Another day, another 650 Ti Boost card to review it seems! If you have been looking at the front page like I know we all do, you have now seen three GTX 650 Ti Boost cards get the once over from Overclockers.com and they have all proven to be solid performers. Today we will get a chance to look at the ASUS offering, the GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB (that, folks, was a mouthful!). Like the Galaxy card I previously reviewed, this ASUS model has some modifications under the hood and on top of that, an overclock out of the box. Let’s take a look at the card and see what’s happening!
Specifications and Features
Below is the specifications list sourced shamelessly from the ASUS website. About the only differences you will see here versus the reference cards is core clockspeeds coming in at 1020 MHz with an average boost clock of 1085 MHz. Like the others we have reviewed, the memory comes in at the reference speed of 1502 MHz (6008 MHz effective GDDR5) out of the box. The 2 GB of memory sits on an expanded 192-bit bus. Last but not least, the ASUS 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II sports 768 Cuda cores. The memory amount and bandwidth are nice increases from the 650 Ti, 1GB and 128-bit respectively.
|ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC Specifications|
|Graphics Engine||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost|
|Bus Standard||PCI Express 3.0|
|Video Memory||GDDR5 2GB|
|Engine Clock||GPU Boost Clock : 1085 MHz|
GPU Base Clock : 1020 MHz
|Memory Clock||6008 MHz ( 1502 MHz GDDR5 )|
|Resolution||DVI Max Resolution : 2560×1600|
|Interface||DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I), Yes x 1 (DVI-D)|
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
|Power Consumption||up to 150W 1 additional 6 pin PCIe power required|
|Accessories||1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor|
|Software||ASUS GPU Tweak & Driver|
|ASUS Features||DirectCU Series|
Super Alloy Power
|Dimensions||10.2 ” x 5.2 ” x 1.5 ” Inch|
25.9 x 13.2 x3.81 Centimeter
|Note||● To have the best cooling performance, ASUS GTX650TIB-DC2OC-2GD5 extends the fansink to 2 slots. Please double check you Chassis and Motherboard dimension prior to purchase to make sure it fits in your system!|
● Note that the actual boost clock will vary depending on actual system conditions. For more information, please visit http://www.geforce.com/
● Specifications are subject to change without notice.
● PCB color and bundled software versions are change without notice.
● Brand and product names mentioned are trademarks of their respective company.
Some other features ASUS lists on their website:
- OC-selected 1085 MHz core, 52 MHz higher than reference for smoother gameplay.
- DirectCU achieves 20% lower temps with direct-contact copper heatpipes and much quieter than reference.
- Premium alloys in power delivery components defeat heat for cards that run 15% faster and last 2.5 times longer than reference.
- GPU Tweak helps you modify clock speeds, voltages, fan performance and more, all via an intuitive interface
Looking in to these items with a bit more detail, we see below what ASUS has done to shrink down the DirectCU II cooler for this card. This version uses “…micro points of heat dissipation for improved thermal performance” to help whisk away the heat from the core. Like with any heatsink, the more surface area that is exposed, the better cooling you can achieve.
They also use copper heatpipes in direct contact with the GPU to aid in thermal conduction of the heat load to the heatsink and fin array. ASUS states this design will help keep the core 20% cooler than the reference design while having, “…near silent operation with a specially designed fan curve”. We will get into those details a bit later. Last up on this slide are their double sealed internal assembly (aka dust proof fans) which provide “6x greater airflow than the reference design” as well as helping to keep the dust out of the important parts of the fan. This should help with increasing the lifespan of the fan compared to fans used in similar cards.
Next is the Super Alloy Power (SAP) used in their VRM section. As ASUS mentions in the slide below, the goal was to “provide a superior class of VRM components offering superior performance, enhanced reliability, and extended lifespan.” They report to use highly magnetic, heat resistant, and anti-corrosive metals to reduce “power loss, enhance durability, and achieve cooler operation.” Now, I can’t sit here and chip these apart and confirm their claims or anything, so we will go with the company line on this one. The claim is a 15% performance boost, 35° C cooler operation, and up to a 2.5x longer lifespan with the use of these materials. Personally, I don’t care if the power bits are made out of paper mache. So long as the card lasted through its warranty and overclocks like a banshee, I want to own it!
Below I have posted some of the other features that are not specific to ASUS but still worth noting. As we know, the Kepler generation brought us GPU boost which adjusts the core clocks by temperatures and power limits. Next up is Adaptive VSync, which helps to smooth out some of the major drops with normal VSync. And finally, NVIDIA PhysX, SLI, 3dVision, PCI 3.0, DX11.1 and Windows 8 support round out the remaining features.
Photo Op – Meet the ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC
The first part we will look at today is what you will see on store shelves, or what will arrive at your door in the form of their retail packaging. We see a black background of rock or something with what looks like three claw marks scratched through the upper right side down to the middle. Of course we see the card’s namesake (GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II), some features including the factory OC, 2GB GDDR5 RAM, the SAP parts, GPU Tweak software, as well as a picture of the DirectCU II cooling solution.
Turning the box over to the rear, we see more detail of the same features found on the front, except it shows the configuration for the outputs on the card and highlights the 3 year limited warranty.
There isn’t too much to see on the top and bottom of the box outside of some system requirements.
And now we get to see the star of the show, the ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC (it’s still a mouthful, that entire name!). As you can plainly see, ASUS has played “honey I shrunk the” DirectCU II cooler” here to make it fit the smaller PCB mid-range line of cards. It still has the dual fans like its big brother does, but they have been shrunk down to what looks like 80 mm or so.
Visible on the back side of the card is an SLI bridge connection for multi-card functionality, and some of the Hynix memory IC’s. One thing to note back here is just below the 6-pin PCIe power lead are two LED’s. One green, and one red. These show if the power lead is plugged in or not. It’s A nice addition, even if your motherboard beeping at you didn’t expose what was going on already.
Next up we can see the output area of the card. Here you see a DisplayPort, HDMI (1.4a), and two DVI’s (DL DVI-I and DL DVI-D). Plenty of options for you.
Last up in this grouping just shows the one 6-pin PCIe connector required to power the card.
Below are a couple more pictures of the card:
Next up we take a look at the heatsink and the PCB this card uses. Starting off in the upper left hand quadrant, we have taken off the cover of the Direct CU II which has the fans on it. What is neat, to me, is to see this cover with the fans simply clipped on. No screws, no nothing. If you are wondering, the clip holds it in place quite well. We take off the cooler to expose the PCB and we can see the Direct CU II on this card uses a direct contact method for the two copper heatpipes to help remove heat from the GPU.
ASUS heavily markets their “Super Alloy Power” and here you can see the actual VRM parts that make it all happen. The reference specifications for this card are a 3+1 setup with three feeding the core and the one feeding the memory. ASUS has taken that and added one more phase for the core. This will allow for cleaner and more power delivery to the core, which can help with higher or more stable overclocking.
Below are some close ups of the GK106 core used, and the Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR memory IC,. This is the same IC used in the Galaxy card as well. I hope this batch overclocks like the other did!
A special thanks goes out to hokiealumnus for allowing me to use his image of the GK106 core. Sadly, due to the cement…excuse me, thermal paste that ASUS used (note it works fine, it just gets very hard), I spent way too much time trying to clean that product off to get a shot of my own. The TIM seemed to have dried like cement on this sample and when the heatsink came off it sounded like something breaking more than just sliding off. Nothing broke of course but the crack it made coming off was alarming to be certain.
Performance and Overclocking
- Intel i7 3770K CPU @ 4 GHz, 1.2v
- Asrock Z77 OC Formula
- Kingston Hyper X Predator 2 x 4 GB 2666 MHz CL11 @ 1.65 V
- 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD
- Seasonic 1000 W
- ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost Direct CU II OC @ Stock – 1020/(boost 1183)/1502, overclocked to 1083/(boost 1202)/1650 )
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- NVIDIA 314.22 Drivers
- All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings
- Unigine Heaven (HWbot) was run with the “extreme” setting
- Alien vs. Predator – 1920×1080 with highest settings offered (4x AA, textures set to highest)
- Batman: Arkham City – 1920×1080, 8xMSAA, MVSS and HBAO, Tessellation HIGH, Detail Level: Extreme
- Battlefield 3 – 1920×1080 at Ultra settings (4xAA/HBAO by default)
- Dirt 3 – 1920×1080 with 8x MSAA and all settings enabled and at Ultra where possible
- Metro 2033 – 1920×1080, DX11, Very High, 4x MSAA/ 16x AF, PhysX OFF, DOF enabled, Scene: Frontline
- Civilization V – 1920×1080, 8x MSAA, Vysnc OFF, High Detail Strategic View: Enabled, Other Settings: High, using full render frames value ( / 60)
- More detail is in our article: Overclockers’ Updated Video Card Testing Procedure
Per usual, nothing out of the ordinary with GPUz. Just note the raised default clocks and boost here.
Now we move on to see ASUS’ overclocking software, GPU Tweak. As with most software of this type, one is able to adjust core clockspeed, memory, voltage, and fan speeds. You can adjust the fan profiles to make a specific curve to balance out noise and cooling performance, as well as real time monitoring/graphing of temperatures, voltage, GPU use, memory use, and even more that can be seen in the screenshot below.
GPU Tweak also has the ability to Live Update when new graphics drivers or BIOS are available from ASUS. This is a unique feature available in GPU Tweak.
You can download the application at the ASUS website.
Overall this software works as described, so no complaints from me on its features. Like most software of this type, I would like to see it a bit smaller if possible. It’s not unruly like some others are, however.
Finally, the results. As usual, we start out with our synthetic suite and settings as listed above. I wanted to make a note that I have changed these graphs just a bit as I have too many cards to compare for this review. Because of that, I took out the OVERCLOCKED results of each card except for the card in the article and went with stock results. I may do this moving forward as it’s tough to compare overclocked results anyway as every card, even of the same type are overclocked to a different point by each reviewer. Yes this sample is overclocked from the factory, but it is what it is out of the box and that is what makes them different in the first place really.
First up is 3DMark 03. Here the 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC manages to score 74,425 out of the gate besting the Galaxy I recently reviewed. Of course this card is overclocked out of the box on the core so that is to be expected from here on out. You should also note that this score showed less than a 10% difference than the GTX 660 GC. As per usual, in 3dMark 03 with AMD versus modern NVIDIA cards, they seem to perform a lot better. In that light, the HD 7790 beat it out here.
Next up is 3DMark Vantage. In this DX10 benchmark the ASUS card scored 23,990, again beating out the slower clocked twin from another mother. In this benchmark however, we see the first signs of the GTX 650 Ti Boost besting the HD 7790. Here again we are around 11% shy of the GTX 660 GC.
The next benchmark we will be looking at is a more modern 3dMark 11. Here we see the ASUS card put up 6,081 at stock clocks, while the HD 7790 it’s marketed against manages to be a hair behind. The GTX 660 is now 15% faster in 3DMark 11 than the GTX 650 Ti Boost OC.
In Unigine Heaven (Hwbot) Xtreme, this card managed to score 1,320.4. easily beating out the Galaxy card (again due to factory oveclocking) and brutalizes the HD 7790 by nearly 17%. In this case the GTX 660 is around 8% faster.
Moving on down to the games, I won’t go into too much detail here. When NVIDIA created these cards, they had a goal in mind to play ‘…at 1080p with High settings.’ While our testing uses the highest settings we can for the most part, we can see in Aliens vs.Predator, Batman: AC, and Battlefield 3 easily have playable frame rates coming in at 39.9, 62.0 and 53.9 respectively. About the only anomalous result worth mention is this GTX 650 Ti Boost manages to best our GTX 660 GC we tested. I would assume this is due to new driver releases since that time.
Next up is Civilization V, Dirt 3 and our resident GPU killer, Metro 2033. Not much changes here. The ASUS GTX 650 TI Boost DirectCU II manages 60 FPS in Civ V, 65.4 in Dirt 3, and an unplayable to most 21.2 FPS in Metro 2033. Clearly in that game one will have to lower some settings to be ‘playable’. As I alluded to earlier, the pecking order remains the same here through these games.
Here is where things get a bit interesting to me. Those that know me in the forums also know I’m not a huge proponent of SLI or CrossfireX configurations for 1080p resolution. Higher resolutions such as 2560×1440 or multi-monitor setups are, in my mind, what dual cards are for. These days however, we have had another wrench thrown in the spokes of this technology in frame time testing. Basically what has been found is that they can now quantify the ‘micro-stuttering’ some people experience. For most people, this is much ado about nothing, but for some, especially on the AMD platform, this can be a big problem. It was shown in a couple of site’s testing that NVIDIA frame times seem to be less, so the problem isn’t nearly as prevalent here. Regardless of these potential issues, I can’t say this would keep me away from such a solution from the AMD camp, even before they get it fixed.
Ok, that out of the way, take a look at the chart below. You can see, in games especially, some very good scaling here ranging from 50%, all the way to 93% scaling in Civ V. With those results in all but AvP and BF3, this dual card solution (around $360) is beating out the higher cost HD 7970 ($399+ w/o MIR) and wiping out the GTX 680 at $439+ (note: the GTX 680 was with older drivers, so those gaps would likely be smaller with the latest drivers).
So would I go for a pair of these? Not personally. It’s just not my thing really. I’m a single card kind of guy for the most part. But as you can see below, it does a pretty darn good job for the price and there are plenty of people that would enjoy a pair of these for less than the cost of a GTX 680 or HD 7970.
Pushing the Limits
So what happens when you put 4.9 GHz worth of Ivy Bridge and increased clocks behind one or two of these cards? Take a look see below. I ran these boosting to 1252 MHz core with the memory at 1700 MHz.
Pushing the Limits in SLI
When I strapped the two of these together, I used clocks of 1087/1677 and it boosted to 1202MHz on the core. Like above, we used 4.9 GHz clocks on the CPU and pulled this off…
Cooling and Power Consumption
In this section we get to see how the DirectCU II cooler strapped to the card does. I use the default fan profile in this testing. We sat idle at 31 °C (normalized to 25 °C ambient) and in using 3dMark 11 we hit 63 °C/64 °C at stock/overclocked speeds respectively. The fans ramped up to around 45% in this testing and were nearly inaudible. For the Heaven temperature testing, we usually see things get a bit warmer due to the GPU not really getting a break between tests. Here the card rose to 65 °C and 67 °C (stock and overclocked).
The temperatures are under the 70 °C threshold so even with the auto settings, one should still manage to reach all boost bins (assuming you don’t have a REALLY warm room). The DirectCUII cooler does its job quite well.
As far as power consumption goes, not much changes here compared to the other GTX 650 Ti Boosts we reviewed and that result was expected really. The only difference here is the clockspeeds as both cards used 1.175v as their 3D load voltages. Here we see 221W stock and 232W overclocked in 3DMark 11, while in Heaven we see slight drop offs at 218W and 229W overclocked. In SLI form, stock speeds, we see the cards pull 329W in 3DMark 11, and 331W in Heaven. Yeah, I would run TWO of these with a QUALITY 450W PSU and not think twice about it.
ASUS has always been known to bring some solid solutions to the table and in my opinion, they have done so again by adding a phase to the power bits for the core, and strapping on their DirectCU II cooler. We have a more robust power delivery solution as well as a cooler to support overclocking, and quietly under most situations.
The pricing on these cards are anywhere from $169.99 to $179.99 on Newegg.com. This ASUS model lands right in the middle at $174.99. With this purchase you do receive $75 worth of in-game coupons for Bioshock and Planetside 2 as well. So the price point on this card fits pretty well with what you get in an effective and quiet cooling solution, as well as having a better power delivery area.
Overall this card has plenty going for it. The price is right, the DirectCU II cooling solution works quite well and is quiet even while overclocking. The ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II should be one on the short list when looking for this type of card. This GPU has been Overclockers.com Approved!
~Joe Shields (Earthdog)