Less than a month ago, Nvidia released its “sweet-spot” $229 GeForce GTX 660 and the entry-level $109 GTX 650 based on its “GK106″ 28nm Kepler DX11.1 architecture. Today, Nvidia is completing their 2012 Kepler line-up with the release of their sixth GPU, the $149 GTX 650 Ti. To make the deal even more attractive, Nvidia is bundling the upcoming Ubisoft AAA title, Assassin’s Creed 3, together with the GTX 650 Ti at participating etailers worldwide (except in China and in Japan).
We received a reference GTX 650 Ti video card from Nvidia under NDA, and for the past week, we have been comparing it to the Sapphire factory overclocked Vapor-X HD 7770s that it is going head-to-head with, as well as to Nvidia’s last generation, the GTX 550 Ti and to AMD’s entry-level for gaming, HD 7750 . We will also compare the new GTX 650 Ti out of its class using higher settings, to the GTX 660 and to the HD 7850 to get an overall idea of the new GTX 650 Ti’s price to performance.
“Faster, Smoother, Richer”
Nvidia designed the GeForce GTX 650 Ti primarily for gamers who want to enjoy their games with the graphics settings and anti-aliasing (FXAA) turned up to high, although not to ultra or high MSAA settings, paired with a 1920×1080 display. That means that Nvidia has positioned it directly against the factory overclocked HD 7770s such as our Vapor-X Sapphire HD 7770 GHz OC edition which currently sits in the $150 price range with an additional $15 mail-in-rebate.
It is very likely that the GTX 650 Ti will also be compared against the faster and generally $20 to $40 more expensive HD 7850, although Nvidia has positioned the GTX 660 a bit closer to the HD 7850′s price range.
The GTX 650 Ti is Nvidia’s replacement for the GTX 550 Ti which launched April, 2011 at $149. It follows the pricing tradition of the GTX 450 which also debuted at $149. Both the entry-level GeForce GTX 650 and the GTX 650 Ti are designed for gaming at 1920×1080 resolution. In the past, the most popular resolutions were 1280×1024 and 1680×1050 displays, but recently 1080p has become the most popular gaming resolution due to low LCD prices. Nvidia built the GeForce GTX 650 Ti to deliver best-in-class performance for these gamers.
Nvidia used the same GK106 GPU for the GeForce GTX 660 and the GTX 650 Ti. In the case of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, four SMXs are used, offering a total of 768 CUDA Cores and 64 texture units. The memory interface is 128-bit. We do not have a GTX 650 but the GTX 650 Ti offers twice the number of CUDA Cores and texture units, as well as more memory bandwidth than the regular ‘non-Ti’ GTX 650. In Nvidia’s testing, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is about 40% faster than the GTX 650.
The GTX 650 Ti’s Competition – the factory overclocked HD 7770s priced from $135-$150
This time, Nvidia is aiming for slightly less than GTX 660 performance with a Ti “entry-level” video card to directly compete with AMD’s entry level gaming card, the HD 7770. This morning, the HD 7770 is selling for an average price on Newegg from $110-$149, depending on if it is the stock (860MHz core), GHz (1000MHz), or the even more highly-clocked editions such as our Sapphire Vapor-X HD 7770 GHz OC edition (1100MHz core).
For a price-to-performance comparison, we are also including the GTX 560 Ti and the HD 7750 benchmarks which are generally now priced below $100. You will see us pit the reference GTX 650 Ti at reference clocks and also further overclocked, against the $150 Vapor-X Sapphire HD at reference GHz edition speeds of 1000/1125MHz and at Sapphire’s overclock 1100/1300MHz.
Using slightly higher settings, we shall also pit our new GTX 650 Ti against the HIS reference design HD 7850 and the Galaxy GTX 660 at reference clocks. Rounding out our evaluation, we shall also benchmark the GTX 550 Ti and the HD 7750 using 24 modern games and 3 synthetic benchmarks using 1920×1200 and 1680×1050 resolutions.
The GTX 650 Ti’s Game Bundle – $149 including Assassin’s Creed 3
Last month, Nvidia was able to bundle the successful AAA title, Borderlands 2 with its GTX 660. This time, many of Nvidia’s partners are including Assasins Creed 3 with the $150 GTX 650 Ti, a $60 triple-A title. Beginning today for a limited time, gamers who purchase select GeForce GTX 650 Ti graphics cards will receive a free copy of Assassin’s Creed 3.
Since 2007, the Assassin’s Creed series has sold over 35 million copies worldwide. Assassin’s Creed 3 is the fifth major installment. Compared to the console versions, the PC version of the game will feature better DX11 graphics when it ships on November 23rd.
What’s New with Kepler’s GTX 650 Ti?
Nvidia’s marketing buzzwords for the GTX 680, GTX 690, GTX 670 and GTX 660 launches are, “Faster. Smoother. Richer.” The GTX 650 Ti is also designed for extreme efficiency and high performance.
The GTX 680′s Kepler architecture has 8 SMX units and 1536 CUDA cores. In comparison, the more affordable GeForce GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti both ship with 1344 CUDA Cores and 7 SMX units. The main difference between the GTX 670 and the GTX 660 Ti is that the less expensive card has a narrower bus – cut down from 256-bit to 192-bit. Now for the GTX 660, the bus width remains the same 192-bit, but the GTX 660 is further cut down from the Ti’s 7 SMX units and 1344 cores to 5 SMX units and 960 CUDA cores. In the case of the GTX 650 Ti, the SMX units are reduced to 4 with a total of 768 CUDA cores. There is no GPU boost available for the GTX 650 Ti.
New kinds of anti-aliasing – FXAA and TXAA – now compete with MSAA in terms of IQ while not sacrificing as much performance. TXAA which we evaluated in the Secret World, brings anti-aliasing without texture crawling or shimmering when the camera is in motion. Also, there is a new “Adaptive VSync” that is reduces tearing and stuttering associated with regular VSync. Great hardware needs great software to support it and Nvidia is also a software company.
For the first time, it is now possible to play games spanning 3 displays in Surround off of a single GeForce GTX 650 Ti (below, left) just as with the GTX 680, GTX 670, GTX 660 Ti and the GTX 660. Without buying a FleX HD 7770, you will generally need two adapters for DVI for most HD 7770s (below, right) to run the competing 3-panel Eyefinity and you may also experience more tearing with the AMD solution.
Above from left to right is the regular HD 7770 GHz edition, the Nvidia reference GTX 650 Ti and the HD 7750 Low Profile Radeon showing their respective display output connectors.
The GTX 650 Ti’s display outputs include two dual-link DVIs and one mini-HDMI. While the reference design ships with three display outputs, it’s important to note that the GeForce GTX 650 Ti GPU supports up to four displays, and some of Nvidia’s board partners offer this feature.
One 6-pin PCIe power connector is required for the 650 Ti’s operation and if you forget to connect it, you will get an on-screen reminder at boot-up – a feature not found with older Nvidia cards.
How does the $149 GTX 660 compare with AMD’s super-overclocked HD 7770?
This evaluation attempts to analyze and compare performance of the GTX 660, the GTX 650 Ti, and the GTX 550 Ti. We also include HD 7850 performance as well as HD 7750 although we are focusing on the overclocked HD 7770. We will see what this new Nvidia Kepler entry-level gaming GPU brings to the table for about one hundred and forty-nine dollars.
Since we do not want any chance of our CPU “bottlenecking” our graphics, we are testing all of our graphics cards by using our Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7-3770K at 4.80GHz, 8 GB Kingston PC1866 DDR3 and EVGA’s Z77 FTW motherboard. This new motherboard features 16x + 16x PCIe 3.0 specification for CrossFire/SLI. The Core i7-3770K at 4.8GHz is more than enough to differentiate even high-end video cards at high resolution and high detail settings.
Before we do performance testing, let’s take a look at the GTX 650 Ti and quickly recap its new Kepler DX11.1 architecture and features.