GeForce GTX 650 Ti Enhance & SLI Efficiency Assessment

The first GeForce GTX 650 graphics card was released last September. With the budget player in mind, the card sold for just $ 110. However, with a memory bandwidth of only 80 GB / s – less than the 3-year-old GTX 460 – it didn't make a notable launch.

A month later, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti appeared ($ 150). It performed significantly better thanks to the use of the GK106 architecture, as the larger chip allowed for a more aggressive core configuration and improved texture fill rates by 75%. The GTX 650 Ti became our favorite $ 100-150 graphics card last year when it beat the Radeon HD 7770.

In the meantime, AMD stuck to the price range of 150 to 200 US dollars with the Radeon HD 7850. Last month, AMD decided to attack the $ 150 price point with a new HD 7790 GPU, but the reaction wasn't long in coming.

Just a week later, Nvidia officially responded by releasing the ill-named GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost, the third graphics card to be named GTX 650.

At $ 170, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost sits between the Radeon HD 7790 and 7850. In terms of performance, we expect the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost to be much faster than the GTX 650 Ti, even when on the based on the same GK106 architecture.

Although the core configuration of the GPU has largely stayed the same with only minor increases in ROPs, both core and memory clock speeds have been increased. Nvidia has also added a Boost Clock feature that allows the GTX 650 Ti Boost to be overclocked automatically when temperatures allow.

More important than any of the above, the memory bus has been expanded from a very limited 128-bit to 192-bit, which effectively increases memory bandwidth by 67%.

Gainward quickly got on the GTX 650 Ti Boost train and is offering a special Golden Sample version that we'll be testing out today. The GS version updates the cooler and the card itself is available in 1 GB or 2 GB variants.

As expected, we're testing SLI, so we lined up a pair of GTX 650 Ti Boost GS Dual graphics cards and compared them to a number of competing graphics card configurations, including the Crossfire Radeon 7850.

Test methodology

Reporting average fps (frames per second) using fraps is the way to go for … well, forever. It's a fantastic metric in the sense that it's easy to record and easy to understand. But it doesn't tell the full story, as The Tech Report and others have shown.

To get a more complete picture, it's becoming increasingly clear that you need to consider a card's frame latency, which is how fast each frame is being delivered. Regardless of how many frames a graphics card produces on average in 60 seconds, if it can't deliver all of them at roughly the same speed, with one GPU over another you can see brief, jittery points – something we've seen but not have seen I don't quite understand.

Assuming two cards deliver the same average frame rates, the card with the lowest stable image latency will provide the most fluid image. This is a pretty important detail to consider when looking to lose a ton of money. So from now on, we'll take this information into account by measuring how long, in milliseconds, it takes maps to render each frame individually, and then graphing them in a digestible way.

We will use the latency-focused 99th percentile metric which looks at 99% of the results recorded within X milliseconds. The lower this number, the faster and smoother the overall performance. Removing 1% of the most extreme results can filter anomalies that may have been caused by other components. Kudos again to The Tech Report and other sites like PCPer for shedding light on this issue.

Test system specifications

  • Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (3.30 GHz)
  • x4 2 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
  • Asrock X79 Extreme11 (Intel X79)
  • OCZ ZX series (1250 W)
  • Crucial m4 512 GB (SATA 6 Gbit / s)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2048 MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 660 (2048 MB) SLI
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 660 (2048 MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost (2048 MB) SLI
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost (2048 MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti (2048 MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7950 (3072 MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7870 (2048 MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7850 (2048 MB) Crossfire
  • HIS Radeon HD 7850 (2048 MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7770 (2048 MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7790 (1024 MB) Crossfire
  • HIS Radeon HD 7790 (1024 MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7750 (1024 MB)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
  • Nvidia Forceware 314.22
  • AMD catalyst 13.3

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