It’s been an interesting few weeks for graphics and gaming hardware enthusiasts. First, we heard that new-generation GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia would be delayed till much later this year, breaking a traditional annual refresh cycle. However, neither company is sitting idle—both have released new top-end and midrange GPUs in the past two weeks. Nvidia’s unassuming flagship Titan is matched against AMD’s dual-GPU 7990 in the Rs 60,000+ market, but those are luxury products for a very niche audience. We’re excited about the other end of the market today, which is where most of the action takes place.



The cooler is nothing like the one on the reference design

The much more interesting match is in the Rs 10,000–14000 range, which has been rather empty of late. There are several models priced below and above these points, leaving a significant gap in between. AMD stepped in first with its Radeon HD 7790, which we examined in detail last week. Not to be left behind, Nvidia has put forward the brand new GeForce 650 Ti Boost. The name makes it sound like a tweaked version of the older 650 Ti, thanks to the company’s inability to resist adding multiple suffixes to its product names, but it’s actually a different enough product to stand on its own.


In our test of the 7790, we managed to include preliminary results from Nvidia’s reference sample 650 Ti Boost card, and discovered that there was a significant gap between their results. The Boost outperforms the 7790 by a fair margin, but is also expensive enough to be considered one step up the ladder. Both offered equal value for money, though we were tempted enough by the Boost’s advantage to recommend that people spend the extra thousand rupees if they can.



Galaxy's odd choice of ports, and the enlarged vent

Architecture and features

The 650 Ti Boost is based on the same GK106 GPU that powers the 650 Ti and the 660, which flank it in Nvidia’s lineup. All three GPUs are essentially the same chip with certain parts disabled or cut down in the lower-end models; a standard industry practice which lowers costs and reduces wastage. Like its lower-end counterpart, the 650 Ti Boost has 768 “stream processors” and 64 texture units—four fifths the values of the 660, since one of the five SMX clusters is inactive—but retains all 24 ROPs rather than 16. The 980 MHz clock speed and 192-bit memory bus, on the other hand, are derived from the beefier GeForce GTX 660. Nvidia has picked and chosen features from both siblings to fill the gap left between them. The balance is slightly tilted in favour of the more expensive GeForce GTX 660. In fact there are almost zero visual differences between the 660 and 650 Ti Boost reference boards, and their rated TDPs are just 4 Watts apart. The first wave of 650 Ti Boost cards in the market will all come with 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM, but cheaper 1 GB variants will start coming out in a month or so.


Galaxy GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST

Today, we’re looking at a 650 Ti Boost card made by Galaxy. It’s quite a bit different from the stock design that we saw from Nvidia, with a custom cooler, different circuit board, and rearranged port cluster. While the card itself is longer than reference cards, the cooler doesn’t hang over the back, making the entire assembly a fair bit shorter. The cooler has an open design, so it will vent hot air out the back and into your PC case. We’ll let the test results determine if there’s any advantage to this approach, but we can say for certain that the port arrangement is highly disappointing. Reference cards today have HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DVI ports, one of which supports digital as well as analogue out. The Galaxy card comes with HDMI, a lone digital-only DVI port, and VGA. That particular DVI port can’t be used with an adapter to drive a VGA output, which is the preferred arrangement. There’s no reason at all that a modern graphics card, especially one of this caliber, should restrict an output to VGA (and drop another one entirely)—we’re not sure if this was done for cost reasons or to enlarge the vents on the back panel.


Test Bench
Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40GHz
Motherboard: GIGABYTE P67A-UD3R
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB (4GB x 2) @1600MHz
Storage: Plextor PX-256M2S SSD (boot drive), WD Velociraptor 300GB (secondary)
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit


3DMark 11
3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark Corporation to determine the performance of a computer's 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. The latest version makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. We used the “Performance” preset for this benchmark.

Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and is based on the new Frostbite 2 game engine. The game only supports DX10 and DX11, which enables enhanced in-game destruction with Destruction 3.0, creating more refined physics than its predecessor and quasi-realtime radiosity using Geometrics' Enlighten technology. The game is a visual treat and a nightmare for graphics cards, which makes it perfect for our test. We used the “Ultra High” preset, Post AA – High, Blur – Full, Field of View – 90, Level – “Fear no Evil”.

Dirt 3
Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. The game is extremely scalable and features DX11 tessellation effects. We used the built-in benchmark tool, along with “Ultra” quality preset.

Metro 2033
Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter video game that continues to bring even the toughest graphics cards down to their knees. The game has a lot of DX11 eye-candy, which really puts a strain on any GPU. All DX11 features were enabled for the benchmark and we used the “Tower” level for our test.

Batman: Arkham City
A sequel to Arkham Asylum, Arkham City features a more open world gameplay as well as DX11 elements. For this test, we disabled Nvidias’s PhysX, since it would be unfair to AMD’s cards. Everything else was maxed out.

Crysis 2

Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek and is based on the new CryEngine 3. Just like the first iteration of the game, Crysis 2 continues to be one of the best looking shooters to date. The settings used for this benchmark were ‘Ultra High’ preset in Adrenalin, DX11 and High-resolution texture patch.


 Verdict and Price in India

Our tests revealed no noteworthy differences between the scores of the reference card and Galaxy’s custom design. The cooler didn’t make much difference in terms of noise or heat, so it comes down to a purely aesthetic choice. We’re still not thrilled with Galaxy’s decision to retool the port cluster, but the majority of buyers will use only a single monitor anyway, so it isn’t too much of an inconvenience.

The MRP of Rs 17,000 is considerably higher than we’ve seen from other brands, which advertise their cards at Nvidia’s recommended price, which is Rs 11,999. At that price, this card would have earned a considerably higher rating, but at Rs 17,000, we're pushing into the higher performance tier currently occupied by AMD's Radeon HD 7870 and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660. Even Asus' version of the 650 Ti Boost with its well-proven DirectCU II cooler is listed at Rs 14,000. Galaxy’s 650 Ti Boost will be a good buy when its street price comes down to a sane level. Nvidia’s new GPU is an excellent choice for 1080p gaming on a single screen, and we're happy to see fresh products in this market segment, but there are other card manufacturers with more reasonable offerings.


GPU Engine Specs:
CUDA Cores – 768
Base Clock (MHz) – 980
Boost Clock (MHz) – 1033
Memory Specs:
Memory Speed – 3004 (6008) MHz
Standard Memory Config – 2048MB
Memory Interface Width – 192-bit GDDR5
Feature Support:
OpenGL – 4.3
Bus Support – PCI Express 3.0
Certified for Windows 8 – Yes
Supported Technologies – DirectX 11, PhysX, CUDA, 3D Vision, TXAA, FXAA, Adaptive VSync, NVIDIA Surround
SLI Options – Yes

Display Support:

Multi Monitor – 3 Displays
Maximum Digital Resolution – 4096 x 2160
Maximum VGA Resolution – 2048 x 1536
HDCP – Not Support
HDMI  – Yes
Standard Display Connectors – One Dual Link DVI-D, One D-Sub, One HDMI
Audio Input for HDMI  – Internal

Standard Graphics Card Dimensions:
Length –  254
Height  –   2 Slot
Width  –  111.2

Power Specs:

Maximum Graphics Card Power (W)  – 140W
Minimum System Power Requirement (W) – 450W
Supplementary Power Connectors –  One 6-pin

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