For many years, as a gamer with no sight, graphics cards were what might be seen as "pointlessly expensive additions to an already expensive idea", with the idea being gaming on PC. However, recently, such an expensive idea was allowed to become reality on receiving a graphics card not from a company, but as a gift. The card in question, as you might realise from the title of this page, is the Nvidia GTX 1050 TI. This card as of this review's original publication is very much new on the market. The main point I'm looking at here though isn't necessarily how good the card is, though that is a factor. I want to use this piece to discuss whether it's worth it for a gamer with no sight to get a card and install it, or whether it might be worth preventing any issues by just simply buying a PC with a capable card from the get go. But first, on with the unboxing of my first non-integrated graphics unit.
The unboxing of this card is a relatively simple process, though it might not seem so at first. Place the rectangular box so that one long side is in front of you, and the other one is away from you. Feel along the bottom of the side facing you and if you feel that there's a flap hanging down, you have the opening of the box. If not, rotate the box around so that the side that was facing away from you is now towards you and check that you have the opening flap hanging down.
You'll see a large semi-circular cardboard cutout of sorts, which you need to place your thumb underneath and flick towards you and upwards. Lift the entire front flap with the assistance of this piece and the whole top of the box should lift up and away from you.
In the middle of the now opened box, you'll find a plastic-wrapped package, which is the card itself. Push two fingers gently in at the very edges of the plastic so that they slide underneath and allow you to lift the package out carefully. Put it asside for later extraction, as there's one last operation we need to complete with the main box.
The inner side of the box that is furthest away from you can be lifted up via putting your hand between it and the outer shell of the box. It will come towards you if done correctly, revealing underneath a quick guide and a Graphics Accelerator Driver CD. Keep these for later and you can put the box asside.
Extracting the card from the plastic
Extraction proved to be an easy process of pulling the easy-to-feel tape from the package, which then allows you to pull the card from the plastic and put the plastic asside.
For the main bulk of the process, given that you use small screws and other hard to reach areas of your computer, I had sighted assistance. However, the complicated part of the process proved to be installing the graphics accelerator driver, simply because the CD didn't seem to have any data on it, at least not on the machine I was using. When tested on a separate machine, all the data was revealed, which presented us with an interesting problem: How to get the drivers installed.
We solved this via a simple restart of the machine, fully shutting it down and rebooting it. Installing the drivers also needed sighted assistance, as the buttons weren't labelled and there was a "install free toolbar" checkbox as well. However, once the Geforce Experience had downloaded, the installer for that worked with no issues with NVDA.
When we tried to launch it, we were informed that the installer had failed and that we should restart for full functionality and consequently did so.
We had several issues with multimonitor setups, which were solved by going into display settings from the desktop with the control+space deselection shortcut.
After all these issues were solved, however, we were ready to go.
Killer Instinct, under an integrated chip, wouldn't even get through one fight. With the 1050, the performance test ran with the same score, of 1004, with all the settings turned up and to high at a resolution of 1280 by 720. This was very much what I'd hoped for in receiving this card and fighting against the CPU ran with very few differences to the console counterparts.
When I tested out ranked, still at 720p, the performance was actually on par if not better than that experienced on a console, especially given that it was a cross-platform test (I played on PC and my opponents, all save one judging by the amount of loading times, were on Xbox.) The same was true for an exhibition test set I ran, with the ability to also run Party chat being tested and working without any unsolvable issues. I was actually surprised, given that the tests were cross-platform, how smoothly the experience ran, with only the very rare moment of lag.
Gears Of War
Gears Of War 4 Ultimate Edition
In testing out the game, I was not surprised on reflection that it ran extremely well on this relatively new card. It might even be running smoother than it does on consoles, though that is hard to determine on an audio only level. There were no breaks when I played through on at least 2 1-50 runs in Horde, so I'm confident that there shouldn't be any issues.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for Windows 10
Once I'd downloaded this game, I was surprised at the speed of which it loaded up on first launch. In addition, the game runs solidly, with a smoothness that an integrated graphics chip wouldn't give (to my knowledge at least). Unfortunately this game isn't cross-buy or even cross-play, which is a shame as playing this version of the game with others on the Xbox One, whilst you're on a PC, would've certainly been entertaining. I'll update this review if I test the game out further.
Street Fighter V
This game was notorious for lag and related issues with CPUS GPUs and everything inbetween during its beta phase. Once the game launched I realised that it was running slower than expected. This is believed to have been caused not by a graphical or optimisational oversight, but by a background download, unsurprising given that SFV is in essence an always online experience as far as I am aware.
Once this background download had stopped, the game seemed to optimise itself in a heartbeat and figure out just how much power it had at its disposal, running at a solid speed and performing just as I would expect after playing all the other products tested above. Yes, of course the resolution could be tweaked, but from an actual gameplay standpoint, it runs well at default settings.
Halo 5: Forge
Halo 5 Forge is oneof those ports that currently, needs a fair amount of optimisation. However, when it decides to cooperate on a software level, the hardwareis more than capable of running the game, with no issues outside of crashes when we tried to playtest a custom game. I can't speak for whether forging is any different.
No need for BIOS tweaks or even overclocking at default settings in the test rig.
Games run at console levels if not better, performance wise.
Required sighted assistance for install due to inaccessible portions of driver installation as well as physical install into the system. Could be rectified by a custom rig, though this could be expensive.
Inaccessible overclocking and adjustment software.
With this being my first graphics card, I might be biased in expressing how surprised I am that everything runs as I'd expect it to if it were, say, on a console. Graphical quality, whilst it's not essential to my enjoyment of a game, is also useful if I need sighted assistance to navigate through a game's world for instance. These tasks and more seem to put little if any strain on the card's hardware. But there is still one real question to answer.
Should I install this card in my existing PC or buy a new rig
That partially comes down to price. However, in terms of sighted assistance being required, you might in reality be better buying a gaming-oriented PC/laptop, or at least one that has high enough specs to run what you need, with one of these graphics cards pre-installed. However, I do not regret installing this into my relatively high-end rig even with sighted assistance. I hope that this card will last me for years to come.