NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Review - GK106 Kepler for $150
Analysis and Conclusions
Priced where it is, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti from NVIDIA should perform between the AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB and the Radeon HD 7850 1GB; ideally we'd like to see the company releasing the NEW products to pushing the industry forward. That means pricing the part at a given performance level to really put the screws the competition. It just didn't happen here.
In my testing the GTX 650 Ti ran faster than the HD 7770 1GB by a decent amount but it was never able to keep up with the HD 7850 1GB variant even though it is priced just $20 more currently. With only a couple of exceptions where the NVIDIA card provided a better gaming experience (like in Battlefield 3 at Ultra settings), the HD 7850 1GB was the faster option.
Even compared to the GeForce GTX 560 1GB still on sale at etailers across the world, the GTX 650 Ti struggles to keep up, only able to tie in performance metrics in two of our six games. If you can find a GTX 560 on sale, and we assume you'll see more of them at lower prices after this release, and you don't mind the 90 watts of additional power draw, the Fermi-based card will be a great ~$150 option for mainstream gamers.
While Kepler does have some cool new features, our favorite is left out of the GTX 650 Ti - GPU Boost. In order to keep costs down, NVIDIA cut this feature from the GPU and board designs so all the GTX 650 Ti cards you see will be running at one nominal clock rate. While this isn't a deal killer, I am surprised that NVIDIA took one of their biggest technological advantages of the new GPU design and simply threw it out for this product.
The other big feature of the GTX 650 Ti is probably its power draw; it is the most efficient GPU in terms of performance per watt we have here. Using 90 watts LESS power than the GTX 560, you can clearly see the advantages of the Kepler architecture compared to Fermi. While impressive, the previous GTX 680 and GTX 670 cards used their power efficiency as secondary nods to potential purchasers while NVIDIA seems to be leaning on that feat alone to sell the GTX 650 Ti. At the end of the day though, I still think gamers, even those looking to make a $150 GPU purchase, are more concerned about performance than power.
Pricing and Availability
I have been mentioning price in all of our discussion above, but let's recap:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB - $149
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 1GB - $169
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB - $119
- AMD Radeon HD 7850 1GB - $179
Compared to AMD's offerings, the GTX 650 Ti is $30 more than the HD 7770 and $30 less than the HD 7850 1GB. In my opinion that price should be weighted lower, closer to the $129 range, to be able to really justify its performance levels. Remember in my testing the GTX 650 Ti was closer to the HD 7770 than it was the HD 7850.
Of course, if you consider the fact that you can get a free copy of Assassins Creed 3 with the purchase of the GTX 650 Ti, many gamers are going to consider that a big advantage. AC3 will be a great game (if you haven't played any of them, they are very good) and getting $50 title free with the purchase of a $150 card, you are talking about a 33% bonus. Today, as a gamer that is interested in buying AC3 anyway, I would be persuaded by the game pack-in.
The problem with this tactic is that you and I both know this deal won't be around forever - and when its gone the GTX 650 Ti will be in the same place with the same performance and pricing concerns.
This is another tough one - these graphics card releases that are almost always easy to decipher and make recommendations around at the high end but become pretty cluttered in the sub-$200 markets as the crowds increase. The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti from NVIDIA struggles to find a comfortable place in our performance and pricing schemes at $149 between the HD 7770 and the HD 7850 1GB. Looking at only the cards themselves, the Radeon HD 7850 1GB at $179 makes a better a case for mainstream gaming selection than the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. Adding in the Assassins Creed 3 deal and you definitely perk up the appearance of the GTX 650 Ti without a doubt, but only if you find that title appealing.
If we do see prices drop upon release or in the next couple of days to something like $130, I would have no issues recommending the GTX 650 Ti. And let's not forget that overclocked GTX 650 Ti from EVGA sitting here - will pushing those clocks up change the performance picture? More soon!
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