Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 Super Review 4

Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 Super Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Zotac GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan will retail at the NVIDIA MSRP of $160.
  • Large performance increase over GTX 1650 non-Super
  • Great price/performance ratio
  • Compact board design
  • Faster memory chips
  • Excellent OC potential
  • Very energy efficient
  • Noisy in gaming
  • No factory overclock
  • No idle-fan-stop
  • Runs in power limiter most of the time, which complicates overclocking, too
  • No backplate
  • Power limit not increased over NVIDIA reference
  • No fan-speed RPM reporting
  • No hardware support for RTX and DLSS
The GeForce GTX 1650 Super is NVIDIA's latest addition to their Turing product stack. The new card is based on the same TU116 GPU that powers the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Super, whereas the original GTX 1650 is powered by the TU117. This change was required because TU117 only has 1024 shaders in its silicon, which isn't enough to reach the performance targets NVIDIA has set for their new card to conclusively beat AMD's Radeon RX 5500. With 1,280 shaders, or +40% more than the GTX 1650, the GTX 1650 Super promises a huge performance boost, which is crucial to reach those 60 FPS at Full HD.

Zotac's GTX 1650 Super is a customized version of the reference design that looks to be optimized for physical size and cost. The card runs at NVIDIA default clocks, with the default power limit. Looking at overall performance at 1080p Full HD, we're seeing dramatic performance improvements over the GTX 1650 non-Super. The GTX 1650 Super is 33% faster, which is much better than everyone expected, I think. Not only the increased shader count plays a role here, but NVIDIA upgrading the memory to GDDR6 makes a difference, too, as available memory bandwidth is increased by 50% for only a minor increase in manufacturing cost. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1660 is 13% faster than the GTX 1650 Super, and the GTX 1660 Super is 27% ahead. Last generation's most popular card, the GTX 1060, is 8% slower than the GTX 1650 Super. Things aren't looking good for AMD as the GTX 1650 Super beats the Radeon RX 580, delivering 4% higher performance, and the more expensive Radeon RX 590 is only 7% faster. We received a Radeon RX 5500 today and managed to squeeze in its results, too. Against the RX 5500, the Zotac GTX 1650 Twin Fan is 5% faster, which makes this an important win for NVIDIA, but AMD pricing isn't finalized yet, so they could get their revenge. Overall, we can easily recommend the GTX 1650 Super as a great choice for gaming at Full HD 1080p in all titles.

Zotac's thermal solution is a very simple cost-effective design, which is reflected in temperatures and fan noise. We measured 72°C during gaming, which is alright. Unfortunately, fan noise is quite high with 41 dBA, which is similar to AMD's noisy Vega reference designs and much louder than most previous cards in that performance range. Looks like Zotac tried to cut down on cost a bit too much. If I were engineering this card for myself, I would have allowed for higher temperatures, maybe 76°C, which in turn would have reduced fan noise levels considerably, to where they would be competitive with other, more premium GTX 1650 Super cards in the market. At this point, temperatures are still fine, and there's plenty of headroom to the 83°C temperature cutoff beyond which NVIDIA's Boost algorithm will reduce boost clocks. What's also missing is the idle-fan-stop capability and a backplate. It seems meeting NVIDIA MSRP is tough. I talked to various board partners and they tell me that they're making "no money due to NV pricing," which would explain such cost-cutting measures.

I do like the compact design of the Zotac Twin Fan card, which ensures it will fit into all cases, even smaller SFF variants. Power connector placement is also ideal, and could be a unique selling point. On most cards, the power cable is connected from the long top edge, which means you need some space in the case to accommodate the cable and plug. On Zotac's card, the power connector is on the short side, where there's usually much more space available to work with in small cases.

Like all other Turing GPUs, performance per watt of the GTX 1650 Super is excellent, and we did not expect anything else. Compared to cards like the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti, gaming power efficiency is similar—more than twice (!) as efficient as AMD's Radeon Polaris cards. What's noteworthy here is that non-gaming power consumption is extremely low. Especially multi-monitor at 7 W and 4K media playback at 8 W open up a lot of use cases for the card. Gaming power draw clocked in at roughly 100 W, which is great, too, as it ensures pretty much any PSU out there will be able to run GTX 1650 Super. This is an important factor because NVIDIA wants people to upgrade their prebuilt gaming PCs, and these often come with weak power supplies of questionable quality. Unfortunately, Zotac did not increase their card's power limit over the NVIDIA default of 100 W, but that could be a good thing as the cooler is already working hard enough.

While manual overclocking is complicated a bit due to the power limiter, because you can no longer dial in a specific frequency, we saw excellent OC results, especially on the GDDR6 memory chips. We went from 1500 MHz to 1890 MHz, which is a 25% increase! GPU overclocking potential is decent, too, with 8%. Still, overall, we gained more than 10% in real-life performance, which boosts the card well above RX 590 FPS levels.

Video memory size of 4 GB might sound low at first, but you have to consider that pricing matters a lot in this segment. Adding more memory would make the card more expensive with little or no performance difference at 1080p Full HD. Looking at our performance numbers, we can definitely see reduced FPS at 4K resolution compared to cards with more memory, but I'm not seeing anything in our data that would suggest these cards are memory-bound at 1080p. We're running maximum details, including optional HD texture packs when available, so there are lots of options to reduce memory requirements should it come to that. I rather buy a more affordable card now than waste money on future-proofing, at least in this segment.

NVIDIA has positioned their new GTX 1650 Super very aggressively. With an MSRP of $160, the card is priced similarly to AMD's aging Radeon RX 580, yet offers better performance, noise, and thermals. The Radeon RX 590 is $190 at the moment, down from its launch price of $280—I'd rather buy the GTX 1650 Super. AMD announced Radeon RX 5500 a while ago, but market availability, or even just pricing, is nowhere in sight. We charted several price points for the RX 5500, and it looks like they'll have to sell their card at $160 or below to be competitive.

I have to praise Zotac for releasing this card without a price increase, but due to its weak cooler, it will face strong competition from cards like the MSI GTX 1650 Super Gaming X, which is more expensive, though. Older RX 580/590 cards, which won't be much noisier, will also gnaw away at its market potential. If you are on a budget, though, the GTX 1650 Super should be on the top of your list; it is the second most cost-efficient card we ever tested, just a hair behind the older RX 570. If you need to build a compact small-form-factor system or a media PC, the compact size of Zotac's card could be very useful, too.

We have three GTX 1650 Super reviews today: MSI GTX 1650 Super Gaming X, Zotac GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan, Palit GTX 1650 Super StormX OC. The full Radeon RX 5500 review has been posted, too.
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