The GTX750Ti has proven itself to be a good little performer, combining decent gaming abilities with low power draw and all at a reasonable price. Down at this end of the market the tiniest differences between cards can get magnified. Whereas five frames per second between different R9 290Xs might not be worthy of mention, in such low power cards as the GTX750Ti's even two frames is cause for celebration.
So it's time to bring the MSI Gaming variant to the party and see if MSI's current streak of exceptional products continues.
Initially it looks like the GTX750Ti Gaming is similar to the other 750s we've looked at recently, and then you notice there are three different clock speeds available with one of three different modes. Interesting.
To the surprise of precisely nobody the GTX750Ti Gaming looks exactly as you would expect it to. Despite the compact dimensions of the GTX750Ti, the Twin Frozr cooler doesn't look out of place or designed for another PCB entirely. Perhaps best of all the power input is exactly where one would expect to find it. We've always loved the Gaming range and today's model does nothing to diminish that attractiveness.
In the specifications we noted that the MSI has three different modes. As you can see from the pictures below there is quite a difference between the options with nearly 100MHz spread across them. Useful for those who are still wary of manually overclocking their graphics card.
MSI GTX750Ti Gaming
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 x64
Despite a much higher final clock speed the MSI comfortably fits in below the ASUS thanks to the outstanding Twin Frozr cooler with which the MSI card comes equipped.
Finally power draw. Given the extra clock speed available with the MSI it's not surprising that it draws a little more power, although it's still paltry compared to the 400+ Watts drawn by a big budget card such as the 290X.
3D Mark Vantage
Even out of the box the Gaming performs well, giving an extra 600 points over the ASUS and 1000 better off than the reference nVidia card.
3D Mark 11
Demonstrating how efficient the MSI version of the Maxwell GTX750Ti is, it's the first of the 750s to beat out the GTX650Ti Boost cards we reviewed, and it isn't far behind the overclocked ones.
Slightly unexpected results in 3D Mark. Normally with architectural limitations the clock speed can make a difference in lower quality tests but by the strenuous stuff it's all evened out. The MSI does the opposite, being similar to the ASUS card in the relatively low detail Ice Storm and Cloud Gate benchmarks, but widening the gap in Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme.
It's clear that a huge difference can be made to a GPU just by arranging the PCB and cooler properly. The MSI annihilates the reference nVidia card.
Despite seeing a massive improvement in Battlefield 4, Bioshock Infinite is only worth a single extra frame on the MSI Gaming. Perhaps the Unreal 3 engine is designed to demand extra CUDA Cores, rather than faster clock speeds.
The strenuous CatZilla benchmark can really test even the most powerful GPU. Considering that the underlying Maxwell GPU is identical it is quite a surprise to see that the MSI improves over the ASUS by about the same margin that the ASUS was better than the reference nVidia card.
Despite the additional performance of the MSI when compared to other GTX750Ti's around, it's still clear that a lot of settings tweaking would be necessary to provide a playable experience in the always demanding Crysis 3.
Far Cry 3
The adventures of Jason Brody are massively improved with the MSI Gaming card. From 23 to 28FPS is a big jump and certainly enough to put it in the 'playable' category, even with 8xMSAA employed. It's desperately close to the more expensive R9 270X.
Hitman always prefers the AMD cards and here is no different with the MSI just shading ahead of the reference nVidia card and 50% slower than the 270X which it was so close to in Far Cry 3.
Resident Evil 6
By now it's clear that the MSI Gaming is by far the best of the GTX750Ti's. When the results favour a particular card so consistently it would be a surprise to find it slipping behind in our remaining tests.
Another title which is far happier on a relatively priced Radeon than the nVidia GPUs, Sleeping Dogs still runs a frame or two better on the MSI than the reference card.
Clearly in some scenarios the GTX650Ti Boost is still the card to have for absolute performance in gaming. We still think the power benefits are enough to justify a switch to the 750Ti, but we know some of you want performance at all costs.
Unigine has always been great at highlighting the relative performance differentials between cards, and again we can see that when it comes to a Maxwell GPU the MSI Gaming is clearly the model that makes the best of things.
Unigine Valley keeps things tight, such is the demanding nature of the benchmark, but still the MSI soldiers on to glory, beating out both the ASUS DCU2 and the reference nVidia card.
We saw some good clock speeds set by the MSI OC switch, but manually you can get a huge result, up to 1220MHz stock, 1298MHz Boost, although most importantly the cooling performance of the Twin Frozr means that the nVidia GPU Boost 2.0 could squeeze even more out of the little MSI, topping out at 1363.7MHz. Stunning.
Lastly an indication of how well the MSI Gaming card performs at both stock and overclocked when compared to the ASUS overclocked. The MSI GTX750Ti Gaming is good no matter what you throw at it, and the extra boost thanks to the awesome cooler only emphasises its position at the top of the tree.
During the filming of our video review we noticed that a few things had been changed with Afterburner Beta and the drivers for the 750 Ti. In real terms all this enabled us to do was push our base clock past the 1220MHz limit we had before. Without adjusting any voltages we managed to match the 1285 base clock that we got with the Asus and felt that this was a fair place to stop pushing so we had a good like for like comparison. Once the GPU Boost 2 had done its job the MSI pushed pass the 1349MHz maximum of the Asus up to a stupid 1413.5MHz! This is a completely stable clock, without any extra voltage and without a power connector on the card..... Madness.
The gap between the reference nVidia card and the MSI Gaming is so large that it makes us wonder why nVidia didn't make more of an effort. It's clear that, as the manufacturer, it's in their best interests to demonstrate their technology in the best light. It appears that instead of that they've chosen to show it as poorly as possible to give their partners the best chance of improving the card. Perhaps they understand that nobody actually buys the reference one, so it's a waste of R&D money to produce a good one.
No such claim can be levelled against MSI though. When it comes to 'making a good one' we think they've perfected the formula. Since the first Gaming motherboards appeared we were impressed, and their Gaming range of graphics cards has only furthered their position as the market leader. All technology is cyclical with different manufacturers taking over the crown before fading back into the chasing pack. It wasn't that long ago that the only motherboard worth having was a DFI Lanparty, or that the best graphics cards came from the ASUS ROG stable. At the moment it seems that MSI can do no wrong, with everything they touch turning to gold.
The combination of the excellent Twin Frozr cooler and a great factory overclock mean that the MSI GTX750Ti Gaming is the ideal choice for an affordable graphics card, even if you have no desire to manually overclock it. Performance is consistently great in every benchmark. Indeed the only titles that the card doesn't produce a playable experience in are ones that you have to throw a lot of money at to achieve high frame rates whilst maintaining high image quality. The three settings options are nice to have, although the cooler is so capable when it comes to keeping the card cool that to use anything other than either Silent mode for low power use or OC mode for gaming would be churlish. Thus the Gaming mode itself is somewhat redundant.
No matter how you slice it the MSI GTX750Ti Gaming is an absolute corker of a graphics card and worthy of a home in any setup. It looks great, goes like hell and does all of that at low power, low heat, low noise and a low price. A brilliant card and worthy of both our OC3D Value For Money and OC3D Gold Awards.
Thanks to MSI for supplying the GTX750Ti for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.