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Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 And 660 Review: Kepler At $110 And $230

GeForce GTX 650: Filling In The Gaps

Nearly six months have passed since Nvidia launched its Kepler architecture with the GeForce GTX 680, a card that we praised for its much-improved efficiency and raw performance. Since then, we've seen the company replace Fermi-based models with the GeForce GTX 690, 670, 660 Ti, and the GT 640, all leveraging the same technology.

AMD, which had already launched several of its own current-gen cards when Nvidia struck back, is fighting off the competition with performance-enhancing driver updates, deep price cuts, and BIOS-based overclocking of existing models. What was previously a stable graphics card market is now an all-out battleground, pockmarked with old price tags and new, more attractive deals. Of course, patient enthusiasts have to be loving it, while the gamers who jumped early continue to enjoy their high-end hardware. 

In the more mainstream space, AMD's $110 Radeon HD 7750 and $210 Radeon HD 7850 are dominant, though. Nvidia is finally ready to throw some Kepler-based competition up against those quick and quiet budget-oriented boards. Today, we're being introduced to the GeForce GTX 650 at $109 and the GeForce GTX 660, expected to sell for $229.

Meet GeForce GTX 650

If this block diagram looks familiar, you probably saw it in Nvidia GeForce GT 640 Review: Cramming Kepler Into GK107. GeForce GTX 650 uses the same GK107 graphics processor as the existing GeForce GT 640. It sports two SMX clusters with a total 384 CUDA cores and 32 texture units, and it's capable of producing 16 full-color pixels per clock cycle thanks to two ROP clusters.

So far, the GeForce GTX 650 looks exactly the same as GeForce GT 640. So, what makes it different?

The GeForce GTX 650 has two distinct advantages over the GT 640: higher clock rates and GDDR5 memory. The GTX 650's 1058 MHz core clock is 158 MHz higher than the GT 640, but this is a relatively minor boost. The real performance boost comes from the GDDR5, which offers two times the bandwidth per clock cycle than DDR3. This improvement is key to the GeForce GTX 650's potential to compete with AMD's Radeon HD 7750.

Let's have a closer look at this card as it compares to the playing field:

GeForce GT 640GeForce GTX 650Radeon HD 7750GeForce GTX 550 TiGeForce GTS 450
Shader Cores384384512192192
Texture Units3232323232
Color ROPs1616161616
Fabrication process28 nm28 nm28 nm40 nm40 nm
Core (Shader) Clock900 MHz1058 MHz800 MHz900 (1800) MHz783 (1566) MHz
Memory Clock891 MHz DDR31250 MHz GDDR51125 MHz GDDR51025 MHz GDDR5902 MHz GDDR5
Memory Bus128-bit128-bit128-bit192-bit128-bit
Memory Bandwidth28.5 GB/s80 GB/s72 GB/s98.5 GB/s57.7 GB/s
Graphics RAM1 GB DDR31/2 GB GDDR51 GB GDDR51/2 GB GDDR51/2 GB DDR3
Power ConnectorsNone1 x 6-pinNone1 x 6-pin1 x 6-pin
Maximum Thermal Design Power65 W64 W55 W116 W106 W
Price$95-$110 (Newegg)~$109 (MSRP)$100-$140 (Newegg)$110-$150 (Newegg)$100-$110 (Newegg)

The GeForce GTX 650's memory bandwidth advantage over the GT 640 is huge. It also appears superior to the GeForce GTS 450 in almost every way, and should compete readily against the Radeon HD 7750 and GeForce GTX 550 Ti.

Originally, we expected the GeForce GT 640 to fall under $100. And at $110, the GeForce GTX 650 will almost assuredly push the lower-end board down to where it should have been at launch.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Overclock (GV-N650OC-2GI)

Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 650 is expected to sell for $140, which is $30 more than Nvidia's suggested price, and likely a result of the card's 2 GB of GDDR5. Less expensive models will include one gigabyte. A 1111 MHz core clock is 53 MHz above the reference specification, but the board's memory operates at the same 1250 MHz. 

The GeForce GTX 650 does not feature GPU Boost, so any overclocking that happens beyond 1111 MHz is going to have to be manually-triggered.

Although the reference GeForce GTX 650 has two dual-link DVI ports and one mini-HDMI output, Gigabyte adds an analog VGA connection. All told, the card supports four screens operating concurrently: three in Surround mode and one extended desktop.

The card’s PCB is the same 5.5" long as the Afox GeForce GT 640 we've already reviews. But the GeForce GTX 650 stands a full 4.5"-tall, rather than occupying a half-height form factor. It requires a six-pin auxiliary power connector, which is somewhat surprising in light of Nvidia's claimed 64 W thermal ceiling. No SLI connector is available, so multi-card operation is not possible.

Gigabyte covers its GeForce GTX 650 with a large heat sink and a 100 mm fan that performs excellently in our noise and thermal testing. The plastic shroud around the cooler extends past the PCB, making the card look larger than it is.

  • EDVINASM
    Was waiting for GTX 650 to see if it can beat the old GTX 550 Ti but it seems other than power draw it's no match. Might as well keep my GPU until next NVidia lineup. GTX 660 on other hand is only €50 cheaper than GTX 660 Ti meaning its a no budget saver to buy non Ti version. Fail...
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    AMD wins again!
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    Buy a 7770 or 7870 instead.
    Wait for sales on whichever one is needed and then grab one -
    AMD 7770 can be had for just over $100.
    AMD 7870 can be had for about $220.
    Reply
  • lahawzel
    Goddamn Mike NY Gmail or whatever the hell your name is supposed to be, here, proper commenting etiquette:

    1. Read the article.
    2. Understand what the article is talking about.
    3. If you find an urge to comment about "______ sucks" or "_______ wins again", especially when the article says the opposite of what you want to post, chances are your comment will look dumb as hell when it's posted and earn you 20 downvotes. Therefore, don't post that goddamn poor excuse of a "comment".
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    How "nice" of u tomshardware. By only compared 7750/7770 vs 650 in high detail but not comparing 7750/7770 on the Ultra detail, then when u pull out a 460 SE/9800GT for benchmark, u are taking away 650(why?).

    Is it because 650 performance is too poor to show off on benchmark? It doesnt take a genius to figure out the huge diff between 6870 vs 650. 7770= 6850 speed. So I guess even the 7750/460SE are putting shame on 650 on those high quality detail? too shy to show off 460SE/9800GT up against 650?

    I dare u put on a detailed benchmark with 650 up against 7770/7750/GTS450/550ti/460/9800GT/9800GTX on all condition. Not a selective benchmark.
    Reply
  • Why are there giant gaps in both lineups? AMD has the 7770 at $130 and 7850 at $230 -- nvidia has the 650 and 660 at similar price points -- ideally for my budget would be something in the $150-170 price range, but I either have to compromise or shell out more. It seems like an obvious market gap.
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    LaHawzelGod damn Mike NYThanks for the attempted compliment, but call me Mike. I'm glad you've been paying attention.

    It was more of a joke than anything else to simply write "AMD wins again!" and it was actually pretty funny! I try to balance things out so that no one company is viewed too favorably.

    For example, I recently bought an Nvidia GTX 460 1 GB 256 bit card for $70, new, with a 3 month warranty for a friend to upgrade his gaming computer. Unusual? Yes. Great deal? You better believe it! Of course, if an equivalent AMD card was available at a cheaper price, that's the one I would've bought.

    Now, relax and try to control yourself. Refrain from the use of profanity in future posts. Thanks.
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    Nice article to be honest. I'm really glad you tested the Radeon cards with the new driver compared to other review sites.

    I've got nothing else to say on the GTX650 but to just point out that it's a weak card.

    On the other hand, the GTX660 is probably the only Kepler (besides the 670) that impresses me. I don't know about everyone else though. To point out one thing, most Radeon 7870s can be found at $240 or lower without MIR. The GTX660 is priced well for a release MSRP and makes the 660ti offers less value, kind of like the 670 vs 680. For 8xMSAA, the performance does cripple but I think at this price point, most people are going to stay with 4xAA or possibly lower.
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    EzioAsNice article to be honest. I'm really glad you tested the Radeon cards with the new driver compared to other review sites.I've got nothing else to say on the GTX650 but to just point out that it's a weak card.On the other hand, the GTX660 is probably the only Kepler (besides the 670) that impresses me. I don't know about everyone else though. To point out one thing, most Radeon 7870s can be found at $240 or lower without MIR. It's priced well for a release MSRP and makes the 660ti offers less value, kind of like the 670 vs 680. For 8xMSAA, the performance does cripple but I think at this price point, most people are going to stay with 4xAA or possibly lower.
    Exactly - Savvy TH readers will wait for sales on whichever one is needed and then grab one!
    AMD 7770 can be had for just over $100 on sale.
    AMD 7870 can be had for about $220 on sale.
    Reply
  • mubin
    Gtx 660 is the only option in mid-range gpu
    Reply