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

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

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. 

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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.

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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:

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. 

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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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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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