NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Review

ccokeman - 2013-03-19 16:11:14 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 26, 2013
Price: $169

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Introduction:

Last year NVIDIA delivered the GTX 650Ti to provide a product for gamers that wanted to play the latest games but did not necessarily want to break the bank to do it. For that there is the GTX 690 and just released GTX Titan. The GTX 650Ti, meanwhile, proved to be capable of playing the latest DirectX 11 games with some of the eye candy on at a really attractive $150 price point. This made it an attractive upgrade path for those users stuck in older hardware not capable of meeting the needs of games running in a DX 11 environment. NVIDIA's product stack covered pretty much every price/performance point from the top to the bottom, yet there seems to be room in between the GTX 650Ti and the GTX 660 for a new player in the game: the GTX 650Ti Boost.

Instead of using the GK107 core like the GTX 650Ti, the GTX 650Ti Boost (confused yet?) is based on the GK106 core that supports a boost clock. That alone is going to boost (pun intended) the performance of the GTX 650Ti Boost to a higher level. Additionally NVIDIA added another gigabyte of VRAM for a total on board of 2GB running through a wider bus for increased memory bandwidth. SLI functionality was added so that in the future doubling your FPS is just another GTX 650 Ti Boost away. All to deliver a card that will play the latest games using high settings at 1080p resolutions with playable frame rates. Something last year's offering struggles to do. What good is a video card that can't give you to the FPS and eye candy for the price you need?

After AMD just launched the HD 7790 that flat outperformed the GTX 650Ti, is the GTX 650Ti Boost the solution to that problem? And at the right price point? We shall see.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Closer Look:

Although NVIDIA's board partners each have their own non-reference boards available, we will be looking at the reference GTX 650Ti Boost. Comparing the GTX 650Ti Boost to the GTX 650Ti visually you get the sense that NVIDIA stepped up its game and used a larger PCB to house the power circuitry and additional gigabyte of VRAM on the card. Face on the GTX 650Ti Boost looks identical to the GTX 670 minus the additional SLI connection. From the back side the similarities continue with the short PCB and extended shrouding for the blower style fan. Measuring 9.5 inches in length the GTX 650Ti Boost will fit in a vast majority of chassis on the market. The PCB alone measures 6.75 inches so the non-reference cards will offer up even fewer challenges in smaller form factor PCs. The GTX 650Ti Boost supports the PCIe 3.0 standard with backwards compatibility for use in older hardware. Along the top of the card we see the now familiar GeForce GTX logo in NVIDIA green that shouts this is a gaming card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Display connectivity includes a pair of Dual Link DVI ports, a single full size DisplayPort connection, and an HDMI 1.4a port that combine to support surround in a 3+1 configuration. All of the thermal load generated by the GK106 core and 2GB of memory is pushed out the venting on the mounting bracket. Traditionally this solution ends up with noise concerns but NVIDIA manages to keep this in check. The back end of the GTX 650Ti Boost is sealed up forcing all of the intake air through the heat sink on the core and out the vent.

 

 

SLI support is available on the GTX 650Ti Boost where it was not on the GTX 650Ti. Up to two GTX 650Ti Boost cards can be combined in an SLI configuration to significantly increase game play FPS and/or the visual quality settings used. A single PCIe 6-pin power connection is used to supply the additional power to the card. Total board power is 134 watts; well within the scope of the minimum power supply requirement of 450 watts.

 

 

The cooling solution employed on this card is again eerily similar to that used on the GTX 670 albeit with a smaller copper block in the base of the heat sink. The heat sink is a square block using a copper/aluminum base and aluminum fin array to discharge the thermal load from the GPU core. Along the top and sides of the heat sink are strips that seal off the open spaces between the heat sink and shroud to force as much of the airflow generated by the blower style fan through the heat sink instead of around it. Without a heat sink on it the power supply circuit uses the airflow through the shroud to cool the components.

 

 

 

NVIDIA's GTX 650Ti Boost is based on the GK106 Kepler core. This 2.54 billion transistor, 28nm core is equipped with four streaming multiprocessors each with 192 CUDA cores spread out between either two or three Graphics Processing Clusters, 64 texture units, 24 ROP units, 384KB of shared L2 cache and 2GB of GDDR5 memory running through a 3x64-bit (192-bit) bus. The GTX 650Ti did not support a Boost clock, which is a change here with the GTX 650Ti Boost. Clock speeds see an increase from 925MHz to a 980MHz base on the core with a boost clock of up to 1033MHz when kept within the temperature and power limits of the core. An increase in the frame buffer size from 1GB to 2GB with an increase in speed from an effective 5400MHz to 6008MHz are also points of difference on the GTX 650Ti Boost. That's not where the differences end with increases in the L2 cache size, ROPs, and memory bus width. For this card NVIDIA has chosen to go with Samsung K4G20325FD-FC03 VRAM rated at 1500MHz (6000MHz effective).

 

 

Reference versions are good, solid performing cards but some times we want a little more. Fortunately NVIDIA's board partners have have that need covered right out of the gate with some non reference versions that offer improved cooling and power circuits, not to mention having a lot more visual appeal. ASUS, MSI, EVGA, Galaxy, and Zotac are some of the players with offerings.

 

 

 

Knowing what AMD just delivered for consumers it ought to prove interesting to see just where NVIDIA places its next bet to urge consumers to step up to the latest graphics card in the sub $200 range.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Specifications:

Graphics Processing Clusters
2 or 3
Streaming Multiprocessors
4
CUDA Cores
768
Texture Units
64
ROP Units
24
Base Clock
980 MHz
Boost Clock
1033 MHz
Memory Clock (Data rate)
6008 MHz
L2 Cache Size
384K
Total Video Memory
2048MB GDDR5
Memory Interface
192-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth
144.2 GB/s
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)
62.7 GigaTexels/sec
Fabrication Process
28 nm
Transistor Count
2.54 Billion
Connectors
2 x Dual-Link DVI 1 x HDMI 1 x DisplayPort
Form Factor
Dual Slot
Power Connectors
One 6-pin
Recommended Power Supply
450 Watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP)
134 Watts
Thermal Threshold  
98° C

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Features:



 

All information courtesy of NVIDIA

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Testing of the NVIDIA GTX 650Ti Boost will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The NVIDIA comparison cards including the GTX 650Ti Boost  will be using the 314.21 beta drivers. AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 13.1 drivers and latest CAP profile with the exception of the HD 7790 which will use the release press evaluation driver.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

Using a Kepler core at its heart, the GTX 650Ti Boost edition overclocks much like any of the enthusiast cards such as the GTX 680 and GTX Titan. For this exercise I will be using EVGA Precision to overclock the GTX 650Ti Boost. Knowing where these cores normally start to show signs of instability, I moved the sliders up to a point where I was running a core boost clock of almost 1200MHz as my starting point. The maximum fan speed I could set was 74%, yet this kept the core at a modest 56 °C under load. A higher fan speed may have dropped the load temperatures but most certainly increased the noise signature from the card. The voltage used in Precision was set to 1150mv after failing to complete the stability testing phase of the overclock testing. Final settings were 1215MHz under boost on the core with a 1603MHz clock on the GDDR5 memory.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were rerun until they passed a full hour of testing.

 

 

  1. Metro 2033
  2. Crysis 3
  3. Batman: Arkham City
  4. Battlefield 3
  5. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  6. Unigine Valley 1.0
  7. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  8. DiRT 3
  9. Far Cry 3
  10. 3DMark

 

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX, and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied – in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses, chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whereas the HD 7790 looked to fill that gap between the HD 7770 and HD 7850, the GTX 650Ti Boost does a more effective job of delivering even more FPS in Metro 2033. Here we see a massive improvement in performance when comparing to the non-boosted GTX 650Ti.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

This third installment of the Crysis franchise, developed by Crytek and distributed by Electronic Arts, uses the CryEngine 3 game engine, and requires a DirectX 11 ready video card and operating system due to its demanding graphics engine.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GTX 650Ti Boost delivers FPS performance on par with the Tahiti LE-based HD 7870 in this game, or simply put it crushes the just released HD 7790 by 10+ FPS stock and overclocked.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum released in 2009. This action adventure game based on DC Comics' Batman super hero was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Batman: Arkham City uses the Unreal 3 engine.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again the GTX 650Ti Boost powers right on by the HD 7790. It looks like the $150-$170 price point has gotten more interesting. Compared to last year's GTX 650Ti, this version is much more capable of delivering smoother game play.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again with the GTX 650Ti Boost we see 10+ FPS margins over the HD 7790.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NVIDIA's GTX 650Ti Boost delivers positive FPS margins between 7 and 10 FPS over the HD 7790 and a 25% improvement over last year's GTX 650Ti.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and massive changes to the way the AI is used throughout the game. Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and is published by 2K games and was released for Windows in September of 2010. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns, 150 turns into the game.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civilization V is able to be played at a much lower frame rate than many of the FPS games available now with the quality settings maxed out. That being said the GTX 650Ti Boost is on another level when compared to the HD 7790 and GTX 650Ti.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Far Cry 3 is the latest iteration in the Far Cry series. Released in the US in early December 2012 the it uses the Dunia 2 game engine and is published and developed by Ubisoft. This Action Adventure First Person Shooter offers both single player and multi-player modes.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far Cry 3 is playable with high settings by both the latest from AMD and last year's GTX 650Ti. However the GTX 650Ti Boost delivers between 8 and 10 more FPS than the HD 7790 in this game.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark to allow testing of DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes – Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this test the GTX 650Ti Boost delivers between 25 and 33% more FPS performance than the HD 7790.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Unigine Valley 1.0 is a new non synthetic benchmark built upon the Unigine engine that showcases a very detailed wide open environment. This DX 11-ready GPU stress test uses a wide range of graphics technologies to put the GPU through its paces much like Unigine's acclaimed Heaven Benchmark. Instead of a series of floating islands we get a picturesque view of the Siberian wilderness through a flythough with both up close and distant views.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a percentage basis, the margin of performance between the HD 7790 and the GTX 650Ti Boost are in the plus 35 to 39% range. A more than significant improvement against a just released card.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all six tests the GTX 650Ti Boost is ahead of the HD 7790. The performance margins between the GTX 650Ti Boost and HD 7790 are smallest in the Fire Strike test.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Unigine's Heaven Benchmark Version 4.0, with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA and a five-run sequence to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will involve a 20-minute cool-down, with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running overclocked.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equipped with a reference cooling solution, the GTX 650Ti Boost sits at the low end of the spectrum with the idle temperatures it delivers. Letting the vBIOS control the fan speed results in temperatures that are at the high end of the spectrum. Raising the fan speed up to its highest level of 74% delivers loaded temperatures that are among the lowest in this comparison. Noise wise the GTX 650TI Boost cannot be heard locked up in a chassis until you manually raise the fan speed up to the maximum level, at which point the noise level is not going to wake up the kids.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Testing:

Power consumption of the system will be measured at both idle and loaded states, taking into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use Unigine's Heaven Benchmark version 4.0 to put a load onto the GPU using the settings below. A 15-minute load test will be used to heat up the GPU, with the highest measured temperature recorded as the result. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. With dual-GPU setups, the two core temperatures will be averaged.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one weakness with the GTX 650Ti Boost when compared to the HD 7790 is the amount of power consumed by the card. Of course it is powering an additional 1GB of memory and a less efficient blower style fan but here is where the HD 7790 is the better card. However the lower consumption is going to be indicative of the performance of the card in general.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost Conclusion:

It seems that NVIDIA had something planned to offset the launch of the HD 7790 even though the main competition for the GTX 650Ti Boost is the HD 7850. As a performance gateway card the $169 GTX 650Ti Boost delivers more than adequate performance for that price. As it sits, many of the non-reference HD 7790's were priced in the $159 range; just $10 less than the GTX 650 Ti Boost. For that $10 you get a card in the GTX 650Ti Boost that has an additional 1GB of frame buffer, higher clock speeds, and a significant upswing in raw gaming performance over the HD 7790. If you need more performance you can always add in another card to run a pair in an SLI configuration.

If another card is going to break the budget this version of the Kepler architecture is just as strong as its more capable siblings when it comes time to raise the clock speeds. In this case I was able to increase the boost clock speeds on the GK106 core to 1215MHz and the 2GB of GDDR5 memory was able to run at just over 1600MHz. You can look at overclocking as free FPS with this card as it was easily able to run at 1215MHz all day long.

Finding the right visual quality settings to maximize game performance is a balancing act that can take some time to get right. My testing involves running specific settings rather to compare each card based on the same settings. These may not always be optimal for each game. However NVIDIA has launched its GeForce Experience that has proven configurations for just about every game so that you can get the best gameplay experience with a GeForce GPU. NVIDIA is sweetening the pot when you pick up one of its new GTX 650Ti Boost edition cards with $75 toward in-game gear in Hawken, Planetside 2, and World of Tanks.

With this new addition to the product stack, NVIDIA is keeping the old GTX 650Ti and reducing the price to around $114 with some non-reference cards priced slightly higher after rebates. By adding in the Boost clock feature and increasing the memory size and bus width, NVIDIA has put together a card that offers a massive boost in gaming performance over the previous incarnation of the card. You get FPS performance at 1080p with high settings that truly is playable, eliminating the need to ratchet down the quality settings just to get a playable frame rate. The opening price for the GTX 650Ti Boost of $169 is a fair price to pay for the performance it delivers.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: