NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti vs. GTX 1060: Which GPU should you buy?

NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti are beasts of graphics cards (GPU). But not everyone needs that much power, and more importantly, not everyone can afford to sell a kidney for a GPU, especially now that prices have inflated due to cryptocurrency. There is a mid-range option when it comes to the 10-series — the GTX 1070 — but many people still find that to be a bit too expensive.

Enter the GTX 1060 and the GTX 1050 Ti, two lower-end GPUs that will save you a ton of money while still delivering some very decent graphics power. Not sure which one is best for you? Let's compare them in this face off.

Related: See the best recent deal of graphics cards

What do you need from your GPU?

Before getting into the differences between the GTX 1060 and the GTX 1050 Ti, it's important to note that there are actually two common versions of the GTX 1060 — one with 3GB of VRAM and one with 6GB of VRAM — as well as another exclusive to China with 5GB of VRAM.

GTX 1060

If you need a GPU that will last you for awhile but don't want to go with the pricier GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, the GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM is probably your best bet. It starts at about $320, which is in general between about $50 and $100 more than the GTX 1060 with 3GB of VRAM.

Anyone interested in buying one of these graphics cards for VR should definitely shell out the extra bucks for the GTX 1060 (6GB). The GTX 1050 Ti is "VR-ready," but if you compare the two GPUs from inside a head-mounted display, you'll be glad you went with the GTX 1060.

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If you're looking for a GPU as a placeholder between your current graphics card and a higher-end card — say when the GTX 1080 becomes (if ever) more affordable — the GTX 1050 Ti is a great budget option that starts at about $180.

One more thing to keep in mind, as pointed out in the comments, is that the GTX 1050 Ti doesn't require an extra power cable running to it from the power supply unit (PSU). It can operate with power coming straight from the motherboard. This also means the PSU in your PC doesn't need to be quite as beefy, no doubt saving you a bit of extra money on that budget rig.

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Tech specs and benchmarks

Category GTX 1050 Ti GTX 1060 (3GB) GTX 1060 (6GB)
VRAM 4GB GDDR5 3GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR5
Memory speed 7Gbps 8Gbps 8Gbps
Memory bandwidth 112GB/s 192GB/s 192GB/s
Base clock 1,290MHz 1,506MHz 1,506MHz
Boost clock 1,392MHz 1,708MHz 1,708MHz
CUDA cores 768 1,152 1,280
Memory interface 128-bit 192-bit 192-bit
TDP 75W 120W 120W
Price Starts at about $180 Starts at about $230 Starts at about $320

As you can see from the table above, both the 3GB and 6GB versions of the GTX 1060 provide better bandwidth, higher clock speeds, and more CUDA cores than the GTX 1050 Ti. The real difference comes down to the price and what you want to use the GPU for. However, to get a better idea of the differences between these GPUs, it's good to take a look at some real-world benchmarks.

On UserBenchmark, the GTX 1060 (6GB) averaged about 162 frames per second (FPS) playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) at 1080p on Max settings, and 61.3 FPS playing Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) at 1080p on Max settings. The GTX 1060 (3GB) averaged about 157 FPS and 60.7 FPS, respectively, under the same circumstances. Looking at a more intensive game, the 6GB GTX 1060 averaged about 73.5 FPS in Battlefield 1 at 1080p with Max settings, while the 3GB GTX 1060 hit only about 55.6 FPS.

The 1050 Ti averaged 120 FPS in CS:GO and 44.2 FPS in GTAV using the same settings. As for Battlefield 1, it managed just 44.5 FPS. When compared to the benchmarks achieved by the 6GB GTX 1060, you can see how much more power you get when you spend the extra money. However, the benchmarks achieved by the 3GB GTX 1060 are so close to those of the 1050 Ti that you'll probably want to go with the latter, especially in a budget-build scenario.

Which GPU is right for you?

GTX 1050 Ti

The GTX 1060 (6GB) offers significantly more graphics power, and for about $140 more than a GTX 1050 Ti, it should be your first choice when it comes to gaming and VR.

While the price difference between the 3GB and 6GB GTX 1060s was once only about $40, it's now increased to about $90. This makes the decision a bit more difficult, and product availability or temporary sales will no doubt play a big part in your final choice. There are, of course, some PC builds where the 3GB version will play a role, but for most people the decision will come down to the GTX 1060 (6GB) and the GTX 1050 Ti.

If you want a budget card, however, the GTX 1050 Ti offers decent performance, and starting at about $180, it's the best option for a cost-conscious build.

More GPU resources

Don't think any of these GPUs are a good fit? Make sure you check out our ultimate graphics card buyer's guide below. If you need even more information about GPUs, check out our guide to everything you need to know.

Updated June 18, 2018: I've refreshed this article to ensure the information is still relevant in a time when GPU prices have gone a bit off the deep end.

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