Budget gaming laptop GPU showdown: GTX 960M vs. GTX 1050

The Dell Inspiron 15 (opens in new tab) gaming edition sat in our best budget gaming laptop spot for most of 2016, and the honor was well deserved. For the price, Dell made something that was compelling and pretty darn powerful when it came to on-the-go gaming.

However, since then NVIDIA has completely revamped its GPU lineup, and the new 10-series did away with dedicated mobile versions. That means today's budget gaming laptops will most likely come to market with a GTX 1050 or GTX 1050Ti.

Since we recently reviewed such a laptop — the ASUS Strix GL753 — now's a great time to compare last year's pick with this new contender. So we've grabbed our trusty Inspiron 15 7559 and fired up a few quick comparison tests.

Strix GL753


The laptop we're using here has an Intel Core i7 6700HQ processor, 16GB of RAM and a 4GB GTX 960M GPU. The ASUS Strix isn't an exact match, with a Core i5 7300HQ and 12GB of RAM, but it also has a 4GB GPU, the GTX 1050.

So, on to the numbers.

The benchmarks

For the synthetic benchmarks, we're using 3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy (DX12), along with the Geekbench 4 compute test. For games, we're running Gears of War 4, Dirt Rally and Rise of the Tomb Raider, utilizing all in-game benchmark modes. Both laptops were set to high graphics settings for consistency.

3DMark Fire Strike (Higher is better)

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Dell Inspiron 15 75593,870
ASUS Strix GL7535,406

3DMark Time Spy (DX12) (Higher is better)

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Dell Inspiron 15 75591,299
ASUS Strix GL7531,790

Geekbench 4.0 CUDA (Higher is better)

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Dell Inspiron 15 755945,983
ASUS Strix GL75376,007

Gears of War 4 (High)

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Dell Inspiron 15 755937.3 frames per second (FPS)
ASUS Strix GL75356.8 FPS

Dirt Rally (High)

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Dell Inspiron 15 755946.18 FPS
ASUS Strix GL75376.36 FPS

Rise of the Tomb Raider (High)

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Dell Inspiron 15 755931.96 FPS
ASUS Strix GL75341.55 FPS

The results

These are pretty clear cut results across the board. Results may vary from game to game, but it's clear that the GTX 1050 is a significant improvement. Remember, too, that the 960M isn't even the last generation bottom rung because the GTX 1050 is for the new Pascal cards.

Whether this is cause to run out and buy a new laptop is up to you, but the new generation of gaming laptops have serious advantages it seems over laptops that are only 12 months old.

Improvements are always good, but NVIDIA went above and beyond this time.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine

  • But what is the price difference? If it is significantly more for the newer card then it isn't competeing against the 960M but rather the 970M or even the 980M. It's all about the money.
  • When I did my upgrade a couple months ago, I found that HP Pavilion 15 with the 1050 (4gb), for $875 shipped, was on par with the prices of the previous model with the 940m (not even the 950m or higher, which were even more). It seems like the "rungs", with the 1050 being the lowest of the 10 series is at a price pairity with the lower rungs of the 9xxM series gpu's. So I have a laptop that looks all business, but cranks away at my games (Forza Horizon, Dirt Rally, Battlefield 1) without any signs of slowness.
  • I would also like to get your opinions on the MSI GL62M 7RD which can be had for £799...
    (i5-7300HQ Processor, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, GTX 1050 Graphics)
  • Rule of the day: More cores don't really matter but the GPU.
  • For what it's worth the i5 7300hq in the Asus, is a true quad core (4 core / 4 thread). I also have a laptop with a i5 6200u and it's dual core/HT (2 core / 4 thread), so there may be some pairity between the i7 6700 and the i5 7300
  • If for gaming, that statements is mostly true. However if you are a multitasker, the story are a lot more different. For example, if you are an avid browser users who opens a lot of tabs, you need at least an i5 to run things smoothly.
  • Agreed