Tested! Three graphics cards you can actually afford

At a Glance
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost SuperClocked

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  • MSI Radeon HD 7790 OC Edition

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  • Nvidia GeForce 650 Ti

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The benchmarks

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As you can see from the chart above, our lab results were all over the board, varying with each game. Still, a few noteworthy data points jumped out at us right away.

The Radeon HD 7790 completely underwhelmed us in Crysis 3. The 1920 by 1080 resolution is common for nearly every monitor today, and is necessary for that 1080p high-definition gaming that AMD touts so much. Sure, you can dumb down the settings, but it will take a significant settings decrease to get AMD’s card to produce playable frame rates. Where the GTX cards would require an adjustment from high to medium settings, the 7790 would have to drop from medium to low settings to achieve at least 30 to 40 frames per second.

Our second revelation: The GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost doesn’t live up to its name. The original 650 Ti barely lags behind its successor, and in some cases surpasses it. The only real difference between our two 2GB GTX cards was a 91MHz clock speed, which is almost too insignificant to mention.

Unigine Heaven benchmark

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Click to expand

The Heaven benchmark absolutely slams graphics cards, testing high-end DirectX 11 effects, and even pushing silicon to its hottest operating temperatures. In the chart above, we see that the GTX 650 Ti Boost beat out the competition, but just barely. The original GeForce GTX 650 Ti keeps up with the more-expensive option and blows the cheaper Radeon 7790 away.

3DMark benchmarks

We ran a few of the 3DMark tests and then averaged them to get the following numbers. The tests included the Ice Storm, Cloud Gate, and Firestrike Extreme. The names alone make PCs sweat.

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Once again, the results jibed with our previous benchmarks. The Nvidia 650 Ti Boost barely beat out the cheaper and older 650 Ti, while AMD’s 7790 lagged behind with its 1GB deficit.

The bottom line

All three of these cards will give you nice value for your dollar, but the one you ultimately choose must be calibrated to your wallet and needs. If you have a few extra bucks, the 650 Ti Boost will supply you with high-definition content and all the display options you could need, as well as SLI support for a cheaper upgrade path down the line.

If you’re looking for a cheaper quick upgrade to tide you over a year or two, the orginal 650 Ti will suffice. Finally, if every dollar counts and you simply can’t afford more than $150, you can go with the Radeon 7790, which also offers plenty of high-definition gaming but only at midrange settings.

Who knows, the Radeon might even be your best option. After all, you won’t be playing any games at all if you can’t pay the electric bill.

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At a Glance
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