You wouldn’t know it from looking at screen shots, but Abzu will eat your integrated graphics alive. Don’t let the simple textures fool you. It murdered my AMD A8 laptop and my Core i5 6400 desktop at the lowly resolution of 720p and showed absolutely no remorse. Chalk it up to the gorgeous lighting effects, tons of swimming creatures or even lack of optimization. Didn’t matter. When Matt Nava makes a game, you play the game. If you can’t play the game; you find a way.
What followed my bitter disappointment was a search for a cheapish, low wattage graphics card that could drive a 1080p screen at the standard of a Playstation 4 or Xbox One.
[For those who want to future-proof themselves for the onset of games optimized for the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One Scorpio, ignore this article and go buy an AMD RX 480 or a nVidia GTX 1060 and a power supply. For those who would just like Firewatch to run at more than 20fps, read on.]
The GTX 1050 Ti is the (current) ultimate in low-wattage cards for pre-built systems. It draws 75 watts straight off the board, requiring neither a six-pin connector adapter nor a beefed up power supply to safely kick your system in the pants. It costs less than $150, and it runs cool as a cucumber. No additional case fan required.
Performance-wise, don’t expect miracles. It will blaze through popular online games, such as Overwatch, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, or DOTA 2 at 1080p without breaking a sweat. However, it’s going to sputter a bit on ultra settings in AAA games, even older ones. I threw it against Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and watched the screen counter range from 40 down to 15.
However, over in indieland, there are a lot of titles that play rather well with the card. Both Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter choked my integrated systems on low settings, but the 1050 Ti held its own on high/ultra with only a bit of screen tear and stuttering. A Story About My Uncle was all buttah smooth, only screen tearing in wide open stages. Dear Esther: Landmark Edition benefited immensely. Submerged looked like a completely different game as the lighting effects exploded across the water.
And Abzu. Damn, that’s just a stunning game. The 1050 Ti poured it onto the screen with no turbulence. Seriously, don’t wait for a stupid sale like I did. Go buy it and play it now.