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Palit GTX 1050 Ti KalmX review

Today we are taking a look at something a little bit different. While most gamers and enthusiasts drool over the latest and greatest graphics monsters that crank out FPS and eye candy in the latest games, there are whole other groups who place other characteristics above FPS, namely some or all of the following in no particular order: affordability, noise levels, compatibility, temperatures, power usage and video capabilities.  These are categories where a card like the Palit GTX 1050 Ti KalmX makes a compelling argument to be placed into your PC.

Two major features stand out. One, The card is truly silent thanks to its lack of any active cooling, and two, it requires no external power connection, as it draws power solely from the PCIe slot. This second fact alone makes it the best choice for many older OEM PC’s that lack PCIe power connections, and there are millions of those out there. These two characteristics along with the video capabilities of Nvidia’s Pascal architecture make it a fantastic choice for a home theater PC card along with the latest spec HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4 outputs.

Unboxing and Overview

Lets start off with a look at the product packaging. The usual logos are there as we see on all Nvidia cards. The first thing that stands out is the huge size of the size of the passive cooler attached to the Palit 1050 Ti KalmX.

 

Inside the outer box there is an inner plain box with the following accessories. This is a basic a bundle as you will see with any GPU. There’s a simple installation guide and a driver CD. That’s it.

 

Have a look at that for a beast of a heatsink. Palit have made the choice to go with a very tall heatsink that protrudes far beyond the PCB. Obviously they feel that this design is better able to take advantage of case airflow as it would have been just as easy to make a heatsink that protrudes along the length of the PCB. Doing this would have kept the card to a standard mid range graphics card length. As it is, you have to pay careful attention to your case to make sure its height is compatible.

There is a logical reason for this design though. If the card is placed in a typical upside down configuration as you will see in the majority of PC cases, natural convection plays a part with air rising from between the widely spaced fins. This means that a normally placed rear case exhaust fan or CPU heatsink fan will be moving air enough to prevent the card from overheating. As we’ll see later in our testing, even the most minor airflow is enough to keep the card below critical thresholds.

 

The outputs include the latest DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0b standards along with a DualLink DVI-D port. Note that you cannot use a simple VGA adapter with this port.

These outputs mean the 1050 Ti KalmX will support HDR 4k/60Hz displays via HDMI 2.0b and  4k/120Hz and a crazy 8K/60Hz via Display Port 1.4. This should cover all consumer level displays that become available over the next several years and make the 1050 Ti KalmX a compelling choice for a 4K home theater system. In a perfect world, an extra DP or HDMI port might have been nice here for triple screen surround.

 

Taking a look at the rear of the card, and you get another idea of the size of the heatsink relative to the PCB which is really tiny. As we mentioned, this protruding design with the wide spaced fins allows natural convection to assist in keeping the card cool with minimal airflow.

Here is the card naked. It looks like we have a basic 2+1phase pwm which is really very entry level. Of course the GTX 1050 Ti is built with the GP 107 GPU at its heart along with Micron D9TRZ GDDR5 memory. There won’t be any 2Ghz core overclocks with this PCB.

 

The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Micron and are designed to run at 1752 MHz (7008 MHz GDDR5 effective). Pretty much bang on the speed Palit have set for them on the KalmX.

 

The heatsink is quite simple really. The pair of heatpipes cover the core nicely. There’s also a strip of thermal material that cools the VRM. Note there is no memory cooling though we didn’t have any apparent issue with memory overheating during our testing.

Specifications and GP107 overview

Below are the specifications of the GTX 1050 Ti KalmX. These follow the base reference design from Nvidia. To be honest, we wouldn’t expect any crazy OC on a passive card. The 1050 ti uses the fully enabled GP107 GPU also shared by the GTX 1050. Key specs include a 128bit bus paired with 4Gb of 7GBps GDDR5 memory for a total bandwidth of 112GB/sec. We have a die size of just 132mm2 and a transistor count of 3.3 billion.

A particularly important spec to note is the Graphics Card Power at 75w. This is a critical number that means users with lower spec systems or those that lack PCIe power connectors can upgrade to a worthwhile 1080p capable gaming card and get all the key video features that Pascal has to offer.

 

Nvidia’s Pascal architecture comes with many features notable including support for G-SYNC monitors, PhysX, Ansel in game screen capturing and Shadowplay stream capturing which is quite popular among the Twitch and Youtube crowd.

 

 

The Palit GTX 1050 Ti KalmX occupies a particular niche. As a gaming card, there are other 1050 Ti options, including from Palit themselves that will offer superior gaming performance and have the benefit of a cooling fan. Video wise, you can use the IGP of a Kaby lake system to output proper 4k content and decode 10-bit HEVC and Vp9 content, but not everyone has a Kaby Lake system. (Even Skylake uses a hybrid HEVC solution). The 1050Ti however, can support up to 8K at 60fps thanks to its Display Port 1.4 output along with native support for 10 bit Vp9 and HEVC. This makes it as future proof as you can realistically expect when it comes to PC hardware. 8K is nowhere near mainstream so HDMI 2.0b and DP 1.4 will be relevant for years to come. The bottom line: If you’re looking for the most powerful graphics card you can get with video capabilities in mind, that is silent and doesn’t require external power, then this is it.

Testing and Benchmarks

Can it play Crysis? for laughs, we tried.. yes, it can! Hmm, we have an idea for an article…

Our test setup is designed to minimize any CPU influence on the system. These lower end cards are unlikely to be used with high end accompanying parts like these, but it is necessary to show what the cards can do, free of any limitations imposed by the CPU.

Special thanks to our partners for supplying the parts for our test systems!

 

We start with Rise of the Tomb Raider where we run the game at the Very High preset in DX 12 mode. The 1050 Ti Kalm X shows it is easily capable of maintaining a playable frame rate and still look lovely.

 

The Division is a tougher ask and while playable, dropping to a lower quality level will yield much higher FPS. For example, dropping to low settings, as you might do in an online shooter to focus on gameplay instead of eye candy, we recorded an average 88fps for the 1050 Ti KalmX.

 

Far Cry Primal is another example of a high quality graphics intensive game being perfectly playable, if not butter smooth on the 1050 Ti KalmX.

Deus Ex recommends using a card with greater than 4Gb of VRAM for the higher quality modes, so we followed the game’s advice and benchmarked the High Quality mode. This one needs some optimizing we think.

 

Generally, the GTX 1050 Ti KalmX is able to play demanding games at 1080p, even on the higher quality modes, though if you want that nice smooth 60fps, you will need to dial back the quality a notch. Still this is a good, if not great performance level for a budget gaming card. If you are a keen gamer, you’ll really need to shell out the cash for a more expensive card. It is definitely not appropriate for 1440p gaming let alone 4K.

Now lets move on to look at some of the performance characteristics.

The following screenshot shows the card’s characteristics under full load both with no airflow and also with a quiet 12cm fan approximately 10cm away. Firstly consider the left side of the graph.  We saw temperatures slowly increasing over time. After about 20 minutes of full load we were hitting 75c and still sneaking up over time. At this temperature the card is dropping away from its maximum boost clocks with 1610 to 1620 Mhz being the approximate clock. Note that due to the adjacent CPU cooler though, there is a little bit of air flowing over the heatsink, but not very much at all. 75c is still well within the threshold of severe throttling and a long way short of danger levels. Some airflow is important though and this should be OK for most cases on the market.

Now consider what happens on the right side of the graph after we add the fan. This is the kind of scenario we would see in a decent case with airflow coming in from the front or the bottom of the case. The temperature plummets, the boost clock goes back towards its maximum of 1670Mhz+ and the very large heatsink does a remarkable job of cooling the card. Under 40c at full load? That’s excellent! Note that Afterburner is reporting changes in fan speed. This is probably just what the BIOS is telling the non existent fan to do.

Note that we made no attempt to overclock this card. If you want to do that you’re better off with one of the actively cooled versions with an additional 6 pin power connector and even then you’re not going to get too much more performance out of it. If performance is critical to you, a card such as the RX470 or GTX 1060 will give greatly superior performance, albeit at a higher price.

 

Conclusion

While the Palit 1050 Ti KalmX is a capable 1080p graphics card, we think its best purpose is to be used as a powerful video processor. If you want to game on a budget, there are better 1050 Ti options with fans that are more suited to gaming, but as a video playback device in a quiet environment like a home theater, the Palit GTX 1050 Ti KalmX has few equals.

We think a popular home for the KalmX GTX 1050 ti is an older system. It combines support for the latest video codecs with the latest video outputs and will not be a burden for all but the cheapest power supplies thanks to its lack of external power. Its ability to take the load away from the CPU means it doesn’t need to be paired with a high end CPU. Something like a low powered i3 or i5 Sandy Bridge system paired with this card in a case with at least some airflow is a pretty damn good way to transform an outdated system into what amounts to a cutting edge home theater PC. This is something we very much like. Hey it will play all the modern games at 1080p too, if not with all the eye candy cranked up.

If you’ve got an older or OEM system crying out for a boost in GPU power, a 1050 Ti is a perfect choice as it is the most powerful card available that doesn’t require external power. You can’t get any quieter than 0db!

 

 

Pros:

Cutting edge video capabilities and outputs

It doesn’t get any more silent than this

No external power required

Only 75w

Good heatsink design

 

Cons:

Needs some case airflow

Gaming performance a touch behind other 1050 Ti’s

 

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