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The GeForce GTX 1050 is the new entry video card from NVIDIA, based on the Pascal architecture, arriving to the market to compete with low-cost video cards. Let’s see how it performs in our review.
The GeForce GTX 1050 uses the GP107 chip, manufactured under 14 nm process. This is the same chip used on the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. The main difference is that, while on the GTX 1050 Ti the chip comes with all the 768 cores enabled, distributed on six SM (streaming multiprocessors), on the GTX 1060 one SM is disabled, so the card brings 640 cores.
On the GeForce GTX 1050, this cores work at a 1,355 base clock, reaching up to 1,455 MHz. Those are the standard clocks recommended by NVIDIA, but probably most models reach the market with higher clocks, since, according do NVIDIA, this chip can reach a 1,900 MHz clock.
The memory interface uses 128 bits and the recommended memory clock is 7 GHz, using GDDR5 chips, which brings a 112 GiB/s bandwidth. The GTX 1050 models should come with 2 GiB of VRAM and the GTX 1050 Ti models with 4 GiB, but it is possible to the manufacturers sell GTX 1050 models with 4 GiB, for example.
One of the highlights of the GeForce GTX 1050 is its low energy consumption: its TDP is only 75 W, so there is no need for the auxiliary energy connector on the video card. The recommended power supply is 300 W, which makes this card suitable for basic PCs, where you simply open the case and install the video card at a free slot to make it ready to run recent games with no other worries.
Other highlight of the GTX 1050 is its low cost: the MSRP in the USA is USD 109. So, it becomes a direct competitor of the Radeon RX 460, besides also replacing the GeForce GTX 750 Ti on the market.
Notice that, unlike the GeForce GTX 1060 and the high-end models from this family, there is no reference (or “Founders Edition”) models for the GTX 1050.
Like the GTX 1060, the GeForce GTX 1050 doesn’t support SLI.
The GeForce GTX 1050 we tested is manufactured by Zotac, model GeForce GTX 1050 Mini, part number ZT-P10500A-10L. It is a very small video card, and uses the standard (1,354 Mhz base and 1,455 boost) clocks, with 2 GiB of GDDR5 VRAM running at 7 GHz.
Figure 1 shows the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 1: the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini

In our tests, we compared the performance of the GeForce GTX 1050 to the Radeon RX 460 from XFX (RX-460P4D), the reference GeForce GTX 750 Ti, and also to a GeForce GTX 950 from Gigabyte.
In the table below, we compare the main specs from the video cards we included in this review. Prices were researched at Newegg.com for this article.

Video card

Core clock

Turbo clock

Effective memory clock

Memory bus

Memory bandwidth

Memory

Processing cores

TDP

DirectX

Price

Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini

1,354 MHz

1,455 MHz

7.0 GHz

128 bit

112.0 GB/s

2 GiB GDDR5

640

75 W

12.1

USD 110

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950

1,102 MHz

1,279 MHz

6.6 GHz

128 bit

105.6 GB/s

2 GiB GDDR5

768

90 W

12.1

USD 135

XFX Radeon RX 460

1,090 MHz

1,220 MHz

7.0 GHz

128 bit

112.0 GB/s

4 GiB GDDR5

896

75 W

12

USD 140

GeForce GTX 750 Ti

1,020 MHz

1,085 MHz

5.4 GHz

128 bit

86.4 GB/s

2 GiB GDDR5

640

60 W

11.2

USD 100

Now let’s take a closer look to the tested video card.
[nextpage title=”The GeForce GTX 1050″]
The Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini is only 5.7 inches (145 mm) long and uses two slots. It has a 90 mm fan.
In Figure 2, you see the video connectors of the GeForce GTX 1050 Mini. It brings an HDMI 2.0b, a DisplayPort 1.4, and a DVI-D connectors.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 2: video connectors

In Figure 3, you see the top of the card. Notice that there is no auxiliary power connector, but the PCB has the room for this connector, which means can be some other models (provably overclocked ones) with this connector present.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 3: top view

Figure 4 presents the rear end of the card.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 4: rear view

Figure 5 shows the solder side of the GeForce GTX 1050 Mini. There are no memory chips at this side.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 5: solder side of the GTX 1050 Mini

Figure 6 unveils the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini with the cooler removed. It is a simple aluminum cooler, that keeps contact only with the GPU chip. The card has four memory chips.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 6: the GeForce GTX 1050 Mini with the cooler removed

In Figure 7 you see the GP107 chip, manufactured under 14 technology.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 7: the GP107 chip

Figure 8 shows one of the memory chips present on the GeForce GTX 1050. It is a Samsung K4G41325FE-HC28 chip, with 4 Gib (512 MiB) capacity and 3.5 GHz nominal maximum clock.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 8: memory chip

Figure 10 shows the voltage regulator of the GeForce GTX 1050. It uses three phases for the GPU and one phase for the memory chips.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card ReviewFigure 9: voltage regulator

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between the tests, the only variable component was the video card being tested.
Hardware Configuration

  • CPU: Athlon X4 880K running at 4.4 GHz
  • Motherboard: ASRock FM2A88X Extreme 6+
  • CPU Cooler: stock
  • Memory: 16 GiB DDR3-2133, four G.Skill Ripjaws Z F3-17000CL9Q-16GBZH 4 GiB memory modules configured at 2,133 MHz dual channel
  • Boot drive: Kingston HyperX Savage 480 GB
  • Video Monitor: Philips 236VL
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX500M

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • NTFS
  • Desktop video resolution: 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • AMD driver version: 16.5.2.1
  • NVIDIA driver version: 358.91

Software Used

Error Margin
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
[nextpage title=”3DMark”]

3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. Fire Strike benchmark measures DirectX 11 performance and is targeted to high-end gaming computers, while Sky Diver also measures DirectX 11 performance being aimed at average computers. The Cloud Gate benchmark measures DirectX 10 performance.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

On Fire Strike, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was similar to the GeForce GTX 960, 13% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 43% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

On the Sky Diver benchmark, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) obtained the same performance of the GeForce GTX 960, was 4,5% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 23% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.
GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

On Cloud Gate, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was similar to the GeForce GTX 960 and to the Radeon RX 460, being 9% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance”]

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 is one of the most popular games of the Battlefield franchise, being released in 2013. It is based on the Frostbite 3 engine, which is DirectX 11. In order to measure performance using this game, we walked our way through the first mission, measuring the number of frames per second (fps) three times using FRAPS. We ran this game at Full HD, setting overall image quality at “medium.”
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

On Battlefield 4, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was similar to the GeForce GTX 960, 13% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 37% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Dirt Rally

Dirt Rally is an off-road racing game released in April 2015, using Ego engine. To measure performance using this game, we ran the performance test included in the game, in Full HD resolution and image quality configured as “medium” and MSAA off.
The results below are expressed in fps.
GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

In this game, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was 7% slower than the GeForce GTX 960 and the Radeon RX 460, being similar to the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Dying Light

Dying Light is an open-world horror game launched in January 2015, using the Chrome Engine 6. We tested the performance at this game with all quality options as “high” and Full HD resolution, measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review
On Dying Light the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was also similar to the GeForce GTX 960, being 10% faster than the Radeon RX 460 and 50% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is a open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015 and uses the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game (the plane portion), measuring the frame rate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V at Full HD, with image quality set as “high” and MSAA as 2x.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

On GTA V, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was 3% faster than the GeForce GTX 960, 42% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 51% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Mad Max

Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD, with image quality set as “normal”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

On Mad Max, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was 4% faster than the GeForce GTX 960, 20% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 51% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Rise of the Tomb Rider

Rise of the Tomb Rider is an adventure/action game launched in January of 2016, based on Foundation engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using Full HD resolution and graphics quality “medium”.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review
On Rise of the Tomb Rider, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was equivalent to the GeForce GTX 960, 21% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 50% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open-world RPG released in May of 2015 and based on the REDengine 3 engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we walked around at the first scene of the game, measuring the frame rate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD with image quality set to “medium.”

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1050 Video Card Review

In this game, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini (ZT-P10500A-10L) was 4% faster than the GeForce GTX 960, 11% faster than the Radeon RX 460, and 46% faster than the GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The GeForce GTX 1050, the entry model of the new NVIDIA “Pascal” GPUs, doesn’t impresses at first sight, since it was not faster than the GeForce GTX 950, the most basic model from the previous generation.
However, we need to consider that it is not focused on performance, but on cost/benefit ratio, small size and low energy consumption. Because of this, what we have is a video card that doesn’t require an auxiliary power connector, what makes it compatible with virtually any computer: all it requires is a free PCI Express slot.
Comparing the GeForce GTX 1050 to its direct competitor, the Radeon RX 460, the NVIDIA card was faster in most of the tests, thus bringing a better cost/benefit ratio.
We can say that the GeForce GTX 1050 will replace both the GeForce GTX 750 Ti (because it costs the same and is up to 50% faster) and the GeForce GTX 950 (because it has similar performance and costs less).
About the Zotac ZT-P10500A-10L card, it is a small card, with simple and robust construction. It worked cold and quiet during all our tests.
We concluded that even an entry video card like this one is capable of running recent games in Full HD and medium or high video quality with high framerate, allowing a good gaming experience. Thus, the GeForce GTX 1050 is an excellent option for casual gamers or anyone who wants an inexpensive video card with reasonable performance.