nVidia GTX 650Ti; Kepler Lineup Is Complete
Well it has taken most of the year but nVidia has finally given us the complete Kepler lineup of GPUs with the release of the GTX 650Ti. Our look at the GTX650TI is a reference card provided by nVidia, this is the baseline that various companies will work from to release their models of this video card. The base design comes with a very simple cooler, 1 gig of memory and 2xDVI and an HDMI connection. This is a basic budget gaming card, the target price for this series is around $140. This places it squarely between the GTX 650 and the GTX 660 cards.
The original target for this card was aimed to be in direct competition with the HD 7770 but recent price drops have put that card at a slightly lower price. Further price cuts have moved the 7850 to within striking distance of that price point and has changed the dynamic of this cards launch.
The $140 price point places the GTX 650Ti squarely in the mainstream card segment and at the upper end of the budget gaming card range. This is shown in the breakdown of the nVidia GTX 600 series cards. In our review of the GTX 650 we referred to that card as a gateway gaming card. The GTX 650Ti is a step up in gaming performance that is aimed at people wanting to taking their gaming a bit farther or for the budget gaming DIY build.
In the briefing we got from nVidia the 650Ti was referred to as the 650 turbo charged, the naming may also give this impression. This impression however is not correct, the 650Ti is built on the same chip as the 660 and then toned down a bit. The result is a pretty solid chip for the price point.
For purposes of our testing we put this board on our test rig with an Intel i5 3450 and 8 Gigs of Kingston HyperX. This build represents a solid build for a lower cost, mainstream gaming rig; a likely target for someone looking at this card. For our testing we used some of todays popular games such as Borderlands 2, Skyrim, Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, Mechwarrior Online and Civilization V. All tests were run with the goal of achieving great playback with the modest detail we could add. From a frame rate point of view we shot for 60 FPS with the settings as high as we could get. We tested at resolutions of 1920×1080, 1600×900 and 1280×720. Nvidia made clear the goal of this card was to attain 1080 resolutions with medium to high settings and some AA enabled.
The performance difference over the GTX 650 was obvious from the start. With the straight 650 we had been forced to lower settings quite a bit to get good playback at 1080, with the 650Ti the settings were able to give much more detail and still be very playable. In fact our testing showed a nice frame rate boost, on average from all our testing we got about 75% above the lower priced 650.
When we compared to the competition with the 7770 we again see the 650Ti offering a nice boost in performance. However there was little difference in the actual gaming experience, that is until we started turning on features. When a game makes use of nVidia PhysX the 650Ti steps up and the game experience is improved over that of the 7770 from a visual perspective.
With the price drop of the 7850 we felt that we needed to compare it to the 650Ti as well. The 7850 has an obvious advantage in the case of raw horsepower but again the actual gaming experience did not change drastically until you turn on various nVidia features in games.
As we lowered the resolution the 650Ti was able to max out details and deliver some really exceptional play performance, pegging our vsynced setup at 60 FPS. At 1080 this was not always the case but we did see some very smooth playback, even with high settings.
The 650Ti is a strong card for the price point but hit the market with a bit of a limp. If AMD had not done the price cuts they did then this card would rule the price point, as it stands it is just a strong contender. Also it’s price point represents an in-between area that can create some confusion for the new gamer.
The straight 650 comes in for less money and IF you are going to run your gaming at lower than 1080 resolution, is a strong buy for the price. The 650Ti allows the ability to bump to that 1080 resolution for a price jump with a nice performance boost but for another $50 to $60 you can jump to the 660 and get a nice jump again over the 650Ti.
The 650Ti delivers on the target nVidia claimed to be aiming for, giving a solid card that delivers a GOOD 1080 experience at under $200. When put against the original target, the 7770, the 650Ti is a clear win but the recent price cuts have muddy the water. When put up against the new prices of the 7850 there is no clear winner but instead a very competitive setup were you can choose between raw horsepower or features in some specific game titles.
At the end of the day the 650Ti is a solid card and worth the cost. It is a worth candidate for the new gamers or budget DIYers to consider.
Show segment as aired live 13 October 2012