SLI remarks: two Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Boosts are faster and cheaper than a GTX 670

Dave James at

As a techie person and all-round good egg, people often ask me for advice and assistance putting gaming systems together. And more often than you might think I get asked specifically about building multi-GPU setups. Normally I’d scoff, put on my best smug face and patronise them mercilessly.

“Whatever you’re going to spend on a multi-GPU array,” I’d say, “go and spend that on the fastest single-GPU graphics card you can afford. You’ll thank me in the end.”

And then Nvidia go and release the GTX 650 Ti Boost, immediately putting that received wisdom into question.

I’ve been playing with Nvidia’s latest budget-oriented graphics card in SLI configuration recently for an article you’ll find in the PC Gamer UK mag soon, but I just wanted to share because damn, these things are quick in SLI.

In this generation of graphics cards I haven’t seen a pair of cards, from either Nvidia or AMD, which will compete with an equivalently priced single card in performance. In previous generations you had cards like the GTX 460 which offered phenomenal performance for the money, and delivered speeds that easily offset any multi-GPU problems that might arise. I built one of those exact systems for a friend a good few years ago, and they have only recently upgraded.

Two GTX 650 Tis in SLI hit nearly 50FPS at 2560x1600 in Bioshock Infinite

Now though the GTX 650 Ti Boost is making the case for going straight for an SLI rig when you build, because for the money there is nothing that comes close to them in-game. In the UK you can pick up a pair of them for less than £300 (and less than $300 in the US) - that’s less than the cost of a GTX 670 and only a little more than a HD 7950. In SLI the GTX 650 Ti Boosts outperform both.

I'm not talking just about running games at 1080p either - though this setup does indeed fly at that resolution - even at our 30-inch panel res of 2560x1600 the 4GB shared framebuffer gives this array some serious high-res gaming chops too.

If you're shopping for a new card right now, my advice is this: if your spending limit is £200 then AMD’s Radeon HD 7870 XT is the perfect card for you, but unless you can afford to make the move all the way up to a HD 7970 GHz Edition then a pair of GTX 650 Ti Boost cards will give you an awesome graphics array for just £300.

Want some numbers? Go on then...

DirectX 11 synthetic performance
Heaven 4.0 - FPS: higher is better
GTX 650 Ti Boost SLI - 27.4 (14.6)
HD 7790 CrossFireX - 18.3 (6.7)
GTX 670 overclocked - 21.6 (14.7)

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Bioshock Infinite - FPS: higher is better
GTX 650 Ti Boost SLI - 48 (10)
HD 7790 CrossFireX - 32 (5)
GTX 670 overclocked - 44 (17)
Max Payne 3 - FPS: higher is better
GTX 650 Ti Boost SLI - 35 (23)
HD 7790 CrossFireX - 17 (5)
GTX 670 overclocked - 29 (18)

 

All these tests were carried out on my test rig of a stock-clocked Core i7 3770K, Z77 motherboard and 16GB 1,600MHz RAM. The resolution is 2560x1600 with all settings on the highest available with 4x MSAA. The main number is the average frame rate with the minimum frame rate inside the parentheses.