Final Words

With every launch of a GeForce 600 series card NVIDIA has had a specific market target in mind. Typically those targets intersect or undercut an AMD market, and while AMD has not been caught off-guard with subsequent launches like they were the launch of the GTX 680, NVIDIA has so far managed to stay on equal or better footing as AMD. Or at least that was the case until today with the launch of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti.

To be clear, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti as it’s configured does not have a direct competitor, and this is something NVIDIA specifically planned for. At $149 it’s squeezed in between the Radeon HD 7770 and the Radeon HD 7850, which happens to be a rather wide performance gap. Under normal circumstances this would be a very good plan, as it means NVIDIA can tap a market segment that AMD wasn’t adequately serving before, while at the same time direct avoiding competition with AMD. But such a plan relies on AMD not making an aggressive move in return.

To that end if AMD had done nothing we would be talking about how the GTX 650 Ti is an excellent fit for the market at $150, and a solid step up from its predecessor the GTX 550 Ti. Instead AMD and their partners executed on the Radeon HD 7850 not a price cut, chopping $20 off of the price of a Radeon HD 7850 and bringing out further 1GB models to bolster their closest GTX 650 Ti competitor. So often we talk about the significance of $20 in the sub-$200 market, and this is another one of those cases.

The fact of the matter is that from a price/performance perspective the $149 GTX 650 Ti 1GB is not competitive enough with the $169 Radeon HD 7850 1GB. At its best the GTX 650 Ti can match the 7850, and at its worse it can only keep up with a 7770. The end result is that most of the time the GTX 650 Ti is going to lose to the 7850 by more than the 13% price difference between the two, which means that NVIDIA is coming up short even if they are the cheaper option.

Instead we fall back to that old maxim, “there’s no such thing as a bad product, only a bad price”. For the GTX 650 Ti to be a competitive success it needs to come down in price in response to the lower price of the 7850. The fact that NVIDIA added an Assassin’s Creed III bundle is likely an attempt to subvert a proper price cut, and while we’re big fans of game bundles it’s not the same as a price cut. If NVIDIA could cut even $10 off of the price of the GTX 650 Ti they could escape the 7850’s shadow and at the same time return the favor to AMD by putting pressure on the 7770. As it stands today the GTX 650 Ti only makes real sense for buyers who absolutely cannot go over $149, and they’re going to have to give up a lot of performance as a result.

Ultimately, to NVIDIA’s credit the GTX 650 Ti is a perfectly competent card at 1680x1050, which is right where you’d expect a 650 series part to be. The performance is right for that segment and the power consumption taken in light of the 7850 is very impressive. But AMD rules from the price/performance perspective, and in the meantime that power advantage just isn’t enough when both cards are sub-150W cards. As we’ve seen time and time again, and as the last thing we’ll see in 2012, when it comes to mainstream cards $20 makes all the difference in the world. For NVIDIA it’s the sole reason that Ti is not Au.

Finally, let’s talk about our factory overclocked retail cards for a bit. With the exception of the Gigabyte Windforce card, most of these retail cards are going to go with designs similar to the NVIDIA reference design, and accordingly they’re going to perform similarly. This is not a bad thing as the NVIDIA reference design is quite good, but it does make life a bit harder for NVIDIA’s partners as they have to compete on non-benchmark attributes like software and warranties as opposed to raw performance.

The biggest problem the partners will face is that while their factory overclocked cards are a good 10%+ faster than reference clocked cards, they’re running headlong into that $169/$189 wall imposed by the 7850. The added performance gets neutralized by the added cost, keeping them on the same price/performance curve as the reference clocked GTX 650 Ti. The end result is that while the factory overclocked cards we’ve looked at today are worth the premium, buyers are still better off with (and are now closer to) the 7850.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that not every partner will make their factory overclocked SKUs available in both a 1GB version and a 2GB version, of all the cards we’ve looked at there is a clear winner in Zotac’s GeForce GTX 650 Ti AMP! 2GB card. It has the best balance of power consumption, temperature, and noise under both stock and overclocked conditions, plus it has one of the best overclocks; all of which is enough to justify the $10 price premium over a standard 2GB card. Gigabyte’s card also looks interesting due to the sheer size of the Windforce cooler, though in our experience a manual fan curve might be necessary to find the best balance between noise and temperature, as the card shouldn’t need to get that loud to keep up with the relatively low power consumption of the GTX 650 Ti GPU.

Of course all of these projections are made with respect to stock performance. If our results are anywhere close to what other retail cards do – and we believe they are – then overclocking is going to be extremely similar across all cards, regardless of a factory overclock or not. For buyers who do intend to overclock it’s a safe bet to say that they’d best be served by an at-MSRP reference clocked card, where they can achieve the same impressive results while pocketing the extra $10. And since most partners are using the same coolers for both their reference clocked and factory overclocked cards this makes choosing such a card a fairly easy process.

OC: Gaming Performance
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  • chizow - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    On second glance, the AC3 bundle makes the $150 MSRP palatable. While I agree a straight MSRP or $20 MIR at the $130 price point would have been more preferable for many, a bonafide AAA title like Assassin's Creed 3 prior to release is suitable currency. Market value for the game code is at least $20-30 (going by historic FS/Ebay prices of similar AAA title Steam codes) and up to $50-60 for anyone who was going to buy the game at release anyways.

    Personally I'm shocked Nvidia would bundle a such a relevant game code like this with a value part in the $150 price market. Hopefully the generosity filters upward to the GTX 660 and above as the 660 never got a bundle and the BL2 promo on 660Ti and faster parts seems to have dried up at most retailers.
    Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Ok and what happens after you beat AC3? You get a card that tanks in GPU demanding games.

    7850's minimum frames rates are nearly as high as average framerates in games like Crysis 1/2, Skyrim, Witcher 2.

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2012/10/...

    You buy a GPU to play 100s of games not 1 game. NV bundled a game on purpose so people would use this argument that well the card is $150 but you get a $50 with it. That's marketing right there. It's still a $150-170 card (if we include after-market versions) that has far slower performance than $160-190 competitor.

    I think $129 would have been a far more reasonable price. Instead, NV delivered a card that has worse price/performance than either the 7770 or the 7850. And if we take 7850's overclocking into consideration, well then it's a total blowout as 7850 OC ~ HD7870/GTX580 in performance.
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    "Ok and what happens after you beat AC3? You get a card that tanks in GPU demanding games."

    You still have a card that is $30-$50 cheaper than its MSRP because of the bundled AC3, so while it may not have been worthwhile at $150-$170, it would certainly justify its $120-$140 pricetag.

    Whether you care to admit it or not, AC3 is a valid form of currency as by definition, currency is simply a medium for exchange. We're not talking about games nobody cares about here (See: Gaming Evolved titles), we're talking about some of the most anticipated games of the year on any platform with BL2 and AC3, bundled PRIOR to release while they are still relevant.

    If you were in the market for AC3, you saved $50. If you don't care for AC3, you will be able to easily unload it for ~$30. That effectively reduces the price of the card from $150-$170 to $120-$140.
    Reply
  • Blazorthon - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    *wrong post with this above, oops*

    Don't forget, the 7850 comes with games and so does the 7770. Coming with a game is necessary just to compete right now. The 7770 also has some highly factory overclocked models that can inch out the 650 Ti while still being cheaper. The 650 Ti would do better at $10 or $20 lower and a MIR is a great way to accomplish that since a lot of people forget to do them anyway, but buy the card because of the after MIR price.
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    The 7770 is bundled with Nexuiz....seriously why even bother mentioning it? What would you value Nexuiz at? $5? $10?

    Sleeping Dogs with the higher-end AMD cards is decent, still not as strong as Nvidia's BL2 promo, but yeah we are talking about AC3 here which will undoubtedly be a top 5 title for this holiday season.

    The 650Ti has some OC'd models as well that bring it close in performance to the 7850 1GB, but of course, the 7850 distances itself again once OC'd. As I said, a $15-20 price drop would certainly make more sense for the 650Ti and I'm sure we'll start seeing some rebates in a few weeks as all of the higher-end GeForce models have started seeing them in recent weeks.
    Reply
  • hqt4991 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I don't know about you, but I am quite unsure that nobody cares about Far Cry 3, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, DiRT 3, Dragon Age 2, Saints Row The Third, the Tomb Raider remake or (especially) Bioshock Infinite. I know I do.

    On topic, I agree with Ryan. The 650 Ti isn't strictly a bad card, just that it doesn't make any sense to choose it over the 7850, unless you are absolutely cash-strapped.
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Here's the difference between those games you listed and the two latest promos from Nvidia:

    I would actually pay full retail price for BL2 and AC3 and did actually have BL2 pre-ordered prior to Nvidia's promo.

    All the games you listed for Gaming Evolved I would pass on at launch or wait until they were $10 or less in a Steam sale. That's not to say they are bad titles and some may certainly feel differently, but to me and I'm sure many others, they do not carry the same value or currency as the last few games offered by Nvidia.

    Also, afaik, only Sleeping Dogs was offered by AMD as a promo bundle, so until they start bundling some of the better GE titles there's really not much of a comparison to make.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    "I would actually pay full retail price for BL2 and AC3 and did actually have BL2 pre-ordered prior to Nvidia's promo."
    So why are you two arguing about your video game taste? Someone values AC3 higher, someone values SD higher. It's a personal thing. I don't want either of those and am not a big fan of bundled software. So no added game would be a plus in my book.
    Reply
  • chizow - Thursday, October 11, 2012 - link

    Because video game tastes are a direct function of demand. I'm not just referring to my own video game taste, I'm making the point that AC3 is going to appeal to far more gamer's video game tastes which equates to higher demand for it at launch, and by extension, it's buy and sell price and demand will be much higher than any Gaming Evolved titles bundled with AMD cards.

    That brings us full circle to the comment he took issue with about games nobody cares about, its all about relevance and those games he listed are much less relevant to the vast majority of gamers, plain and simple.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    Dirt3 is an amd promo bundle game, and my amd total fanboy buddy just said tonight he hates it because after you install it in order to get the real game you have to go buying all their packs and upgrades spending a buttload of money so it's nothing but crap.

    So there we have the amd marketing kickback extra expense for the disappointed amd penny pinching moaning poor boy amd fan...
    LOL

    It's funny because it's 100% true but also so freakin sad.
    Reply

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