Since the GTX 650 Ti is designed to play games at 1,920 x 1,080, this is the resolution which our analysis will mostly focus on. At this resolution, both cards were playable at ultra settings in Battlefield 3. The Zotac's minimum frame rate of 32fps just beat the EVGA's 30 fps, which in turn comfortably beat out the HD 7770 1GB by 7 fps. However, the HD 7850 2GB was able to beat both GTX 650 Ti cards with a minimum frame rate of 35 fps. The results for higher resolutions demonstrated similar rankings in performance too.
Similarly, in both Crysis 2 and The Witcher 2, both of the GTX 650 Ti cards were sandwiched between the HD 7770 1GB and the HD 7850 2GB. In Crysis 2, the Zotac card trumped the EVGA one by just 1fps, but was able to achieve a 3fps lead in The Witcher 2. The HD 7850 2GB led the Zotac GTX 650 Ti 2GB by 10fps, or 34 per cent, in Crysis 2 and by 7 fps (21 per cent) in The Witcher 2, and the EVGA GTX 650 Ti 1GB was quicker than the HD 7770 1GB by 4 fps in Crysis 2 and 7 fps in The Witcher 2. In both games, resolutions higher than 1,920 x 1,080 proved too much for both GTX 650 Ti cards and their two Radeon competitors, but the rankings remained consistent nonetheless.
Click to enlarge
In Skyrim, the Zotac card again just beat the EVGA one, this time by 3 fps. The HD 7850 2GB was once again comfortably ahead of both cards at 1920 x 1080, leading the Zotac by 8 fps, or 18 per cent, and the HD 7770 was left trailing the EVGA GTX 650 Ti 1GB by 8 fps. Impressively, both GTX 650 Ti cards were playable even at 2,560 x 1,600 too, with the EVGA hitting a minimum frame rate of 24 fps and the Zotac achieving a smoother 28 fps. While the HD 7770 1GB only managed an unplayable 18 fps minimum here, the HD 7850 2GB maintained its dominance, with a minimum frame rate of 38 fps, a much smoother experience than either GTX 650 Ti.
The Unigine benchmark confirmed the rankings of the game benchmarks with the Radeon HD 7850 2GB trumping the Zotac GTX 650 Ti 2GB by 20 per cent with a score of 1081. The Zotac's score of 903 was only just quicker than the EVGA's 868, which topped the HD 7770 1GB's 691 by 26 per cent. Both cards were quiet when idle, but did let out considerably more noise when under load. However, despite being faster, the Zotac actually drew slightly less power than the EVGA card and ran cooler too.
Click to enlarge
Although we were able to achieve impressive overclocks on both cards, particularly when compared to the GTX 650 Ti's stock frequencies, the resulting frame rate and score increases in our Battlefield 3, Crysis 2 and Unigine benchmarks were not enough to catch the HD 7850 2GB, which maintained a comfortable lead in each test. Our comparative frequency tests demonstrated that the extra 1GB of memory on the Zotac was useful in Battlefield 3, giving it a 2 fps lead at 2,560 x 1,600. It wasn't so useful in Crysis 2, however, where both cards produced the same frame rates despite the Zotac's 1GB of additional memory.
Judged on performance alone, the Zotac card is clearly the victor of the two GTX 650 Ti cards. However, the gap in performance is only ever marginal, and it's a gap that can be easily closed through overclocking - the Zotac's additional 1GB of memory failed to give it much of a boost over the EVGA. Therefore, even considering the better connectivity and cooling on Zotac's card, the £20 price premium it has over the EVGA is excessive.
Click to enlarge
Things look even worse for the Zotac when compared to the competition from the red team. At 1,920 x 1,080, the superior HD 7850 2GB performs on average 20 per cent better, but can be found for the same price now. Likewise, Zotac's GTX 650 Ti costs two thirds more than a HD 7770, but only offers a third more performance at 1,920 x 1,080, and thus Zotac's card fails to justify its price tag in the face of its competition.
The £130 price tag that the EVGA GTX 650 Ti carries is slightly off point, but nowhere near as much as the Zotac is. The HD 7850 2GB is only £20 dearer, but offers 1,920 x 1,080 gaming performance that is on average 24 per cent better. Nonetheless, the GTX 650 Ti 1GB remains a decent performer that fills a hitherto empty slot in the market, and its overclocking potential means there's a fair bit of extra value to be squeezed from it too. However, we'd still opt for the faster HD 7850 2GB given the option, as it now offers excellent performance for its price.