Just days after AMD released the HD Radeon 7790 built on a new iteration of the company's Graphics Core Next architecture, Nvidia has released its own new graphics card for the mainstream market?the Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. From our tests, it shows itself to be a potent challenger for AMD's new GPU. The new GTX 650 Ti Boost borrows capabilities and performance from the up-market GTX 660. The end result is a great consumer card at the same price point the GTX 650 Ti formerly occupied. It's our new Editors' Choice for mainstream graphics cards.
Unfortunately, all the additional horsepower is hiding under a confusing name. The new GTX 650 Ti Boost is the third graphics card to carry the "GTX 650" designation. There are now three flavors?the Nvidia GTX 650, Nvidia GTX 650 Ti, and GTX 650 Ti Boost. The problem with this nomenclature scheme is that the GTX 650 Ti Boost is much more than just an up-clocked version of the GTX 650 Ti. Here's the full breakdown:
Clock Speed: The 650 Ti tops out at 925MHz, the TiB is clocked at 980MHz, an increase of 6%. The TiB supports Nvidia's GPU Boost technology (the Ti doesn't) and will increase its clock speed up to 1033MHz if thermal headroom allows it to do so, for a total increase of 11.6%.
Core Count: Both chips have 768 shader cores and 64 texture mapping units (TMUs). The Nvidia GTX 650 Ti has 16 raster operators (ROPs), however, while the GTX 650 TiB has 24. This means the new GTX 650 Ti Boost's pixel fillrate is 23.5 GPixels per second, compared to 14.8 GPps for the GTX 650 Ti.
Multi-GPU Support: The GTX 650 Ti doesn't support multi-GPU configurations. The GTX 650 Ti Boost does.
Memory Bandwidth: The GTX 650 Ti has a 128-bit memory bus clocked at 1350MHz, for a total of 86.4GBps of memory bandwidth. The GTX 650 TiB has a 192-bit memory bus clocked at 1500MHz, for a total of 144.2GBps of RAM bandwidth. That's 1.67x what the GTX 650 offers.
We tested the card on an Intel DZ77GA-70K motherboard with an Intel Core i7 3770K CPU and 8GB of DDR3-1600. Windows 7 64-bit w/ SP1 and all available patches was used. We compared the GTX 660, GTX 650 Ti Boost, and AMD's new Radeon 7790 in a suite of games running at 1,920 by 1,080, as both Nvidia and AMD have emphasized this mode as the new sweet spot for their respective cards. Also included are results between the Radeon HD 7790 and GTX 650 Ti Boost in our older test suite of DiRT 3, Aliens vs. Predator, and Just Cause 2. All of our games use DirectX 11 and 16x anisotropic filtering.
The GTX 660 starts at $214, which makes it significantly more expensive than either of the midrange cards; it's included here to give perspective on how much additional performance can be gained by stepping up to the next performance tier.
In Civilization V (High Detail, 4x MSAA), the AMD 7790 and GTX 650 TiB essentially tied, at 58.6 and 57.8 frames per second (fps), respectively. The Nvidia GTX 660 hit 70 fps. The the Nvidia solutions In Batman: Arkham City's test (DX11, Normal Tessellation, High Detail, 4X MSAA), the GTX 650 Ti Boost hit 80fps, while the GTX 660 managed 88 fps and the HD 7790 fell sharply behind with a score of 52 fps.
We tested the cards in Shogun 2: Total War at Very High Detail with tessellation enabled. The Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Boost scored 60fps , compared with the 49.7fps for the AMD 7790 and 74.5fps for the GTX 660. Metro 2033 (AAA antialiasing, High Detail) continued this trend, with the Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Boost scoring 32.33fps, compared with 24fps for the AMD 7790 and 36.2 fps for the Nvidia GTX 660.
Our older game suite showed a similar pattern. Aliens vs. Predator, DiRT 3, and Just Cause 2 were tested at 1,680 by 1,050 with all details set to maximum. In AvP, the GTX 650 Ti Boost outperformed the AMD 7790 by 19% (39 fps vs. 32.8 fps). DiRT 3 favored AMD; the AMD HD 7790 outperformed the GTX 650 Ti Boost by 14% (56.74 fps vs. 64.7 fps). In Just Cause 2, Nvidia again won past AMD, with a Concrete Jungle frame rate of 54.47 vs. AMD's 43.23.
These figures are the reason why we were dubious of the HD 7790 1GB's $149 price point last week. The HD 7790 is still a far better card than the AMD Radeon HD 7770 that launched in 2012, but the GTX 650 Ti Boost at $169 is only 13% more expensive. The GTX 650 Ti Boost offers 1.19 times the performance of the 7790 if you average all of our results.Some judicious price cuts will keep the new AMD HD 7790 cards in the fight, but the GTX 650 Ti Boost re-establishes Nvidia's ownership of this price point.
This is a great deal for consumers, and news on the pricing front is even better. Right now, the standard GTX 650 starts at $145 for a 1GB card, with 2GB cards at $164. Nvidia's recommended pricing on the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB is $169, with a 1GB version of the card available at $145 starting in mid-April. The additional clock speed, memory bandwidth, and higher pixel fillrates make the GTX 650 Ti Boost an excllent option for gamers on a budget. The $149/$169 price points make it a drop-in replacement for the GTX 650 Ti series?but at a much better price/performance ratio. Thus, it earns our Editors' Choice for mainstream graphics cards.