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

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another GK106 Completes the Stack

It has been an interesting year for graphics cards and 2012 still has another solid quarter of releases ahead of it.  With the launch of AMD's 7000-series back in January, followed by the start of NVIDIA's Kepler lineup in March, we have had new graphics cards on a very regular basis ever since.  And while AMD's Radeon HD 7000 cards seemed to be bunched together a bit better, NVIDIA has staggered the release of the various Kepler cards, either because of capacity at the manufacturing facilities or due to product marketing plans - take your pick. 

Today we see the completion of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 stack (if you believe the PR at NVIDIA) with the release of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, a $150 graphics card that fills in the gap between the somewhat anemic GTX 650 and GT 640 cards and the most recently unveiled card, the GTX 660 2GB that currently sells for $229. 

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The GTX 650 Ti has more in common with the GTX 660 than it does the GTX 650, both being based on the GK106 GPU, but is missing some of the unique features that NVIDIA has touted of the 600-series cards like GPU Boost.  Let's dive into the product and see if this new card will be the best option for those of you with $150 graphics budgets.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB!!!

GeForce GTX 650 Ti - Pieces of GK106

As I mentioned above, the GTX 650 Ti is based on the same GK106 GPU as the GTX 660 but with some very important hardware changes.  First, this is not a FULL GK106 GPU and drops from 960 CUDA cores to 768 CUDA cores, a drop of 20%.  Remember that the GK106 die has a very odd configuration with two and a half GPCs, the two full ones with a pair of SMX units and the third with a single SMX.  The GTX 650 Ti will be available in either 2 or 3 GPC configurations:

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Option 1: Two full GPCs of two SMX units

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Option 2: One full GPC and two GPCs with a single SMX each

Performance wise, NVIDIA says there should be no difference between the two configurations but this does allow the company to salvage more workable GPUs from each wafer, saving money in the long run. 

Other important performance changes with the GTX 650 Ti include a move from a 192-bit to a 128-bit memory bus, 16 ROP units rather than 24 and a move from 384KB of L2 cache to 256KB of L2.  The frame buffer itself is now 1GB rather than 2GB, so you'll see some instances of performance drops at higher settings like Battlefield 3 in Ultra that require that kind of memory capacity.  Memory bandwidth drops by a noticeable amount (40% or so) to 86.4 GB/s.

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The clock rate of the reference GeForce GTX 650 Ti we tested was 925 MHz with a memory speed of 5.4 GHz - the first GTX class of card to move away from the faster GDDR5 memory at 6.0 GHz. 

No GPU Boost and No SLI

Another thing you may have noticed is that we didn't quote a Boost Clock - something we have seen on every GTX-class GPU since the release of the GTX 680 in March.  The GTX 650 Ti does not support GPU Boost and you'll see that the clock rates will run at 925 MHz consistently; a return to the old days if you will.


NVIDIA wasn't completely open with us stating basically that the main driver of the decision was cost - there are some power monitoring circuits that can be removed from the PCB if you don't need GPU Boost.  When I asked exactly what those components were and how much they saved the company, no one really wanted to get into details. 

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SLI has been removed from the GTX 650 Ti

With the removal of SLI support as well, which NVIDIA also claims was removed for cost considerations, you can start to see that NVIDIA might be playing a positioning game more than anything else.  Would the performance of a pair of GTX 650 Ti's be able to outperform a single GTX 660 Ti pretty easily and would that put a damper on the sales of that part?  We won't know for sure but I would think that the audience for a $150 card and the audience for a $300 card are pretty disparate.

Based on these kind of numbers, I would have thought NVIDIA to brand the GTX 650 Ti as the "GT 650" to emphasize that difference in features - the GeForce GTX brand was supposed to be aimed at PC gamers and PC gamers want options like SLI and GPU Boost.

A Complete Lineup

With the release of the GTX 650 Ti today, regardless of the specific feature set, NVIDIA is completing their Kepler card lineup with options from the GK107-based GT 640 all the way up to the dual-GPU GTX 690 4GB card released in April.

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NVIDIA now has options at $999, $499, $399, $299, $229, $149, $119 and $99.  Most PC enthusiasts will be able to find an option at their specific budget now powered by an NVIDIA GPU - something we haven't been able to say until today.

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Also a bold move from NVIDIA - many vendors will be able to include a free copy of the upcoming Assassins Creed 3 game with the purchase of a new GTX 650 Ti.  While many hardcore PC gamers (like Jeremy) might not think of AC3 as a great PC title, I think the inclusion of a tier-1 level game like this valued at $50-60 can really make a significant impact on the purchasing decision of a $150 video card. 

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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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