You’re in the market for a new GPU and want to spend less than $200. In that case, the main choices would be the GTX 1050 Ti (~$140) from NVIDIA and the RX 470 (~$170) from AMD. Given the differences in price and performance, which of these mid-range graphics cards is the better deal?
GTX 1050 Ti vs RX 470
Both of these cards use 4 GB of VRAM (there is an RX 470 with 8 GB, but we won’t be looking into that). A total of 4 GB of VRAM should be great for 1080p gaming up to around mid-2018, when higher-tier games are expected to start using 6-8 GB.
Nowadays, 2 GB of VRAM is sometimes not enough, and even though 3 GB is OK right now, newer games with higher-resolution textures will begin to struggle in the coming year.
The GTX 1050 Ti comes in at a suggested retail price of $140, while the RX 470 starts at $170. Let’s look at how their performance compares. (The RX 470 performance is the next one below the GTX 1050 Ti, highlighted in green on the chart below.)
TechPowerUp does great analyses, and judging by this summary we can see that the RX 470 is 20-25 percent faster than the GTX 1050 Ti on average. Even in GTA V, a game where AMD cards usually perform around 5 percent worse than their NVIDIA counterparts, the RX 470 is noticeably faster than the 1050 Ti. Furthermore, considering that AMD constantly improves performance on their drivers, the RX 470 is probably even more ahead of the 1050 Ti thanks to the ReLive update.
That brings us to the conclusion that the 1050 Ti is worth the money only if it is under $150. When you’re in the $160 range, the RX 470 would be a much better buy because it’s significantly faster. Spending those extra $10-20 provides a major performance bonus in this price range, as the performance benefits will be very noticeable at roughly 10 FPS on average in-game.
But that doesn’t in any way exclude the 1050 Ti, as it’s a great card for the price, especially because of one major feature: power efficiency.
If you have a pre-built computer with a weak graphics card, then you most likely have a 300W power supply or similarly weak power supply of unknown origins. If your CPU is relatively good, like a SkyLake i3-6100 or even a Sandy Bridge i5-2400, then that’s totally fine for 1080p 60 FPS gaming with the right graphics card.
As we can see in the charts above, the 1050 Ti is roughly 20 percent faster than a GTX 960, the go-to 1080p NVIDIA card of last generation. The 1050 Ti is much more power-efficient, though, and there are many models that don’t require auxiliary power. This means that it can run off of the PCIe slot power alone, so there’s no need to worry about upgrading the power supply. That makes for a great upgrade to a pre-built system with a low-quality or low-wattage PSU.
But again, if the power supply is already around that 400W range and is at least 80+ bronze-rated, then the RX 470 would be hands-down the better choice. The GTX 1050 Ti is the better choice only when getting the card without any power inputs for a pre-built system with a lower quality power supply.
You can usually find deals on both of these cards. I would recommend avoiding reference-type RX 470s, as those will easily throttle and overheat. A dual-fan card is recommended at the least. $160 or lower is a great deal on the RX 470, especially a good-quality one like the MSI Gaming or ASUS Strix model. $140 for a quality GTX 1050 Ti is also great, but the cooler plays a minor role with this card, as it has top-notch power efficiency.
To sum it up: the RX 470 is the better choice out of the two when there are no power constraints in the system. If there are serious power constraints, then the GTX 1050 Ti is better, though slower. Deals must be taken into account, and cheap coolers on the RX 470 should be avoided. Software ecosystems should also be taken into consideration: NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience 3.0 with its ShadowPlay feature is the latest from NVIDIA and ReLive is the one from AMD. Both have equivalent features, which do the same job very well.
We recommend the GTX 1050 Ti and the RX 470 in the Good and Very Good tiers, respectively, at logicalincrements.com.
Winner: RX 470
(Unless you have serious power constraints, a very small amount of space for a GPU, or an extremely tight budget.)