The GTX 650 Ti BOOST Preview
Last week, AMD paper-launched the $149 HD 7790-1GB video card to fill the hole in their lineup between the $109 to $129 overclocked HD 7770s and the $179-199 HD 7850-1GB models. Today, Nvidia is releasing its own “sweet-spot” $169 GeForce GTX 550 Ti BOOST 2GB based on its “GK106” 28nm Kepler DX11.1 architecture. In early April, Nvidia’s partners will also begin shipping a $149 1GB GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST to compete on price directly with the 1GB HD 7790.
Nvidia is completing their Kepler line-up with the release of their seventh GPU which fills the hole in their own line up between the GTX 650 Ti and the GTX 660. At 169 dollars the GTX 650 Ti BOOST is intended to soundly beat the overclocked HD 7770s and HD 7790s and perhaps also beat or match the HD 7850. To make the deal even more attractive, Nvidia is bundling a $75 free to play (F2P) bundle of in game items ($25 World of Tanks, $25 Hawken and $25 Planetside 2) together with the GTX 650 Ti BOOST at participating etailers worldwide.
Nvidia’s suggested e-tail pricing (SEP) has been adjusted and both reference and overclocked GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB boards will be available for sale beginning today.:
- $109 – GeForce GTX 650 (positioned vs. HD 7770)
- $129 – GeForce GTX 650 Ti (positioned vs. HD 7770 GHZ OC editions)
- $149 – GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 1GB (positioned vs. HD 7790)
- $169 – GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB (positioned vs. HD 7850-1GB)
- $199 – GeForce GTX 660 (positioned vs. HD 7850 2GB)
We received a reference GTX 650 Ti Boost 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 to the GTX 660 to get an overall idea of the new GTX 650 Ti BOOSTS’s price to performance.
From comparing the specifications of the new BOOST to the GTX 650 Ti, it is quite apparent that the new GPU has much more in common with the GTX 660. It has the same number of ROPs, the same 192-bit memory interface and 2GB of GDDR5 vRAM at 6000MHz. The BOOST edition of the GTX 650 Ti sits on the same 9.5″ PCB with 1 PCIe connector as the GTX 660, and also has the same clock speeds – 980MHz base clock with 1033MHz Boost.
“Faster, Smoother, Richer”
Nvidia designed the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST primarily for gamers who want to enjoy their games with the graphics settings and anti-aliasing (FXAA) turned up to high, although not necessarily up 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 BOOST will also be compared against the faster and generally $10 to $10 more expensive HD 7850 (generally 1GB version), although Nvidia has positioned the GTX 660 at $200, a bit closer to the 2GB version of the HD 7850’s price range .
The GTX 650 Ti and Ti BOOST are Nvidia’s replacement for the GTX 550 Ti which launched April, 2011 at $149. The regular GTX 650 Ti 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 and TI BOOST to deliver best-in-class performance for these gamers.
The GTX 650 Ti BOOST’s Competition – the factory overclocked HD 7770s, the new HD 7790, and the HD 7850-1GB
This time, Nvidia is aiming for slightly less than GTX 660 performance with a Ti BOOST with a slightly better than “entry-level” video card to directly compete with AMD’s just above entry level gaming card, the HD 7790. 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). The HD 7790 is not yet available until next month but is expected to be priced at $149 for the stock clocked versions and ten dollars more for the overclocked versions.
The GTX 650 Ti’s Game Bundle – $75 of in-game items for 3 popular online PC F2P games
For a limited time only, gamers who purchase select GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST graphics cards will receive $75 in-game for Hawken, World of Tanks, and Planetside 2 ($25 for each game). If a gamer instead purchases a GTX 660, they will receive $150 in-game for the same games ($50 for each game). This might make a real difference to a gamer who is actively playing these games.
What’s New with Kepler’s GTX 650 Ti BOOST?
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 but is obviously available for the BOOST edition. Also, the 650 Ti BOOST may be SLI’d but the 650 Ti may not.
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 $169 GTX 650 Ti BOOST compare with the GTX 660 at $199?
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 BOOST and quickly recap its new Kepler DX11.1 architecture and features.