As is standard practice, Nvidia started rolling out its current generation of graphics cards with the premium GeForce RTX models late last year. This generation, powered by the ‘Turing' architecture, has been split into two distinct halves; the future-ready but expensive GeForce RTX 20-series with ray tracing, and the budget-friendly GeForce GTX 16-series. Graphics cards featuring the flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti can cost upwards of Rs. 1,00,000, but budget gamers have had to wait till now for family to fill out. We've only just seen the launches of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, GeForce GTX 1660, and now the GeForce GTX 1650 for value-conscious users.
There's now a complete set of replacements for the ‘Pascal'-based GeForce GTX 10-series, which was very highly regarded throughout its long life for performance as well as power efficiency. The newest launch is the entry-level GeForce GTX 1650 which promises to bring high-quality full-HD gaming to the sub-Rs. 13,000 market.
We're reviewing this GPU today, along with the next model in line, the GeForce GTX 1660. For our tests, we have two graphics cards supplied by Gigabyte, both of which are factory overclocked and are priced slightly higher than basic variants. Could one of these cards be the perfect option to match your needs and budget? Let's find out.
For a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of these new GPUs, you can check out our complete guide to the Turing architecture, which covers the branch of chips that the GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards are based on. The same principles apply to the GeForce GTX 16-series, except for the lack of dedicated hardware resources for ray tracing. By stripping this out, Nvidia has been able to reach lower prices. We don't think any gamer on a tight budget will mind, since there are still very few games that support it.
Even without ray tracing, the GeForce GTX 16-series has all the benefits of the new Turing architecture, including concurrent execution of integer and floating-point instructions, improved scheduling, a unified cache, and new shading algorithms. These GPUs should handily outperform their GeForce 10-series predecessors. For more about how the RTX and GTX versions of Turing differ, you can read our Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC 6GB Review.
The GeForce GTX 1650 GPU is codenamed TU117, and it features 896 cores called CUDA units (the chip physically has more, but these are selectively disabled to improve manufacturing yields). These are arranged into 14 clusters called Streaming Multiprocessors.
Nvidia has set the base and boost clock speeds of the TU117 at 1485MHz and 1665MHz respectively, and all GeForce GTX 1650 graphics cards will have 4GB of GDDR5 RAM on a 128-bit bus, for a 128GBps of memory bandwidth. The TDP is an impressively low 75W and this GPU can run off motherboard power alone with no need for a PCIe power connector.
The GeForce GTX 1660 uses the same TU116 GPU as the GeForce GT 1660 Ti, but with some of its resources disabled. There are 1,408 CUDA cores instead of 1,536 which means there are 22 SM clusters rather than 24. Interestingly, the at 1530MHz and 1785MHz base and boost clock speeds are very slightly higher than those of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, though it's still obviously the less capable variant.
You get 6GB of GDDR5 RAM instead of GDDR6. That takes memory bandwidth down from 288GBps to 192GBps. This is still a whole lot better than the 3GB of RAM that this GPU's predecessor, the GeForce GTX 1060, had at around the same price level. The TDP is 120W, which is still very low.
One little twist is that TU117 lacks the new Turing video encoder. which can accelerate HEVC, H.264, and H.265 video encoding. On the other hand, TU116 does have this feature. Game streamers will be the most affected by this.
Just like with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, there won't be any Founders Edition graphics cards for either of these GPUs designed and sold by Nvidia itself, but thankfully there's a robust ecosystem of partner companies with multiple models in the market since launch day. In fact, some are selling for slightly less than Nvidia's recommended launch price.
Gigabyte offers four graphics card models with the GeForce GTX 1650 GPU and four with the GeForce GTX 1660. One in each series is a Mini-ITX card for small-form-factor PCs with a single-fan cooler and less aggressive factory overclocking. Of the other three in each line, there are dual- and triple-fan coolers, varying degrees of factory overclocking, and slightly different cosmetic touches. The two cards that we're reviewing today fall in the middle of their respective product families.
Starting with our GeForce GTX 1650 Windforce OC 4G, this is a relatively compact two-slot card, though the cooler is a little taller and longer than the PCB itself. Given that this is a low-end GPU, it has modest cooling needs and the two 90mm fans are probably overkill. The heatsink itself is quite small. Gigabyte has designed its fan blades with a ridged surface that is supposed to improve airflow. The two fans spin in opposite directions, which Gigabyte says is more efficient because it reduces turbulence.
Interestingly, although the GeForce GTX 1650 GPU does not require power over and above the 75W that the motherboard itself can provide through the PCIe slot, this model still has a single 6-pin PCIe power connector. This is most likely for stability with the factory overclock. We tried running this card unplugged to see if the extra power was optional, but all we got was a warning on screen telling us our test bench would not boot without it.
This particular GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card has been factory overclocked to run at 1785MHz boost speed clock speed, but all other specifications are stock. Interestingly, Gigabyte has gone with three HDMI 2.0b ports and a single DisplayPort 1.4 for video output. Low-end cards usually have legacy DVI connectors for those upgrading older PCs. You get dustcaps for all the ports, which is always a nice touch.
Moving on, we also have the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6GB with us for review. This model doesn't use the Windforce name but the cooler shroud and fans look identical to the ones on its more affordable sibling. Both cards have very nearly the same dimensions, but on closer inspection the GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6GB is actually slightly shorter. Despite that, it has a much beefier block of aluminium under the shroud with two copper heatpipes winding around it. There's also a black backplate which is most likely more for looks than rigidity.
We have the same two 90mm fans with ridged blades, and they also spin in opposite directions. There's an 8-pin PCIe power connector on the top, and a more conventional arrangement of three DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0b video outputs on the rear, also with dust caps.
The OC in this model's name tells us that there is some factory overclocking, and what we have is a boost speed of 1830MHz as opposed to the stock 1785MHz speed. Everything else is the same as Nvidia's stock specifications.
One thing that's missing completely on both of these graphics cards is RGB LEDs. We're used to having at least illuminated fan blades or a brand logo, but there's nothing of the sort here. Some buyers might actually like this, and we at least don't mind at all.
Our test bench consists of an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU, Gigabyte Aorus X470 Gaming 7 Wifi motherboard, 2x8GB of G.skill DDR4 RAM, a 1TB Samsung SSD 860 Evo boot drive, Corsair RM650 power supply, and Asus PB287Q 4K monitor. We used Windows 10 (1803) and Nvidia's GeForce Game Ready Driver version 430.39 for both cards.
Starting with the GeForce GTX 1650, what we see is that performance across the board is almost exactly half of what we got with the GeForce RTX 2060. Considering that GeForce GTX 1650-based graphics cards cost much less than half of the GeForce RTX 2060's recommended price, this is a strong showing. Gigabyte's default factory overclocks help this GPU look good in our tests, and there isn't a significant price premium over stock-clocked cards.
There isn't a huge performance difference between the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and the GeForce GTX 1660, which was perhaps to be expected. However, stepping down to the GeForce GTX 1650, the numbers take a much bigger hit. The scaling is consistent with how graphics cards based on these three GPUs are priced.
We ran through 3DMark's DirectX 12 Time Spy and DirectX 11 Fire Strike test suites. It's clear that the GeForce GTX 1650 is not suited for the higher-end versions of these tests, which render at 4K. As expected, we get reasonable results at the lower end of the scale. Its beefier sibling, the GeForce GTX 1660, held up much better.
|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 Windforce OC 4G||Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G||Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC 6GB||Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC 6GB||MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X||Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX590|
|3DMark Time Spy||3,838||5,785||6,641||7,953||4,273||5,182|
|3DMark Time Spy Extreme||1,686||2,588||2,980||3,616||NA||NA|
|3DMark Fire Strike||8,135||12,152||14,324||16,578||11,421||13,969|
|3DMark Fire Strike Extreme||3,978||6,121||7,267||9,005||6,017||6,999|
|3DMark Fire Strike Ultra||1,936||2,908||3,463||4,552||3,168||3,743|
|Unigine Valley (1920x1080, Ultra, 8xAA)||42.9fps||64.3fps||78.6fps||92.3fps||68.9fps||60fps|
Moving on to Unigine Valley running at 1920x1080 using the Ultra preset with 8xAA, the GeForce GTX 1650 averaged 42.9fps which isn't bad. It doesn't meet the 60fps standard for smoothness, but the average stays comfortably above 30fps, and this will be fine for many people. The GeForce GTX 1660 however did manage to average 64.3fps but there was some visible stutter and a significant gap between the highest and lowest frame rates.
Next up are some in-game benchmarks, which let us compare different GPUs against each other since all conditions are identical across runs. The GeForce GTX 1650 put up a respectable average of 56fps in Far Cry 5 with the test running at 1920x1080 using the Ultra preset. Using the same settings, the GeForce GTX 1660 managed 79fps. Switching to Rise of the Tomb Raider, we settled on the High preset at 1920x1080 with FXAA enabled, and got an average of 63.97fps and 100.68fps for the two GPUs respectively. With a game of this calibre, even the lower-end GPU did a good job.
In Metro Last Light: Redux, we tried the Very High preset at 1920x1080 with 4xAF and SSAA enabled. Our first run on the GeForce GTX 1650 resulted in an average of just 35.14fps. Disabling SSAA immediately took us up to 64.67fps. The clear implication is that you do have to compromise on quality settings when buying a graphics card at this price level, but you can still have a respectable gaming experience. Of course you could step up to the GeForce GTX 1660, which gave us 57.7fps and then 103.9fps when we replicated both configurations.
In most of our gaming tests with the GeForce GTX 1650, visuals on screen were slightly jittery, and users might want to tweak individual quality settings for the smoothest experience. We can also see that it would be unrealistic to try playing these games at resolutions above full-HD on the GeForce GTX 1650. You get a little more headroom with the GeForce GTX 1660 but the great news is you really don't have to spend so much money anymore.
To round things off, we spent some time playing games freely while observing frame rates. Doom (2016) is always super-smooth even on low-end hardware, and we found that we could push the resolution up all the way to 4K and use the Ultra quality preset using the GeForce GTX 1650, and our average framerate hovered around 40fps in the final boss battle. At full-HD, we didn't drop below 90fps and usually stayed at around 100fps. After swapping in the higher-end GPU, we saw averages closer to 60fps and 145fps for the two resolutions respectively.
With the more affordable GeForce GTX 1650, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt averaged 48fps at full-HD using the High preset with High post-processing, and there was very little stuttering in visuals. The GeForce GTX 1660 went all the way up to 72fps but there was still minor jitter now and then.
The fans of both our review cards, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 Windforce OC 4G and the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G were completely at rest when we weren't gaming, and even when games did load, they were virtually silent at full speed. There's no noise, and no harsh transitions when they spin up. Either one could be good for a compact gaming and media PC that you want running unobtrusively in a living room or bedroom.
Nvidia knows that the vast majority of graphics card buyers around the world have very modest budgets, and its xx50 and xx60 models are its biggest sellers. The move to launch non-RTX versions of the Pascal architecture was very sensible and we're happy to see gamers getting much more bang for their buck where it matters the most.
If you're upgrading from a graphics card that's more than one generation old, you'll see significant performance benefits without spending a huge amount of money. The GeForce GTX 1650 is a very good entry-level option for 1920x1080 gaming as long as you don't expect high-end effects in the very latest games. If you need a graphics card that can run without additional PCIe power, one based on the GeForce GTX 1650 would be your best option right now – just make sure it isn't an overclocked model like our Gigabyte unit. We hope to see fanless or low-profile options in the future.
Working against the GeForce GTX 1650 is the fact that Graphics cards with AMD's Radeon RX 570 can be found for around Rs. 13,500 right now, or even less when they go on sale. You also get very strong game bundles with it from time to time, such as AMD's 50th Anniversary offer right now which is worth at least Rs. 6,000. The Radeon RX 570 offers quite a bit more grunt in most games. The downside is that this GPU is two years old now and requires more power and cooling. We would like to see GeForce GTX 1650-based cards drop in price, but that isn't very likely.
The GeForce GTX 1660 is a significant step up from the GeForce GTX 1650, for a reasonable cost difference. The 2GB difference in video RAM will also set these two models apart a few years down the line when games are even more demanding. In fact, if you were considering the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, you might find that its sibling offers a better balance of performance and cost for you.
AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics cards have also fallen in price since launch and 8GB versions can be found for under Rs. 19,000 now, but the GeForce GTX 1660 comes out ahead. In fact, the performance of Nvidia's new offering at this price point more closely matches that of the more expensive Radeon RX 590, which we tested quite recently. Of course that could change with the upcoming Radeon ‘Navi' architecture in a few months' time.
It should go without saying that the new GeForce GTX 16-series completely wipes out the GeForce GTX 10-series. These cards despite being popular and having earned great reputations, are no longer good options to buy. You might be tempted by an older 2GB GeForce GTX 1050 card selling for around Rs. 11,500, but the lower price isn't worth it.
On a final note, we have to say we're impressed with Gigabyte's two graphics cards. The naming scheme is slightly confusing, but we like the overall construction quality and performance of these cards as well as their looks. Some people might want RGB LEDs but we were almost relieved to be free of them. The fans are completely silent too, which is a bonus. There are lower-priced incarnations in the market, but if you've decided that you do want one of these GPUs, we have no problem recommending these two graphics cards.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 Windforce OC 4G
Price: MOP: Rs. 14,000
Ratings (out of 5)
Value for Money: 3
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G
Price: MOP: Rs. 21,900
Ratings (out of 5)
Value for Money: 4.5