So the GTX 1650 launched last week and I have been a little behind the curve on getting our card tested and reviewed. The new card follows the same naming of the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti which were launched in February and March respectively. The GTX 1650 is another Turing based GPU only this time based on the TU117 GPU and with a significantly lower TDP. Like the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti, there isn’t a Founders Edition of the GTX 1650 so today I will be checking out the MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X, an overclocked model.
Product Name: MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X
Review Sample Provided by: MSI
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
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What is the GTX 1650 All About
Given the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti previously introduced, you can take a good guess on one big thing about the GTX 1650. This is another Turing based card as Nvidia is slowly filling in their lineup with their new architecture. The GTX 1650 does, however, use a new GPU die, the TU117 but it does still get at least some of the features that make Turing perform. You get the concurrent floating point and integer operations that really speed things up as well as the unified cache and larger L1 cache that lets the GPU better share cache. You also get adapter shading. Like the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti you don’t get the RTX features like the Tensor cores that provide AI processing or the RT cores for ray tracing, both which add a lot of size to the die and are only really feasible in the high-end cards right now. The GTX 1650 also has one other big change which is different than the GTX 1660. It does now have Turing's NVENC Encoder it uses Volta’s which comparable to Pascal’s encoder. This is used with programs like Plex and OBS for streaming for those of you wondering.
So what does the GTX 1650 have going on? Well here is a spec breakdown. I’ve got the GTX 1650 up next to the also new GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti of course. Then for last generations model, which by the way are from all the way back in 2016, I have the GTX 1050 2GB model. So the GTX 1650 with its new TU117 GPU is running 14 SMs were the GTX 1660 has 22 which drops the CUDA core count down to 896 from 1408. This is over the 640 of the older GTX 1050. Clock speeds are lower than the GTX 1660 as well with those dropping from 1530/1785 MHz on the GTX 1660 down to 1485/1665 MHz. Together that puts the GTX 1650 well above the GTX 1050 in overall FLOPS with the FP32 TFOPS being rated at 3 over the older 1.8 but 2 under the 5 TFLOPS of the GTX 1660. As for memory the GTX 1650 is running the same 8 Gbps GDDR5 as the GTX 1660 but at a lower 4GB capacity. It is also running on a smaller interface with its 128-bit interface. This is what the GTX 1050 had but with twice the capacity and lower than the 192-bit interface on both GTX 1660 models.
TDP is a bit part of the GTX 1650, Nvidia stuck with 75 watts because this card was aimed to not have to run with a PCIe power plug, pulling power only from the PCIe slot. The GTX 1050 was the same way. Now the die size of the GTX 1650 is larger than the older GTX 1050 moving up from 132 mm² to 200 mm² and the transistor count went up with that as well from 3.3 billion to 4.7 billion with the 12nm FFN manufacturing process helping that as well. As for pricing, this new GPU has an MSRP of $149 which does leave room above it and below the GTX 1660 for the rumored GTX 1650 Ti. The GTX 1050 which is getting replaced here is up from its launch from of $109 to $129. I will have to check out performance before figuring out if that $149 price point is right. AMD's nearest competitor, however, is the RX570 which can be picked up for $129 so that should be interesting.
Now for my review, I am taking a look at the MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X which is MSI’s highest end model and with that has a higher clock speed. It is listed with a boost clock of 1860 MHz which is significantly higher than the 1665 MHz suggested clock and even higher than the GTX 1660 clock speed as well. To confirm everything was in line, before testing I checked and GPUz did show that same boost clock as well. I’ve included it below also to show the BIOS version used on the card and to show which driver I tested on which was the 430.39 launch driver.
The packaging for the MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X wasn’t really a departure at all from what we have seen in the past with other Gaming X cards. The front of the box has a large photo of the card on it which I love. No more pointless artwork and now you can see exactly what card you are getting from the outside of the box. Below the card photo is the Gaming X branding, as well as a logo for the Twin Frozr 7 cooling design then, of course, the normal Nvidia wrap around which has the actual model name on it. The wrap around goes around on to the back as well where it talks about the GeForce Experience. MSI has more info on their Gaming X’s design on the back with a box showing the Torx 3.0 fans and the aerodynamics used in their Twin Frozr 7 cooler design. They also highlight the RGB LED on the top. There is a feature list and system requirements along with a very short specification listing that doesn’t really show anything important you might want to know. Card dimensions, display connections, VRAM size (which is shown), and clock speeds are the main things that would be nice to see in a retail environment.
Inside the card comes wrapped in a static protective bag and in a thick foam tray to keep it protected. There is then another layer of foam up on top and then a black envelope that holds the documentation. That has a quick user guide, MSI’s Lucky the Dragon cartoon that shows how to build a PC, two MSI coasters, and a driver disk.
Card Layout and Photos
One thing is for sure, MSI is very consistent. The cooler on the GTX 1650 Gaming X looks just like the RTX 2060 Gaming Z I took a look a while back. Being their highest end GTX 1650 model it is a full-length card with a dual fan Twin Frozr 7 design. Both fans are very large, extending up past the top of the PCI bracket in addition to the shroud as well. The shroud design is plastic with a black design covering most of the card with two dark grey areas around the fans. The entire design is very angular, especially around the fans. The card is 245mm long, 127mm tall, and 39mm thick which is the length and width of a normal card but taller than normal.
For fans, MSI calls these fans their TORX Fan 3.0 and they have a steep curved blade design. They also have small fins on every other blade to help direct the airflow down along with a fan shroud design that if you look closely tunnels down to the heatsink. Most video card fan shrouds are tin, having that thickness here helps better focus the airflow from the fans. While the card is all black and dark grey, the fan does have a touch of red in the center where MSI has put their gaming dragon logo as well.
Here is a look at the extra height of the card. As I mentioned before in addition to this being a full-sized card when most GTX 1650’s are short ITX form factor cards. The Gaming X, like most of MSI’s higher end cards, is taller than a standard PCI device. Most cases support taller cards so it isn’t a concern, but make sure the case you are planning on using has that extra space above the PCI area.
For cooling, the Twin Frozr 7 design includes a proper sheet metal fin heatsink. MSI didn’t go crazy with too many heatpipes though, using just one in an S shape to run over the top of the GPU and to pull heat out to the ends of the heatsink. The overall design uses the two axial fans to blow down towards the PCB across the heatsink. There is a gap at the bottom of the heatsink that leaves room for airflow to go out all directions and as you can see the fan shroud doesn’t go down that far as well so there is plenty of room for airflow. That airflow does vent directly into your case though unlike a blower design, so plan to have enough cooling to dissipate it. This isn’t an ultra high-end card, so that shouldn’t be a problem but I will find out more later in testing.
The top edge of the card has the Geforce GTX branding on the fan shroud in a glossy finish to stand out from the textured finish of the shroud. Next to that is also an MSI logo with Twin Frozr 7 branding and a gold MSI Gaming dragon. All of that is on a white background which is also LED backlit with RGB lighting and then small red accents on each side of it. I’ve talked before about how I would prefer just accent lighting, not just lighting up branding and the white used here isn’t my favorite as well, it takes a lot away from the otherwise dark card design in my opinion.
Also up on the top edge is a PCI power plug. This might be a surprise to some given the GTX 1650s 75-watt TDP. The GTX 1650 is designed to only need to run off the PCI slot for power, but MSI went with additional power on the Gaming X because this is a highly overclocked model and to leave even more room for overclocking if needed. The connection is a 6-pin and it is flipped around backward with the clip on the PCB side. The PCB is notched to match. This keeps it tighter up against the card and makes it easier to get your finger on the clip.
The back of the PCB shows us a few things. For starters I love the flat black finish that MSI went with, given that this is very visible in most cases I am happy to see that. A backplate would have been nicer though. You can see that the entire heatsink is attached using the four screws around the GPU. You can also see that most of the PCB traces are over on the right side of the board because the GTX 1650 is mostly a short card. MSI just extended things out to match the larger heatsink. With that, some of the power circuitry does move over on the left. There is also a white dragon logo screen printed on here as well.
For display connections, the GTX 1650 Gaming X doesn’t really go overboard. You get two DisplayPort and one HDMI which I would really prefer to have a fourth connection. DVI if possible. Given the price point, I can see a lot of people needing the now old but still used connection. Beyond that, the rest of the rear bracket does have ventilation, but given the cooler design, it isn’t all that needed.
Here is a look at that backlit section up on top of the card.
Test Rig and Procedures
Our Test Rig Configuration (with affiliate links)
CPU - Intel i9-7960X
Motherboard - Asus ROG Rampage VI Apex
Memory - HyperX DDR4 Predator 3000MHz
Storage - Kingston A1000 960GB M.2 SSD
Cooling - Noctua NH-U12S
Power Supply - Corsair AX1200w
Case - Primochill Wetbench
To start off my testing I like to take a look at a few synthetic benchmarks. They don’t give us exact FPS for in game performance but they do help give us a look at performance in a few different situations. I started off with 3DMark. 3DMark lets us take a look at DX11 and DX12 performance independently and in a few different detail/resolutions. So my biggest focus here was to see where the GTX 1650 performed compared to the RX570 which is AMD's nearest competitor in price and of course seeing how it compares to the GTX 1660 as well.
The first tests were using 3DMarks Fire Strike benchmarks which are DX11 based. There are three tests with change detail and resolution. Basic Fire Strike is 1080p, Extreme is 1440p, and Ultra is 4k. All three had the GTX 1650 Gaming X at the bottom of our charts by a surprisingly large margin. In the first test, the RX570 came in faster than the GTX 1060 as well and over 4k points above the GTX 1650. In the Extreme test, the gap is similar, only this time the GTX 1060 is slightly ahead of the RX570. Then in the Ultra benchmark, the gap is even larger.
Now the newer 3DMark Time Spy benchmarks, on the other hand, are focused on DX12 and past Turing cards did much better in DX12. In the first one, the GTX 1650 was again at the bottom of the charts but the gap between it and the RX570 was MUCH better this time around. Turning the detail up didn’t change anything for the card order or the amount that the RX570 was ahead really. So the GTX 1650 does like DX12 a lot more, but the RX570 is still looking to be a better performer.
I also tested using the Unigine Superposition benchmark. This test is run at three resolutions and at 1080p I test at medium and extreme detail levels. Once again the GTX 1650 was at the bottom of the chart with the RX570 ahead of it. It did handle the 8K test better, but no one is going to be running either card at that resolution.
For VR testing I ran the classic SteamVR benchmark then three tests using VRMark. The Steam VR benchmark is mostly capped out with modern cards but with the GTX 1650 and RX570 we are finally getting down into performance levels that start to show. The GTX 1650 comes in right at the top of the iffy yellow performance area which shows that it will play VR titles but even with todays titles, not all will play. The RX570, on the other hand, was a little higher and at the bottom of the green rating.
In the VRMark benchmarks, the three tests focus on three different game details. The Orange Room test is similar to the SteamVR test where it is current basic games. Cyan is today's games but high detail. Then Blue Room is future looking games. Here we check out the FPS score making sure they are above 110 FPS which is the minimum playable. In the orange room test, the RX570 performed better by over 20 FPS but the GTX 1650 did come in as playable. As I suspected from the SteamVR results the higher detail current games in the cyan room test, however, came in below the 110 FPS needed for both cards but again the RX570 was faster. Then in blue room, the GTX 1650 was slightly faster than the RX570 but none of today's cards reach the goal on that one yet.
Now we finally get into the in game performance and that is the main reason people pick up a new video card. To test things out I ran through our new benchmark suite that tests 12 games at three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4k). I also slipped in a few variations on the same games for comparisons like DX11 to DX12, OpenGL to Vulkan, and a couple of games are just tested at their highest setting and lower but still high detail options to show the performance difference when things are turned down slightly. In total, each video card is tested 54 times and that makes for a huge mess of graphs when you put them all together. To help with that I like to start off with these overall playability graphs that take all of the results and give an easier to read the result. I have one for each of the three resolutions and each is broken up into four FPS ranges. Under 30 FPS is considered unplayable, over 30 is playable but not ideal, over 60 is the sweet spot, and then over 120 FPS is for high refresh rate monitors. This covers all of the games tested except Final Fantasy XV that we have a score rather than an FPS because they like to be different.
So how did the MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X perform? Well, you can toss 4k out the window right away, only four out of 17 tests came in over 30 FPS. That isn’t a surprise at all given the 4GB of VRAM and 128-bit memory interface. 1440p was a little better with a majority of games being at least somewhat playable, but I wouldn’t be looking at the GTX 1650 for 1440p. So 1080p was my main focus and with just one test as an exception, all of the games were playable. Just one was in over 120 FPS with most in the middle with 8 in the 30-60 range and 7 over 60. All of our games are higher end games running at their highest settings, so at 1080p the GTX 1650 is going to be able to play just about anything. A lot of the higher end games are going to require turning the detail down. “esports” titles like League of Legends, CS:GO, DOTA2, and Fortnite, however, are all going to play perfectly.
Of course, I have all of our actual results as well, but with so many cards tested across so many tests at three different resolutions, it is a LOT of data to take in. But assuming you are as crazy as I am it is all below. The Final Fantasy XV results are up on top because they aren’t included in the above graphs because they don’t include FPS results. The GTX 1650 was at the bottom of the charts there with the next card being the RX570. Overall the GTX 1650 didn’t perform that amazing with it being at the bottom of the charts in 13 of 17 of the tests. Of the four that it wasn’t on the bottom Doom with Open GL was one, but using Vulkan the AMD cards catch back up. Wildlands and F1 2017 were the other games that the GTX 1650 pulled ahead on. Looking at the RX570 and the GTX 1650 directly through all of the games at 1080p which is really the only resolution that you should be gaming at with either card here is the breakdown.
RX570 64 FPS
GTX 1650 60.5 FPS
Not to bad of a difference when averaged out honestly. The large gaps in DOOM with Open GL (30 FPS) and F1 2017 (13 FPS) swayed the average. A 60 FPS average at 1080p isn’t bad at all, but the RX570 being faster does raise some obvious concerns that we will talk more about at the end of the review.
Now some people do use their video cards for other uses like streaming, video production, and 3D modeling. With all of those compute performance is important. So I did run the GTX 1650 through those tests as well. I was curious to see how performance would change considering the GTX 1650 uses the Volta encoder, not the one from Turing it will be interesting to see how that contributes to compute performance.
So my first test was using Passmark’s Performance Test 9. This is a basic GPU Compute test and in this test, the GTX 1650 came out much closer to the RX580 than the RX570.
Now in Blender, which is one of the most popular 3D rendering programs, the GTX 1650 was below the RX580 and RX570 with just the GTX 1060 behind it.
In Basemark GPU as well as Geekbench we get to see DirectX12 and OpenGL performance, as well as OpenCL in Geekbench and in all three the RX570, comes in ahead of the GTX 1650. The gap in Geekbench wasn’t much at all but Basemark DX12 performance was night and day.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
Now beyond normal GPU performance, video cards do have a few other aspects to consider. Most of these depend on the company who makes the card and which model of theirs you are using because of different cooling designs, fan profile settings, and the overclock. This includes power usage, noise, and cooling performance. These best compare directly from matching GPU to match GPU but even with this being our first GTX 1650 it gives a great look at the performance of the MSI Gaming X and where the GTX 1650 is for power usage, especially compared to the RX570.
For the first tests, I took a look at power usage. To test this I use a Kill-A-Watt on our entire test bench so these results include CPU power as well as everything else on the PC like fans and the motherboards power draw. The first test is in 3DMark Fire Strike on a combined load which loads the CPU and GPU like they would be in game. Here the GTX 1650 Gaming X did very well with it being the lowest power draw of all of the cards tested. The RX570 which was also overclocked was 118 watts higher in this test. In the second test, I used the AIDA64 stress test to load the GPU only. So the total wattage is lower here but you can see that the GTX 1650 was a lot closer to the other cards here with the RX570 will pulling 81 more watts.
For noise testing, I set our decibel meter up 18 inches away from the test bench pointed at the card and tested a few different situations. I tested at 50% fan speed and again at 100%. MSI did well here with the Gaming X being one of the quietest cards tested at 50% fan speed and at 100% 54.9 decibels was in the bottom 1/3rd of the card as well. I did also test the noise level when under load but being a new test our graphs don’t reflect it yet. When under load for 30 minutes with the stock fan profile it settled at 334.9 decibels which was just a touch below the 50% noise level. Of course, the card also has a zero fan speed mode which it hit sometimes as well while under load. So the fan coming on and off was more noticeable than the fan itself running.
My last tests were looking at cooling performance. To do this I used AIDA64 again to keep the card under load. I let this run for a half hour checking to make sure the temps leveled off and then documented temperature. With the stock fan profile, the MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X peaked at 62 degrees. Now the results were interesting because of the zero fan speed option to keep the noise down. Under load all that time normally a card will level out with the fan at a low setting but not off. This card happened to land right where the fan would turn on and off so it actually ran cooler a lot but would heat up to 62 degrees where the fan would turn on and then cool back off. Repeating this over and over. MSI could use a tune on this profile preventing this while the card is under full load meaning it is hardly using the cooler a good portion of the time. I tested with the fans on 100% as well and as you can see it dropped down to 44 degrees.
While doing the temperature testing with the stock fan profile I did get our thermal camera out and take a few pictures. You can see there is one hot spot on the back of the PCB near the front of the card. That same area shows that it is running warmer on the heatsink side as well with the right fan keeping the heatsink a lot cooler. Having just the one heatpipe doesn’t seem to be spreading out the heat as good as is needed. That said the Gaming X ran more than cool enough. But if more cooling was needed this is were it could be improved.
Overall and Final Verdict
Well, being late to the party on this one means I’m not exactly dropping a big bomb here when I say that the GTX 1650 is a flop when it comes to price vs performance. This should have been obvious when Nvidia didn’t let people test the cards prior to launch but normally they are a lot closer to the mark than this. The GTX 1650 Gaming X that MSI provided is their highest end card and it has a huge overclock over the stock GTX 1650 speeds that Nvidia announced. Even with that the RX570 performed better in nearly every one of our synthetic, in-game, and compute tests. Now the GTX 1650 is perfectly fine to game at 1080p, in fact, it was playable in all but one test I ran. But to stay at least over 60 FPS you may need to run a little lower settings on some of the higher detail games. If the standard esports titles are more your thing though you aren’t going to have any trouble and that is really the best thing about the GTX 1650. This is the sweet spot for people who play at 1080p who want great performance in their standard cards and to still be able to play higher end titles from time to time.
The MSI Gaming X specifically had its pro’s and con’s. They used the same cooler design that I really have liked on a few MSI cards lately. The black with dark grey looks good and is going to match just about any build. I could go without the white branding section up on top personally but they do give you RGB lighting where that is going to be rare on a card in this price class normally. This is a full sized card when most other GTX 1650s aren’t and the cooling reflects that. This is a tall card though, so make sure it will fit in your case. The cooling did show a little uneven in our thermal images so there is even more room for improvement there but frankly it wasn’t needed at all. The fans were turning off while the card was under full load even. The power usage was impressive as well, especially when compared to the RX570.
So the GTX 1650’s performance isn’t really the big concern, even having the RX570 be faster isn’t a concern being slower than another card doesn’t mean that it won’t get the job done. But the price needs to reflect that. Nvidia went with a $149.99 MSRP on the GTX 1650 and at that price, the RX570 is a much better deal at $129. That doesn’t even include game bundles where AMD is including a copy of The Division 2 and World War Z and Nvidia is including a Fortnite bundle. AMD's bundle is more valuable though I would also say that Nvidia’s is better fitting for the card. As I mentioned before this is a great card for games like Fortnite and LoL. The MSI GTX 1650 Gaming X specifically is even more with a scary $179 price tag. Overall I think I would hold off on the GTX 1650 until pricing improves. The performance is there for it to be a good value card we just have to hope the value eventually shows up. Right now though I would be looking at the RX570 if I were shopping in this price range.
Live Pricing: HERE