EVGA GEFORCE GTX 1050 TI 4GB ACX 2.0 $130
NOTHING TOUCHES graphics cards when it comes to choice. Even when you hone in on a particular GPU, you’ll find there are multiple cards available, often from the same company. The graphics card market is now so granular that a few extra dollars here and there can net you a slightly higher overclock, a quieter cooler, or added bling in the form of pulsating LEDs. Whether you have $100 or $1,000, there’s a graphics card out there for you.
Amazingly, if you’re on a tight budget, there aren’t too many GPUs worth considering: At the budget we’ve set aside for the graphics subsystem, this essentially comes down to a toss- up between the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and the AMD Radeon RX 560. This is a fairly straightforward win for Nvidia, because the 1050 Ti is a much stronger performer, and 4GB models are more readily available than their RX 560 siblings. AMD’s Radeons seem to be suffering from renewed interest in cryptocurrency mining as well, making for limited stock pretty much everywhere.
The EVGA card we grabbed boasts a slight overclock over Nvidia’s base specification—with a base clock of 1,354MHz against Nvidia’s base specification of 1,290MHz. These days, the base clock is actually less important than the boost, because GPU Boost 2.0 automatically overclocks the card, dependent on temperature—but, again, this overclock extends there as well, with a boost clock of 1,468MHz against the suggested 1,392MHz. The single fan cooler does a great job of keeping those 768 CUDA cores chilled without making a lot of noise, as well.
The other benefits of this Pascal card are its short form factor and the fact that it doesn’t need any additional power connectors, drawing all the juice it needs from the PCIe slot. Nvidia recommends you have at least a 300W PSU for any system using this card, which means we have power to spare in our rig.