Value and Conclusion
|8.3||NVIDIA's new GTX 650 does not offer anywhere near the gaming potential that we have seen from the faster GK104 or GK106 based cards. It is clearly targeted at entry-level users that may or may not play games. In our testing, we see performance similar to the last generation GTX 550 Ti. Compared to AMD's HD 7750, the card is a bit faster, but ends up quite a bit behind the HD 7770. MSI has overclocked their card out of the box, which gives it a 4% performance boost. Gaming performance is lackluster with most titles for any serious gaming, but less demanding games like StarCraft 2 or Diablo 3 will run fine on the GTX 650|
Power consumption is almost twice as good as on the last-generation Kepler cards from NVIDIA. MSI did a good job engineering their custom board for reduced power consumption. In our testing, we see impressive results in both idle and gaming states. With just 6-8 W power consumed in non-gaming states, including media playback, the card might be an option for users who spend a lot of time with productivity instead of gaming. The power consumption savings could, over time, add up to justify the price. In gaming, we see great performance per Watt as well, which makes this card the most efficient card ever tested. Thanks to a new display output logic module, you can now use three cards at the same time, which is not relevant for gaming because the card is too slow, but the ability of office systems to run three screens might be useful.
MSI's cooler design provides you with the option of installing a second fan in two different configurations. While it is an interesting idea that has some potential, I really don't see the point for a GTX 650-class card. The cooler with one fan is perfectly fine already. It provides low temperatures and whisper quiet noise-levels. Adding a second fan might drop temperatures by up 5°C, which does nothing but increase noise levels.
Price-wise, MSI is asking a $20 price premium for their card, which is quite steep. The base price of GTX 650 itself is too high to be competitive. For the reference design, a price around the $100 mark would be more realistic given what the card offers. I would say $110 would be reasonable for MSI's GTX 650 Power Edition, because cards like the HD 7750 and the HD 7770 offer much more bang for the buck. If you are a gamer on a budget, a card you should really consider is the HD 7850 1 GB. It is quite a bit more expensive, but offers almost twice the performance and the best price/performance ratio thanks to a reduced memory footprint of 1 GB that doesn't affect games negatively, but helps a lot with the price. Other options might be a used GTX 560 Ti or HD 6850/70.