Graphics cards are funny ol' things, somehow translating li'l bits of code into beautiful vistas full of gun-toting aliens and the like. Funnier still, and probably far more mysterious, are the naming conventions of said bits of silicon.
We're currently trying to get a handle on the way Nvidia has named its latest generation of graphics cards. We're also feeling a minor stroke on the way, such is the pressure building behind our eyes as we try to fathom the depths of marketing strategies.
It all got rather complicated when Nvidia brought back that blasted 'Ti' moniker, and this here Zotac GeForce GTX 650 Ti is making things even more complex.
For a start, though you might assume the 600 series of cards are all based on the new 28nm Kepler architecture, actually there's a whole host of old-school Fermi cards around. The GT 645, some GT 640s, some GT 630s and anything with lower 6xx numbering are all based on the ageing Fermi architecture.
The same thing has happened here with the original GTX 650 and this Ti version. The original GTX 650 uses the rather weak GK107 GPU, the same dual SMX version that was used in some GT 640s, except with a higher clock speed to push it a little more towards the gamers.
This GTX 650 Ti, though, has the same layout as the basic GTX 660, using the same GK106 GPU, but with one less SMX module and 8 ROPs having gone missing.
Still, the fact remains Nvidia needed a card to plug the price gap between the GTX 660 and the GTX 650, and at around £140 (around AU$220) or US$100, this card sits relatively well between them.
And if you've got a hard and fast budget of that price point, then the GTX 650 Ti, especially Zotac's AMP! edition, is your best chance of getting a decent gaming experience at 1080p resolutions.
Zotac GTX 650 Ti at a glance
CUDA Cores: 768
Clock speed: 1,033MHz
Memory capacity: 2GB GDDR5
Memory bus: 128-bit
Two gigabytes of graphics memory is fast becoming the least you want in your gaming GPU, so it's a bit of a gamble whether you want to take a punt on something like the slightly hobbled 1GB version of the HD 7850 for the same price.
The next step down is the HD 7770, and there is a 2GB version around for a little less money than this Zotac GTX 650 Ti, but we don't think you'll really squeeze enough out of the Cape Verde GPU to keep up with the GK107.
A tougher call, though, is if you're willing to spend a little more. You can always drop some more cash on your card and get better performance, but for a little more you can pick up a full fat HD 7850. And prices may well fall…
The Radeon HD 7850 is a sterling card, and for the current price is a great performer. In terms of relative performance compared with this Zotac GTX 650 Ti, even an overclocked one, the scores don't come out favourably for Nvidia.
DirectX 11 tessellation performance
DirectX 11 gaming performance (2560 x 1600)
DirectX 11 gaming performance (1920 x 1080)
You'd always expect the pricier card to perform better, but for that little extra money you get 25% extra in Batman Arkham City, 45% in DiRT Showdown and a mammoth 75% boost for Max Payne 3. That's not a bad return for the extra cash, we're sure you'll agree.
Compared with the £100 (around AU$157/US$161) HD 7770, the Nvidia card clearly has the edge, but only by a little in most tests. The gap between the Zotac GeForce GTX 650 Ti and the HD 7850, though, is much smaller in terms of cost, but far greater in terms of a performance delta.
If you can't stretch beyond £140 (around AU$220) or US$100 then the Zotac GeForce GTX 650 Ti is as good as it gets. Otherwise, the HD 7850 is more of a bargain.