EVGA Retail Card and our GPU Testbed

The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB SuperClocked

While we are still testing this card for a full review later in the week, we wanted to highlight the retail GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB we got in from EVGA, the SSC model. 

While reference clocks are 928 MHz, the EVGA SSC card here will run at 1107 MHz (!!) an increase of 143 MHz or 15%.  That should improve our GTX 650 Ti numbers quite a bit and if the MSRPs are correct, this card will only be $10 more than the standard models.

The Testbed Configuration

For the Radeon HD 7970 3GB review (and all those going forward) we decided it was high time we replaced the somewhat dated Nehalem-based infrastructure (even though honestly, it was fast enough) with something a bit more current.  Obviously that meant going with the new Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor and X79 motherboard – by combining support for 40 PCI Express lanes and 3-4 full size GPU slots it makes for the perfect GPU base.

From this point on, our reviews will based around the following system:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X CPU
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard
  • Corsair DDR3-1600 4 x 4GB Vengeance memory
  • 600GB Western Digital VelociRaptor HDD
  • 1200 watt Corsair Professional Series power supply
  • Windows 7 SP1 x64

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The ASUS P9X79 Pro

The Intel Core i7-3960X gives us the fastest consumer-level CPU on the market to help eliminate the possibility of any processor-based bottlenecks in our testing (whenever possible).  There are still going to be some games that could use more speed (Skyrim comes to mind) but for our purposes this is as good as you get without getting into any kind of overclocked settings.  The ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard has enough space for three dual-slot graphics cards when the time comes for testing 3-Way SLI and CrossFire and 8 DIMM slots should we want to go up from our current setup of 16GB of Corsair Vengeance memory.  

I chose to stick with the 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive rather than an SSD as our total installation size with Windows 7 SP1 x64 and 6+ games was already hitting the 115GB range.  Finally the 1200 watt power supply from Corsair offers up more than enough juice for three power hungry graphics cards while running quietly enough to not throw off our noise testing drastically.

Speaking of noise, we are re-introducing our sound level testing thanks to the Extech 407738 Sound Level Meter capable of monitor decibel ratings as low as 20db.  This allows me to accurately tell you the noise levels generated by the graphics cards that make in-house at PC Perspective.

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Along with the new hardware configuration comes a host of new games.  For this review we will be using the following benchmarks and games for performance evaluation:

  • Battlefield 3
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • DiRT 3
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Metro 2033
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • 3DMark11
  • Unigine Heaven v2.5

This collection of games is both current and takes into account several different genres as well – first person role playing, third person action, racing, first person shooting, etc.  3DMark11 and Unigine Heaven give us a way to see how the cards stack up in a more synthetic environment while the real-world gameplay testing provided by the six games completes the performance picture.

Comparing low cost cards is always a pain because there are SO MANY different models you could potentially compare.  For this review we focused on three cards that best fit the pricing structure of $150.

You may notice that the gap between the HD 7850 1GB and the HD 7770 1GB is pretty big and that the GTX 650 Ti falls right in between – that isn't an accident on NVIDIA's part.  Also, I included the previous-generation GTX 560 card so you can see what the CURRENT DAY competition is from NVIDIA's own lineup at this cost.  We are NOT showing you generation to generation performance here as I don't think it's nearly as relevent at this price point, but we'll have more on that later.

Both AMD cards were tested using driver revision 12.9 beta while both NVIDIA cards were run with the 306.38 beta driver.

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