of the intensity, explosions, energy beams and everything else happening - I have a really fun job.

Test System Configuration

Anthony's Video Card Test System Specifications

Benchmarks - Synthetic

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

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Heaven - 1080p

Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.

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Benchmarks @ 1080p

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Battlefield 1 is the latest and greatest first-person shooter from EA DICE, powered by the incredibly beautiful and high-end Frostbite engine. It has DX11 and DX12 support, so we test both - it's one of the games we run in real-time 64-player multiplayer matches.

You can buy Battlefield 1 at Amazon.

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Far Cry Primal is a game built on the impressive Dunia Engine 2 with wide open, beautiful environments. It might look stunning, but the performance is actually quite good - but most cards will be stressed at 1440p, and especially so at 4K and beyond.

You can buy Far Cry Primal at Amazon.

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We recently changed over to Metro: Last Light Redux, with developer 4A Games making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

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Tomb Raider is still such a gorgeous game, with developer Crystal Dynamics using their own 'Foundation' engine to build Lara Croft into the new world. One of the best parts about Tomb Raider is the absolutely stellar multi-GPU scaling, so this is an important test to see how well our NVIDIA GeForce SLI and AMD Radeon CrossFire setups scale.

You can buy Tomb Raider at Amazon.

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Benchmarks - DX12 & Real World Gaming

We're now testing some new games, including Overwatch, which runs beautifully on mid-range hardware, and we're also running Battlefield 1 in 64-player multiplayer sessions. After testing various maps and methods, we are running an entire match of Overwatch (6v6) and a 5-minute round of 64-player Conquest mode in Battlefield 1.

After many hours of gaming - yeah, this job is pretty awesome - we found that there was a 3-6% variance in the minimum and average FPS. We could get this lower, but it would require magnitudes more time, and it would never get to 0-1%. This gives us the best of both worlds, as you can throw a 10% average mix onto the numbers, and still get a near accurate result for real-world testing - and not just the built-in benchmarks.

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Battlefield 1 is the latest and greatest first-person shooter from EA DICE, powered by the incredibly beautiful and high-end Frostbite engine. It has DX11 and DX12 support, so we test both - it's one of the games we run in real-time 64-player multiplayer matches.

You can buy Battlefield 1 at Amazon.

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Blizzard created one of the best team-based first-person shooters with Overwatch, which looks great and runs ridiculously smooth, even on lower-end hardware.

You can buy Overwatch at Amazon.

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Performance Summary & Final Thoughts

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Battlefield 1: NVIDIA has launched a GPU that is capable of playing games like Battlefield 1 at 1080p 60FPS on Ultra details (without AA enabled), and that's easy for the MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G. Enabling 1080p 60FPS gaming on the PC in a game as good looking as Battlefield 1 starting at $139 is damn good, really damn good. This is an amazing achievement for EA DICE, as they've made some improvements to their Frostbite engine that have made it incredibly efficient - so much so that a mid-range $109 graphics card in the GTX 1050 can run it at 1080p at nearly 60FPS average.

Overwatch: Blizzard has always made super-efficient games, which don't require crazy amounts of GPU horsepower. We saw the MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G hitting over 140FPS at 1080p without a problem. That's insane, as it means you can buy a 144Hz G-Sync display and the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and enjoy 144FPS average in Overwatch at 1080p. It's really an incredible thing to see at this price point for a game as popular as Overwatch.

Temps, Noise & Power

We were pushing the MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G to its limits, with hours of benchmarking and our new real-world gaming sessions with Battlefield 1 and Overwatch, but the card didn't budge. It was sitting comfortably at around 63C during Battlefield 1, with the fans barely spinning up to make noise.

As for the power consumption, our entire system was hitting 175W during Battlefield 1 - this is compared to the Radeon RX 480 reference card from AMD that consumes around 220W (and 250W at launch). The GeForce GTX 1070 consumes 215W for example, while the Radeon R9 Fury X hits 300W.

RX 470 vs. GTX 1050 Ti

This is where AMD has NVIDIA right now, as the Radeon RX 470 is faster than the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti in everything - and in a big way. The RX 470 is over $50 more expensive, but it is the faster card. The Radeon RX 460, on the other hand, is slower than the GTX 1050 Ti, and not far behind the GTX 1050.

The thing is, most people buying these mid-range cards will only have a 60Hz monitor, limiting your purchase decisions to something that hits around 60FPS, and not up to 90-100FPS like the RX 470. But Anthony, more performance is better - why are you telling us to buy the cheaper card? Easy: performance per dollar. NVIDIA wins at performance bang for the buck with the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti, as they sit below the RX 470 regarding performance, but far lower when it comes to cost.

On the flip side, the RX 470 has more grunt left over to hit 60FPS with anti-aliasing and other details turned up, compared to the GTX 1050 Ti, which would begin to sink below 60FPS with those things turned up.

I would recommend the GTX 1050 Ti for those who are NVIDIA fans or are looking for an upgrade from the older GTX 650/750 class cards. If you are looking at getting a new 1080p-capable G-Sync display, the GTX 1050 Ti is a fine choice. It is capable of 60FPS in the games out right now, especially the likes of League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, and even Battlefield 1.

Final Thoughts

GIVEAWAY: MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING X 4G / 2G (running for the next two weeks)

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If you're looking to upgrade from your older GTX 750, GTX 760, GTX 950, or even GTX 960, the new GTX 1050 Ti is quite the alternative. We have the new Pascal architecture from NVIDIA, which provides DX12 support, great VR technologies like Multi-Res Shading, and an energy-efficient card which doesn't even require a PCIe power connector, and runs from the 75W directly out of the PCIe x16 port on your motherboard. The overclocked MSI version of the GTX 1050 Ti we have here requires a single 6-pin PCIe power connector.

MSI tunes their GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G very well. The fans didn't even bother to spin up most of the time, only during our intense gaming sessions. This is something I've become accustomed to with MSI, as their Twin Frozr cooling technology is incredibly efficient at getting the heat away from the GPU and VRMs, and keeping the entire graphics card cool.

Last updated: Nov 15, 2019 at 01:16 pm CST

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)95%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)90%
Bundle, Packaging & Software95%
Value for Money95%
Overall Rating94%

The Bottom Line: MSI continues to expand its GTX 10 series dominance with the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X 4G, a graphics card that is capable of 1080p 60FPS in Battlefield 1 and over 140FPS in Overwatch. It's incredible performance for a mid-range card that also provides a near-silent gaming experience.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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