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With Nvidia's GeForce GTX 650 set at 100%, here's what the chart looks like comparing all of the cards in today's review:
We get an interesting outcome from the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti, which returns the largest gap between its high- and low-detail results. We can blame a relatively narrow 128-bit memory bus for this, coupled with a fairly potent GPU.
At fairly conservative settings, the GK106-equipped GTX 650 Ti nearly overtakes Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 and Radeon HD 6870. But when MSAA is applied at higher quality levels, the board takes a disproportionately large hit, ending up a few percentage points faster than the Radeon HD 6850, on average. As we saw in the benchmarks, that disparity can be mitigated somewhat through overclocking. In addition, most newer titles support alternative anti-aliasing modes, such as FXAA, that are easier on bandwidth-starved board designs.
Assuming it surfaces at the $150 target Nvidia tells us to expect, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti offers the best performance at its price point, with average frame rates that outclass the Radeon HD 6850. The Radeon HD 7770 is beaten even more soundly. Conservative power, heat, and noise measurements make the card easy to live with and build an entry-level gaming system around, too.
Are there any reasons to shy away from a $150 GeForce GTX 650 Ti? Only that there's a 1 GB Radeon HD 7850 selling for $30 more. We think that gamers with the extra money would do well to invest it in the notably-faster AMD card, even though it uses about 30 W more power under load. We've seen a Pitcairn-based board selling for as little as $165 already, which could be a short-lived gimmick on AMD's part to give us a moment of pause. If it's not, then that's a real shot across Nvidia's bow.
It's impossible for us to know where prices will settle over the next few weeks. What is clear, however, is that Nvidia's GeForce GTX 650 Ti is fast enough and affordable enough to serve as a compelling option for mainstream gamers, particularly now that the Radeon HD 6850 and GeForce GTX 560 are at the end of their effective lives and disappearing from store shelves.