The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda's epic sword & magic game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is our RPG of choice for benchmarking. It's altogether a good CPU benchmark thanks to its complex scripting and AI, but it also can end up pushing a large number of fairly complex models and effects at once, especially with the addition of the high resolution texture pack.

Skyrim with its optional high resolution texture pack is the textbook case for 2GB cards right now. At 1680x1050 (with lower quality settings) matters aren’t so bad, but at 1920x1200 1GB cards flat out run out of VRAM. This goes for both the GTX 650 Ti 1GB and the 7850 1GB, leaving the field to 2GB cards such as the 7850 2GB and the 2GB factory overclocked retail cards. To that end with enough VRAM the GTX 650 Ti cards can just hit 60fps with their factory overclocks, but the 7850 2GB, which was already just trailing the GTX 660, is well ahead.

Dropping down to 1680x1050 is enough to mitigate the lack of VRAM, but even then the GTX 650 Ti doesn’t fair particularly well. On an absolute basis it’s at 84fps, which is more than smooth, but the 7850 still enjoys a 30% lead. On that note, along with a lack of total VRAM, a lack of memory bandwidth seems to really be hammering the GTX 650 Ti, which is why we not only see the Zotac card pop to the head of that pack, but is why the 7850 and even the GTX 560 do so well here.

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  • chizow - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I guess in years past this may and probably should've been branded GTS 650Ti along with the GTS 650 (they've used GTS 250, GTS 450 etc in the past), but I know for a fact Nvidia is trying to establish GTX as its own brand for gamers.

    They really emphasize it with all this "Green Light" business with regard to overclocking, overvolting etc.
    Reply
  • Blazorthon - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Nvidia has been cracking down on overvolting support, so IDK if I'd give them that much credit. Reply
  • Pneumothorax - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    That will make the price/performance gap even worse as the 7850 is an oc beast. Reply
  • goinginstyle - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    So why no reviews of the Asus or MSI offerings in these roundups? Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    You need to be sent a card in order to review it. ;) Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    The 7850 1GB is $150. It IS is the direct competitor to the 650 ti. You can speculate all you want about the 1GB being some sort of ephemeral limiting factor, but I dont see it. All I see is that in one game, at BEYOND 1080p resolution, memory becomes a factor. But if you look at it, you can see that it is still so very close on the bell curve. I bet that if you actually tested Skyrim at 1920x1080 (not 1920x1200), there would be much less difference between 2GB and 1GB.

    Even 2 years from now the 7850 1GB is going to be a better performer than the 650ti. Even with the "latest and greatest" games.
    Reply
  • Shark321 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Where is the 7850 1GB $150? Reply
  • KineticHummus - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    yeah wish i could fine one of those haha. pretty sure there isnt a single card for 150 Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    How about $159 AR shipped?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • LordanSS - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I'm a bit curious about this card's performance with PhysX enabled games.

    Personally, I am a 6970 owner and thus have no access to PhysX effects on games, but there are many workarounds out there where you can add a nVidia card to your machine to compute the physics.

    Borderlands 2 is an example, I know of people buying (cheap) nVidia cards so they can run physics on them. Problem is that, most of the time, these guys are buying really old or cheap hardware (like GT210 or 430 cards), causing a big drop in game performance. Others using more powerful (and expensive) cards, on the other hand, experience good results.

    So I'm thinking what's the cutting point for performance here. I know it's an extremely niche endeavor, but if anyone has experience or thoughts, I'd be glad to hear them.
    Reply

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