Hot on the heels of AMD releasing the HD Radeon 7790, a board 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.
Going by 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.
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 flavours – 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 (we’ll call it TiB for short) 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 per cent. 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 per cent.
Core Count: Both chips have 768 shader cores and 64 texture mapping units (TMUs). The 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 1.67 times 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 RAM. Windows 7 64-bit with 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 x 1,080, as both Nvidia and AMD have emphasised this mode as the new sweet spot for their respective cards. Also included are results from 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 weighs in around the £180 mark, which makes it significantly more expensive than either of the midrange cards. However, we’ve included it here to give perspective on how much additional performance can be gained by stepping up to the next performance tier.
In Civilization V (using High Detail and 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. In Batman: Arkham City's test (DX11, Normal Tessellation, High Detail, 4X MSAA), the GTX 650 Ti Boost hit 80 fps, 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 60 fps, compared with the 49.7 fps for the AMD 7790 and 74.5 fps for the GTX 660.
Metro 2033 (AAA antialiasing, High Detail) continued this trend, with the Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Boost scoring 32.33 fps, compared with 24 fps 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 x 1,050 with all details set to maximum. In AvP, the GTX 650 Ti Boost outperformed the AMD 7790 by 19 per cent (39 fps vs. 32.8 fps). DiRT 3 favoured AMD, with the HD 7790 outperforming the GTX 650 Ti Boost by 14 per cent (56.74 fps vs. 64.7 fps). In Just Cause 2, Nvidia again beat AMD, with a Concrete Jungle frame rate of 54.47 fps vs. AMD's 43.23 fps.
These benchmarks make the HD 7790 1GB's price, which is pitched at the same level as the GTX 650 Ti Boost 1GB – around the £125 mark – look pretty dubious. 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 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 card is a great deal for consumers, and news on the pricing front is even better. Nvidia's recommended pricing on the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB is £144, with a 1GB version of the card coming in at £124. The additional clock speed, memory bandwidth, and higher pixel fillrates make the GTX 650 Ti Boost an excellent option for gamers on a budget. The £124/£144 price points make the TiB a drop-in replacement for the GTX 650 Ti series – but at a much better price/performance ratio. So we have no hesitation in giving this product one of our Best Buy awards.
While you're here, you might want to check out our Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan review at the other end of the market.