I want to talk to you about a project that we have been working on that focuses on the upgradability of off-the-shelf OEM desktop PCs. The NVidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card is already six years old and it costs almost nothing now. They were very heavily promoting the idea that this was the perfect graphics card to make these types of machines gaming ready, way back in 2014.
To test this, we went to our local Best Buy and we picked three different systems from three different price segments and three different performance levels to really see if the 750 Ti could bring these machines up and make them viable gaming platforms.
The first one is the gateway DX 4885 system. This is actually a $570 PC. It has an Intel Core i5 4440 quad-core processor and has Intel HD 4600 graphics, 8GB of DDR3 1600-megahertz memory, and a 300-watt power supply.
The second system was the Asus M11BB. This $440 machine has an AMD A10 6700 quad-core APU. It has integrated Radeon HD 8670D graphics, 8GB of 1600-megahertz DDR3 memory, and a 350-watt power supply.
Finally, the Lenovo H520 that costs $340 and is built around a Pentium G2030 dual-core processor. it has unbranded Intel HD graphics, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, and a 250 to 280-watt power supply depending on the temperature rating.
The upgrade process on all three of the systems that we purchased was straightforward. All of them had side doors that came off a full-size PCI Express x16 slot, which was easily accessible. Removing the back plate was simple as well. Installation could have been much simpler.
Now the benefit to using the GeForce GTX750 Ti is that it does not require an external power connection. There is no need to hook up a 6-pin PCI Express power connector, at least and many of the models available for sale. This means that systems like these that have power supplies that do not have those types of power connections, and in one of the cases did not have any extra power connections at all, could still be upgraded to this graphics card. That is the main selling point of this particular GTX 750 Ti graphics card.
To test the before and after gaming capability of the systems, we ran a bunch of games on them like Grid 2, Crisis 3, BioShock Infinite, Skyrim, and Metro Last Light. Now performance scaling from the integrated graphics to the GTX 750 Ti I range from at the minimum a 5 times increase in performance and all the way up to 9 times increase in performance depending on the specific game in a specific platform we were testing it on. For example with the gateway system, we saw on 8.3 times increase in the average frame rate with Skyrim. On the Asus system, we saw on 8.2 times increase in frame rate with BioShock Infinite. Moreover, on the Lenovo system, we saw a 9.5 times increase in performance with Crisis 3.
These are not in substantial numbers. these are huge changes in gaming performance essentially taking 1080p results that were oftentimes in the single-digit frames per second and taking them well into playability ranges over 60 FPS.
The GTX 750 Ti was able to take each of these systems and take them from your basic non-gaming basic computing PC and turn them into great gaming platforms.
When you add in a new discrete graphics card like this, you are going to draw more power from the system than you would with just the integrated graphics. in our testing, that power difference ranged from 50 Watts up to 65 Watts depending on the specific system we’re using but none of the three systems had any problems providing enough juice to the graphics card even with the small power supply from 250 to 350 Watts. This is one of the benefits of the new Maxwell architecture in the GTX 750 Ti.
Now, the question is, “Is this something that you should do?” As a PC builder, I do not really recommend anybody go out and purchase one of these systems, add a 750 Ti to it, and then decide that you have a gaming machine. I still think that buying and building your own product is going to be the best option for you, however there a lot of cases where gamers or users already have systems like this.
Maybe your mom or your dad has a PC like this, plays games every occasionally but does not know what he is missing by having some discrete graphics. If that is the case, purchasing something like that the GeForce GTX 750 Ti makes a lot of sense. You get way better performance and if your performance is already okay with some lower-end games like StarCraft 2, you can increase image quality settings as well. In some of our test, you will see that we had frame rates at the 100 to 120 frames per second. even though if you don’t need those, feel free to turn up the image quality settings from medium to high or high to very high and actually improve your gaming experience with quality as opposed to just frame rate.
So, if you happen to have a PC like this or maybe somebody wants to give you one, or you find one on a discounted rate on up off-the-shelf open box builder, that it might be worth it to pick it up, get a low-cost high-performance add-on card like the GTX 750 Ti and upgrade it to a gaming platform.
Update: A used GTX 1050 Ti replaced the 750 Ti as the most cost-efficient way to upgrade your ordinary desktop into a gaming rig.