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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Review - GK106 Kepler for $150

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

EVGA Retail Card and our GPU Testbed

The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB SuperClocked

While we are still testing this card for a full review later in the week, we wanted to highlight the retail GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB we got in from EVGA, the SSC model. 

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While reference clocks are 928 MHz, the EVGA SSC card here will run at 1107 MHz (!!) an increase of 143 MHz or 15%.  That should improve our GTX 650 Ti numbers quite a bit and if the MSRPs are correct, this card will only be $10 more than the standard models.

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The Testbed Configuration

For the Radeon HD 7970 3GB review (and all those going forward) we decided it was high time we replaced the somewhat dated Nehalem-based infrastructure (even though honestly, it was fast enough) with something a bit more current.  Obviously that meant going with the new Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor and X79 motherboard - by combining support for 40 PCI Express lanes and 3-4 full size GPU slots it makes for the perfect GPU base.

From this point on, our reviews will based around the following system:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X CPU
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard
  • Corsair DDR3-1600 4 x 4GB Vengeance memory
  • 600GB Western Digital VelociRaptor HDD
  • 1200 watt Corsair Professional Series power supply
  • Windows 7 SP1 x64

The ASUS P9X79 Pro

The Intel Core i7-3960X gives us the fastest consumer-level CPU on the market to help eliminate the possibility of any processor-based bottlenecks in our testing (whenever possible).  There are still going to be some games that could use more speed (Skyrim comes to mind) but for our purposes this is as good as you get without getting into any kind of overclocked settings.  The ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard has enough space for three dual-slot graphics cards when the time comes for testing 3-Way SLI and CrossFire and 8 DIMM slots should we want to go up from our current setup of 16GB of Corsair Vengeance memory.  

I chose to stick with the 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive rather than an SSD as our total installation size with Windows 7 SP1 x64 and 6+ games was already hitting the 115GB range.  Finally the 1200 watt power supply from Corsair offers up more than enough juice for three power hungry graphics cards while running quietly enough to not throw off our noise testing drastically.

Speaking of noise, we are re-introducing our sound level testing thanks to the Extech 407738 Sound Level Meter capable of monitor decibel ratings as low as 20db.  This allows me to accurately tell you the noise levels generated by the graphics cards that make in-house at PC Perspective.

Along with the new hardware configuration comes a host of new games.  For this review we will be using the following benchmarks and games for performance evaluation:

  • Battlefield 3
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • DiRT 3
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Metro 2033
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • 3DMark11
  • Unigine Heaven v2.5

This collection of games is both current and takes into account several different genres as well - first person role playing, third person action, racing, first person shooting, etc.  3DMark11 and Unigine Heaven give us a way to see how the cards stack up in a more synthetic environment while the real-world gameplay testing provided by the six games completes the performance picture.

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Comparing low cost cards is always a pain because there are SO MANY different models you could potentially compare.  For this review we focused on three cards that best fit the pricing structure of $150.

You may notice that the gap between the HD 7850 1GB and the HD 7770 1GB is pretty big and that the GTX 650 Ti falls right in between - that isn't an accident on NVIDIA's part.  Also, I included the previous-generation GTX 560 card so you can see what the CURRENT DAY competition is from NVIDIA's own lineup at this cost.  We are NOT showing you generation to generation performance here as I don't think it's nearly as relevent at this price point, but we'll have more on that later.

Both AMD cards were tested using driver revision 12.9 beta while both NVIDIA cards were run with the 306.38 beta driver.

October 9, 2012 | 09:18 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

Nice write up, makes me wonder how much cutting gpu boost really saved them. I couldn't imagine boost making that much of a difference anyway. Still, as you said, why throw away that tech altogether?
Overall decent price as long as those AC3 keys last, although seen a xfx 7850 being bundled with 5 free games for £136 a few days ago.

October 9, 2012 | 09:23 AM - Posted by j0hndoe

Awesome write up, Ryan. Very informative.

I'm in the market for a new gfx card, and I've been waiting for the reviews to come out about this one. I think I've made my decision now :).

October 9, 2012 | 02:17 PM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

My main computer has an i7-920 processor but came with a GTX 260 with 1.8 gig of ram which has to be pretty lame but it does drive my dell 30 inch monitor with no issues for normal use. I would modestly like a better video card and the price seems okay but your review leaves me wondering how much that card would like this much resolution.

October 9, 2012 | 03:04 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

If you are trying to game on a 30-in 2560x1600 display, you'll need a GTX 660 Ti or better for the best experience.

October 9, 2012 | 04:13 PM - Posted by HUU (not verified)

wouldn't a 7950 (32ROPs, 384bit memory) be more suited to 1600p?

as for the 650 Ti, it's decent enough I guess, but I agree that the price should be lower...

also, gotta love the "variable" specs...

October 10, 2012 | 12:01 PM - Posted by Angry

Between removing gpu boost and sli on this card, and also not allowing voltage control on the higher end versions, nvidia is really digging themselves a hole. At least for me.
I was wanting to switch to green, but im sticking to red, And if i wamt physx ill go hybrid If i want it that bad.

October 10, 2012 | 04:58 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I know a lot of people that are thinking this same thing...

October 10, 2012 | 11:00 PM - Posted by Angry

Dont get me wrong I like thier cards, but the last gen series of these cards often had those features. Minus boost of course, but after reading and hearing from several places that board manufacturers like evga, ended up removing evbot because nvidia told them no voltage control was allowed, And msi got burned as well. And if they did allow it, nvidia would allocate less kepler chips to sell to them, which pretty much blackmail. Amd lets board partners run wild....

October 14, 2012 | 01:35 AM - Posted by Benhaube (not verified)

I was thinking about getting this card in my bedroom pc build. It's going to be my DVR, blueray player, and a gaming computer. I don't need huge graphic performance. The tv it's going on is a 32in 1080p tv. Will this card be my best choice? Im looking to spend 120-160 on my video card.

October 16, 2012 | 02:08 PM - Posted by Casecutter (not verified)

The price is really out-of-bounds for what this "stubby" or as I call them "elfin-petite". With nothing more than extruded aluminum cooler and 128-bit, it’s offering compensatory construction and components of 7750’s and those already have hit $80.

Egg's had that XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 after code and $20 rebate for $142 and Two Worlds II game coupon, while that nice VaporX 1100Mhz OC Sapphire 7770 has been $135 –AR$15 with Nexuiz game coupon. AC3 is a top notch new game, but it's still the card and there's not any value given it's de-contented manufacturing. At most a mild OC GTS650Ti should've started at $140!

February 2, 2013 | 04:13 PM - Posted by johneyjerry

Hello Ryan, My Girl Friend name kate have that Nvidia GeForce GTX card but there fan is not working properly? We have no idea that what we do now? Maybe dust have entered in it and We have no knowledge that How we remove that?

October 11, 2013 | 02:03 AM - Posted by Blair (not verified)

I got a MSI GTX 650ti from Newegg for 114$ plus 25$ dollar rebate. And yes you can adjust the voltage on it. That was one thing I was surprised to see actually. It runs a 28c leaving lots of oc room. (Thats more than likely why there are different OC versions) But I would say its cheaper just to use afterburner. I see good improvements in games over my old 5850.

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