The GeForce GTX 1050 3GB is a replacement for the previous GTX 1050 2GB model that includes additional VRAM to ensure better performance in modern texture-heavy games like Battlefield 1 and The Division. It’s tempting for your RRP to be the same as the 2GB model it replaces, but market forces ensure that you’ll often pay a premium for this upgraded model.
Interestingly, however, the card is not a carbon copy of the original GTX 1050 with an extra gigabyte of RAM soldered in there somewhere, as you would expect it to perform at least as well as the previous card in all titles. Instead, the 2GB model actually outperforms the newer 3GB version in some games, especially older versions. That’s because the GTX 1050 3GB is cobbled together with parts from the cheaper GTX 1050 2GB and the more expensive GTX 1050 Ti, and also includes limitations not found in any of its predecessors.
Specifically, the new 3GB card has better computing power in addition to its extra gigabyte of memory, but it actually has less memory bandwidth than the card it replaces. That means the 3GB card will generally perform better in games that keep a lot of textures in memory, but the trend is reversed in games that swap textures in and out of memory frequently. Ultimately, though, we expect the GTX 1050 3GB to outperform its 2GB predecessor in most titles, while remaining firmly behind the fully enabled GTX 1050 Ti.
Which GPU is worth buying? We’ve selected the best graphics cards available and updated them with the latest graphics cards as they are released. In addition to an overall performance champion, we named the best value graphics card and the best budget graphics card to guide your next upgrade.
To give you a better idea of what this all means in specific games, we’ll show you how the GTX 1050 3GB compares to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 2GB and GTX 1050 Ti. We’ll also consider AMD’s budget RX 560 card, which confusingly comes in two versions with 14 or 16 compute units (and many more variations besides). To give a representative result, we will include 14CU and 16CU models of the RX 560 in our tests, both with 4GB of RAM, PCI-e power, and equalized clock speeds. Coupled with Nvidia’s best low-end cards, that should give you a good idea of the impression the GTX 1050 3GB has made in the budget GPU space.
We used Gigabyte’s low-profile 3GB GTX 1050 for our tests, with a higher boost clock of 1544MHz compared to the original 1518MHz.
|GPU cores||Boost the clock||TFLOPS||Memory||memory bandwidth|
|GTX 1050 2GB||640||1455MHz||1.8||2GB GDDR5||112GB/s|
|GTX 1050 3GB||768||1518MHz||23||3GB GDDR5||84GB/s|
|GTX 1050Ti||768||1392MHz||2.1||4GB GDDR5||112GB/s|
|RX 560 (14CU)||896||1275MHz||2.6||2GB/4GB||112GB/s|
|RX 560 (16CU)||1024||1275MHz||2.6||2GB/4GB||112GB/s|
Our benchmarks show how these five cards performed in nine challenging games. On mobile devices, you’ll see a table showing the minimum and average performance for each game, but on desktop you’ll get much more information. This includes a bar graph showing average performance throughout the run, where you can mouse over different results for more details or click to switch from absolute figures to percentages. Even more interesting are our live benchmark tests, which show you how each card performs in sync with a YouTube video of the scene in question. You can even add or remove cards from the comparison, skip the video or play it at double speed, and it stays nicely synchronized so you can see the frame rate and frame time at any time. Ah, technology!
Assassin’s Creed Unity
We begin our benchmarks with the 2014 release of Assassin’s Creed, French Revolution-era Unity. This title keeps plenty of textures in video memory, making it a perfect test for the more spacious GTX 1050 3GB model. As anticipated, the 3GB model outperforms its 2GB counterpart by seven percent despite its reduced memory bandwidth, showing the impact of those extra gigs of VRAM and its higher number of CUDA cores. However, the 3GB model falls eight percent behind the GTX 1050 Ti. In comparison, the AMD RX 560 cards fare poorly in this test, with both recording scores below 30 fps.
AC Drive: 1080p, Ultra High, FXAA
Ashes of the singularity
Next up is the DirectX 12 strategy game Ashes of the Singularity. This 2016 version includes a challenging benchmark with plenty of lighting effects, bringing the GTX 1050 3GB to just under 29fps at 1080p using the Extreme preset. That’s ahead of the GTX 1050 2GB by 16 percent, but a solid 15 percent behind the GTX 1050 Ti. Meanwhile, even the faster 16CU version of the RX 560 is six percent behind the new 3GB Nvidia card.
Ashes of the Singularity DX12: 1080p, extreme, no AA
Battlefield 1 was the first game that really posed a big challenge to the 2GB version of the GTX 1050, recording a result of just 12fps in the single-player benchmark. The 3GB goes a long way to solving this issue, with a much more playable 48fps result. That’s still behind the RX 560 and GTX 1050 Ti models, but at least this time it’s in the same ballpark! There are some frame-rate spikes here and there, but don’t pay too much attention to them: they’re the result of random nearby explosions.
Battlefield 1: 1080p, Ultra, TAA
While the 3GB version of the GTX 1050 is typically faster than its 2GB counterpart, the 2013 title Crysis tells a different story. In this case, the lower memory bandwidth of the 3GB model means that the card actually shows worse performance than its predecessor. It’s not much (42fps for the 3GB model and 43fps for the 3GB alternative), but it shows that the 3GB is not guaranteed to consistently perform better. Both cards score at least higher than the RX 560, however, with the GTX 1050 3GB clocking in at 13 to 16 percent higher frame rates than the AMD hardware we tested.
Crysis 3: 1080p, very high, SMAA T2X
The Division (2016) is another title we tested in DirectX 12, and another game where the GTX 1050 2GB showed very poor performance due to its limited VRAM, with texture and geometry streaming issues in the benchmark. Fortunately, the 3GB model largely solves these problems thanks to its extra gigabyte of memory and increased computing power. The 3GB card outperformed its 2GB sibling by a hefty 27 percent, allowing it to hit a playable 31fps. This also catapulted the new GTX 1050 ahead of the RX 560 by a small margin.
The DX12 Division: 1080p, Ultra, SMAA
Far Cry Primal
Far Cry Primal, released in 2016, is another benchmark that shows the potential downside of choosing the 3GB GTX 1050 over the 2GB model. The reduced memory bandwidth results in noticeably worse frame-rate, with the 3GB card achieving 37fps compared to the 2GB card’s 39fps – a difference of around seven percent. However, even the 3GB card is comfortably ahead of the RX 560 by about 15 percent. It’s worth noting that we’re running the high texture pack here, so you could well see better performance without it enabled.
Far Cry Primal: 1080p, Ultra, SMAA
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ghost Recon Wildlands, released in 2017, is the most challenging title in our current benchmark suite thanks to its demanding Very High preset. None of the five budget cards we’ve tested are capable of hitting 40fps even at 1080p, and the GTX 1050 Ti comes closest at 39.6fps. The GTX 1050 3GB comes in second, at 35.5fps, just one frame ahead of the GTX 1050 2GB. Meanwhile, the RX 560 cards manage to surpass the 30 fps gameplay standard. We recommend reducing the graphical fidelity or using your monitor’s FreeSync or G-Sync functionality to ensure a playable experience.
Ghost Recon Wildlands: 1080p, very high, TAA
The Rise of the Tomb Raider
The GTX 1050 2GB showed significant stuttering issues in our next benchmark, the 2016 version of Rise of the Tomb Raider. These issues have largely been resolved with the 3GB version of the card, indicated by the almost identical lower figures of one percent and five percent. The GTX 1050 3GB also shows a healthy 10 percent frame rate increase over the 2GB card (and RX 560 models), although it trails the GTX 1050 Ti by a similar amount.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 1080p, very high, SMAA
The Witcher 3
We conclude our lineup of gaming benchmarks with a multiple GOTY award winner for 2015: The Witcher 3. The ultra preset remains a challenge even with the notoriously expensive Hairworks setting disabled, with the GTX 1050 3GB sitting next to its 2 GB at 36 fps. Here, it seems that the extra computing power and extra gigabyte of RAM have been more or less canceled out by the lower memory bandwidth. There’s still an 11 percent gap to the best-performing budget card, the GTX 1050 Ti. Meanwhile, the RX 560 cards are a disaster, ranking five and nine percent behind the GTX 1050 3GB.
The Witcher 3: 1080p, Ultra, POST-AA, No Hairworks
In this special cross-gen comparison, we’ll look at performance in Assassin’s Creed Unity and see how the GTX 1050 3GB compares to its predecessors. We chose Assassin’s Creed Unity for this test for a couple of reasons. First, your graphics card can face serious performance challenges in games like Assassin’s Creed Unity that keep many textures in memory at once. Second, the ultra-high preset we’re using here is still an intense challenge for modern GPUs, even when using cheap FXAA instead of more expensive anti-aliasing options. You can use the Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal buttons to see how Nvidia cards from the same generation compare to each other, or drop everything to see the generational leap in action.
Assassin’s Creed Unity: 1080p, Ultra High, FXAA
Assassin’s Creed Unity: 1080p, Ultra High, FXAA
Finally, we’ll look at how the GTX 1050 3GB compares to the entire Nvidia 10 series lineup. As you can see, it sits neatly between the previous GTX 1050 2GB and GTX 1050 Ti cards.
Assassin’s Creed Unity: 1080p, Ultra High, FXAA
Now that you’ve seen a card’s benchmarks, why not check out what PC hardware we recommend to our friends and family? Here are DF’s picks for the best overall graphics cards and best gaming monitors on the market.