NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER Review – Featuring the MSI GAMING X
The GTX 1650 SUPER Arrives
NVIDIA didn’t exactly break new ground with the GTX 1660 SUPER launch – unless you call providing nearly a GTX 1660 Ti’s performance for only $10 above the starting price of the original GTX 1660 “new ground”. The GTX 1660 SUPER had identical specs to its non-super predecessor except for the memory, which moved up from 8 Gbps GDDR5 to 14 Gbps GDDR6.
The difference was not small, and the impressive performance of the GTX 1660 SUPER showed just how much that GDDR5 was holding back this TU116 GPU, and with the new 1650 SUPER we’ll see once again how higher specs affect performance. But performance itself isn’t enough when we’re talking about the competitive mainstream graphics segment, and pricing will be a key factor with this new card.
NVIDIA launched the GTX 1650 SUPER during Thanksgiving week here in the USA starting at $159, a $10 increase over the starting price of the original GTX 1650. This is a very modest price bump, once again, for a SUPER card with much better specs. But that’s just on paper. If we see gains similar to 1660 vs. 1660 SUPER, this could become one of the biggest stories of the year for mainstream 1080p gaming. We’ll just have to see how it performs. But first, those specs!
GTX 1650 SUPER Specifications
|GTX 1650||GTX 1650 SUPER||GTX 1660||GTX 1660 SUPER||GTX 1660 Ti|
|Base Clock||1485 MHz||1530 MHz||1530 MHz||1530 MHz||1500 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1665 MHz||1725 MHz||1785 MHz||1785 MHz||1770 MHz|
|Memory||4GB GDDR5||4GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR5||6GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6|
|Memory Data Rate||8 Gbps||12 Gbps||8 Gbps||14 Gbps||12 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||128 GB/s||192 GB/s||192.1 GB/s||336 GB/s||288.1 GB/s|
|Die Size||200 mm2||284 mm2||284 mm2||284 mm2||284 mm2|
|Process Tech||12 nm||12 nm||12 nm||12 nm||12 nm|
The MSI GTX 1650 SUPER GAMING X Card
If you’ve looked at a recent MSI GTX 16-series graphics card from the company’s ‘Gaming’ lineup, you won’t be surprised by the design of the card. In fact, at first glance this is identical to the GTX 1650 we looked at earlier this year – but looks can deceive, and the underlying heatsink is more robust (and heavier) than the non-SUPER design. And that makes a lot of sense when you consider that essentially the GTX 1650 SUPER is a slightly cut-down GTX 1660 with its TU116 GPU, and not some new take on the previous TU117 configuration.
With a quick look at the MSI Gaming X card out of the way, we’re on to the benchmarks.
For this review we’re going to look at a group of graphics cards in the approximately $150-$250 range, comparing performance at 1920×1080 with “high” settings. Not only is this is a more realistic test for a lower-cost GPU than the 2560×1440 “ultra” benchmarks we’ve used for other recent GPU reviews, but the 4GB limitation of a card like the GTX 1650 SUPER makes testing in some games at higher settings impossible without running into VRAM issues. 1080p “high” was chosen over “ultra” settings for this reason as well, with a good example being Far Cry 5 at “ultra” detail settings with HD textures enabled, as this requires over 4GB, even at 1080p.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9700K|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-3200 32GB (16GBx2)|
|Storage||CORSAIR Neutron Series XTi 480GB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (1903)|
|Drivers||Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.12.1
GeForce Game Ready Driver 441.20
Red Dead Redemption 2
The following benchmark results are all new (for all games), recorded using the latest drivers available at the time. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a new game in the test suite, adding a Vulkan API title to the results once again (all of the latest updates to RDR2 were applied before testing).
The first thing I’ll point out is that the new GTX 1650 SUPER leap-frogs the GTX 1060 6GB on the chart, is is a huge improvement in performance compared to the original GTX 1650. We are looking at a 37% increase in average FPS in this game going from GTX 1650 to 1650 SUPER, and the new card is over 30% faster than the GTX 1060 6GB in this test as well. A strong start.
Speaking of strong, the Radeon RX 590 results on this chart are most impressive, making a case to spend more on a card that has been priced in the $179 – $199 range recently. Then again, once we start talking about moving up one ~$20 increment the GTX 1660 makes its own case – but in this Vulkan benchmark the 1660 is pretty much even with the RX 590 (though the GeForce card offers a little smoother overall performance based on the 99th percentile average – with these drivers, anyhow).
Far Cry 5
Next we look at performance using the venerable Far Cry 5 benchmark, providing a look at a pretty demanding DX11 title. AMD cards tend to do very well in this benchmark, though in this group it’s worth noting that I have only freshly re-tested the Radeon RX 590 (no RX 570 / 580 results here). As above, the RX 590 results at least provide a look at what AMD can offer from a GPU that has been selling between a GTX 1650 SUPER and GTX 1660 in price.
Once again we have the new GTX 1650 SUPER making an important leap over the older GTX 1060 6GB, with performance very close to an RX 590 in Far Cry 5 (though the Radeon card was a little smoother in the game at these settings if you look at 95th/99th percentile FPS).
The 1650 SUPER is not quite to the level of a base GTX 1650, but it’s close enough to really question spending more money if you’re gaming at 1080p/high settings. But this is just one result. Let’s move on to a much more demanding game: Metro Exodus.
Run with the DX12 API and again at 1080/high preset settings, here’s how this group fared:
This time the fastest card in the group (GTX 1660 SUPER) barely managed to average a smooth 60 FPS, as even at “high” settings Metro Exodus is a punishing test. The Radeon RX 590 was 4.5 FPS faster on average compared to the new GTX 1650 SUPER, though slightly less consistent with overall frame times. The GTX 1650 SUPER still out-performed the GTX 1060 6GB in Metro Exodus, but only by 2.4 FPS at these settings.
Once again, the original GTX 1650 is at the bottom of the chart, and here the meager 35.6 FPS average tells you everything you need to know about its capabilities in a demanding benchmark like this. The fact that a GTX 1650 SUPER starts just $10 above this makes choosing an original GTX 1650 seem like a bad idea at this point.
World of Tanks enCore
This was the sole game run with an “ultra” preset, simply because this stand-alone benchmark only offers low/medium/ultra presets. It’s a DX11 test.
When every card offers FPS averages well over 60, it’s less vital to spend more on a GPU unless you have a high-refresh monitor. But it’s still interesting to see how these cards compare in a less demanding benchmark, as WoT enCore is just not as tough as the previous tests even at its “ultra” preset.
Here the GTX 1650 SUPER barely edges out the older GTX 1060 6GB, though offering a big gain over the original 1650 once again (46%).
And now a quick look at power readings, taken from the wall. These numbers include CPU/RAM, etc., and there is also overhead from the PSU itself. Still, we are directly comparing results from the same exact test platform, so here goes:
The MSI GTX 1650 SUPER Gaming X was pulling exactly the same amount of power at idle and load as the GTX 1660 (rounded to the nearest whole number), which makes sense considering they share the same TU116 GPU. This marks a full 50W increase over the original GTX 1650, and while I think it’s safe to assume that most gamers are not as concerned about power draw as overall performance, the increase is notable.
And on the subject of notable power draw, I can’t help but point out that massive 302W power draw from the Radeon RX 590. Again, performance is king and all that, but it’s pretty staggering that it takes 100W more power to provide the performance we saw from the RX 590 in the above charts. If that matters to you, well, here it is.
Temperatures and Noise
No GPU review would be complete without some thermal/noise results, and here the MSI Gaming X card was outstanding. Under load we only saw temps of up to 63 C in a ~20 C room, though idle temps are going to vary greatly based on the airflow/ambient air situation as this is a zero-RPM idle cooler. We don’t have another GTX 1650 SUPER to compare these numbers to, but they are in line with what we’ve seen from the rest of MSI’s GTX 16-series lineup to this point.
Noise levels were even more impressive, with a high of just 32 dBA during our load test. The fans didn’t spin up significantly, and to provide an idea of what higher RPMs might sound like I did some additional testing with a couple of manual fan speed increases. Here’s how it looked:
- 34% fans (recorded run): 32.0 dBA
- 40% fans: 32.8 dBA
- 50% fans: 36.9 dBA
Our first experience with NVIDIA’s new GTX 1650 SUPER was an impressive one, and the MSI Gaming X version of the card we tested gave us a small 30 MHz increase over the stock GPU Boost clock (1755 vs. 1725 MHz). MSI’s Twin Frozr 7 cooler is solid, and the card was cool and quiet under load. The card’s design offers fewer extras than we’ve come to expect from the “Gaming X” model of 16-series cards, as this time there is no backplate or RGB lighting. How important such things are to a < $200 graphics card is, naturally, debatable.
In addition to the quiet cooler overclocking is one area where the $179.99 Gaming X could offer an advantage over entry-level models such as MSI’s own Ventus XS OC model at $159.99, but we would need to compare those models directly. As it stands it would be hard to justify a $20 increase over the base price for a 30 MHz factory overclock if you’re on a budget, even though the Twin Frozr cooler itself is, as always, a solid option.
It’s perfectly reasonable to ask, with this latest SUPER launch is the original GTX 1650 obsolete? Well, when you consider that for a starting price of only $10 more than the original GTX 1650 you can get close to the average performance gains of 40% we saw here, it’s a no-brainer. (We were testing a 1650 SUPER with a $179 MSRP, though the factory OC for this model is, as mentioned, only 30 MHz).
In the $159 – $179 range the GTX 1650 SUPER provides outstanding 1080p gaming performance, and provides a true, final replacement for the aging GTX 1060. Right? Well, its 4GB memory capacity will limit it a bit depending on resolution, but was not an issue in the 1080/high tests run for this review. The GTX 1660 is really the spiritual successor to the 1060 6GB, so maybe this is the successor to the 1060 3GB? Does it matter?
Bottom line, the 1650 SUPER might just tie the recent GTX 1660 SUPER for the most super of the super cards to date, based on the huge (39.9% average FPS gain vs. the original) performance increases seen here. The MSI Gaming X model offers solid performance and a typically cool and quiet cooler, though the $20 premium over the MSRP becomes a bigger deal in this lower-cost segment. Overall, the 1650 SUPER itself would get an ‘editor’s choice’ from me, and the $179.99 MSI Gaming X card itself takes home the gold – with pricing being the only possible drawback.
Now we just need to see how an AMD Navi solution stacks up in this price segment. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out.