Video Card Review: EVGA Geforce GTX 650 1 Gig, Solo and as PhysX.

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 3

Overview:

The 650 is described on their website (from EVGA) as being “If you’re passionate about first-person shooters like Call of Duty, massively multiplayer online games like World of WarCraft, or real-time strategy games like StarCraft II, GeForce GTX is for you. And your first step into GeForce® GTX gaming is the EVGA GeForce GTX 650.”  We’ll see.  In this review I’m going to go over the GTX 650 in these different roles, lets see how it fares in any of them:

  • As a solo GPU in a high end system
  • As a solo GPU in a moderate system
  • As a PhysX card in a moderate system
  • As a PhyX card in a high end system

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 1

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 2, Box Contents

Box contents: EVGA Manual, EVGA Driver Disc, GTX 650, Molex-to-PCI-E adapter (non sleeved), DVI/VGA Converter, and EVGA Case badge

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 3

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 3

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 4


1 Fan, decently sized heatsink, takes 1 PCI-Express power adapter.

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 5

Another shot of the Heatsink and the power adapter.

 

EVGA Geforece GTX 650 Product Photo 6


1x Mini HDMI and 2x Dual Link DVI ports.

Packaging:

Typical video card packaging here.  As this card rang up as less then $120 USD I expected no frills and that’s exactly what I got.  Usually EVGA individually static-bags everything they ship with their parts, not so much the case with the 650.  We get a Molex-to-PCI-E power adapter that might as well be in a sandwhich baggie, and the same for the DVI adapter.  Not winning any points here, but that’s understandable since it’s a low-budget card.

 

Benchmarking:

Test Systems:

Before I get into charts and numbers, I want to talk a bit about how I’m going to do this.  I only have a single system to test on, so in this review I’m going to use it at it’s normal settings, and at a reduced/non overclocked settings. The goal here is to try to represent the type of system the 650 was meant to be used in, as well as an enthusiast build. The specs are as follows:

Non-OC

  • i7 2600k @ 3.4 (stock)
  • 4 gigs of g.Skill Ripjawz Series Z (1 stick)
  • EVGA Z68 SLI motherboard
  • Kingston Hyper X 3k SSD x2 for OS and Games

OC:

  • i7 2600k @ 4.5 Ghz
  • 16 Gigs of g.Skill Ripjawz Series Z (4 sticks)
  • EVGA z68 SLI motherboard
  • Kingston Hyper X 3k SSD x2 for OS and Games
Here are some screenshots of the system setups:
670-NonOC-System Specs
Overclocked System Specs

Benchmarking:

First thing I’m going to benchmark is Battlefield 3.  My method for this is simple, I load up the very first campaign mission (Semper Fidelis) and start framerate recording with Fraps as soon as the player lands on the train.  I stop once the screen starts to turn black at the end of the level.  I do this because I can run this level consistently every time with very little difference between runs.

First we’re going to see how it stacks up against a Single GTX 670 with everything set to Low in BF3’s Video settings.

Settings Used for Low:

BF3 Low Settings

Chart for 650 vs 670 BF3 Low Quality Settings

As you can see, absolutely and completely trounced.   I didn’t bother to try the Non-OC system in Ultra mode for the 650.

Here’s the results from the OC’d system for everything in the BF3 Video Settings set to Ultra:

Settings used for Ultra:

BF3 Ultra Settings

And again, in Low Quality, on the OC system:

Chart 650 vs 670 BF3 OC Low

Didn’t even break 60 FPS with all settings turned down to low on what otherwise most would consider an enthusiast system.

Diablo 3:

My method for this is to start in town, start fraps as soon as everything is loaded, and then Waypoint to the Cemetary in Act 1 Inferno with my Barbarian.  I then go to a Defiled Crypt and kill everything in it.  Due to the random nature of Diablo 3 it’s hard to get 100% consistent results, but I think trends still show.

Non OC’d system, Low Quality Settings:

Diablo 3 Low Settings

Chart 650 vs 670 D3 Low

Not too shabby to be honest.  The Max being higher then the 670 is likely just a fluke of the randomness of Diablo III, but the average paints a picture.

Lets move onto the OC’d system, with High Quality:

Diablo 3 High Quality Settings

Chart 650 vs 670 D3 High

For the curious, here’s the OC system running low quality settings:

Chart 650 vs 670 D3 Low OC

As you can see in games, if you’re willing to go low-quality settings and play games that aren’t too system taxing, the 650 will perform… decently.  If you’re running anything slightly demanding, it falls incredibly short.

3d Mark 2011 Scores

3dMark Single 670 vs 650

No surprises.

 

PhysX:

So this got me to thinking, it’s advertised on the box that it supports PhysX- How would it perform in that role, as a dedicated PhysX card?

EDITORS NOTE:  I was informed by helpful user tito13kfm over at http://reddit.com/r/buildapc  that 3dMark 2011 does not take PhysX into account, and thus the originally posted 3dmark Scores have been nullified and removed.  Instead, I’m using the amazing game Batman: Arkham City which does use PhysX and has an incredible built in Benchmark utility which will be featured in my reviews from now own.  Rocksteady, you owe tito13kfm $19.99 since he convinced me to buy the game today!

Without futher ado, here are the results which may surprise you:

Batman Arkham City PhysX 670 SLI 650

 

Yep, that’s right- using the 650 as a dedicated PhysX card kills the performance.  It brings SLI’d 670’s down to a Single 670’s performance level.  Just to prove to myself I wasn’t seeing things I went into nvidia control panel, set the PhysX back to default (running off of the second GPU) and performance went back to how it was.  The 650 just isn’t a good PhysX card, or at least not when coupled with other 6xx series cards.  If I could get a hold of a pair of 480’s, maybe it’d be different?

 

 

Conclusion:

At first it seems like the GTX 650 is a peg without a hole, that it doesn’t really meet the needs of any gamer out there.  It made me wonder, why would a company make this card?  You have to sacrifice every bell and whistle and play low-taxing or older games to get decent performance, and even then saying it’s decent is a stretch.  I probably wouldn’t use it in an HTPC either seeing as how it’s actively cooled, and there are plenty of passively cooled options on the market that can play 1080p video just fine.

So what then, is the use of this particular card?  I’d say workstations.  If I were an IT guy and had to build 100 work stations, this might be the card I turn to.  It handles all things 2d without a problem, and though I don’t have Maya or 3d Studio Max to mess around with I’m sure it’s way more then adequate for that as well.  Handled Photoshop CS5 like a champ.  It’s even good enough to load up Quake Live or CounterStrike during your lunch break!

Overall if I had to give this a rating, as a gaming card, it’d be a 1 out of 5.  It just doesn’t have anything  that a modern gamer is looking for.

If I were giving it a rating for workstations, I’d give it a solid 4 out of 5.  It has more oomph then on board graphics, and can handle 3 displays by itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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