Last September saw the release of the first GeForce GTX 650 graphics card. Aiming at the gamer on a budget, the card sold for just $110, however with memory bandwidth of just 80GB/s – less than the 3-year old GTX 460 – it came up short of becoming a noteworthy launch.

A month later, we saw the release of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti ($150). Thanks to the use of the GK106 architecture, it offered considerably better performance as the larger die allowed for a more aggressive core configuration, improving texture fill rates by 75%. The GTX 650 Ti became our favorite $100 - $150 graphics card last year, as it thrashed the Radeon HD 7770.

Meanwhile, AMD held on to the $150 - $200 price range with the Radeon HD 7850. Then last month AMD decided to attack the $150 price point with a new HD 7790 GPU, but the reaction didn't take long to arrive.

Just a week later Nvidia officially countered by releasing the poorly named GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost, now the third graphics card to carry the GTX 650 name.

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

Although the GPU's core configuration has remained much the same with only a slight increase in ROPs, both core and memory clock speeds have been increased. Nvidia has also added a boost clock feature which can automatically overclock the GTX 650 Ti Boost when temperatures allow it.

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

Gainward has been quick to jump aboard the GTX 650 Ti Boost train, offering a special Golden Sample version which is what we'll be testing today. The GS version upgrades the cooler, and the card itself is available in 1GB or 2GB flavors.

As anticipated, we are testing SLI so we have lined up a pair of GTX 650 Ti Boost GS Dual graphics cards, comparing them to a range of competing graphics card configurations, including Crossfire Radeon 7850s.

Testing Methodology

Reporting average fps (frames per second) using Fraps is how things have been done 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 whole story, as The Tech Report and others have shown.

To get a fuller picture, it's increasingly apparent that you need to factor in a card's frame latency, which looks at how quickly each frame is delivered. Regardless of how many frames a graphics card produces on average in 60 seconds, if it can't deliver them all at roughly the same speed, you might see more brief jittery points with one GPU over another – something we've witnessed but didn't fully understand.

Assuming two cards deliver equal average frame rates, the one with lowest stable frame latency is going to offer the smoothest picture, and that's a pretty important detail to consider if you're about to drop a wad of cash. As such, we'll be including this information from now on by measuring how long in milliseconds it takes cards to render each frame individually and then graphing that in a digestible way.

We'll be using the latency-focused 99th percentile metric, which looks at 99% of results recorded within X milliseconds, and the lower that number is, the faster and smoother the performance is overall. By removing 1% of the most extreme results, it's possible to filter anomalies that might have been caused by other components. Again, kudos to The Tech Report and other sites like PCPer for shining a light on this issue.

Test System Specs

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