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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The sub-$200 graphics card market may be popular with many budget conscious gamers but until today, NVIDIA’s Kepler architecture has been conspicuous by its absence from this segment. With a price tag of $229, the GTX 660 2GB did come close but the new GTX 650 Ti aims to rectify this situation with a card that’s supposed to offer a perfect upgrade path for anyone still hanging on to a 9600 GT or 9800 GT.

Naturally, being a lower-end card means the GTX 650 Ti’s goals are value focused rather than concentrated on high framerates in the upper resolutions. To drive this point home a price of $149 puts it in reach of nearly everyone that’s looking to upgrade their graphics card. NVIDIA will also be offering (for a limited time of course) a free copy of Assassin’s Creed 3 with this card, adding a $50 value on top of an already low initial cost. But don’t expect the GTX 650 Ti to put much pressure upon AMD’s product stack since they don’t currently have any cards within close proximity. After a number of judicious price cuts, the HD 7770 GHz Edition is currently going for just $130 (or less in some cases) while the more powerful HD 7850 1GB can currently be found for about $180 before rebates. If anything, it is the latter which will likely cause the GTX 650 Ti and NVIDIA some headaches.


Like the GTX 660 2GB, NVIDIA’s GTX 650 Ti uses the GK 106 core rather than the GTX 650’s entry level GK 107. The only real difference between the GTX 660 and GTX 650 Ti is the amount of cutting which has gone into the architecture this time around. Instead of using five SMX clusters, three ROP partitions and a trio of 64-bit memory controllers, there is a quartet of SMXs, two ROPs partitions and two memory controllers. This gives a GTX 650 Ti access to four SMX units that have been paired up with two GPCs (or three depending upon which SMX has been cut), 768 cores, 64 texture units, 16 ROPs and a 128-bit wide GDDR5 memory bus. Compared to higher end cards, these are middling specifications but for the GTX 650 Ti’s intended niche, they may just be enough.


The GTX 650 Ti drops right into NVIDIA’s lineup between the GTX 660 and the decidedly lower end GTX 650. It is considered a direct replacement for the GTX 550 Ti which –when it was introduced some 19 months ago- also carried a price of $149 and continued to be NVIDIA’s go-to solution in the budget gaming market until today. As you may have already guessed, the GTX 550 Ti was getting long in the tooth and it needed replacement as soon as possible.

While it may be based off of a well heeled GK106 core, on paper at least, this new GTX 650 Ti does seem to come up short in a number of areas. The paltry 84GB/s of memory bandwidth is even less than what was available on the GXT 550 Ti but due to architectural differences between Kepler and Fermi, don’t expect this to make an overly large impact upon performance. However, unlike other members of the Kepler family NVIDIA’s newest card lacks GeForce Boost so it won’t increase clock speeds in situations where TDP overhead allows for higher performance. SLI has also been tossed out and unlike GPU Boost; dual card operation will be missed in a big way from a $150 GPU.

With all of the changes and a mere 1GB of GDDR5 operating at 5.4Gbps, NVIDIA has been able to cut power consumption and increase performance per watt in a big way. The GTX 550 Ti’s TDP may have only been about 116W but the GTX 650 Ti’s 110W is tied at the hip to better in-game framerates.


NVIDIA may have moved to replace a lagging card within their lineup but the GTX 650 Ti’s release does bring a pressing need into the spotlight: they still lack a bonafide challenger somewhere between the $229 and $149 price points. As it stands, the newest member of the GeForce fills a gap rather than going toe to toe against the competition. This means AMD’s HD 7850 2GB and 1GB SKUs will continue to dominate their segment regardless of the GTX 560 Ti’s enduring presence.


NVIDIA is relying upon their board partners to take up some of the slack within the lineup by releasing overclocked products that act as a bridge between product segments. In this case, EVGA is introducing a GTX 650 Ti SSC (or Super Superclocked) version which boasts a significantly higher core clock but as with so many other custom SKUs, it lacks any memory speed increases. At only $10 more than NVIDIA’s reference version, we see the most potential buyers gravitating towards this option. EVGA will also be introducing 2GB versions of their GTX 650 Ti lineup but due to the limited amount of core graphics horsepower, we double the additional GDDR5 allotment will accomplish much.

The $149 market may not be as cluttered as higher price ranges but NVIDIA still has their work cut out for them. Not only does the HD 7850 come dangerously close from a pricing perspective but after the lackluster GTX 550 Ti’s launch, NVIDIA is due for some retribution in the lower end market.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the GTX 650 Ti & EVGA GTX 650 Ti SSC

A Closer Look at the GTX 650 Ti & EVGA GTX 650 Ti SSC



The reference GTX 650 Ti is a simple looking, tiny graphics card that wouldn’t look out of place in an SFF box or HTPC. It uses a basic axial blower fan that directs cool air down onto an anodized aluminum fin assembly. Now, this dual slot affair may look like it will keel over the second the GK106 core hits its stride but as you will see during testing, the heatsink design is more than sufficient.


With a TDP of only 110W and average power consumption likely hovering around the 90W mark, a single PCI-E power connector provides adequate overhead if overclocking is done. However, what isn’t here is an SLI connector since NVIDIA didn’t equip the GTX 650 Ti with multi card capabilities, nor will they be added at a later date.


The video outputs are a bit of a disappointment with a pair of DVI connectors alongside a single mini HDMI jack. For a card that would feel perfectly at home within an HTPC, we were hoping for at a full sized HDMI connector as most board partners likely won’t include a mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor. Hopefully, there will be some custom single slot cards with native support for HDTV connectivity.


EVGA has decided to go with a mostly reference route for their GTX 650 Ti SSC but there have been some significant changes. It still retains the same stumpy 5 ¾” long PCB as NVIDIA’s standard design but the heatsink has received a slightly upgrade with a full length shroud and some muted EVGA branding.


While the SSC’s heatsink may still be quite small, it encompasses more volume than the reference version’s which should lead to lower temperatures. Essentially, EVGA has maximized its vertical space without going over dual slot height.

The backplate on this card has been changed to a dual slot layout with additional ventilation to ensure as much heat as possible is exhausted outside of the enclosure. Unfortunately, EVGA hasn’t upgraded the video output offerings and the dual DVI + mini HDMI allotment is still in place. A mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor is not included either.


When placed directly next to a GTX 660, you can get a full appreciation of how small the GTX 650 Ti really is.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Test System & Setup / Benchmark Sequences

Main Test System

Processor: Intel i7 3930K @ 4.5GHz
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 32GB @ 1866MHz
Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 WS
Cooling: Corsair H80
SSD: 2x Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Monitor: Samsung 305T / 3x Acer 235Hz
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Acoustical Test System

Processor: Intel 2600K @ stock
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB 1600MHz
Motherboard: ASUS Z68 PRO
Cooling: Thermalright TRUE Passive
SSD: Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Power Supply: Seasonic X-Series Gold 800W


Drivers:
NVIDIA 306.38 Beta
NVIDIA 306.23 Beta
AMD 12.8


Application Benchmark Information:
Note: In all instances, in-game sequences were used. The videos of the benchmark sequences have been uploaded below.


Batman: Arkham City

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Battlefield 3

<object width="640" height="480"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/i6ncTGlBoAw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/i6ncTGlBoAw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="480" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Crysis 2

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Deus Ex Human Revolution

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Dirt 3

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Metro 2033

<object width="480" height="360"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480" height="360" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Shogun 2: Total War

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Skyrim

<object width="640" height="480"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/HQGfH5sjDEk?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/HQGfH5sjDEk?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="480" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Wargame: European Escalation

<object width="640" height="480"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ztXmjZnWdmk?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ztXmjZnWdmk?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="480" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Witcher 2 v2.0

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​

*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game and all GPU control panels were set to use application settings
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
3DMark 11 / Batman: Arkham City

3DMark 11 (DX11)


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Performance and Extreme presets.


Performance Preset



Extreme Preset




Batman: Arkham City (DX11)


Batman: Arkham City is a great looking game when all of its detail levels are maxed out but it also takes a fearsome toll on your system. In this benchmark we use a simple walkthrough that displays several in game elements. The built-in benchmark was avoided like the plague simply because the results it generates do not accurately reflect in-game performance.

1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Battlefield 3 / Crysis 2

Battlefield 3 (DX11)


For this benchmark, we used a sequence from the Rock and Hard Place mission. The results may seem lower than normal and this is due to the fact that after playing through the game multiple times, this one are was found to be the most demanding on the GPU. As with all of the tests, we try to find a worst case scenario in order to ensure a given card can properly play through the whole game instead of just a “typical” section.

1920 x 1200






Crysis 2 (DX11)


Crysis 2 with the DX11 and Texture Package installed not only looks great but it is a strain on any GPU. For this benchmark, we used a classic runthrough which includes far views, explosions, combat and close-in knifing; basically every hallmark of gameplay.

1920 x 1200

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Deus Ex: Human Revolution / Dirt 3

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX11)


Deus Ex: Human Revolution may not be the hardest game for today’s high end gaming rigs to render. While the game mostly takes place indoors, it is the few outdoor areas that put additional strain on graphics cards. So for this test, we use one of the more involved outdoor sections: the Sharif Manufacturing Loading Docks.

1920 x 1200





Dirt 3 (DX11)


Dirt 3 isn’t all that much different from its predecessor but the developers have added a few more visual touches but boost image quality. In this case, we used the Michigan Rally track since it features some of the hardest to render features of the game: expansive vistas, water, dirt effects, trees and many other items.

1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Metro 2033 / Shogun 2: Total War

Metro 2033 (DX11)


For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 3 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.

1920 x 1200



Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)


Due to its very nature, Shogun 2 is a tough game to benchmark since the in-game tool doesn’t accurately convey an in-game experience. So we took a pre-recorded battle which pits three large armies against one another and includes camera zooms, fog, gun smoke and other items. Using a pre-recorded sequence also effectively removes the CPU from the equation since it doesn’t have to process AI.

1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim / Wargame: European Escalation

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (DX9)


Being one of the most popular and best looking RPG games released in the last few years, Skyrim needed to be included in our reviews, regardless of the fact that it uses an older DX9 rendering engine. For our test sequence we used a typical runthrough interspersed with some combat. A modded .ini file along with the official high resolution texture pack was used in order to ensure image quality was up to expectations.

1920 x 1200





Wargame: European Escalation (DX11)


This may not be the most popular game on the market but through its DX11 rendering path it can display some amazing visuals. For our benchmark we used a combination of wide angle zooming, close quarters combat and camera pans in order to simulate as many in-game scenarios as possible.


1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The Witcher 2

The Witcher 2 (DX9)


The Witcher 2 may be a DX9 based game but its graphics quality is beyond reproach. In this benchmark we take an area out of The Kayran mission and include one of the toughest effects the graphics engine has in store for the GPU: rain. Throughout this sequence, rain plays a large part but explosions, combat and even some sun shafts are included as well.

1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Taking 1920x1200 Image Quality to the Next Level

Taking 1920x1200 Image Quality to the Next Level


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game settings to the highest possible level at 1920 x 1200. All other methodologies remain the same.


Batman: Arkham City



Crysis 2



Dirt 3



Metro 2033

 

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