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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Review
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Date: Mar 26, 2013
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

In the final analysis of our AMD Radeon HD 7790 review, which launched last week, we mentioned that the mainstream GPU landscape would likely change again by the time the 7790 was actually available on store shelves. Although we posted a full review of the card on March 22, they aren’t slated to go on sale until April 2.

Today we're making it clear why we made that statement about the changing GPU landscape. To counter the just-announced Radeon HD 7790, NVIDIA is already launching a new card of its own, which is somewhat of a cross between the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660. The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST that we’ll be showing you here today takes the CUDA core and texture unit configuration of the GTX 650 Ti and the memory controller and ROP configuration of the GTX 660 and melds them together on a new product that drops in right between the two in NVIDIA’s current GPU lineup.

NVIDIA is also doing some rejiggering of its price structure, which makes the company’s entire mid-range lineup more affordable. Take a peek at the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST and its specifications and features below, and then we’ll dig in with a closer look at a retail-ready version from EVGA and some benchmarks...


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST
Specifications & Features

Processing Units
Graphics Processing Clusters 2 or 3
SMXs 4
CUDA Cores 768
Texture Units 64
ROP Units 24
Clock Speeds
Base Clock 980 MHz
Boost Clock 1033 MHz
Memory Clock (Data Rate) 6008 MHz
L2 Cache Size 384 KB
Memory
Total Video Memory 2048MB
Memory Interface 192-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth 144.2 GB/s
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear) 62.7 GigaTexels/sec
Physical & Thermal
Fabrication Process 28 nm
Transistor Count 2.54 Billion
Connectors 2 x Dual-Link DVI, 1 x Mini HDMI
Form Factor Dual Slot
Power Connectors 1 x 6-pin
Recommended Power Supply 450 watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 134 watts
Thermal Threshold 98° C



NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST PCB View

Like the GeForce GTX 660 and the GTX 650 Ti that came before it, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST is based on NVIDIA's GK106 GPU. Although the GK106 features all of the same technology as NVIDIA’s more powerful Kepler-based graphics processors, like the GK104, the GK106 is somewhat smaller and scaled-down versus its higher-end counterparts.

Above is a list of the GK106's main features and specifications, as the chip is configured on the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST.  As you can see, the GK106 is manufactured using TSMC’s 28nm process node and it is comprised of approximately 2.54 billion transistors. The GPU features two or three Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC) with four SMXs and a total of 768 CUDA cores. There are also 64 texture units and 24 ROPs within the GPU, along with 384K of L2 cache. Memory is linked to the GPU via a 192-bit memory interface.

In comparison to the GeForce GTX 660, the new 650 Ti BOOST has a similar memory interface and cache configuration but with fewer CUDA cores and texture units, which results in lower compute performance and fillrate but similar memory bandwidth.

NVIDIA’s reference specifications call for a base GPU clock of 980MHz on the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST, with a boost clock of 1033MHz and a memory clock of 1502MHz (6008MHz effective). At those frequencies, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST will offer up to 144.2GB/s of memory bandwidth and 62.7GTexes/s of textured fillrate. Many of NVIDIA’s partners, however, are ready with factory-overclocked models (one of which we’ll show you on the next page) that will offer somewhat higher performance characteristics.

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST has a TDP of 134 watts and requires a single supplemental 6-pin PCI express power feed. Cards are two slots wide but sport a short PCB, like the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and some GeForce GTX 670 cards. The output configuration is the same 2 x Dual-Link DVI, 1 x mini-DP, and 1 x HDMI setup as the GeForce GTX 650 / 660 Ti, as well.
 

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EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC

In addition to the stock reference GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST, we also got our hands on a retail-ready, factory-overclocked EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC (Super Clocked) Edition card for the purposes of this article.

Physically, the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC is very similar to NVIDIA’s reference design. The cards use the same PCB, both have dual-slot coolers, and both have the same output configuration. EVGA, however, has incorporated a few customizations. The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC sports a custom fan shroud with a carbon-fiber look and flat edges, and its GPU and memory clocks have been increased slightly, too. Whereas stock GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards have base / boost GPU clocks of 980MHz and 1033MHz, the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti SC has base / boost GPU clocks of 1072MHz and 1137MHz. EVGA’s card does not have higher-clocked memory than reference models, though. The frame buffers on both run at 1502MHz (6008MHz effective).

 

 

Other than its clocks, the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC’s features and specifications are similar to the reference design. This particular card has 2GB of GDDR5 RAM and its outputs consist of the same dual DVI connectors and HDMI and DP connectors. The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC only requires one 6-pin supplemental power connector, as well.

The accessory bundle included with the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC features a case badge, a quick installation guide, and a driver / utility disc (which includes a copy of EVGA’s excellent Precision X overclocking / monitoring utility). EVGA also included a dual-peripheral to 6-pin power adapter and a DVI to VGA adapter.
 

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Test System and Unigine Heaven v4.0

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard powered by a Core i7-3960X six-core processor and 16GB of G.SKILL DDR3-1866 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system UEFI and set all values to their "high performance" default settings and disable any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. We enabled the memory's X.M.P. profile to ensure better-than-stock performance, and we then formatted the hard drive and installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64. When the installation was complete, we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist along with all of the drivers, games, and benchmark tools necessary to complete our tests.

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-3960X
(3.3GHz, Six-Core)
Asus P9X79 Deluxe
(Intel X79 Express)

Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 OC
Radeon HD 7770
Radeon HD 7850
GeForce GTX 660
GeForce GTX 650 Ti
GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST
EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC

16GB GSKILL DDR3-1866
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX April 2011 Redist
AMD Catalyst v13.3 Beta 3
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v314.21

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v4
3DMark "Fire Strike"
Batman: Arkham City
Hitman: Absolution
Alien vs. Predator
Metro 2033
Sleeping Dogs
Crysis 3

Unigine Heaven v4.0 Benchmark
Pseudo-DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven v4.0

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark v4.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform, real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion). It also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.

The two GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards we tested both performed very well in the Unigine Heaven Benchmark. In fact, they outpaced all of the other cards we tested, save for the GeForce GTX 660. None of the Radeons, including the HD 7850, could keep up here.
 

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3DMark Fire Strike Test

Futuremark 3DMark11
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike

Fire Strike has two benchmark modes: Standard mode runs in 1920x1080, while Extreme mode targets 2560x1440. GPU target frame buffer utilization for normal mode is 1GB, and the benchmark uses tessellation, ambient occlusion, volume illumination, and a medium-quality depth of field filter. The more taxing Extreme mode targets 1.5GB of frame buffer memory and increases detail levels across the board. Extreme mode is explicitly designed for CrossFire / SLI systems. GT 1 focuses on geometry and illumination, with over 100 shadow casting spot lights, 140 non-shadow casting point lights, and 3.9 million vertices calculated for tessellation per frame. Only 80 million pixels are processed per frame. GT2 emphasizes particles and GPU simulations. Tessellation volume is reduced to 2.6 million vertices, but the number of pixels processed per frame rises to 170 million.

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards we tested finished right about where you'd expect them to in the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, which is to say they outperformed the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, but trailed the GTX 660. Here, the Radeon HD 7850 pulled ahead of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards, but the recently-released Radeon HD 7790 could not.
 

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Aliens vs. Predator Performance

Aliens vs. Predator
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Alien vs. Predator

The Aliens vs. Predator benchmark makes use of the advanced tessellation, screen space ambient occlusion, and high-quality shadow features available with DirectX 11. In addition to enabling all of the aforementioned DirectX 11-related features offered by this benchmark, we also switched on 4X anti-aliasing along with 16X anisotropic filtering to more heavily tax the graphics cards being tested.

At the settings we use to test Alien vs. Predator, the game benefits greatly from increased memory bandwidth. As such, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards, with their 192-bit memory interface and higher-clock frame buffer memory, crush the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and Radeon HD 7790. Only the Radeon HD 7850 and GeForce GTX 660 were faster here.
 

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Metro 2033 Performance

Metro 2033
DirecX11 Gaming Performance


Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is your basic post-apocalyptic first person shooter game with a few rather unconventional twists. Unlike most FPS titles, there is no health meter to measure your level of ailment; rather, you’re left to deal with life, or lack thereof, more akin to the real world with blood spatter on your visor and your heart rate and respiration level as indicators. The game is loosely based on a novel by Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Metro 2003 boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC platform and includes a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism. This title also supports NVIDIA PhysX technology for impressive in-game physics effects. We tested the game at resolutions of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 with adaptive anti-aliasing and in-game image quality options set to their High Quality mode, with DOF effects disabled.


The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards put up some good numbers in the Metro 2033 benchmark. At both resolutions, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards outpaced all of the other cards we tested, save for the more expensive GeForce GTX 660.
 

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Batman: Arkham City Performance

Batman: Arkham City
DirectX Gaming Performance


Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City is a sequel to 2009’s Game of the Year-winning Batman: Arkham Asylum. This recently released sequel, however, lives up to and even surpasses the original in many ways. The story takes place 18 months after the original game. Quincy Sharp, the onetime administrator of Arkham Asylum, has become mayor and convinced Gotham to create "Arkham City" by walling off the worst, most crime-ridden areas of the city and turning the area into a giant open-air prison. The game has DirectX 9 and 11 rendering paths, with support for tessellation, multi-view soft shadows, and ambient occlusion. We tested in DX11 mode at various resolutions with all in-game graphical options set to their maximum values.

The performance trend we saw in the Metro 2033 benchmark on the previous page played out again in Batman: Arkham City. Once again, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards were faster than everything else we tested at both resolutions, with the sole exception being the higher-end GeForce GTX 660.
 

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Sleeping Dogs Performance

Sleeping Dogs
DX11 Gaming Performance


Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is an open-world game in which you play the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop trying to take down the Triads from the inside. In the game, you have to fight your way up in the organization and take part in various criminal activities without blowing your cover. We tested Sleeping Dogs at two resolutions, with all in-game graphical options set to their maximum values with FXAA enabled.

The Radeon HD 7850 was able to pull ahead of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST at 1920x1200 in the Sleeping Dogs benchmark, but once the resolution was cranked up, the 2GB frame buffers on the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards helped significantly. At ultra-high resolutions, with AA and high-quality settings, 1GB frame buffers be easily be filled by modern DX11 games--which, as you can see, dramatically hinders performance.

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Hitman: Absolution Performance

Hitman: Absolution
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution follows Agent 47, a cold-blooded assassin who takes on his most dangerous contract to date. Betrayed by those he once trusted - and now hunted by the police - he suddenly finds himself at the center of a dark conspiracy and must embark on a personal journey through a corrupt and twisted world. We tested the game at multiple resolutions, with all in-game options set to their maximum values and global illumination and 4X anti-aliasing enabled.

The results from our Hitman: Absolution tests tell essentially the same story as Sleeping Dogs from the previous page. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST card outrun everything else at the lower resolution except for the Radeon HD 7850 and GeForce GTX 660. With the resolution cranked up though, the 1GB frame buffer on the 7850 is overwhelmed and the 2GB cards rule the roost.
 

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Crysis 3 Performance

Crysis 3
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Crysis 3

Crysis 3, which is powered by Crytek’s proprietary CryENGINE 3 technology, is the third installment in this popular franchise. Crysis 3 is the sequel to 2011’s Crysis 2 and follows Prophet as he returns to New York a few years after the events of Crysis 2. Like previous games in the franchise, Crysis 3 has impressive visuals that can tax even the most powerful PCs when cranked up to their maximum values. We tested this game at various resolutions with all in-game graphics options set to Very High, with 4X MSAA and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled and motion blur set to high.

We saw more of the same in our Crysis 3 tests. Once again, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards outpaced all of the other cards we tested, save for the higher-end GeForce GTX 660.  And, yet again, we have a good example of the 2GB frame buffer proving useful at the higher resolution.
 

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Power Consumption, Noise, Temps
Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely, power consumption, temperatures, and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored acoustics and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea of how much power each configuration used while idling and also while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST's power consumption characteristics were right in line with expectations. Looking at the reference cards in particular, the stock GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST's power consumption under load fell right in between the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and the GeForce GTX 660. The factory-overclocked EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Super Clocked Edition consumed somewhat more power than the GeForce GTX 660, but the delta was relatively small.

The stock fan profiles on the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards we tested resulted in idle temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s and load temperatures in the upper 70s. In terms of noise output, both cards were nice and quiet, even after hours of testing. The fans do spin up under load, but they're barely audible over our test system's PSU and CPU fans.
 

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: All things considered, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST performed very well. Throughout all of our testing, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST performed better than the Radeon HD 7790 and GeForce GTX 650 Ti, and it just barely missed the mark set by the somewhat more expensive GeForce GTX 660. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST was even able to pull ahead of the Radeon HD 7850 on more than a few occasions. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST’s power consumption is also relatively good and right in line with expectations, and the cards were nice and quiet, too.


The GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Reference Card

Starting today, the suggested e-tail pricing for NVIDIA’s mainstream Kepler-based products will be:

  • $109 - GeForce GTX 650
  • $129 - GeForce GTX 650 Ti
  • $149 - GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 1GB
  • $169 - GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB
  • $199 - GeForce GTX 660

As you can see, 2GB GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST reference cards like the one we featured here will be priced right around $169. Factory-overclocked cards like the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST SC will be about $179. Also note that lower-priced 1GB versions are coming as well, but those won't be available until some time in early April.

Looking at their performance versus the Radeon HD 7790, snagging a GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST for a couple of extra bucks makes a lot of sense. For gamers with 1080p monitors (or lower resolutions), the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST is an affordable graphics solution with minimal compromise. At higher resolutions or for multi-monitor surround gaming you'll want to spring for something with a little more oomph, but at its price point, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST is tough to beat.

 
  • Good Performance
  • Affordable Price
  • Nice and Quiet
  • GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST is one heck of a mouthful



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