The goal of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 is to try and account for everybody. Yes, despite all the love and attention the enhanced GPUs get (GTX 1060/1070/1080/1080 Ti) something like the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Low Profile is more in line with what most people and PC gaming newcomers are able to afford. An option that will give you everything necessary to play current games in Full HD, with some minor compromises in between.
Our tester as stated is a ‘low profile’ variant, which means it will fit nicely in a slim and/or small form factor PC, commonly built as ultra-budget systems for small families or office cubicles. This specific model adheres to the strictest sense of the slimline category where the biggest obstacle is lack of chassis room, here this ZOTAC GTX 1050 thrives with its LHW dimensions of 6.3 x 4.38 x 2 inches.
Slim and Trim
The styling of this card is a dual cooler with 40mm miniature fans on a plastic shroud, with a narrow heatsink and basic PCB on the other side. The connectivity is equally compliant with a HDMI (2.0b), DisplayPort (1.4), and a DVI-D dual link port, but multi-GPU optimization through Nvidia’s Scalable Link Interface (SLI) is out of the question.
Spec-wise, it’s still nothing more than a regular GTX 1050 featuring the same 1354MHz base clock and boost of 1455MHz, with a competent 640 CUDA core count and a 14nm FinFET GP107 process. Also standard in this truncated package is 2GB of GDDR5 RAM clocked at 7GHz and a 128-bit bus with peak bandwidth of 112GBps.
Since no external ATX power is required, the ZOTAC GTX 1050 Low Profile runs entirely off the motherboard PCIe, so installation is stupidly easy. You literally just plug it in and there you go, unless you need to swap the included smaller bracket with a Phillips screwdriver. After that, you have a functional and quiet graphic card and ready to play some games in casual form.
Teaching Old Dogs
The benchmarking was a bit unusual considering the performance and intentions. In fact, it felt like an uneven pairing for my current Intel and AMD-based test machines, both of which lean towards the enthusiast range:
Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming GT motherboard, Intel Core i7-6700 processor, HyperX Savage 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3000 RAM, Corsair CX750M PSU, Crucial MX300 1TB SSD, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
MSI X370 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM motherboard, AMD Ryzen 7 1700X processor, GeIL EVO RGB 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 RAM, Rosewill Photon 1050 PSW, Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB SSD, Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 cooler, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
We reckon more people will end up adding any GTX 1050 to older or sub-$500 systems—it is a logical assumption—taking into account limited resources and an appealing price of entry. It should serve equally well as a realistic ‘last mile’ fix for aged machines; so, for consistency I broke out my venerable Shuttle XPC SZ77R5 which theoretically fits this slim GPU in depreciated budget, size, and audience category:
Shuttle SZ77R5 Barebone Mini Gaming PC (includes Shuttle form factor Z77 motherboard and 500W PSU), Intel Core i7-3770 processor, HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 RAM, SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Benchmarking: The Gaming way
No need to slog through the typical suite of productivity benchmarks here, I just want to have fun and jump right into the games. NVIDIA and partner manufacturers are adamantly banking on 1080p enjoyment at medium quality or eSports competition; and the GTX 1050 should have all the graphical power needed to pull it off. This coincidentally pits it directly against the Radeon RX 560 and even going as far as the GeForce GT 1030 for devoted penny-pinchers.
If you’re into first-person shooters or eSports, Overwatch will probably be on your shortlist. All available cards had no problem running over 60 FPS largely because of internal GPU optimization, despite the furious action and the visual explosion of light and particle effects. World of Tanks was the oldest title on hand and offering the best figures of any game, while AAA gaming in Grand Theft Auto V and DOOM running on medium settings was done to avoid overtaxing the GDDR5 memory. Between the top two, both ZOTAC (NVIDIA) and Sapphire (AMD) were almost toe-to-toe.
With the 3DMark Firestrike synthetic score your individual results may vary. The differences are noticeable and the GTX 1050 managed a result of 6,406, although these types of benchmarks are referential rather than definitive end-all numbers. Average power consumption is 141W at 67 °F.
After stepping down from the high-end and getting back to my roots with the GTX 1050 Ti Low Profile Graphics Card, I was happy how well the Pascal architecture worked in downscaled form. The potential cost overhead makes this a effortless replacement for aged or space-restrictive PCs. However, the timing of receiving this GPU from ZOTAC and doing this review offers plenty of reasons to cross-shop.
The GTX 1050 debuted later in the GeForce 10 series range, which is ‘fine’ in basic economics but maybe not quite in long-term value. the competition is fierce from the GTX 1050 Ti ($135) or (more desirably) the GTX 1060 ($189) if you’re willing pony up an extra $30-$70, to the GT 1030 ($69) which is (confusingly) advertising identical 1080p/eSports benefits at a passable bargain. AMD also isn’t resting on laurels with their current Radeon RX 560 ($109) and amazing price reductions on their prior RX 460 ($89), the latter of which already competes with the GTX 1050 in overall performance.
The form factor and reasonable gaming prowess does make it unique, but this GTX 1050 is crowded by enticing alternatives. A good starter card if you must prioritize budget, but you’ll definitely want to save up for something more capable eventually.