Recently we reviewed the GTX650Ti Boost, the latest mid-range graphics card from nVidia. We found it to be exactly what you'd hope to find from a GPU costing around the £140 mark. It had decent, if unspectacular, performance.
However, as we know that many of you are on a tight budget and/or looking to get the maximum performance for the minimum outlay, then we wanted to take a look at the GXT650Ti Boost in SLI.
The 'two cheap cards in multi-GPU' arrangement has often produced some excellent results. So if you already have a GTX650Ti Boost and wondered how an additional one would, ahem, boost your performance, then read on. Today we're looking at the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost, with their Windforce cooler.
As always with nVidia products the Gigabyte matches the reference card in all the major areas, with the biggest change being the introduction of their own Windforce cooler in the hope of reducing noise and temperatures.
|Chipset||GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost|
|Memory Clock||6008 MHz|
|Process Technology||28 nm|
|Memory Bus||192 bit|
|Core Clock||Base clock: 1032 MHz|
Boost clock: 1098 MHz
(standard Base clock: 980 MHz Boost clock: 1046 MHz)
|Card Bus||PCI-E 3.0|
|Digital max resolution||2560 x 1600|
|Analog max resolution||2048 x 1536|
|Card size||H= 42mm, L=256.3 mm, W=131 mm|
As we've come to expect from the Windforce cooler, it still is an off-the-shelf part just bolted on to the PCB. It does the job, but it's not exactly attractive with bits of it hanging off the end of the card.
If one card is good, then two cards are better, and that is the gist of todays review. Would it be worthwhile to add another?
It doesn't matter from what angle you look at the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost Windforce, the cooler is ill-fitting and actually makes the card look cheap. Lots of cooler hanging off the right hand edge, yet large bits of exposed PCB on the left. Not good enough.
Connectivity is the usual nVidia arrangement of a DisplayPort, HDMI and two DVI's. With this being a midrange card it only requires a single 6pin power input.
2x Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost
nVidia Forceware 314.22
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 x64
Despite the rather crude looks, the Windforce cooler does its job and takes 12°C off the reference design. Even in the cramped conditions of the SLI arrangement it's still capable of a lower temperature than a single stock card.
3D Mark Vantage
Compared to the stock card the Gigabyte has a few extra points in 3D Mark Vantage, but the bit show is from the SLI setup, giving results better than a GTX680. Impressive start.
3D Mark 11
That trend continues in 3D Mark 11. The single card is the better of the two GTX650Ti Boost's that we've tested, but the SLI is capable of out-benchmarking the GTX680.
Our final 3D Mark test begins to expose the limits of using a pair of midrange cards. In the average detail and resolution tests of Ice Storm and Cloud Gate the SLI setup performs well, but as Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme come in, the architectural limits cause the GTX650Ti Boost to run out of puff.
Alien vs Predator
By no means a demanding title, Alien vs Predator shows how much performance is available from the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost, and particularly in SLI.
Batman Arkham City
Hopefully the forthcoming Batman Origins will be better optimised than the frankly woeful Arkham City. It adores nVidia cards with their inbuilt PhysX, and the GTX650Ti Boost is no exception.
The title that currently is our game of the year and one that has eradicated the stench of its predecessor, Bioshock Infinite looks fantastic and performs very well on the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost with the SLI setup capable of never dropping below 73FPS.
Although the single card doesn't quite reach the heights of the reference model, we also can see that despite the SLI scaling being great, the architecture hits a stumbling block in such a demanding title.
Far Cry 3
The adventures of Jason Brody continue with the SLI arrangement providing excellent performance. Indeed we're only 1.3FPS behind the vastly more expensive GTX Titan. On the flip-side it's only 2FPS ahead of the cheaper HD7970.
Things remain in a similar vein with Hitman Absolution. The scaling from a single card to a pair is particularly impressive.
Such is the easy performance to be had from Mafia 2 that comparisons become harder to make. Certainly in SLI the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost can best a GTX680, yet it also only matches the Club3D HD7870.
We often comment upon how Metro prefers two cards rather than a single GPU, and it remains true with the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost. Once again we have to say how well the nVidia offerings scale. Two cards give nearly double the performance of a single one, which is exactly what you'd want to find. Hopefully Metro Last Light will prove a better optimised game.
Resident Evil 5 - DX9
The results are nothing if not consistent. The SLI is nearly double a single card, and certainly up there with a GTX680.
Resident Evil 5 - DX10
The solo Gigabyte card is still just a shade better than the reference model. The SLI is where it shines though, capable of matching the GTX Titan. Of course Resident Evil 5 isn't exactly demanding, but it's still nice to get some great results from a relatively affordable arrangement.
Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 gives us a score from the benchmark, and even then we can see how precise nVidia have got the scaling. The days of a 50-70% improvement seem long past.
Surprisingly Tomb Raider passes the 100% improvement with the minimum frame-rate exactly double, the maximum frame-rate 3 better than double, and the average frame-rate 4 frames better than with the single card.
Both Unigine Valley and CatZilla are demanding titles and show up the lack of architectural performance from the midrange card. It's a good performer when the pressure is merely reasonable, but as the intensity increases the reason it's a £150 show up.
With no anti-aliasing in place the Gigabyte cards make good use of their raw performance, matching all but the insane GTX Titan and other multi-card setups.
Upping the image quality courtesy of 8x MSAA, and the GTX650Ti Boost loses a lot of the performance we saw from the 0xAA test. It's still good, but not as impressive.
There is a lot to like about the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost, especially in SLI. Let's look at the individual card first.
Obviously the main thing you notice is the Windforce cooler. We've given this a reasonable amount of stick in the past for being a good performing cooler than has the looks of a home-built offering. Sure enough on the GTX650Ti things haven't changed. The Windforce keeps the card 12°C cooler than the reference design, and remains a good performer when the two cards are close together in SLI. There is no getting away from those looks though. Without a shroud or any attempt whatsoever to tailor the cooler to the card, it still looks like something designed at home by someone with a couple of spare fans. Form over function to the nth degree.
Performance is better than the reference card in every test, with the Gigabyte offering gaining a handful of frames-per-second over the nVidia model in all of our games. A cooler card leaves more headroom for the drivers to boost the card a little further, and this is what gives us the better results.
SLI is where the cards really shine though. Two midrange cards paired up have often been the weapon of choice for those who desire the performance of the top-end model for a more affordable price, and the GTX650Ti Boost keeps this up with performance generally around the level of a GTX680. Naturally since the initial launch of the GTX680 the price has dropped significantly so a couple of GTX650Ti Boost's will only save you around £50 in comparison. This means that we'd probably say it was a worthwhile investment if you already own a single card to add another, rather than worthy of buying if you're upgrading in general.
The other key to remember is that eventually architectural limitations are unable to be overcome by pure clock speed. We saw from the very latest games that are the most demanding, Crysis 3 for example, that despite some excellent results the GTX650Ti is still by no means a full-fat card.
It all sounds rather negative, but when you're talking about a setup costing close to £300 then you have different expectations. If you are in need of a new GPU then we'd recommend spending your money on either a GTX670 or a HD7950. However, if you've already purchased one of the GTX650Ti Boosts, then another is a fine addition and will give a great boost to your performance. If you're in the market for a single model then the Gigabyte GTX650Ti Boost is cool, quiet and fast. Just be aware that even in SLI you still have to be judicious in your choice of detail settings. We're happy to award it our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to Gigabyte for providing the GTX650Ti Windforce for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.