NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Review: Bringing Balance To The Forceby Ryan Smith on March 26, 2013 8:00 AM EST
Bringing this review to a close, given the back-to-back launches of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost and the Radeon HD 7790, our first instinct is to frame the GTX 650 Ti Boost in reference to the 7790. Indeed the GTX 650 Ti Boost will be NVIDIA’s 7790 competitor, but what we’re reviewed – a 2GB GTX 650 Ti Boost – is not the same as the 1GB card that will occupy that $149 price point. So we want to hold off on that comparison for a bit. We need to see a 1GB GTX 650 Ti Boost to properly make that evaluation.
When we opened this article we mentioned how there’s practically a card at every $10 between $100 and $200. For consumers on a fixed budget this is great since it means there’s a video card at every price, but without distinct islands it makes it harder for us as reviewers to make a recommendation. But as always we’ll take a stab at it.
In our 7790 review we mentioned how uneasy we are with 1GB cards right now due to the fact that larger cards have been on the market for some number of years by now, and game consoles are about to take a massive leap in RAM capacities. Of course neither AMD nor NVIDIA is going to offer a balanced 2GB card at $149 right now – what you can have is a 1GB 7790 or a 1GB GTX 650 Ti Boost. So with that said we’re going to hold to our earlier recommendation that if you’re in the market for a card around these price ranges and you can afford to go past $149, we’re at a point where a 2GB card is a reasonable investment. And to that end the 2GB GTX 650 Ti Boost is going to be $10-$15 cheaper than the 2GB 7850, making it the more affordable option for a 2GB card.
Moving along, with the chief competitor for the 1GB GTX 650 Ti Boost being the recently launched Radeon HD 7790, the chief competitor for the 2GB version is going to be AMD’s Radeon HD 7850 2GB. The GeForce card will have a $10-$15 price advantage on average, keeping in mind that the price of the 7850 is typically in flux due to price changes and temporary rebates.
The performance of the two cards is close at times, but ultimately the GTX 650 Ti Boost spends most of its time trailing the 7850 to some degree, its only lead being in Battlefield 3. With those BF3 results pushing the cards to within 5% of each other on average, otherwise the gap is closer to 8%. As such the GTX 650 Ti Boost is unquestionably the weaker card in our benchmarks, just not significantly so. So for it to be priced under the 7850 is the right move here.
In any case, as a 7850 competitor the GTX 650 Ti Boost is nothing amazing – its price and performance are close to the 7850, a card that has been sitting at its current price for months now – meaning it fills its intended role as a slightly cheaper, slightly slower 7850 competitor, but nothing more. If we had to pick between the two of them the 7850 does look a bit better due to its slightly higher performance and lower power consumption, but most buyers should be happy with either one. As we said in our introduction this is a case of balance being returned to the market – where there was once just the 7850 there is now a viable alternative from NVIDIA in the form of the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB.
Ultimately with a card at every $10 amidst a packed market there isn’t any kind of real sweet spot right now, so we don’t have any strong recommendations. For buyers on a fixed budget recent launches like the GTX 650 Ti Boost and 7790 introduce newer and better options at $169 and $149 respectively. Otherwise there’s a clear chain of progression right up to $200, and the best card is going to be the card you can afford.