Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti review
Now this is something different. It’s the usual form for graphics cards vendors to unleash a brand new architecture with their latest and greatest high-end products. Yet here we are, with Nvidia’s eagerly awaited new «Maxwell» technology receiving its debut in the form of a mainstream gaming product — the £115 GeForce GTX 750 Ti. What the new card may lack in raw gaming power, it more than makes up for in terms of efficiency and sheer innovation — in many ways, it’s a stunning little piece of technology.
So what does Maxwell bring to the table? Remarkably, Nvidia claims to have doubled performance per watt compared to its previous Kepler technology, thanks to a combination of factors where a new CUDA core configuration and a massive boost in L2 memory cache (2MB vs. 256K) appear to provide the most tangible benefits. The big news here is that Nvidia has achieved this without moving to a new fabrication node — just like Kepler, Maxwell is a 28nm chip. It’s usually the case that new GPU technologies are rolled out alongside new manufacturing technologies, but the new 20nm process still isn’t ready for show-time. Indeed, Nvidia has indicated to us that we won’t see any 20nm cards this year, but that’s OK — Maxwell isn’t just about improved performance per watt, it’s about getting more processing power from a smaller area of die-space too.
You don’t quite realise just how much of an achievement Maxwell actually is until you first hold GTX 750 Ti in your hands. The GM107 chip on the new card is tiny, with a relatively minuscule heatsink and fan, oddly reminiscent of the stock coolers supplied in the box with Intel CPUs. The board itself is very, very small — about the size of an old Soundblaster audio card, and it requires no additional PCI Express power cables from the power supply, making it an ideal upgrade for cheaper PCs lacking the necessary PSU connections for enthusiast gaming.
All of this sounds interesting, but probably not that exciting if the GTX 750 Ti delivers only mediocre gaming performance. Thankfully, that is not the case: the GTX 750 Ti handily outperforms its nearest competitor — the Radeon R7 260X — and it does so with a 60W TDP, as opposed to the 115W TDP on the AMD product. Lest we forget, we recently compared the 260X to next-gen console across a range of multi-platform games and found the AMD experience to either match or exceed what Xbox One or PS4 were capable of, with the exception of the poorly optimised computer edition of Call of Duty: Ghosts. The GTX 750 Ti performs likewise, if not a touch better.
It’s a remarkable little package for sure, though the surrounding technology is very much of the standard form found in the £100 GPU area. Similar to the GTX 650, external interfaces are limited — we have two dual-link DVI connections in addition to a mini-HDMI interface (requiring an adaptor or new cable). However, the biggest challenge the card faces is more technical in nature — specifically, a constrictive 128-bit memory bus hooking up the main GM107 chip to its 2GB of onboard GDDR5. Games love big, fat, wide interfaces to graphics RAM, and narrower buses can cause issues with bandwidth-intensive tasks like multi-sampling anti-aliasing (MSAA).
So what kind of performance can this hardware achieve? Our first test is a trip to the Baku warzone of Battlefield 4, with 1080p resolution engaged and high settings enabled across the board. This offers up a beautiful-looking slice of entertainment, but without the excesses of DICE’s ultra presets — in particular the deferred multi-sampling anti-aliasing that brutally hammers the memory bandwidth that the entry-level enthusiast GPUs simply don’t have. Just like the R7 260X it competes with, full 1080p at a sustained 60fps is off the table but by moving to 1600×900 — the PS4 resolution setting — we get a silky smooth arcade-style experience. Not bad for a bus-powered, relatively inexpensive graphics card.
Direct comparisons with the 260X also reveal a performance advantage on a game specifically optimised in association with AMD, ranging from anything between 4fps to 10fps in like-for-like scenes. However, in terms of the actual feel of the game, the difference is fairly minimal across the run of play. That said, if you’re looking for a locked 60fps with v-sync enabled — the console experience, if you like — any additional horsepower is welcome to stop you dropping beneath that magical target frame-rate, and there are a few instances of that occurring in the video below.
«Similar to the R7 260X, the GTX 750 Ti offers up enough raw rendering power to match or exceed next-gen console performance in Battlefield 4, moving ahead of its AMD rival just a touch.»
The constricted memory bandwidth of the GTX 750 Ti is probably the biggest factor in taking smooth 1080p60 gameplay out of contention, but at the PS4 resolution setting of 1600×900, the card performs beautifully, and pushes a few percentage points ahead of its major AMD competitor, the R7 260X.
- Battlefield 4, 1080p High: GeForce GTX 750 Ti vs. Radeon R7 260X
So with the DICE epic addressed, it’s time to push the new Maxwell technology still further. Many consider Crysis 3 performance to be the true barometer of a graphics card’s mettle, and perhaps not surprisingly, here we find that overall feel of the game remains very similar to the R7 260X. At 1080p we ran the game at high settings, with 2x SMAA anti-aliasing and very high texture quality and enjoyed a decent experience with frame-rates north of 30fps. Dropping down to medium quality boosts performance as you would expect, but at the expense of a less consistent experience. Similar to the R7 260X, our recommendation here would be to play the game on the more demanding settings, and either leave frame-rate as it is, or else utilise a tool like MSI Afterburner to cap performance at 30fps to eliminate judder.
Again, we find that the GTX 750 Ti generally enjoys a boost over the R7 260X in like-for-like testing — generally in the area of 4fps — but having played the Welcome to the Jungle stage back-to-back with both cards, gameplay felt like much of a muchness. 60fps is a pipe dream here and with frame-rates during gameplay mostly occupying the 30-40fps area, it’s difficult to see the GeForce advantage turn into a palpably better experience.
At this point we decided to measure our system’s power draw — and it’s here that the GTX 750 Ti’s advantage is really felt. On the scripted sequence at the end of Welcome to the Jungle (2:55 in the video), we see a range of graphics and physics at work — a brutal workout for both CPU and GPU. Turning v-sync off to run the game simulation as fast as the system can handle it, we saw a max power spike of 148W, but with an average of around 135W. This is quite remarkable — we’re running a Core i7-3770K overclocked to 4.3GHz in addition to the GTX 750 Ti, and we’re seeing power consumption in line with PlayStation 4.
«GTX 750 Ti hands in a decent showing on Crysis 3 at 1080p/high but achieving it with system load comparable to PS4 is a stunning achievement, especially when we are running an overclocked Core i7-3770K at 4. 3GHz.»
Crysis 3 compared at medium and high settings, with 1080p resolution, 2x SMAA, very high quality textures and v-sync engaged. Clearly the medium preset provides higher frame-rates, but also a less consistent experience. We’d take the improved visuals instead, preferably with a 30fps cap in place.
- Crysis 3, 1080p High: GeForce GTX 750 Ti vs. Radeon R7 260X
Looking to get a better view of what the new GPU is capable of when unleashed on a range of game engines, we move on to our usual benchmark suite. Here we find that the card does indeed beat the R7 260X in all tests — with just Hitman: Absolution presenting a close challenge. We all see some interesting comparisons with what we would perceive to be better specced cards — the Radeon HD 7850 1GB and the GTX 650 Ti Boost. None of these benchmarks trouble the 7850’s 1GB RAM limit here, so despite the increased memory bandwidth, we see some curious results — especially on BioShock Infinite.
It’s worth pointing out here that we are applying some level of realism to the settings in these particular benches. Ramping up quality to the absolute maximum and applying enormous levels of MSAA is a recipe for failure on entry-level enthusiast cards, and doesn’t demonstrate how the technology will actually be used during gameplay. Our strategy here is to reduce multi-sampling to the minimum, and take overall settings down one notch from the «ultra» level. This combination is enough to get us a far more playable experience, but it may cancel out some of the inherent advantages the HD 7850 and GTX 650 Ti Boost could offer.
What’s clear from our testing is that Maxwell has so much more to offer — the technology is barely breaking sweat here. Now, we don’t usually explore graphics card overclocking that much, but the sheer efficiency of the GTX 750 Ti suggests that Maxwell has quite a lot more under the bonnet than the results here indicate. Maxwell retains Nvidia’s own auto-overclocking GPU Boost tech, which in our tests took core speeds up to 1085MHz. Additional overclocking with MSI Afterburner increased that by 135MHz, while we achieved rock solid stability upping memory speed from 2700MHz to 3300MHz.
«Overall performance as indicated by gaming benchmarks suggests a product that can provide both performance and eye candy with miserly power consumption.»
The GTX 750 Ti battles it out with its rival, the R7 260X along with a brace of more powerful cards — the Radeon HD 7850 and the GTX 650 Ti Boost. Two clear tiers of performance then, but with some occasionally intriguing results.
|1920×1080 ‘Value’||GTX 750 Ti 2GB||R7 260X 2GB||7850 1GB||GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB||GTX 750 Ti 2GB (OC)|
|BioShock Infinite, Very High||65.9fps||57.3fps||66.9fps||64.1fps||74.8fps|
|Tomb Raider, High, FXAA||66.6fps||61.1fps||77.8fps||78.2fps||76. 9fps|
|Metro 2033, High, AAA||32.3fps||29.5fps||40.0fps||36.9fps||36.8fps|
|Metro: Last Light, High||38.0fps||34.0fps||38.6fps||36.8fps||43.8fps|
|Hitman: Absolution, High, 2x MSAA||36.2fps||36.9fps||45.0fps||39.8fps||41.4fps|
|Sleeping Dogs, Extreme||51.1fps||47.9fps||54.5fps||54.0fps||57.4fps|
This added around 15 per cent of additional performance across our range of benchmarks, propelling the GTX 750 Ti from an R7 260X beater to a serious challenger to the Radeon HD 7850. It should be noted though that most of the speed increase came from the memory boost — clearly the 128-bit bus to the GDDR5 is more of a limiting factor on the GTX 750 Ti’s performance than the core clock. Enthusiast overclockers may be able to get more — much more — out of this card, but we suspect that the core may be limited by the motherboard-only power supply. Perhaps this will be resolved by third party cards with PCIe connections and more meaty cooling.
In short, the GTX 750 Ti punches above its weight in its sector and with overclocking in place it moves into contention against the Radeon HD 7850 and Nvidia’s own GTX 650 Ti Boost, as long as you’re reasonable with multi-sampling anti-aliasing (MSAA) and other elements that benefit most from those cards’ higher memory bandwidth interfaces. In this video, we re-ran our benchmark tests comparing stock vs. overclock, and we also added frame-time metrics, giving an «in the second» viewpoint on how evenly the card refreshes the image.
So what we’re seeing here is a useful boost that’s nice to have, and one that propels the GTX 750 Ti up a rung in the GPU comparison ladder, but it should be put into perspective of the all-important gameplay experience. Going back to our Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4 tests, the cumulative increase isn’t enough to rule out purchasing a more powerful GPU — and there are many options for significantly more capable kit that aren’t that much more expensive.
«Even with just a short test period, we were able to overclock the GTX 750 Ti to deliver 15 per cent more performance across a range of test titles — a useful boost.»
We don’t proclaim to be overclocking experts, but we were easily able to get a 15 per cent performance improvement with a 135MHz adjustment to the core clock, and an additional 600MHz to the memory. Here’s how that shakes out in terms of actual frame-rate increases, plus we’ve included FCAT frame-pacing graphs too. Let’s just say that the Metro 2033 gameplay experience is a whole lot smoother than the taxing benchmark seems to indicate!
Are we allowed to get this excited about power efficiency? Taken at face value, the GTX 750 Ti won’t rock your world in terms of the gameplay experience it delivers, despite favourable comparisons with the next-gen consoles. It’s a bit better than the R7 260X — so good enough to run most games at 1080p/high, but it probably won’t be troubling the likes of the R9 270X and the GTX 760. However, the arrival of Maxwell has certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons at AMD — the Radeon HD 7850 has been clock-bumped and rebranded as the R7 265, and we should expect price movements as the new Nvidia tech hits the market. However, for all of its technical accomplishment, it’s worth pointing out that AMD’s R9 270 (the non-X version) is preposterously good value at £130, offering much more raw gaming performance and the wide 256-bit memory bus that so many titles benefit from. In fact it’s so good that it makes the £150 270X seem rather over-priced, especially if you’re not too concerned about overclocking.
However, the new Nvidia offering is special and unique in its own right, moving into territories where AMD has no answer to its enviable combination of performance and power efficiency. The fact that it’s entirely bus-powered with no additional PSU power required opens up the GTX 750 Ti to a vast market of PCs that are otherwise completely unequipped for enthusiast-level gaming. Nvidia is touting the card as ideal for small form factor PCs, where the GTX 750 Ti’s miniscule PCB and cool running are likely to make it a very good fit. Indeed, the fact that we could run Crysis 3 at 1080p on high settings with an overclocked i7 and still see power consumption that’s competitive with next-gen console is a stunning achievement.
The power efficiency of the technology also bodes well for Nvidia as it releases new cards that scale up into the higher-end levels of the stack. Maxwell also stands to revolutionise gaming laptop performance too: the GTX 750 Ti easily outpaces the GTX 765M found in the Razer Blade 14, and it does so with much the same level of power consumption. And then finally there’s the application of the new technology in the successor to the mobile Tegra K1. Maxwell is an architecture designed with mobile in mind first and foremost, and just happens to scale up nicely into powerful, but efficient desktop GPU technology.
In the here and now, the GTX 750 Ti doesn’t offer any revelatory increase in gaming performance, but it provides entry-level enthusiast quality in a package quite unlike any other with a ridiculously small power envelope. And if Nvidia is beating AMD’s 115W card at just 60W, what’s going to happen once the firm starts to release successors to the GTX 760, 770, 780 and Titan? We’re not quite sure, but can’t wait to find out.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti review
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The Green Team’s newest budget gaming GPU is a winner
As a low-cost, low-power graphics card, the 750 Ti is currently a very good option for anyone building a value gaming PC, especially if it’s a Steam Machine.
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Small form factor
No additional power connectors needed
Consumes very little wattage
No SLI option
No game bundle
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Update: We’ve added pictures of the 750 Ti to show its diminutive size
Nvidia and AMD have been waging a graphics war that’s getting bloodier than ever, thanks to the release of Nvidia’s 700-series and AMD’s R7 and R9-series video cards.
The green team’s newest edition to the market is the 750 Ti, which provides gamers with an inexpensive 1080p gaming video card.
Nvidia’s small-sized 750 Ti runs only US$149 (or £114, AU$219), half the price of the GTX 760, and just $20 more than AMD’s R7 260X, if you account for the 260X’s recent price cut.
While the 260X is a rebadged Radeon HD 7790, Nvidia’s 750 Ti features a brand new GPU architecture called Maxwell.
In the past Nvidia has released new architectures from the top down, meaning they would typically release a high-end video card like the Titan and then slowly release lower-end GPUs with the new architecture.
It’s definitely a savvy move for Nvidia to refresh their low-end offerings first; at $150 the 750 Ti is an impulse buy compared to upcoming Maxwell refreshed Titan Black.
Like other 700-Series cards, the 750 Ti supports G-Sync, a new technology from Nvidia that allows GeForce video cards to play games without refresh rate induced stutter or screen tearing. A G-Sync capable monitor is required, as well as a GTX 650 Ti Boost video card or higher.
I haven’t tested G-Sync out myself, but I’m keen to see how it can smooth out the play experience with the 750 Ti and other compatible Nvidia cards. Another Nvidia-exclusive feature the 750 Ti sports is Nvidia Game Streaming, which allows users to stream games from their PC to an Nvidia Shield.
Little card, big numbers
Unwrapping the 750 Ti, I was pleasantly shocked by its size. The card measures just 5.7″ (14.5cm) and features a single-slot design. Even more impressive is that the 750 Ti doesn’t require any additional power connectors.
AMD’s R7 260X, however, requires one 6-pin power connector and it’s also an inch (2.5 cm) longer. Lastly, the 750 Ti supports up to three displays and features one Mini-HDMI port and two Dual-Link DVI ports.
The 750 Ti is a power-efficient video card that consumes a mere 60W. In contrast, AMD’s R7 260X eats up almost double the wattage with its 115W TDP. Nvidia’s PSU requirement for the 750 Ti is also low at just 300W, so you won’t need a beefy 500W or 750W beast to power this mini GPU. That, combined with its small size, makes it an easy upgrade for a wide swath of systems.
When it comes to specs this entry-level 700-Series card doesn’t disappoint. The card features 512 CUDA cores, a base clock of 1020MHz, and a boost clock of 1085MHz.
The 750 Ti comes with 2GB of GDDR5 video RAM clocked at 5400MHz, too. It’s worth mentioning a non-Ti version will come soon and sport 1GB of RAM and retail for $119/£90. If you’re going to run multiple monitors I’d push you toward this 2GB Ti version, as you’ll have more video RAM bandwidth for doing things across your displays.
I overclocked the 750 Ti by modestly increasing its boost clock to 1169MHz, using EVGA’s Precision X overclocking tool.
Doing so created no detectable stability issues, and provided a performance increase of about 5% across all games, with the exception of Batman: Arkham Origins which only received a 3% boost in performance. Noise was no problem when I overclocked the card, and it wasn’t noticeably louder than when it was stock clocked.
That’s the 650 Ti on the right
To benchmark the 750 Ti’s performance I d it off against AMD’s R7 260X and a Sapphire HD 7790 OC. Both AMD cards sell for $120-$130, so they’re less expensive than the 750 Ti, but not by much. The 750 Ti won every benchmark against the AMD cards, making it the clear winner in terms of raw performance.
I also tested the 750 Ti against last year’s GTX 650 Ti. When averaging all the benchmarks together, Nvidia’s 750 Ti is 22% faster than the 600 series card. The 750 Ti’s performance is impressive, as the 650 Ti almost consumes twice the amount of power with its 110W TDP. Nvidia’s 650 Ti card also features a two-slot design, so the 750 Ti is a slimmer, faster, and more powerful GPU overall.
All benchmarks were run on the high settings at 1920×1080, (except when otherwise noted) with 4X FXAA enabled. Our test bed consisted of an Intel Core i7-2700K at stock speeds on a Gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3 board with 8GB of DDR3/1600 RAM, a 128GB SanDisk Extreme II SSD drive, and a 750W Cooler Master power supply.
DirectX 11 gaming performance: Frames per second: higher is better
750 Ti: 50.1
- R7 260X: 47.7
- Radeon HD 7790: 47.6
- 650 Ti 1GB: 42.0
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 52.6
Tomb Raider (2013):
- 750 Ti: 65.9
- R7 260X: 59.8
- Radeon HD 7790: 60.4
- 650 Ti 1GB: 57.2
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 68.7
Metro Last Light:
Settings used: SSAA Enabled, PhysX Disabled
- 750 Ti: 22
- R7 260X: 18.46
- Radeon HD 7790: 18.75
- 650 Ti 1GB: 16.43
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 23
Batman: Arkham Origins:
Settings used: MSAA 4X, Geometry DX11 Enhanced, Dynamic Shadows DX11 Enhanced, D. O.F. DX11 Enhanced, PhysX Disabled
- 750 Ti: 59
- R7 260X: N/A
- Radeon HD 7790: N/A
- 650 Ti 1GB: 53
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 61
DirectX 11 tessellation performance: Frames per second: higher is better
3DMark Fire Strike (normal)
- 750 Ti: 3845
- R7 260X: 3713
- Radeon HD 7790: 3664
- 650 Ti 1GB: 3018
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 4017
Settings used: API: DirectX 11, Quality: Ultra, Tessellation: Extreme, AA X4
- 750 Ti: 23.8
- R7 260X: 19.7
- Radeon HD 7790: 19.7
- 650 Ti 1GB: 17.9
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 24.4
- 750 Ti: 9557
- R7 260X: 9002
- Radeon HD 7790: 8889
- 650 Ti 1GB: 8173
- 750 Ti Overclocked to 1169MHz: 10047
At $150 the 750 Ti offers impressive bang for buck performance. I saw the card effortlessly handle games at 1080p with high settings. Every game I used for benchmarking, except the punishing Metro: Last Light, naturally, ran at a silky smooth 50-60 FPS.
I’m really impressed by its miniscule power consumption, no additional power connectors required. I also appreciate the sleek 5.7″ single-slot design, which makes this card great for living room friendly small-form-factor PCs. That’s a wise design choice with the Steam Box revolution right around corner.
There’s not much to moan about with the 750 Ti, however, if you’re looking for a $150 video card that supports dual-GPU capabilities, keep looking. The 750 Ti doesn’t support SLI, so if you want a budget card that will let you add a second GPU down the line, I’d recommend a trip to AMD country for R7 260X.
Also, the R7 260X currently comes bundled with two games, and the 750 Ti does not, at least as of this writing. This is by no means a deal breaker, but getting to pick between Thief (coming out February 25th), Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Hitman Absolution, Dirt 3, and Sleeping Dogs is something to consider, especially if that lack of SLI support is bumming you out.