The new GTX 1050 Ti Low Profile, recently announced by MSI, proves that good things really do come in small packages.
Generally, graphics cards are big, power-hungry things, that traditionally only fit into cavernous enthusiast cases. If you’ve got a smaller form factor case – sometimes custom-built as a home theatre PC, but more often, off-the-shelf options from big vendors like Dell or HP – then you’ve traditionally had problems upgrading from the weedy integrated graphics chipset. Even if you could fit a card in, which is unlikely, you’re still likely to run into issues with the power supply. Most graphics cards require an additional power connector and require a lot of juice, but the power supplies in these small form factor cases usually supply neither.
There have been smaller graphics cards, and ones that required less power, but they were a bit weedy. They’d generally be fine for light multimedia and low requirement games, but you’d soon hit a ceiling and run out of steam. In Nvidia’s product line they’d be designated as GT cards, rather than the full-fat GTX cards beloved by gamers.
Then came the GTX 750, and its bigger brother, the GTX 750 Ti. Both these cards were – and indeed still are – available in low profile variants, meaning they fit in even the tightest chassis. Crucially, they can also draw all the power they need (a meagre 75 watts) through the motherboard’s PCI Express slot without any additional power supply cables.
Up until recently the GTX 750 and 750 Ti – originally released in February 2014 – have been the best option for low profile, low power graphics requirements. In some respects, they’ve been the only option. Some manufacturers did offer a lower-power, 75 W version of 2015’s GTX 950 card, the supposed successor to the GTX 750, but the low profile version is hard to source outside of Japan.
So when Nvidia announced the Pascal series of GeForce cards, headlined by the GTX 1070 and 1080 – whose new architecture dramatically slashes power use while still improving performance – fans of small form factor/low power cards were watching very closely. Then came the GTX 1060, which is available with a shortened card length, but not in a low profile variant; it also draws 120 W of power, so requires that additional power connector.
Then Nvidia released the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti. That had to be a good sign, right? After the whimper of a launch for the GTX 950, Nvidia were bound to be giving the GTX 750 and 750 Ti worthy successors, surely? Sure enough, the cards were soon available in shorter lengths, and their power consumption sneaks in at that crucial 75 W figure, but that low profile variant was nowhere to be seen.
Nowhere to be seen, until now.
MSI are the first out of the gate to announce a GTX 1050 Ti Low Profile variant, and for all intents and purposes, it’s exactly the same as the standard GTX 1050 Ti. Other than a slight limitation of physically not being able to carry as many output ports – three, if you were wondering, which effectively limits the number of displays it can drive – the MSI GTX 1050 Ti Low Profile specifications are identical to the full-fat card.
There’s no indication on release date or pricing yet, but expect to pay a small premium for the 4GB GTX 1050 Ti Low Profile over the standard version. There’s also no word on a 2GB GTX 1050 Low Profile, but given the identical power requirements and size – and the fact there’s only about thirty quid between them – there’s really no good reason to plump for the smaller spec card.
There’s also no word on any other vendors offering Low Profile GTX 1050 Ti cards just yet, but now that the genie is out of the bottle, expect the likes of Zotac and Gigabyte – who also carried low profile versions of the 750-series cards – to follow suit relatively soon.