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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  • TheJian - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    The 7850 is more money, it should perform faster. I'd expect nothing less. So what this person would end up with is 10-20% less perf (in the situation you describe) for 10-20% less money. ERGO, exactly what they should have got. So basically a free copy of AC3 :) Which is kind of the point. The 2GB beating the 650TI in that review is $20 more. It goes without saying you should get more perf for more $. What's your point?

    Your wrong. IN the page you point to (just looking at that, won't bother going though them all), the 650TI 1GB scores 32fps MIN, vs. 7770 25fps min. So unplayable on 7770, but playable on 650TI. Nuff said. Spin that all you want all day. The card is worth more than 7770. That's OVER 20% faster 1920x1080 4xAA in witcher 2. You could argue for $139 maybe, but not with the AC3 AAA title, and physx support in a lot of games and more to come.
    http://www.geforce.com/games-applications/physx
    All games with physx so far. Usually had for free, no hit, see hardocp etc. Borderlands 2, Batman AC & AAsylum, Alice Madness returns, Metro2033, sacred2FA, etc etc...The list of games is long and growing. This isn't talked about much, nor what these effects at to the visual experience. You just can't do that on AMD. Considering these big titles (and more head to the site) use it, any future revs of these games (sequels etc) will likely use it also and the devs now have great experience with physx. This will continue to become a bigger issue as we move forward. What happens when all new games support this, and there's no hit for having it on (hardocp showed they were winning WITH it on for free)? There's quite a good argument even now that a LOT of good games are different in a good way on NV based cards. Soon it won't be a good argument, it will be THE argument. Unfortunately for AMD/Intel havok never took off and AMD has no money to throw at devs to inspire them to support it. NV continues to make games more fun on their hardware (either on android tegrazone stuff, or PC stuff). Much tighter connections with devs on the NV side. Money talks, unfortunately for AMD debt can't talk for you (accept to say don't buy my stock we're in massive debt) :)
    Reply
  • jtenorj - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    No, you are wrong. Lower end nvidia cards(whether this card falls into that category or not is debatable) generally cannot run physx on high, but require it to be set to medium, low or off. AMD cards can run physx in a number of games on medium by using the cpu without a massive performance hit. There hasn't been a lot of time since nvidia got physx tech from ageia for game developers to include it in titles because developement cycles are getting longer and longer. Still, I think most devs shy away from physx because it hurts the bottom line(more time to impliment= more money spend on salaries and later release, alienate 40% of potential market by making it so the full experience is not an option for them, losing more money). Take a look at the havok page on wikipedia vs the physx page(which is more extensive than what even nvidia lists on their own site). Havok and other software physics engines are used in the vast majority of released and soon to be released titles because they will work with anyone's card. I'm not saying HD7770 is better than gtx650ti(it is in fact worse than the new card), but the HD7850 is a far better value(especially the 2GB version). Finally, it is possible to add a low end geforce like gt610 to a higher end AMD primary as a dedicated physx card in some systems. Reply
  • ocre - Thursday, October 11, 2012 - link

    but it doest alienate 40% of the market.

    You said this yourself:

    "AMD cards can run physx in a number of games on medium by using the cpu without a massive performance hit."

    Then try to turn it all around???? Clever? Doubtful!!

    And this is what all the AMD fanboys cried about. Nvidia purposefully crippling physX on the CPU. Nvidia evil for making physX nvidia only. But now they have improved their physX code on the CPU and every single game as of late offers acceptable physX performance on AMD hardware via the CPU. Of course you will only get fully fledged GPU accelerated physX with Nvidia hardware but you cannot really expect more, can you?

    Even if your not capable of seeing the improvements Nvidia made it is there. They have reached over and extended the branch to AMD users. They got physX to run better on multicore CPUs. They listened to complaints (even from AMD users) and made massive improvements.

    This is the thing with nvidia. They are listening and steadily improving. Removing those negatives one at a time. Its gonna be hard for AMD fanboys to come up with negatives because nvidia is responding with every generation. PhysX is one example, the massive power efficiency improvement of kepler is another. Nvidia is proactive and looking for ways to improve their direction. All these things complaints on Nvidia are getting addressed. There is nothing you can really say except they are making good progress. But that will not stop AMD fans from desperately searching for any negative that they can grasp on to. But more and more people are taking note of this progress, if you havent noticed yourself.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    Oh, so that's why the crybaby amd fans have shut their annoying traps on that, not to mention their holy god above all amd/radeon videocards apu holy trinity company after decades of foaming the fuming rage amd fanboys into mooing about "proprietary Physx! " like a sick monkey in heat and half dead, and extolling the pure glorious god like and friendly neighbor gamer love of "open source" and spewwwwwwwing OpenCL as if they had it sewed all over their private parts and couldn't stop staring and reading the teleprompter, their glorious god amd BLEW IT- and puked out their proprietary winzip !
    R O F L

    Suddenly the intense and insane constant moaning and complaining and attacking and dissing and spewing against nVidia "proprietary" was gone...

    Now "winzip" is the big a compute win for the freak fanboy of we know which company. LOL
    P R O P R I E T A R Y ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 1 ! 1 100100000

    JC said it well : Looooooooooooooooooooooseeerrrr !
    (that's Jim Carey not the Savior)
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link

    " You buy a GPU to play 100s of games not 1 game. "

    Good for you, so the $50 games times 100 equals your $5,000.00 gaming budget for the card.

    I guess you can stop moaning and wailing about 20 bucks in a card price now, you freaking human joke with the melted amd fanboy brain.
    Reply
  • Denithor - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Hopefully your shiny new GTX 650 Ti will be able to run AC3 smoothly...

    :D
    Reply
  • chizow - Thursday, October 11, 2012 - link

    According to Nvidia, the 650Ti ran AC3 acceptably at 1080p with 4xMSAA on Medium settings: http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/articles/nvidia-g...

    "In the case of Assassin’s Creed III, which is bundled with the GTX 650 Ti at participating e-tailers and retailers, we recorded 36.9 frames per second using medium settings."

    That's not all that surprising to me though as the GTX 280 ran AC2/ACB Anvil engine games at around the same framerate. While AC3 will certainly be more demanding, the 650Ti is a good bit faster than the 280.

    I'm not in the market though for a GTX 650Ti, I'm more interested in the AC3 bundle making its way to other GeForce parts as I'm interested in grabbing another 670. :D
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Perhaps you might test without AA when dealing with cards in a sub-$200 price range as that would seem the more likely use for the card. Not saying you can't test with AA, too, but to have all tests include AA seems to be testing a new Volkswagon bug with a raw speed test through a live fire training exercise you'd test a humvee with. Reply
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    AA testing is often used to stress the ROP and memory bandwidth of GPUs. Also, it's what separates consoles from PCs. If a $150 GPU cannot handle AA but a $160-180 competitor can, it should be discussed. When GTX650Ti and its after-market versions are so closely priced to 7850 1GB/7850 2GB, and it's clear that 650Ti is so much slower, the only one to blame here is NV for setting the price at $149, not the reviewer for using AA.

    GTX560/560Ti/6870/6950 were all tested with AA and this card not only competes against HD7850 but gives owners of older cards a perspective of how much progress there has been with new generation of GPUs. Not using AA would not allow for such a comparison to be made unless you dropped AA from all the cards in this review.

    It sounds like you are trying to find a way to make this card look good but sub-$200 GPUs are capable of running AA as long as you get a faster card.

    HD7850 is 34% faster than GTX650Ti with 4xAA at 1080P and 49% faster with 8xAA at 1080P

    http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/grafikkarten/20...

    All that for $20-40 more. Far better value.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I thought GTX was reserved for high end cards, with lower tier cards being GT. I guess they gave up on that? Reply

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