If you've got a PC that isn't cutting-edge — like most people out there — but you still want to play games, even a modest upgrade to your computer's graphics card can mean massive gains for in-game performance. Nvidia wants you to buy its card for exactly that purpose, even if your machine is four or five years old.
According to Nvidia's Justin Walker, PC is where all the action happens in gaming: "PC gaming has been strong and continues to grow. It's the most important gaming platform on the planet. Take a look at the number of games — there's been a tremendous number of games, more so by far than any other gaming platform; there were almost 3500 different games released in the last year. 52 per cent of developers work on PC versus 28 per cent on PS4 and 23 per cent on Xbox One."
And so, to target that market, Nvidia has not one but two entry-level graphics cards. Meet the GeForce GTX 1050 and the slightly amped-up GTX 1050 Ti. Both will be released to retail stores on October 25th, and are aimed at the entry-level gamer — one that wants to play current games, but doesn't have the budget or the interest to invest in a more expensive rig.
Says Nvidia: "Over the past few years, the performance requirement has tripled. Fast forward to today, a GPU from four years ago is not going to keep up with modern games. Let's say you bought a GTX 650 in 2012 — that's not going to keep up. GTX 1050 is a 3x performance increase on the GTX 650, and almost a 2x improvement over the last generation's GTX 750 Ti."
The $US109 GTX 1050 includes 2GB of GDDR5 memory, and its 1.3GHz Pascal architecture CPU has 640 CUDA cores. The GTX 1050 is under 75 Watts and doesn't require any external power supply or new power connectors — since most PCs around the world have power supplies over 300 Watts, no other internal upgrades will be necessary. That's a big plus for anyone who just wants the simplest upgrade possible.
Also based on the GP107 core is a slightly gutsier GTX 1050 Ti with 768 CUDA cores, double the onboard graphics RAM at 4GB of GDDR5, with the same 75 Watts power output and a $US139 price tag. Some OEMs will include an additional six-pin power connectors on the 1050 and 1050 Ti, and Nvidia says there's a ton of overclocking headroom with some units in its labs reaching 1.9GHz — but if you buy a card with the extra connector, you'll have to use it.
There are now six cards in Nvidia's 2016 graphics card line-up, although the GTX Titan X straddles the line between a consumer and pro card. Says Nvidia: "If you want the best, you get the 1080. If you want something with serious gaming performance, you get the 1070 and 1060. The GTX 1050 is for folks who want to buy the latest games. If you're in the market for a new GPU and you want to buy the latest games, the GTX 1050 is the place to start."
The GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti won't support SLI, and won't be marketed as VR Ready: that first one starts with the top two cards, while the GTX 1060 is the lowest-end card where virtual reality support is explicitly mentioned. There also won't be any Founder's Edition cards — all the boards sold will be from Nvidia's add-in board partners like Asus and MSI and Gigabyte.