Back in February, we were pretty disappointed with the Radeon HD 7770, as it was 18% slower than the GeForce GTX 560 while being only 15% cheaper at $159. Since then, AMD has made a various tweaks to the pricing of its Radeon HD 7000 series, including dropping the HD 7770's suggested retail rate to $139, which is where many of the cards currently sit, though it's possible to find certain models for as little as $120.
Although it's a little pricier with an MSRP of $149 (depending on memory capacity), the GTX 650 Ti is in a decent position against AMD's budget offering. Nvidia's solution costs about 7% more while averaging 25% faster than the HD 7770 in the 18 games that we tested at 1680x1050. However, value-wise, the GTX 650 Ti doesn't really overcome the HD 6870, which is slightly faster in our tests and costs about the same.
Despite delivering a better value than the HD 7770, we're still a little disappointed in the GTX 650 Ti as it compares to the rest of Nvidia's current and previous-generation products. For instance, compared to the nearly two-year-old GTX 560 Ti, the GTX 650 Ti is about 7% slower on average. Granted, the GTX 560 Ti's list price is about 40% higher than the GTX 650 Ti, but it's possible to buy one for less than $200 with rebates.
Additionally, although the GTX 650 Ti brings a value boost over previous Kepler cards, it's not as large as we've seen with previous launches. For example, the new sub-$200 card is 28% slower and 35% cheaper than the GTX 660. By comparison, the GTX 660 is 14% slower and 23% cheaper than the GTX 660 Ti, while the GTX 660 Ti is 13% slower and 33% cheaper than the GTX 670. The GTX 650 Ti also falls short in terms of power efficiency. Again, it's 28% slower than last month's GTX 660, but it consumed only 4% less power.
Although the GTX 650 Ti isn't a major disappointment (mostly because it's $20 cheaper than rumors said it would be), the card doesn't make great strides to improve on existing products. On the bright side, folks shopping for budget Kepler card have an affordable sub-$200 option, though at this price point, we'd recommend considering an HD 6870, which costs $145-$150 with a rebate.
Besides having a slight performance edge, it's worth noting that the HD 6870 supports Crossfire and the GTX 650 Ti doesn't support SLI, which may be of interest if you intend to add a second card at some point to boost performance (second-hand HD 6870s are cheap and plentiful on eBay).
Pros: Brings Kepler to the sub-$200 market, offers a better value than the HD 7770.
Cons: Struggles to top the value of the GTX 660 and HD 6870, doesn't support SLI.