Last year, it was nearly impossible to find reasonable prices on the best graphics cards, never mind finding anything that would qualify as a "budget" or cheap option. The GeForce GTX 1650 Super and Radeon RX 6500 XT we're looking at today basically weren't available in 2021, despite the former having launched in late 2019 — it was selling for as much as $350, according to our historical GPU pricing data.
2022 has thankfully brought an end to the GPU drought, and AMD's Navi 24 cards are selling for less than their official MSRPs. The RX 6500 XT can be had for as little as $180 (opens in new tab), and the GTX 1650 Super is back in stock as well, at least in some places — the EVGA 1650 Super SC goes for around $200 now, at Amazon (opens in new tab) and Newegg (opens in new tab) as well. Which means we can put these two sub-$200 graphics cards up against each other to see which cheap GPU is the better choice.
We'll look at performance, price, features and tech, drivers and software, and power and efficiency in order to determine a winner. Those categories are listed in order of decreasing importance, in our view at least, so we'll start with the critical aspects and move on down the list from there.
Gaming Performance: GTX 1650 Super vs RX 6500 XT
Gaming remains the main draw for graphics cards, though they can also help with video encoding and other tasks — or at least some of them can. Budget GPUs aren't intended for high-resolution gaming, instead delivering performance similar to previous-generation midrange and high-end GPUs at substantially lower prices. We put the GTX 1650 Super and RX 6500 XT to the test with our updated 8-game test suite, looking at three different settings and resolution combinations.
1080p gaming is the real target for these cards, though some lighter games might manage 1440p at lower quality settings. 1440p ultra obviously pushes things too far, with sub-30 fps performance in most of the games we tested. So let's just ignore the 1440p ultra numbers and focus on 1080p performance.
It's a bit of a mixed bag, with wild swings in relative performance, depending on the game. Overall performance at 1080p medium basically ended up a tie, with the GTX 1650 Super holding a negligible 2% lead. In the individual games, the 1650 Super was anywhere from 4% slower (Borderlands 3) to a whopping 31% faster (Total War: Warhammer 3). But for the most part, the two provided a comparable experience.
Bumping the quality settings from medium to ultra creates problems in several of the games, which start to use more than the 4GB of VRAM that's available on these GPUs. Forza Horizon 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, Total War: Warhammer 3, and Watch Dogs Legion all see performance basically cut in half, sometimes more. Most of the games remained playable, meaning 30 fps or more, but TWW3 and WDL both dropped below that mark.
Technically, AMD's RX 6500 XT has the advantage of also supporting DXR (DirectX Raytracing), which the GTX 1650 Super fails to run (you need a 6GB GTX 10- or 16-series GPU for limited DXR support). However, performance in DXR games on the 6500 XT, even at 1080p medium, is typically so slow as to be meaningless. In our 6-game DXR test suite, the RX 6500 XT averaged 13.5 fps and failed to run Control (which requires 6GB or more to enable DXR). Fortnite was the best result, at 20 fps, while a couple of the games didn't even break 10 fps. Don't bother, in other words.
It's interesting what AMD is able to do with significantly less memory bandwidth, even with a relatively small 16MB Infinity Cache. The RX 6500 XT has just 144 GB/s of bandwidth, compared to 192 GB/s for the GTX 1650 Super, due to the 64-bit memory bus on Navi 24. However, the 232 GB/s of Infinity Cache bandwidth basically makes up the difference, most of the time. It starts to fall short at ultra settings, but those mostly aren't playable anyway.
Incidentally, while we're only showing average fps, the 99th percentile lows are mostly the same story, except Nvidia's lead is slightly larger. Overall, the GTX 1650 Super was 4.9% faster on minimum fps at 1080p medium, 10.0% faster at 1080p ultra, and 43.7% faster at 1440p ultra. In other words, the framerate consistency was slightly worse on the RX 6500 XT.
While the performance might look like a tie, that's using a modern test system that supports the PCIe 4.0 interface. We also tested RX 6500 XT with PCIe 3.0 speeds, and performance dropped by 9% overall, but there were instances where it was up to 40% slower. Testing the GTX 1650 Super on the same two PCs showed a 2% improvement in performance on the older Core i9-9900K system, so the drop in AMD performance can safely be attributed to the PCIe interface and platform. That gives Nvidia the overall lead for this category.
Winner: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super
Nvidia came out ahead at all three tested settings and resolutions, using a modern test PC. 1080p medium performance was pretty much tied, and we could throw AMD a bone for its ray tracing hardware. However, for budget hardware, we feel there's a far greater chance these cards will end up in a PC that doesn't support PCIe 4.0, which means Nvidia gets the lead. Neither one of these GPUs are particularly potent, of course. You're getting the equivalent of an RX 580 8GB (but with less VRAM), or a bit faster than a GTX 980, half a decade after those GPUs were in their prime.
Price: GTX 1650 Super vs RX 6500 XT
Prices have been all over the place for most of the past two years, though the RX 6500 XT only launched back in January 2022. The GTX 1650 Super originally debuted with a price of just $159 in 2019, and it was an excellent value at the time. Prices trended upward in 2020, and then spiked horrifically in 2021 when the GPU shortages and pandemic-influenced supply chain issues were at their worst. Even now, nearly three years after its launch, the lowest prices on the GTX 1650 Super are still $200.
Unless you're willing to take a chance with a used card, which changes things up slightly. The GTX 1650 Super can be had for around $130 on eBay (opens in new tab), while the RX 6500 XT starts at around $150 (opens in new tab). Both of those prices are very much estimates, as eBay shows far more fluctuations than retail stores. Plus, buying a used graphics card represents a risk. The good news is that neither of these GPUs would have been a great option for mining purposes, due to having only 4GB of memory, so they probably weren’t run into the ground by their former owners.
What's not clear is whether Nvidia is still actively producing the TU116 chips that sit at the heart of the GTX 1650 Super. It hasn't officially discontinued production as far as we're aware, but the supply of budget-friendly GTX 16-series cards hasn't been all that great for a while now. The RTX 3050 meanwhile represents a large step up in price, performance, and features, so Nvidia doesn't have a direct replacement for the GTX 1650 Super. And no, the GTX 1630 is not the GPU you're looking for [waves hand].
Winner: AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT
Retail pricing trumps eBay pricing, and right now you save $20 by going with the AMD RX 6500 XT. Unless Nvidia starts providing a steady supply of TU116 chips — for the GTX 1650 Super as well as the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Super — AMD will likely maintain its modest pricing advantage.
Features and Technology: GTX 1650 Super vs RX 6500 XT
Normally, newer GPU architectures come with additional features. AMD's Navi 24 and Nvidia's GTX 16-series represent an exception to that rule, in different ways.
Despite using the Turing architecture, the GTX 1650 Super doesn't support ray tracing or DLSS — two of the biggest additions to Turing. It does support the improved Turing NVENC hardware, which promises higher quality streaming encodes with less of a hit on gaming performance, however, which does beat Navi 24.
AMD's Navi 24 GPU meanwhile represents some serious cuts to the basic RDNA 2 architecture feature set. There's no video encoding hardware, only video decoding hardware. The PCIe interface also gets trimmed to just an x4 link, which despite being PCIe 4.0 capable still has half the potential throughput as the GTX 1650 Super's PCIe 3.0 x16 interface. It's also limited to two display outputs, typically one HDMI 2.1 and one DisplayPort 1.4.
The one major feature AMD supports with RX 6500 XT that Nvidia does not is ray tracing, but as noted earlier, it's much more of a checkbox feature than something most people would consider using. Other competing features are mostly comparable, like G-Sync vs FreeSync, Reflex vs Anti-Lag, etc. You get the same amount of memory (4GB), and both GPUs require a 6-pin (or sometimes 8-pin) power connection.
Winner: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super
We said in our initial review that Navi 24 represented too many cuts to the basic feature set. A 64-bit memory interface, x4 PCIe interface, and no encoding hardware make this a GPU that feels more like something from five years ago. Sure, there's RT hardware, but it's only a token effort and is largely useless with only 4GB of memory. This is a close call, but ultimately we give Nvidia a slight edge.
Drivers and Software: GTX 1650 Super vs RX 6500 XT
AMD and Nvidia release regular driver updates for their GPUs. In AMD's case, the company typically drops larger annual overhauls of its Radeon drivers, but the biggest changes in the past couple of years have focused on improving DirectX 11 performance in a few cases, and cleaning up bugs. Most major game launches tend to see AMD Game Ready drivers, though not necessarily WHQL certified drivers.
Nvidia maintains a similar release schedule for its GeForce drivers. It doesn't always have a monthly driver update, but you can count on having Game Ready Drivers on launch day for most major game releases. Nearly every Nvidia driver (outside the occasional hotfix) is WHQL certified. It's an extra step, though in practice we're not sure how much it really matters — we've seen UI bugs and other issues still slip through the WHQL process.
AMD and Nvidia have different approaches to their driver user interfaces. Nvidia splits its GeForce driver options into two applications. Nvidia Control Panel handles the GPU settings, such as resolution, texture filtering, vertical sync, low latency mode, power management, and more. The control panel also handles display configuration settings, such as color, rotation, and multi-display setups. Nvidia GeForce Experience handles game settings, driver updates, and includes game streaming and recording features as well as performance tuning options. To access the GeForce Experience features, you must log in with an Nvidia user account.
AMD takes a somewhat more streamlined approach in that the Radeon driver software is a one-stop-shop for all your Radeon GPU settings and features. The Radeon Adrenaline 2022 software suite includes automatic driver updates, game performance profiles, built-in broadcasting software to stream and record your gameplay, and performance metrics and overclocking options.
Both Nvidia and AMD have different advantages with their drivers and accompanying software, but they offer generally equivalent experiences. Driver updates come on a regular basis, and both companies are well versed in testing and tuning their drivers to extract good gaming performance. Nvidia might do a bit better on a selection of less popular games, but we already gave it the performance category so we're calling this a tie.
Power Consumption / Efficiency: GTX 1650 Super vs RX 6500 XT
The GTX 1650 Super and RX 6500 XT aren't particularly demanding cards, with official TBP (typical board power) ratings of 100W and 107W, respectively. As you can guess, real-world testing might show some minor differences, but any decent power supply should prove sufficient for these GPUs.
Some models might have a larger factory overclock and require an 8-pin connector, and all cards will need at least a 6-pin connector. That's enough for the card to use up to 150W (75W from the 6-pin and 75W from the PCIe slot), and even the largest factory overclocks are unlikely to push things that far.
AMD's previous generation GPUs often used far more power than their Nvidia counterparts, but that's not the case with the current lineup. In our testing,the RX 6500 XT used 90W of power in our Metro Exodus test and 113W in FurMark, while the GTX 1650 Super used 101W in Metro and 102W in FurMark. There's a good chance other games would have the RX 6500 XT using more power, which means overall it's a tie.
That's certainly an interesting outcome, considering Nvidia's GTX 1650 Super uses TSMC's older 12nm FFN node while the AMD RX 6500 XT uses the newer 7nm node. AMD's Navi 24 also has a 107mm^2 die size compared to Nvidia's TU116 with a 284mm^2 chip size (though a decent chunk of the TU116 chip is disabled on this card). But lower clock speeds and other architectural differences come into play, and ultimately power draw ends up being very similar.
A difference of 5–10W in real-world use cases basically doesn't matter, when both cards have the same PSU connectivity requirements. 100W of power, give or take, means your graphics card shouldn't need a massive cooler with lots of fans, and the fans should spin at relatively low speeds, leading to a quiet PC overall.
Bottom Line: GTX 1650 Super vs RX 6500 XT
Overall Winner: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super
The Radeon RX 6500 XT and GeForce GTX 1650 Super are relatively well matched cards. Frankly, that's more than a little surprising, considering the GTX 1650 Super is now almost three years old, while the RX 6500 XT hasn't even reached its first birthday yet. But AMD originally intended the Navi 24 GPU for mobile solutions, which means it would typically be paired with integrated graphics solutions that would provide some extra features.
That proves to be a limiting factor overall. If you want to save $20, certainly AMD deserves some thought. However, at $200 even, with features like video encoding (live streaming) support and slightly better performance in the majority of games, plus the ability to use the GTX 1650 Super with older PCIe 3.0 systems without tanking performance, Nvidia comes out ahead.
That's not to say the RX 6500 XT couldn't work just fine for a lot of people, but the same goes for the GTX 1650 Super. Frankly, we'd be more inclined to try and step up to the next level of performance and features, with the Radeon RX 6600 and GeForce RTX 3050 — or even the GeForce GTX 1660 Super. But that might be too big of a step for many wallets. GPU prices continue to fall, but Nvidia's "budget Ampere" cards still sell well above MSRP.
Pricing and relative performance are the key factors. Right now, the RX 6500 XT and GTX 1650 Super go head to head, but if the AMD card gets cheaper or supplies of the GTX 1650 Super dry up and prices increase, things could quickly change. Availability of older GTX 16-series has become somewhat unreliable, so if the GTX 1650 Super fades away and the GTX 1650 has to take its place in the sub-$200 market, RX 6500 XT would easily take the performance crown — and the GTX 1630 is laughable by comparison.
Despite the age of the GTX 1650 Super, we also don't expect a serious replacement to arrive any time soon from Team Green. AMD's RX 6500 XT is too new to need a replacement as well. That means even though next-generation Nvidia Ada and AMD RDNA 3 GPUs are on the horizon, it might be some time before the budget gets any love.