After a very slow start NVIDIA is filling their product stack fast now. With the GeForce GTX 650 being the affordable 100 EUR entry-level gaming card. Being Kepler architecture based you'll receive all the benefits and features this architecture has to offer. Even getting 3 or 4 monitors connected is an option (albeit most cards will have three display outputs).
The card is decent for regular and very casual gaming, simply excellent for regular desktop stuff and would be great in a HTPC. Truth be told though, I expected more from the actual gaming performance. We've seen entry level products at the performance range for a a good while now and there is very little progression in terms of game performance in that segment. The GTX 650 is battling with the Radeon HD 7770 but quite honestly (we feel) needs to sit above it in terms of performance. So game performance wise, we had hoped to see a little more performance.
The rest of the variables work out well though. Bringing GK107 towards 28nm has many advantages. NVIDIA can do more with less transistors and thus has a cheap to produce silicon at hand. This product shows that really well, with a reference clock above 1 GHz NVIDIA can achieve more performance with less silicon .. it's as simple as that. Typical that increases and affects your power consumption, but at 28nm, you don't need much voltage. So the product when it's stressed only consumes give or take 65 Watts. In idle mode (desktop) that number is as low as 5 Watt. That's really impressive.
MSI did their magic with the card as that cooler is just fantastic. The option to embed a second cooler is really funny. And the best thing yet is that it doesn't have a significant effect on noise levels. The card really remains silent. An even bigger plus are the temperatures, we near 50 Degrees C under full load -- it's hard to argue with such low temperatures.
Overclocking wise the sky is the limit. When we tested it but MSI Afterburner was not yet ready for the card so we could not really alter voltages. But even so, we reached 1275 MHz on the card with close to 6 GHz on the memory. The entry-level products always are incredible fun when it comes to tweaking. Once you'll get some voltage tweaking available 1300+ MHz will be realistic.
Okay it's time to wrap things up. GeForce GTX 650 does what NVIDIA needs it to do, and that is competing with the Radeon HD 7750. We do think that NVIDIA should have stepped it up a notch as in our opinion this products gaming performance should be above the Radeon HD 7770. By not making that choice you as an consumer immediately will have to forfeit on image quality settings to make the modern games perform well enough. The card will run good image quality setting at 1280x1024, but will perform mediocre at 1600x1200 unless you make compromises on that image quality. If you take the product out of the gaming bracket, then it's all extremely positive as honestly it is a versatile and progressive card when it comes to features and options. MSI did a great job with the design. That enigmatic cooler absolutely rocks, the product is silent, remains at low temperatures and just looks cool really.
We absolutely can recommend the very tweakable MSI power edition if this is something that fits your budget. But gaming wise you'll need to make sacrifices unless you use a low resolution monitor or can life with medium image quality settings in your games.
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