BOOSTx7: GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Graphics Cards Reviewed

Today we are going to discuss seven different graphics cards from EVGA, Gigabyte, Inno3D, MSI, Palit, ZOTAC and Nvidia. Which one of these entry-level products is the one?

by Sergey Lepilov
07/04/2013 | 03:05 AM

Despite the fact that Nvidia launched two top-end graphics cards at the end of May (GeForce GTX 780 and GTX 770), we do not expect anything new from the company in the mainstream market sector until the end of the year. So it is the updated GeForce GTX 650 Ti in its Boost modification that seems to be the most interesting product that has been released recently in the price range of $150-170. It features a faster GPU, a 192-bit memory bus and increased clock rates. For this review we’ve collected as many as six off-the-shelf versions of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost along with a reference sample from Nvidia. We'll check out their distinguishing features, their cooling systems and overclocking potential. Besides, we will benchmark a 2-way SLI tandem built of two GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost cards in comparison with the GeForce GTX 680.

Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing

 

The technical specifications of all participating GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST graphics cards are summed up in the following table for your convenience and compared side by side with the specs of the reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST:

 

Testing Participants

Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB

First we’ll take a look at Nvidia's reference sample and then, in alphabetic order, at its versions from other companies.

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost looks very simple with its black plastic casing and radial fan, Nvidia logo and imitation rivets.

 

The short PCB is extended with a piece of plastic that supports the cooler's fan. We can also see memory chips on the reverse side of the PCB.

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost has a standard selection of outputs: dual-link DVI-I and DVI-D ports, one HDMI 1.4a, and one DisplayPort 1.2.

One MIO connector for building SLI tandems and one 6-pin power connector can be found in their conventional locations:

 

The GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost consumes up to 134 watts of power, so a 450-watt or higher PSU is recommended for a computer with one such graphics card inside.

The reference PCB is only 150 mm long. It carries a GPU, eight memory chips, and a 4+1+1-phase (GPU+memory+PLL) power system managed by an ON Semiconductor NCP5395G controller.

The revision A1 GPU is dated the 19th week of 2012. It is clocked at 980 MHz (boostable to 1033 MHz) in 3D applications.


 

 

The card’s 2 GB of GDDR5 memory are represented by Samsung’s K4G20325FD-FC03 chips. They work at their rated clock rate of 6000 MHz in 3D mode and at 648 MHz in 2D mode.

So, it is a perfectly standard GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost with reference specs:

The cooling system is standard, too. It consists of a plastic casing with a radial fan and an aluminum heatsink with copper base:

The fan's speed is PWM-regulated in a range of 900 to 3300 RPM. The card’s power components have no heatsinks at all.

To check out the cards temperatures we used five runs of the Aliens vs. Predator (2010) benchmark at the highest visual quality settings, at a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, and with 16x anisotropic filtering. We didn't turn on MSAA because it would have been too high a load for the cards’ memory subsystem and their GPUs wouldn’t have got as hot as possible.

We used MSI Afterburner 3.0.0 beta 10 and GPU-Z version 0.7.1 for monitoring of temperatures inside the closed system case, which configuration is discussed in detail in the corresponding chapter of the roundup. All tests were performed at 25°C room temperature.

When the radial fan was regulated automatically, the GPU of the reference card from Nvidia grew as hot as 79°C. The peak fan speed was 1860 RPM.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

At the maximum speed of the fan (3240 RPM) the GPU was up to 62°C hot. We’ll use these numbers for comparison with the off-the-shelf products.

The reference GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost turned out to be good in terms of GPU overclocking, reaching 1140 MHz (and 1193 MHz in boost mode), but its memory could only be overclocked to 6648 MHz.

When overclocked, the GPU got 3°C hotter while the cooler’s fan accelerated by 200 RPM.

So, that’s what the reference GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost is. Let’s now check out its versions available from graphics card makers.

EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Superclocked 2GB (02G-P4-3658-KR)

The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost is the fastest graphics card in this review. It is packed into a compact box designed in EVGA's traditional style.

 

Besides the card proper, the box contains a power cable, a DVI->D-Sub adapter, an EVGA sticker, a CD with drivers and utilities, and an installation guide.

The product is manufactured in China and is shipped with a 3-year warranty. The bottom retail price of the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Superclocked equals its recommended price at $170.

The card is the same size as the reference sample (243x99x38 mm) and resembles the latter very much:

The cooler’s casing and the captions on its top and sides are the only distinguishing features of the EVGA card. It has the same selection of video outputs, neatly covered with plastic caps:

The large cells of the vent grid in the card’s mounting bracket are typical of EVGA products, too. The MIO and power connectors are the same as on the reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost.

 

Moreover, the power system copies the reference sample, using the same 4+1+1 formula (GPU/memory/PLL).

The GPU is revision A1, too. It was manufactured on the 8th week of 2013.

  

The base GPU clock rate is 1072 MHz in 3D applications and can be boosted to 1137 MHz. It must be noted that EVGA didn’t even have to customize the PCB to reach that frequency. But they may have selected the best-quality GPU chips specifically for this graphics card model. The card has a standard amount and frequency of onboard memory: 2 GB and 6008 MHz. The memory chips are manufactured by Samsung.

Here is what the GPU-Z utility reports about the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Superclocked:

While being perfectly standard in other respects, the EVGA features an original cooling system that consists of a metallic frame that contacts with the memory chips and power components, a copper base with an 8mm heat pipe, an aluminum heatsink with slim fins, and a plastic casing with blower.

 

This cooler might be expected to be more efficient than the reference one but it is not, actually. In the automatic regulation mode the GPU was 82°C hot at 2070 RPM. At the maximum 3330 RPM the temperature was 70°C, which is higher than the reference card’s, too.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

It is odd that the enhanced cooler from EVGA is less efficient than the simple cooler installed on Nvidia's reference card. Considering the latter's temperature in overclocked mode, the difference is not due to the EVGA's pre-overclocked GPU. It is the problem of the cooler design itself.

Next we checked out the overclocking potential of our EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Superclocked and found it to be very low. The GPU could only be overclocked by 45 MHz (because of the high default clock rate of the chip) and the graphics memory, by 600 MHz.

The resulting frequencies were 1117/1183/6608 MHz.

The graphics card’s temperature didn’t change much after we had overclocked it.

 

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost OC 2GB (GV-N65TBOC-2GD)

Gigabyte offers two GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost models. Both are pre-overclocked (“OC”) but differ in the amount of onboard memory. We’ve got the GV-N65TBOC-2GD version with 2 GB of memory. You can find a lot of information about the card and its cooler on the back of the pretty cardboard box.

 

The accessories only include a disc with drivers and utilities, a power cable, and a brief installation guide.

The graphics card is manufactured in China and costs $170. Its warranty period is 3 years.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost OC looks completely different from the previous two cards. Its PCB is blue and its cooler is the original WindForce 2X.

The card looks very attractive. It is about the same size as the reference sample (without the sticking-out pipes and the casing with fans): 242x110x37 mm.

The video outputs, power and MIO connectors are all the same as on the reference GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost.

 

Judging by the component layout, the PCB follows the reference design but we can see a row of additional low-RDS MOSFETs next to each standard power phase:

Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable 2 technology means that the graphics card is equipped with premium components such as Japanese solid-state capacitors and ferrite-core chokes. By the way, the PCB is very much alike to the PCB of the more advanced Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ultra Durable card.

The GPU is the same revision as the GPUs of the two previous cards but its manufacture date is the 7th week of 2013. It is clocked at 1033 MHz in 3D mode (boostable to 1098 MHz).

  

Like the cards from EVGA and Nvidia, the Gigabyte carries 2 gigabytes of onboard memory but the chips are manufactured by Hynix. Labeled H5GQ2H24AFR R0C, they have a rated clock rate of 6000 MHz. They are clocked at the rated frequency here:

The WindForce 2X cooler is exactly the same as on the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ultra Durable.

It consists of an aluminum base, four 6mm heat pipes soldered to the base and piercing the heatsink’s slum aluminum fins, and a glossy plastic casing with two 92mm fans.

The fans are PWM-regulated in a speed range of 1000 to 2500 RPM.

Compared to the reference cooler from Nvidia and the customized cooler from EVGA, the WindForce X2 is just brilliant. With the fans regulated automatically, their speed was no higher than 1830 RPM whereas the GPU temperature was never higher than 60°C. It is 20°C better in comparison with the two previous coolers.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

If the speed of the fans is set at the maximum, the temperature lowered by an additional 4°C. With such an efficient cooler, you can overclock the graphics card without apprehensions about its health. In our case, we managed to speed the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost OC up by 80 and 960 MHz in terms of GPU and memory frequency, respectively.

The resulting frequencies were 1113/1178/6968 MHz.

The GPU of the overclocked card was 3°C hotter but the peak speed of the fans didn’t change.

So, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost OC is head above the cards from Nvidia and EVGA. And what about the remaining cards?

Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST HerculeZ 2000 2GB

The graphics card from Inno3D is shipped in a large box with a honeycomb picture on its front:

It is not the largest packaging we’ll see in this review, but the Inno3D product features a lot of accessories which are not typical of this class of graphics cards. They include a power cable, a video adapter, an Inno3D sticker, a CD with drivers, an L-shaped hex key for the cooler, and such extras as a copy of 3DMark (2013) and a high-quality mouse pad.

Manufactured in China, the card costs $190, which is a mere $20 more expensive than the other products in this review. The warranty period is 3 years.

The Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST looks stylish and attractive. Its face side is covered with the HerculeZ 2000 cooler whose fans are surrounded with titanium-like figured faceplates. An iChill logo can be seen between them.

The card is only 231 mm long but it is not the shortest in this review. It is the thickest, though, at 58 millimeters.

The thickness is due to the HerculeZ 2000 cooler which we will describe below. The mounting bracket with video outputs is no different from the other cards reviewed here:

The MIO connector is the same, too. The card can only be used for 2-way SLI configurations. As for additional power connectors, the Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST has two of them rather than only one as the other GTX 650 Ti Boost cards in this review.

 

The manufacturer must have tried to ensure a reserve of power for better overclocking and stability at increased frequencies. The peak power consumption written in the specs is 168 watts, which is 34 watts higher than the reference card’s. A 500-watt PSU is recommended for a computer with one Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST inside.

Covered with a metal heatsink, the GPU power system has four phases but is reinforced with additional solid-state capacitors.

The power system is governed by a ON Semiconductor NCP5395G controller. There are also one power phase for memory and PLL each.

The GPU is revision A1 again and is dated the 7th week of 2013. Its base clock rate is 1059 in 3D mode (boostable to 1124 MHz). It is the second fastest GPU (after the EVGA card) in this test session.

  

Like the Gigabyte card, this one is equipped with Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR R0C memory chips, which are pre-overclocked to 6212 MHz.

Besides its pre-overclocked frequencies, the Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST is interesting for its exclusive cooling system called HerculeZ 2000. It is a triple-slot cooler with an aluminum heatsink, four nickel-plated copper heat pipes (6 mm in diameter), two fans in plastic frames, and a metallic heat-spreading plate on the power components and memory chips located on the face side of the PCB.

 

The L-shaped hex key included into the box can be used to remove the decorative faceplates from the cooler. The fans are 90mm in diameter and their thickness is 15 mm. They are manufactured by Colorful and run on sleeve bearings:

Their speed is PWM-regulated in a range of 1000 to 2600 RPM.

We described the performance of the Gigabyte’s cooler as excellent, so now we have problems finding a suitable word for the HerculeZ 2000 because it’s even better! When its fans were regulated automatically and only reached 1230 RPM, the peak GPU temperature was only 57°C! 


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

At the maximum speed of 2610 RPM, the temperature was barely above 50°C! Such a high performance is really worth the additional PCIe slot you have to give away. The triple-slot HerculeZ 2000 is just the best cooler in this review.

The Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST is as good as the other graphics cards in terms of overclocking potential. We could increase its GPU and memory clock rates by 70 and 600 MHz, respectively.

The resulting frequencies were 1129/1194/6812 MHz.

The HerculeZ 2000 kept the overclocked GPU as cool as 59°C without accelerating its fans much (1260 RPM).

That’s definitely the best result in today’s test session.

MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Twin Frozr III 2GB (N650Ti TF 2GD5/OC BE)

MSI seems to have changed the design of its graphics card packaging, so the new MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Twin Frozr III is shipped in red-and-black box with a dragon on the front and a description of the product’s features on the back.

 

We guess the company’s gaming series cards will now all be packaged in such eye-catching boxes.

Besides the graphics card, the box contains a power adapter, a DVI->D-Sub adapter, a disc with drivers and utilities, and a brief guide on installing the card and its drivers.

The MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Twin Frozr III costs $180 and its warranty period is 3 years. Like the other products in this review, it is manufactured in China.

The exclusive Twin Frozr III cooler makes it easily recognizable:

The card measures 235x125x36 mm, being a rather compact specimen of GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. Its video interfaces are perfectly standard except that the DVI connectors are blue.

The MIO and power connectors are standard as well:

 

The PCB uses the reference design and the same voltage regulator controller, ON Semiconductor NCP5395G:

However, we can note an additional row of aluminum-core capacitors as well as Dark Solid caps which have a service life of over 10 years according to MSI. The empty area at the end of the PCB suggests that the latter has been borrowed from some more advanced graphics card model.

The GPU was manufactured on the 7th week of 2013. It is clocked at 1033/1098 MHz, like on the Gigabyte card.

  

And like on the Gigabyte again, the memory chips are manufactured by Hynix and work at 6008 MHz.

The Twin Frozr III is MSI’s pride and joy. And we are glad that such an efficient and expensive (judging by its quality) cooler can be had with a midrange graphics card.

The Twin Frozr III heatsink has three heat pipes. The two outermost ones are 6 mm in diameter and the central one is 8 mm.

 

The pipes are soldered to the heatsink’s base and fins. The whole arrangement is cooled by two 74mm impellers whose exclusive Propeller Blade technology strengthens the air flow by 20%. The technology boils down to making the ends of the impeller blades slanted but MSI thinks that’s enough for the 20% performance boost.

Well, the Twin Frozr III is indeed excellent at its job. When the fans were PWM-regulated and reached a speed of only 1590 RPM, the peak GPU temperature was only 62°C. 


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

By increasing the speed to the maximum 4170 RPM, you can lower the GPU temperature by 10°C more. Although not as impressive as the HerculeZ 2000, the Twin Frozr III is a really good cooler, comparable to Gigabyte’s in its efficiency.

In our overclocking tests we increased the clock rates of our MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Twin Frozr III by 75 and 960 MHz for the GPU and memory, respectively.

Thus, the overclocked card worked at 1108/1173/6968 MHz.

The MSI Twin Frozr III coped with the overclocked card easily, keeping the GPU temperature within 65°C at a fan speed of 1710 RPM.

It’s a very reassuring result. We will compare all of the cards in terms of temperature and noise below.

Palit GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST OC 2GB (NE5X65BS1049-1060F)

Palit offers as many as four GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost variants with differing clock rates and memory amounts. We’ve taken the fastest version with 2 GB of memory. Its part number is NE5X65BS1049-1060F. The card’s model name, memory type and amount, interface and supported technologies are all indicated on the front of its white box.

 

The text on the back of the box tells you about Nvidia’s technologies and minimum system requirements for the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. The card is shipped together with a power adapter, a CD with drivers, a DVI->D-Sub adapter and an installation guide.

It is manufactured in China and costs $180. Its warranty period is 1 year.

The Palit GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST OC is the smallest device in this review, measuring a mere 173x112x38 mm. It’s going to be perfect for HTPCs.

Its face side is covered with a plastic cooler casing with two 80mm fans. The reverse side doesn’t show any differences from the above-discussed products from other brands. The selection of video outputs is identical, too:

As expected, we have one MIO connector for SLI configurations and one 6-pin power connector here.

 

The PCB follows the reference design with a 4+1+1 power system (GPU/memory/PLL) managed by an ON Semiconductor NCP5395G controller:

The GPU die is dated the second week of 2013. It is revision A1. The clock rate is 1006 MHz and can be boosted to 1072 MHz.

 

The memory chips from Hynix are slightly pre-overclocked to 6108 MHz. Thus, the Palit GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST OC has the following specs:

Unlike the coolers from Gigabyte, MSI and Inno3D, this one has no proper name. It consists of two separate parts: a GPU heatsink and a plastic casing with two fans.

There’s also a small aluminum heatsink on the power system components. The main heatsink has two 6mm copper heat pipes, a copper base and aluminum fins which are partially soldered to the base and partially pierced by the pipes.

 

Although small, the heatsink is sufficient for cooling the compact GPU die of the GTX 650 Ti Boost. The fans are Power Logic PLA08015S12HH components, which can often be found in graphics card coolers. They are regulated automatically in a speed range of 1000 to 3100 RPM.

The performance of the Palit cooler depends greatly on the speed of its fans. When the latter were regulated automatically and reached 1680 RPM, the GPU was 75°C hot. At the maximum speed of the fans, the temperature was no higher than 60°C.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

Overall, the Palit GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST OC is just satisfactory in terms of temperature. It is not as good as the leaders but better than the reference card from Nvidia or the EVGA version.

The GPU and memory of this card could be overclocked by 110 and 940 MHz, respectively.

The GPU overclocking is quite normal compared to the other cards, but the memory frequency of 7028 MHz is the highest in this review.

The card’s temperature didn’t change after we had overclocked it.

 

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB (ZT-61201-10M)

As opposed to most of the other companies represented in this review, Zotac offers only one GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost and, contrary to our expectations, it is not a well-overclocked “AMP! Edition” but an ordinary product with an original cooler and a slightly pre-overclocked GPU. It is shipped in a small cardboard box designed in Zotac’s easily recognizable style:

 

There’s a lot of documentation among the accessories but otherwise they are the same as you get with the other cards.

Manufactured in China, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST costs $170. It comes with a 2-year warranty which can be prolonged to 5 years by registering it.

The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST is perhaps the most beautiful card in this review. The sculpted metallic casing of the cooler covers two orange fans with curved translucent blades.

They are harmoniously complemented with the sticking-out heat pipes. The card is compact, though. Its dimensions are 193x100x40 mm. The Zotac has a standard selection of video outputs and onboard connectors:

  

There is a small heatsink on the memory chips and an aluminum heatsink on the power components.

As you may have already noticed, the card uses a reference PCB. As for its GPU, it is the third chip in this review to be dated the 7th week of 2013. It is clocked at 993/1059 MHz. The memory clock rate is 6008 MHz.

 

Thus, Zotac’s GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost has the lowest clock rates among the cards covered in this review.

Taking the cooler apart, we found its main heatsink to be the same as on the Palit card but with a smaller base and a larger surface of the aluminum fins.

The heatsink is cooled with two 80mm impellers from Apistek.

The GPU was 72°C and 63°C hot in the automatic fan regulation mode (2000 RPM) and at the maximum speed of the fans (3180 RPM), respectively.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The cooler is good enough for a GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost but cannot match the leaders of our tests. The overclocking potential of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST is quite normal: 1118/1184/6908 MHz.

Oddly enough, the temperature of the overclocked Zotac was even lower than at the default settings, the test conditions being the same.

 

Noise Level, Temperature and Clock Rates

The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 and 3:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using our in-house controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.

Let’s take a look at the obtained results:

We don’t have really quiet graphics card in this review. Any of them is audible in 3D mode against the background noise of our testbed, yet the Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST should be given credit for being the closest to the subjectively comfortable level in the automatic fan regulation mode. According to the diagram, the Palit seems the quietest across the entire speed range, but the fans of this card’s cooler always produced a light but unpleasant rattle. The MSI and Zotac are comparable in terms of noisiness whereas the Gigabyte’s cooler is a little louder (at the same speeds). The EVGA and the reference Nvidia are the loudest cards here. As for subjective impressions, the Gigabyte’s cooler seems to be the most agreeable to the ear.

Of course, the coolers’ fans rotated at different speeds in the automatic regulation mode, so we should indicate this fact in our diagram as we usually do. However, that would produce an unreadable picture since we’ve got so many cards today. That’s why we want to show you the noise level in the automatic regulation mode and at the maximum speed in a separate diagram that also reports the peak temperature of each GPU.

The graphics cards are sorted in the order of ascending GPU temperature. Here are the results:

The Inno3D is ahead in both fan regulation modes. It is also superior in terms of noise level when regulated automatically. The Gigabyte and MSI share second place, looking very good in this competition. The Zotac and Palit are less efficient, finding themselves in the middle of the diagram. The least efficient and the loudest coolers from EVGA and Nvidia take last places.

The next table lists the graphics cards’ frequencies at their default settings and when overclocked. The best numbers are red and the worst numbers are blue.

The reference card from Nvidia is the best in terms of GPU overclocking, but the highest boost clock rate was shown by the MSI, which also had the worst result in GPU overclocking. The Palit and EVGA have the best and worst results, respectively, in terms of memory overclocking.

The next diagram shows the temperature of each GPU when overclocked and the noise level in the automatic fan regulation mode. The cards are sorted in the order of ascending peak GPU temperature.

The Inno3D is brilliant again. It is not just the quietest card in this review. It also features the most efficient cooler. The MSI and Gigabyte are close behind the leader whereas the remaining four cards can’t please you with low temperature and noise in overclocked mode.

Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

We have already carried out the detailed testing of GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST, and the performance differences between the graphics cards participating today will obviously be minimal, since the difference in their clock speeds is almost negligible. Therefore, in our today’s test session we decided to check out the performance of an SLI configuration built with a pair of GTX 650 Ti BOOST graphics cards – using the products from Gigabyte and MSI. They will be competing against GeForce GTX 680 from Asus working at its nominal clock speeds. Moreover, the configuration built with two GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST cards costs even less than a single GeForce GTX 680 that is why this comparison promises to be very interesting.

All participating graphics cards were tested in a system with the following configuration:

In order to lower the dependence of the graphics cards performance on the overall platform speed, I overclocked our 32 nm six-core CPU with the multiplier set at 48x, BCLK frequency set at 100 MHz and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 4.8 GHz. The processor Vcore was increased to 1.38 V in the mainboard BIOS:

Hyper-Threading technology was enabled. 16 GB of system DDR3 memory worked at 2.133 GHz frequency with 9-11-10-28 timings and 1.65V voltage.

The test session started on May 29, 2013. All tests were performed in Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all critical updates as of that date and the following drivers:

We tested the graphics cards performance in two resolutions: 1920x1080 and 2560x1440. The tests were performed in two image quality modes: “Quality+AF16x” – default texturing quality in the drivers with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and “Quality+ AF16x+MSAA 4x(8x)” with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and full screen 4x or 8x antialiasing, in those cases when the average fps rate remained high enough for comfortable gaming experience. We enabled anisotropic filtering and full-screen anti-aliasing from the game settings. If the corresponding options were missing, we changed these settings in the Control Panels of Catalyst and GeForce drivers. We also disabled Vsync there. There were no other changes in the driver settings.

Our benchmarking suite included two popular semi-synthetic benchmarks and 10 resource-consuming games of various genres:

If the game allowed recording the minimal fps readings, they were also added to the charts. We ran each game test or benchmark twice and took the best result for the diagrams, but only if the difference between them didn’t exceed 1%. If it did exceed 1%, we ran the tests at least one more time to achieve repeatability of results.

Performance

Since we have the same standings in each game, we will limit our comments to summary charts only. Here is a table with full test results.

3DMark (2013)

 

Unigine Valley Bench

 

Metro 2033: The Last Refuge

 

Total War: SHOGUN 2 – Fall of the Samurai

 

 

Battlefield 3

 

Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark

 

Sleeping Dogs

 

Hitman: Absolution

 

 

Crysis 3

 

Tomb Raider (2013)

 

BioShock Infinite

 

Metro: Last Light

 

Here is a table with full test results, now we can proceed to performance summary charts.

 

Performance Summary

First, let’s see the difference between the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost and the GeForce GTX 680:

The GTX 650 Ti Boost is an average 34-37% slower at 1920x1080 and 38-39% slower at 2560x1440. We should remind you that the GTX 650 Ti Boost is slightly pre-overclocked while the GeForce GTX 680 works at its default settings.

Next let’s check out the efficiency of SLI technology as applied to two GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost cards:

The SLI tandem is an average 70-86% ahead of the single GTX 650 Ti Boost at 1920x1080 and 82-84% ahead at 2560x1440. So the GTX 650 Ti Boost SLI configuration can beat a single GeForce GTX 680 almost everywhere:

The only exception is Hitman: Absolution without antialiasing and one result in Sleeping Dogs. Overall, the 2-way GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost SLI configuration is 12-17% faster than the single GeForce GTX 680 at 1920x1080 and 12-14% faster at 2560x1440. And the two GTX 650 Ti Boost cards cost less than one GTX 680!

Conclusion

Choosing a midrange graphics card isn’t an easy task, especially when it comes to the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. We’ve examined six variants of that model, comparing them with each other as well as with the reference sample from Nvidia. Despite different coolers, clock rates, accessories and other factors, all of them feature the reference PCB design (occasionally complemented with additional components as on the MSI, Gigabyte and Inno3D products). All of them are comparable in terms of GPU overclocking. Their prices vary by a mere $10-20, which is not much even for the midrange category.

What would we choose then? We guess such factors as noise level and temperature come to the fore, so the Inno3D iChill GTX 650 Ti BOOST HerculeZ 2000 is our favorite. It is the only card to be comfortable acoustically in 3D applications and its cooler is unrivalled in efficiency. Therefore, we are proud to award the Inno3D card our Editor’s Choice title:

Second place and the Recommended Buy title goes to two cards, namely MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Twin Frozr III and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST OC. Both are high-quality products with efficient coolers and factory overclocking:

The Palit GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST OC and ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST couldn’t show us anything special whereas the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Superclocked, even though with the highest default clock rates, is too noisy and hot. Well, even the EVGA was better than the reference card from Nvidia.

As for the 2-way SLI configuration we built out of two GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost cards, it turned out to be faster than the ex-flagship GeForce GTX 680. So if you are not afraid of the lower bottom frame rate and potential compatibility issues in newer games, building such a tandem may be worthwhile, especially if you can get a second such card at a very small price.