Need an Upgrade? Here are 5 Solid GPU Options Over the Outdated GTX 1050

As graphics cards age, their ability to run modern games smoothly over time declines. This is very much the case in 2023 for longtime budget favorite Nvidia‘s GTX 1050. First released way back in 2016, this GPU is now well past its prime for gaming.

Thankfully there are a number of great graphics card options available today that offer massive upgrades in speed and graphical power over the antiquated Pascal-based GTX 1050. Ranging across budgets between $150 up to $400, these modern GPUs breathe exciting new life into aging rigs still limping along on old tech.

In this guide, we break down 5 of the best graphics card alternatives to replacing a GTX 1050 available right now. Whether building new or upgrading an existing system, these GPUs deliver excellent 1080p gaming performance. Many can readily push higher 1440p and even entry-level 4K resolutions as well depending on the game. Time to catch your PC back up with the times!

Why It‘s Time to Upgrade Your GTX 1050

First, let‘s quickly recap why it makes sense to upgrade your years-old GTX 1050 in 2023 rather than sticking with the dated card any longer:

Release Date: October 2016
GPU Architecture: Nvidia Pascal
Stream Processors: 640
Video Memory: 2GB GDDR5 (Some 4GB models exist but are rare)
Memory Interface: 128-bit (Too narrow by modern standards resulting in bandwidth bottlenecks)
Boost Clock Speed: Up to 1392 MHz (Average at best nowadays)
Power Connectors: None (Max of 75W from PCIe slot severely limits performance headroom)
Modern Feature Support: Lacking (No ray tracing, DLSS, variable refresh rate, advanced codecs for streaming, etc.)

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1050 2GB GPU

The GTX 1050 was fine for 1080p gaming when new in 2016, but lacks the horsepower, visual features, and optimization to cleanly run modern system-demanding games in 2023

The GTX 1050 was a respectable budget gaming card for lighter eSports and HD titles back when it launched over 6 years ago. However the limited streaming processors, narrow memory bus, and miniscule VRAM buffer by today‘s standards leaves this GPU totally outpaced trying to run recent graphically-intense games. Modern engines and effects will choke it badly.

Attempting to play a brand new release like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Cyberpunk 2077, Microsoft Flight Simulator or similar on a GTX 1050 leads to a terrible, stuttery slideshow-like experience even at very Low graphic settings. It‘s just not built to deliver acceptable frame rates or visual quality in heavier games anymore at common 1080p resolution.

Upgrading to any of the faster, more advanced cards below (even the budget picks) will feel like a MASSIVE boost in both smoothness and graphics fidelity over the dinosaur that GTX 1050 has become. You don‘t need to spend big bucks to run new titles smoothly either. Let‘s jump into the best current options to replace your archaic Pascal card with…

🥇 Best Budget Pick – NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB GPU

Price Range: $175 – 220 (Used) / $190+ (New)
Release Date: October 2019 (Part of Nvidia‘s newer Turing architecture)
Cores/Stream Processors: 1408 CUDA Cores (Over 2X the GTX 1050!)
Video Memory: 6GB GDDR6 (3X capacity and faster than GTX 1050‘s GDDR5)
Memory Interface: 192-bit
Boost Clock Speeds: Up to 1785 MHz (Much faster)
Power Connectors: Single 8-pin (Allows more headroom for peak power draw)
Key Features: Ray Tracing, Variable Refresh Rate G-Sync Support, GeForce Experience Optimization

Our top budget-friendly recommendation for upgrading an old GTX 1050 is Nvidia‘s GeForce GTX 1660 Super. Released back in late 2019, this Turing-based card delivers up to 70% faster gaming performance over the extremely dated Pascal architecture found in the GTX 1050.

The GTX 1660 Super brings major improvements including faster 14Gbps GDDR6 memory now standard (vs obsolete GDDR5), a wider 192-bit memory bus preventing bandwidth bottlenecks, and over 2X the CUDA processing cores of the 1050, allowing far higher frame rates.

For 1920 x 1080 gaming, in particular, the GTX 1660 Super breezes through any title with optimized graphics settings. You‘ll enjoy buttery smooth 60+ FPS across popular games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Valorant, GTA V, Red Dead Redemption 2 and any eSports/competitive genres. More demanding visual showcases like Cyberpunk 2077 or Microsoft Flight Simulator still run excellently at around 50 FPS average.

The GTX 1660 Super handles stable 60+ FPS high-graphics gaming even when pushed into higher 2560 x 1440 resolution in many titles also. While not quite built for maxed-out 4K, this card provides extremely solid 1080p and 1440p performance perfect for the majority of gamers.

At roughly $190 new or sometimes as low as $175 used, the venerable GTX 1660 Super gives BY FAR the best bang-for-buck performance to value ratio when upgrading from ancient tech like the GTX 1050.

Unless you score an incredible deal on a modern higher-end card, this Turing GPU packs incredible power per dollar. For buttery smooth 60 FPS gaming on high settings across 99% of titles, the GTX 1660 Super is hard to beat.

🥈 Runner Up – AMD Radeon RX 6600

On team red, the AMD Radeon RX 6600 shines bright as well for former GTX 1050 owners. Part of AMD‘s impressive 6000 series lineup built on RDNA 2 architecture, this card focuses squarely on delivering high frame rates at 1920 x 1080 resolution.

AMD's Radeon RX 6600 8GB GPU

Price Range: $220 – 250 (New)
Release Date: October 2021
Stream Processors: 2048 (Over 3X the GTX 1050)
Video Memory: 8GB GDDR6
Memory Interface: 128-bit
Boost Clock Speed: Up to 2491 MHz (Nearly double the GTX 1050)
Power Connectors: Single 8-pin

The RX 6600 leaves behind the days of limited memory capacity – it comes equipped with a very healthy 8GB pool of GDDR6 VRAM to chew through. That‘s 4X over an average 2GB GTX 1050 model. While utilizing a narrower 128-bit memory bus, it helps prevent bottlenecks by doubling bus speed to 16Gbps.

With excellent 2491MHz boost potential via AMD Smart Access Memory and 32 compute units (2048 stream processors), this little Radeon tears up 1080p gaming. It hangs tight on the heels of Nvidia‘s RTX 3050 and better GTX 1660 models, outpacing them more often than not. Performance manages to meet or beat even the venerable GTX 1080 in many titles!

The RX 6600 does demand a small premium over Nvidia‘s options at $240 and up when buying newly manufactured. However, it rewards the extra cost by delivering lasting value. This card chews through modern graphical workloads with frames to spare for buttery smooth gaming. It can even push up towards 1440p gaming in lighter titles.

If ray tracing support isn‘t vital to your games of choice, the Radeon RX 6600 gives one of the absolute best mixtures of strong pricing and excellent 1080p speeds available now. It lacks DLSS support but focuses its robust architectural power into crushing high framerates.

🥉 Best High-End Pick – NVIDIA RTX 3060

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 12GB GPU

Price Range: $330 – 450 (New)
Release Date: February 2021 (Nvidia‘s latest current-gen Ampere architecture)
Cores/Stream Processors: 3584 CUDA Cores (Over 5X the GTX 1050!)
Video Memory: 12GB GDDR6
Memory Interface: 192-bit
Boost Clock Speed: Up to 1877 MHz
Power Connectors: Single 8-pin

If your budget allows stretching a bit over $300, Nvidia‘s stellar GeForce RTX 3060 delivers an enormous jump in gaming performance, visual quality, and future-proofing potential. It utterly demolishes the weak GTX 1050 in every metric.

As part of Nvidia‘s latest-gen (currently) Ampere GPU architecture, the RTX 3060 wields considerable power at this price point. It packs speedy 1877MHz boost clocks across its 3584 rock-solid CUDA processing cores.

Backing this up is a totally overkill 12GB capacity of fast GDDR6 video memory – 6X more than an average GTX 1050 model! This allows ample room for hi-res textures and smooth asset streaming. You also gain full access to Nvidia‘s cutting-edge graphics features like ray tracing, DLSS AI upscaling, NVENC video encoding, and more absent on older cards.

Make no mistake – the RTX 3060 absolutely crushes 1080p gaming with laughable ease. It pumps out 100+ FPS on max settings across eSports and competitive titles like Rocket League, Fortnite, Overwatch 2, etc. More visually demanding adventure games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla, and Microsoft Flight Simulator tame over 60 FPS even at Very High to Ultra graphic presets.

The RTX 3060 keeps up flawlessly even when pushed into 2560 x 1440 resolution across many games too. While not an ideal fit for maxed-out 3840 x 2160 4K gaming, this Ampere card handles 1440p speeds quite admirably on High settings for the majority of titles. It gives a lot of future overhead before feeling dated again.

At roughly $400 and up when purchased brand new, the RTX 3060 is not cheap. But it delivers an unparalleled gaming experience that absolutely buries older mid-range tech like the GTX 1050. If you plan keeping this GPU for years to come, it‘s worth investing extra for all the power/features.

🏅 Wild Card Pick – AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT

AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT GPU

Price Range: $260 – 330 (New)
Release Date: May 2022 (Part of AMD‘s Enhanced RDNA 2 lineup)
Stream Processors: 2048
Video Memory: 8GB GDDR6
Memory Interface: 128-bit
Game Clock Speed: 2639 MHz (Nearly double GTX 1050)
Power Connectors: Single 8-pin

As a wildcard pick, the newer AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT also warrants a strong look if your upgrade budget allows. Squeezing every last drop of power from enhanced RDNA 2 architecture, this GPU pushes out tremendous 1080p and 1440p gaming performance for the money.

The RX 6650 XT comes out swinging with an excellent 2639MHz game clock speed right out of the box. No manual overclocking required. This new Radeon chipset focuses efforts on rapid-packed math horsepower rather than brute force stream processors. You still get 32 capable compute units and 8GB of GDDR6 memory running on speedy 17.5Gbps bus though.

This all combines to great effect – allowing the RX 6650 XT to push out higher average and 99th percentile FPS results than Nvidia‘s RTX 3060 in a variety of gaming benchmarks. It trades blows very evenly depending on the specific title.

The RX 6650 XT seems particular geared however for 2560 x 1400 resolution usage. It barges through 1440p across nearly any game genre at med-high to high graphical presets while hovering around 60 FPS minimums. Performance is admirable as well for standard 1920 x 1080; you just end up with much more overhead.

At a retail price around $300, the RX 6650 XT rates as one of the best bang-for-buck modern GPU solutions available right now, edging out both baseline RTX 3060 and RX 6600 options on raw speed. It does lack ray tracing support, but focuses efforts instead on delivering outstanding conventional rasterization muscle.

If you don‘t need ray tracing or plan pushing into higher resolution gaming, the RX 6650 XT packs phenomenal 1080p and 1440p power per dollar invested. Definitely the AMD card to beat as an upgrade over ancient tech like the GTX 1050.

Closing Thoughts – Making the Upgrade From a GTX 1050

As we‘ve covered across a variety of viable options, there exist many great modern graphics card alternatives ready to deliver huge generational leaps in gaming performance and visuals over the extremely antiquated GTX 1050 many gamers are still lugging around from 5+ years ago.

You no longer need to bear poor, stuttery FPS and bargain-bin graphics just to save money. Any of the cards above breathe exciting new life into aging rigs whether building new or upgrading existing machines. They offer excellent 1080p speeds even up to solid 1440p potential in some cases.

Outpacing the GTX 1050 many times over, both current-gen Radeon RX and GeForce RTX GPU models start as low as $190 new in cost. With excellent pricing/performance across all budgets, there‘s never been a better time to ditch your Pascal relic.

I recommend the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super as the best overall value pick under $200. At higher budgets the Radeon RX 6600 and GeForce RTX 3060 give outstanding blend of 1080p and 1440p gaming potential before entering high-end territory.

No matter if on team red or green, affordable graphics powerhouses exist now leaving the GTX 1050 totally in the dust. Don‘t wait to bring your aging gaming rig screaming back to life!

Article by [Your Name], independent gaming tech journalist and hardware benchmark data analyst. Over 8 years experience testing and reviewing computer components across manufacturers.

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