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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Round-Up: EVGA, ZOTAC, GB
Date: Oct 09, 2012
Author: Marco Chiappetta
Introduction and Specifications

NVIDIA has been on a tear as of late, releasing a constant stream of GPUs over the last few weeks. In mid-August, the GPU giant released the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and less than a month later, followed up with the GeForce GTX 660 and GeForce GTX 650. Here we are now, less than a month since that release and NVIDIA is at the ready again with yet another new GPU called the GeForce GTX 650 Ti.

As its name implies, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is a step up from the standard “non-Ti” GeForce GTX 650. The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti, however, isn’t powered by the same GPU as the GTX 650. Whereas the GeForce GTX 650 has a GK107 GPU at its heart, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti uses the same GK106 as the higher-end GTX 660 series cards, albeit with a few blocks of the chip disabled. The end result is a card that’s much more powerful than the standard GeForce GTX 650, but is priced only slightly higher.

Take a gander at the specifications and reference card below and we’ll follow up with a look at a trio of custom GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards from a few of NVIDIA’s board partners and a full performance profile on the pages ahead…

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Reference Card.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti
Specifications & Features
Processing Units
Graphics Processing Clusters 2 or 3
SMXs 4
CUDA Cores 768
Texture Units 64
ROP Units 16
Clock Speeds
Base Clock 925 MHz
Boost Clock N/A
Memory Clock (Data Rate) 5400 MHz
L2 Cache Size 256KB
Total Video Memory 1024MB or 2048MB
Memory Interface 128-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth 86.4 GB/s
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear) 59.2 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 400 watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 110 watts
Thermal Threshold 98° C

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

GK106: GeForce GPU Block Diagram (Note - One SMX is Disabled on the GTX 650 Ti)

Here is a high-level block diagram of the GK106 GPU powering the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. The actual chips are manufactured using TSMC’s 28nm process node and are comprised of approximately 2.54B transistors. In its full configuration, the GPU features three Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC) with three SMXs and a total of 960 CUDA cores arranged in 5 SMXs. There are also 80 texture units and 24 ROPs within the GPU, along with 384K of L2 cache. On the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, however, one of the SMXs has been disabled, which results in a total of 768 active CUDA cores, with 64 texture units, 16 ROPs and 256K of L2 cache.

A memory partition on the GK106 has also been disabled on the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. Instead of the GTX 660's 192-bit interface, memory on the GTX 650 Ti is linked to the GPU via a 128-bit interface. In comparison to the GeForce GTX 660, the new 650 Ti has less cache, a narrower memory interface, and fewer CUDA cores, texture units, and ROPs, which results in lower compute performance, fillrate, and memory bandwidth.

Some Pics of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Reference Card.

NVIDIA’s reference specifications call for a base GPU clock of 928MHz on the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, 1GB of memory, and memory clock of 1350MHz (5400MHz effective). At those frequencies, GeForce GTX 650 Ti card will offer up to 86.4GB/s of memory bandwidth and 59.2GTexes/s of textured fillrate. Many of NVIDIA’s partners, however, are ready with factory overclocked models (which we’ll show you on the next page), that will offer somewhat higher performance characteristics. Many cards from NVIDIA's partners will also feature 2GB frame buffers, instead of the 1GB of the reference card.

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti has a TDP of 110 watts and requires a single, supplemental 6-pin PCI express power feed. Cards are two-slot wide, but sport a short 5.65" PCB. The output configuration consists of 2 x DVI outputs and 1 mini-HDMI output, but the GPU supports up to four independent displays, so some parts may release cards with four outputs as well.

GeForce GTX 650 Ti Cards: ZOTAC, Gigabyte, EVGA

For the purposes of this article, in addition to the stock reference card pictured on the previous page, we got our hands on a trio of custom GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards from a few of NVIDIA’s key partners, namely EVGA, ZOTAC, and Gigabyte.

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP! Edition

First up, we have the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP! Edition. Like all of the other cards you’ll see here, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP! Edition sports a short PCB, which makes the card appear stubby and relatively small by modern graphics card standards.

Although the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP! Edition utilizes a PCB similar in size to NVIDIA’s reference design, its cooler is somewhat different. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650Ti AMP! Edition has a compact array of heatsink fins that sit just above the card’s GPU, which are slightly taller than the fins on the reference design. The cooling fan is also somewhat larger on ZOTAC’s offering. The output configuration on ZOTAC’s card (and the rest of the 650 Ti’s pictured here) consist of a pair of DVI outputs and a single mini-HDMI.

Like the other cards featured on this page, ZOTAC has done some factory overclocking with the AMP! Edition too. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP! Edition’s GPU frequency is 1033MHz and its 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocks in at 1550MHz. With those frequencies, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition should perform best in games that are more memory bandwidth bound, since its memory is clocked higher than the rest.

Included with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660 AMP! Edition, we found a user’s manual and quick installation guide, a driver utility disc, a ZOTAC case badge, a peripheral to 6-pin adapter and a DVI to VGA adapter.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC Version with Windforce Cooling

Next up we have the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC Version with Windforce cooling. Although Gigabyte’s card is also overclocked, the real attraction here is the Windforce cooler. Underneath a pair of oversized fans sits an array of aluminum heatsink fins, linked to a copper base via multiple 6mm, copper heat-pipes. The cooler’s dual fans blows air directly onto the heatsinks, where some is diverted into the case and some exhausted outside through the vents in the case bracket. The base of the cooler is shaped in such a way that it reportedly helps minimize turbulence and better direct airflow through the fins. As you’ll see a little later, the Windforce cooler also does an excellent job of keeping temperatures in check, and it’s nice and quiet too. It better perform well, considering it's twice as long as the coolers used on the other cards.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC with Windforce cooler ships with its 2GB of memory clocked at the same 54008MHz (effective data rate) of reference cards, but with a base GPU clock of 1033MHz. Outputs on the card are the same as the reference version as well (2x dual DVI, 1 x mini-HDMI), and Gigabyte’s offering requires the same single 6-pin supplemental power connector of the stock GTX 650 Ti card as well.

Included with the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC with Windforce cooler were a quick installation guide, driver / utility CD, and a power adapter.

EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC

EVGA took a similar approach with their GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC that ZOTAC took with their AMP! Edition card; both use a cooler with fins that are about twice as all as NVIDIA’s reference design, and both use larger fans and have the same output configuration. EVGA, however, has incorporated a few customizations all their own. The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC sports a custom fan shroud with a carbon-fiber look, and its GPU clock has been increased. Whereas stock GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards have a base GPU clock of 928MHz, the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC is clocked at 1072MHz—the highest of the bunch. EVGA’s card does not have higher clocked memory than reference models, however. The frame buffers on both run at 1350MHz (5400MHz effective).

Other than its clocks, the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC’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 single mini-HDMI. Like the other cards, the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC only requires one 6-pin supplemental power connectors as well.

EVGA’s bundle with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti SC includes 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. In addition, a dual-peripheral to 6-pin power adapter and a DVI to VGA adapter are included as well.

Test System and Unigine Heaven v3

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 "optimized" or "high performance" default settings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The memory's X.M.P. profile was enabled to ensure better-than-stock performance and the hard drive was then formatted and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist, along with 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)

Radeon HD 7770
Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition
Radeon HD 7850 1GB OC
Radeon HD 7850
GeForce GTX 660 Ti
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core 
MSI GTX 660 Power Edition
Zotac GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP!
Gigabyte GTX 650 Ti Windforce OC
EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti SSC

Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX April 2011 Redist
ATI Catalyst v12.8/v12.9B
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v306.23 / v306.38

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v3
3DMark 11
Batman: Arkham City
Just Cause 2
Alien vs. Predator
Metro 2033
Lost Planet 2
Dirt: Showdown

Unigine Heaven v3.0 Benchmark
Pseudo-DirectX 11 Gaming

Unigine Heaven v3.0

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark v3.0 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 new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards all finished within a few percentage points of one another, regardless of their frequencies or memory configurations (1GB or 2GB). Generally speaking, the 650 Ti cards finish well ahead of the Radeon HD 7770 here, but a notch behind the 1GB Radeon HD 7850. The higher-end GeForce GTX 600 series cards are all significantly faster, as you would expect.

3DMark 11 Performance

Futuremark 3DMark11
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

Futuremark 3DMark11

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows Vista and Windows 7-based systems due to its DirectX 11 requirement, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Extreme preset option, which uses a resolution of 1920x1080 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.

3DMark11 tells essentially the same story as the Unigine Heaven benchmark on the previous page. Here, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards have no trouble outpacing the Radeon HD 7770 and finish behind the Radeon HD 7850. But in this test, they're nipping right on the more expensive Radeon HD 7850's heels.

Lost Planet 2, Just Cause 2 Performance

Lost Planet 2
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance

Lost Planet 2

A follow-up to Capcom’s Lost Planet : Extreme Condition, Lost Planet 2 is a third person shooter that takes place again on E.D.N. III ten years after the story line of the first title. We ran the game’s DX11 mode which makes heavy use of DX11 Tessellation and Displacement mapping and soft shadows. There are also areas of the game that make use of DX11 DirectCompute for things like wave simulation in areas with water. This is one game engine that looks significantly different in DX11 mode when you compare certain environmental elements and character rendering in its DX9 mode versus DX11. We used the Test B option built into the benchmark tool with all graphics options set to their High Quality values.

The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards handily outpace the Radeon HD 7770 in Lost Planet 2 and compete favorably with the stock 2GB card. The factory overclocked Radeon HD 7850 1GB card, however, holds a slight lead over NVIDIA's latest.

Just Cause 2
DX10.1 Gaming Performance

Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 was released in March '10, from developers Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive. The game makes use of the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the similarly named original. It is set on the fictional island of Panau in southeast Asia, and you play the role of Rico Rodriquez. We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article using one of the built-in demo runs called Concrete Jungle. The test results shown here were run at various resolutions and settings. This game also supports a few CUDA-enabled features, but they were left disabled to keep the playing field level, since AMD's cards can't use them.

The Just Cause 2 benchmark looks much like the synthetic tests from the previous couple of pages. In this game, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards once again outpace the Radeon HD 7770, but can't quite hang with the somewhat more expensive Radeon HD 7850 1GB card. The next step up in NVIDIA's came, the stock GeForce GTX 660 also has a big lead over the 650 Ti here.

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, but 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 performance trend we've seen throughout most of our testing to this point repeats in the Metro 2033 benchmark. The Radeon HD 7770 falls victim to the GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards in this game, but the Radeon HD 7850 has a significant advantage.

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 with all in-game graphical options set to their maximum values, at various resolutions.

We saw more of the same in the Batman: Arkham City benchmark. In this game, the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards once again outpace the Radeon HD 7770, but can't quite keep pace with the slightly more expensive Radeon HD 7850 1GB card.

Dirt: Showdown Performance

Dirt: Showdown
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance

Dirt: Showdown

Dirt Showdown is the latest in a string of great racing games from Codemasters. Like is predecessor, 2011's Dirt 3, this game sports impressive visuals with DX11 support. “Ultra” settings for shadow effects, global illumination, tessellation, and post processing elements, like depth of field, are available in the game, and in turn, crank up the workload on the graphics subsystem. The game engine also makes use of multi-core processors for higher performance on top-end systems. We tested the game configured with its Ultra graphics options with 4X anti-aliasing enabled at resolutions of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600.

AMD's Radeon cards based on the company's GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture have a huge advantage in the Dirt: Showdown benchmark when running in DX11 mode with Global Illumination enabled. As such, even the Radeon HD 7770, which has trailed throughout our testing, is able to pull ahead of the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards in this game.

Alien vs. Predator Performance

Alien vs. Predator
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance

Alien vs. Predator

The Alien 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.

The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards and Radeon HD 7770 perform right about on par with one another in the Alien vs. Predator benchmark. The slightly higher-end cards, however, offer significantly more performance here.

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 as to 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

With its diminutive size and relatively low TDP, it should come as no surprise that the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti is the most power friendly card of the bunch. The Radeon HD 7770 consumed similar amounts of power under both idle and load conditions, but the better overall performance of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti easily make it the more power efficient solution.

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti's relatively low power consumption also results in very manageable GPU temperatures. The Reference card and ZOTAC and EVGA cards all operated at similar temps when idling and while under load. The Gigabyte card, however, offered the lowest load temperatures by far. That folks, is what happens when you put a cooler that's twice the size of your competition and two fans on a mainstream GPU.  All of the fans on these cards proved to be quiet as well. Under load, the highest fan speed we saw was 29% of maximum. Actually, the highest we saw reported by GPU-Z was 49% max fan speed on the Gigabyte card, but we think the utility was being thrown off by the two fans, which are connected to a single fan connector.
Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Looking back through our numbers, it’s obvious which market segment NVIDIA has targeted with the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti is meant for more mainstream market segments currently occupied by cards like the Radeon HD 7770 and in that regard the card performs very well. The GeForce GTX 650 Ti, whether factory overclocked or not, is clearly faster than the Radeon HD 7770 overall. The GTX 650 Ti obviously lags a bit behind its higher-end counterparts in the GeForce GTX 660 series, however, and trails cards like the 1GB Radeon HD 7850 more often than not.

NVIDIA GeForce 650 Ti Reference Card

GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards should be available immediately, in both reference and custom forms, from your favorite on-line retailers and system builders. Prices for the cards start at about $149.99 for 1GB cards with specifications similar to NVIDIA’s reference card and go up to about $180 for 2GB, factory-overclocked models. The ZOTAC, Gigabyte, and EVGA cards we showed you here are all priced at $179.99.

At those prices, 1GB reference models look attractive versus similarly priced Radeon HD 7770 cards, but a spate of mail-in rebates on many 7770 cards make them somewhat more affordable at the moment. 2GB GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards, however, face some much stiffer competition at their projected price points. For similar or only slightly more money, there’s a lot more performance to be had by springing for a 1GB Radeon HD 7850 or even a GeForce GTX 660.

Overall though, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is an interesting product. It may not be the highest performing solution throughout its entire price range, but the card’s small form factor, friendly power consumption characteristics, and cool and quiet operation are all pluses in our book.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
  • Good performer
  • Competitively priced
  • Relatively power friendly
  • Much more performance available for slightly more money

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