In the green corner of PC hardware, things have been fairly boring. While everyone waits for Nvidia to release their 800 series, manufacturers are tasked with re-releasing existing cards with a few extra bells and whistles to keep their business booming. These are usually reserved for some of the upper-tier cards, making a mid-range PC gamer’s life a dull affair. Except, it doesn’t have to be that way all the time.
If your wallet cringes at the idea of a GTX 780Ti then you’re probably like most other normal PC gamers. Not everyone can afford the most powerful hardware on the market, and not everyone needs to. Sometimes you just need a capable card to run the latest and great titles at a modest 1080p. That’s where mid-range cards come into play. More importantly, that’s where the Gigabyte GTX 750Ti Black Edition (and catch your breath again) should catch your eye.
Manufactures like Gigabyte have to keep their business alive while Nvidia dawdles with the release of the 800 series. The 750Ti Black Edition is not the first, but the second revision of the reference card from Gigabyte. The first was a simple factory overclocked version, with improved cooling over the reference solution. The Black Edition keeps these changes and raises the bar in terms of durability and stability.
That’s apparent from the moment you open the box. Sitting on top of the card is a nice little black certificate, which let’s you know that every Black edition card has been individually burnt-in for a staggering 168 hours. There’s all the assurance you need that the factory overclock that this card ships with is 100% stable, with an out of the box base clock speed of 1163 MHz and a boost speed of 1242 MHz. That a little over 100 MHz more than the reference flavour of the card.
The Black Edition also comes with a monstrous cooler for the size of the card, fitting the trademark twin fan Windforce cooling solution on the small Maxwell chip. The fans dwarf the card underneath, which doesn’t exactly make the card look the best but definitely works in practice. A little more on that later though.
In terms of output, you’re spoiled for choice as well. The card comes with two DVI ports and two HDMI ports, with the latter allowing you to reach 4K resolution with the right monitor setup. I had trouble getting a 60HZ output at that resolution using the two HDMI output, although that’s more of a fault with the Samsung UHD590 monitor I was using. That, and 4K resolution output is still a wild horse to tame unless you’re using a DisplayPort.
So we’ve got a nice, neat 2GB of GDDR5 memory with cool, power efficient Maxwell design and a monster cooler to boot. How well does that all hold up in our Lagzatron 3000 testing regiment? Well, not that bad actually, as long as you keep the resolutions fairly modest of course.
Crysis 3 is one of the most demanding titles you can get on a PC, especially when things start inching closer to the 4K region. With the GTX 750Ti Black Edition behind it, Crysis 3 wasn’t exactly a smooth ride. Keeping things low at 1080p produced playable frame rates, and lowing some of the settings would definitely give you a smooth 60 FPS. Anything above 1080p though, and you’re asking for trouble. Frame rates start to take a dive, reaching single digits ion some cases. There’ might be 4K support, but you won’t be playing Crysis 3 at that size.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins runs on Unreal Engine 3, meaning it’s fairly more forgiving on hardware than most other engines out there. that’s evident in the performance the 750Ti was able to produce, with the game reaching rather high frame rates at 1080p. Hell, you’ll probably get away with running the Dark Knight at some resolutions even, but again 4K is a little bit of a stretch for the mid-range card. Not surprising, and not really a deal breaker.
Metro: Last Light
Metro sits on par with Crysis in terms of pushing hardware to its limit in some cases, and the benchmark software that comes with the game does its best to find weak spots. That’s clear even at the lowest resolution we ran tested at, with the 750Ti struggling to keep up with the action in some areas. Toning down on some of the bells and whistles will probably help, but don’t dream at running this at anything higher than 1080p.
Ubisoft’s Watch_Dogs is woefully optimised on PC. It also happens to be an absolute VRAM killer, soaking up video memory like it’s going out of style. Even top of the range cards struggle to run things smoothly with everything set to max, making this a tough challenge for the 750TI. At 1080p, it performed admirably, with the 2GB of memory helping out in terms of textures and streaming. That all fell away at higher resolutions, with the game transforming into a slide show at 4K.
So why did Gigbyte include the option for 4K on a card that definitely doesn’t have the juice to back it up? A curious question, but one that is immediately answered if you take gaming out of the equation. Sure, playing games at 1080p on a 4K monitor is a waste of money, but grabbing a card that can support that resolution for under R3000 isn’t. It might not handle games well, but multimedia is sorted.
Running the card with 3DMark and the Fire Strike tests just cemented what the above tests suggested. The GTX 750Ti Black Edition is a very, very good option for the mid-range PC gamer, but nowhere near powerful enough for the enthusiast. Although, there was something else that caught my eye during the 3D Mark test in particular. Something that gets me extremely excited about the upcoming 800-series.
The 750Ti, running on Maxwell architecture, is insanely efficient at dissipating heat. That’s a combination of Maxwell and Windforce working together, with the card never exceeding 48 degrees during the most demanding tests. When idle, the card sat at a cool 32 degrees, which is almost magic to a person like me running a GTX 590 that doesn’t know the definition of cold. That left a little room for some overclocking, although in that regard the card is a little disappointing.
I was able to get around 130 MHz more on the base and boost clock speed before I ran into some issues. Again, the card was kept incredibly cool by the Windforce fans, but it just wouldn’t go much higher than that. Could Gigabyte have pushed it a little more out the box? Possibly, although having a week long burn in test might have proved that these overclocking results aren’t 100% stable over long periods of time. Still, if you’re up for it you could get close to a 10% frame increase with a little bit of tweaking here and there.
If you’re in the market for solid, 1080p gaming and you’re not content on spending thousands for hardware you won’t fully use, then this is probably the best card you’re going to get from Nvidia’s side. The GTX 750Ti Black Edition is probably the fastest variation of the card, sporting some insane cooling and a week long testing guarantee that is tough to look over.
You also get 4K support for most capable monitors, although that more for multimedia purpose than actual gaming. Gigabyte could’ve worked a bit more on getting a higher overclock out of the box, but there’s no denying that even their little tampering has produced some impressive results.