GeForce GTX 1050 3GB review

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The 'new' 3GB GeForce GTX 1050 is a petite entry level card that will allow you to game at 1920x1080. Realistically though, I have no idea why it is being released into the gamer consumer space? The 1050 2GB covers everything not related to gaming (HTPC / multi-screen desktop etc), the GeForce 1050 Ti really is the better card to get as it has that minimum 4 GB. And yeah, now sitting smack-down between them is the 1050 3GB. Let's be realistic and call it what it really is, this is a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with one 1GB fewer graphics memory with some castration on the memory bus as a direct result of a missing GDDR5 chip, 96-bit. The performance bracket between the 1050 2GB and 1050 Ti models is so small that the new 3GB version quite frankly mystifies me a bit. Perhaps though, the 3GB version really was never intended to be a gamers graphics card?, I mean the 1050 Ti was actually popular among miners, and the 3 GB VRAM is a sweet(er) spot for them. Then again for anything Moba and low-level gaming like Dota2, these cards still make sense. The product as shown today from MSI will cost you something in that 139 EURO or USD. Prices are settling as the mining demand seems to have passed, but even today prices still are artificially inflated, as two years after the release of the Pascal architecture, really .. they should be cheaper. So it remains a bit of a gamble as to what these 3GB cards will actually cost in the stores once it gets listed, that price can also fluctuate each day. This card is however what it is, an entry-level product sitting at the bottom of the performance gaming stack. We do need to leave that weird pricing dynamic behind us though and look at what the hardware actually offers. So let's do just that.


Realistically, at up to a resolution of 1920x1080 this GeForce GTX 1050 3GB still manages to put out decent numbers, and remember, we test here at the very best image quality settings, the way it's meant to be played on a PC (no pun intended there). Acoustics and cooling are fine as well, 63 Degrees C under heavy load.  Sure, this is entry level stuff, but they are easy to use cards alright -- just pop them in, install a driver and you're good to go. While I included Quad HD results in this article, obviously the 1920x1080 resolution is the domain of the focus for products like tested today. The 3 GB of graphics memory makes a lot of sense, but really 4GB is the better choice for a product in this range and timeframe. The missing 1 GB for some games means it'll behave quite well where others just have a hard time as they run out of breathing space. 


It's small, bright 'n white and serves most purposes and needs just fine. These cards are not designed for a massive PC with side window chassis. But even then, the looks remain trivial at best, totally fine as far as I am concerned. Being an entry-level card, face it, this card does look terrific if you are into that white theme. It comes with a custom design PCB and is properly cooled with the cooler, you will not hear the cooler either, hey it's an MSI. 



Cooling & noise Levels

This card runs at roughly 63 Degrees C, that's fine. These cards run roughly at 34~35 dBA under heavy load, which is silent. I do need to note that we heard some audible coil whine, but doubt would hear that in a closed chassis.

Power consumption

GP107-301K1-A1 Pascal series GPUs are rated as having a 75 Watt TDP under full stress, our measurements show it to be a pretty much at that level and region. Low wattage cards are hard to measure due to the fact that a PSU gets more inefficient at low power usage. But we measure the 1050 3GB at 72~73 Watts. Again, we do need to weigh in a little reserve here power supply efficiency wise so it might be a notch lower as well. It remains to be a very low enough value. 

Gaming performance

The GeForce GTX 1050 with 3 GB of graphics memory can game at 1080P, even with proper PC gaming quality settings, you will run out of raw rendering horsepower pretty fast though. But lower image quality a notch and you should be fine. It is a nice little card for 1080P and the Battlefield 1 for example. Overall, in DX11 games we see decent enough performance. With a 4GB model, you'd have more breathing space and that helps quite a bit. Ergo I'll keep steering you towards the 4GB GTX 1050 Ti top be honest. Obviously, not everybody requires or demands 100+ FPS and many people find that 30~40 average FPS is good enough, especially with a GSYNC monitor.  However if you can afford a GSYNC monitor, the chances are high you'll have more money to spend on a graphics card as well.


Overclocking wise things are very simple. This card could run and reach a boost frequency of roughly 1975 MHz thanks to an increased 140~150 MHz on the core base clock, the memory subsystem disappointed, the Micron memory used can do 8 GHz as effective data-rate at the very least, however things to a turn at roughly 7500 MHz and maxed out there. This likely is a voltage restriction, set and in place by Nvidia to prevent these cards to go really high. These two will be your primary registers to tweak, after these values, you'll run into restrictions mostly set by Nvidia. Check out the overclock pages for more precise numbers. But the 1050 3GB is very memory bandwidth deprived, really likes more bandwidth and as such you'll gain a lot from tweaking just that.


Last Words

You know, I cannot complain about what MSI brought to the table. It's silent, runs cool and for an entry-level card, this cooling solution just is impressive. That said, I cannot really position a 3GB running on a 96-bit bus graphics card in the graphics card arena as something viable or attractive to the gaming masses? It fills a gap in a too narrow margin. If you do not plan to game but need some video acceleration or encoding, the 2GB GTX 1050 is more than sufficient. And for gamers, yeah, these days I recommend 4GB graphics memory, even at a resolution of 1920x1080. Realistically though, at a resolution of 1920x1080, these cards still make a sense for those on a tight budget. It is a fun 1080P range card that can deal with modern games. For it to become successful however the prices need to come down to normalized levels, these cards are supposed to be at a sub-150 euro marker, so please, don't spend more than that. The model as tested, in Black & White, hey, we cannot complain about as MSI did a good job with the 1050 Ti 3GB. Compared to a 2GB 1050 this GeForce GTX 1050 3GB has a bit more bite under the hood, however, the 96-bit memory interface brings is down again. 4GB of graphics memory really helps it out dealing with more crispy textures and your framerates when you'd run out of it. Tweaking wise we'd achieve a stable ~1.97 GHz boost clock frequency. The graphics memory was lackluster while tweaking and ran out of juice at 7.5 Gbps (effective data-rate) already. These cards are fun little products that you easily drop into a simple PC. If you can spot them for the right price, yes they can make sense. The reality is that I feel this to be a sub 100 USD/EUR product. And remember, a 128-bit based 4GB 1050 Ti does everything just a bit better. Recommended for those on a very tight budget.

 - H.

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