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ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming OC review: Turing gets really cheap

By Koh Wanzi - 26 Apr 2019

Introduction

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 OC

Yet another budget card

NVIDIA is working hard to fill out the more affordable end of its range of Turing graphics cards. The company just launched the GeForce GTX 1650, the latest addition to its GeForce GTX family of Turing GPUs. As is usual for cards at the lower end of the product line-up, there will be no Founders Edition model, and NVIDIA is going straight to launch with a bevy of custom cards from its partners.

Among the first to land in our lab is the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming OC - a dual-fan model that boasts ASUS' DirectCU II cooler and IP5X dust resistance. It's a little on the beefy side for a card with a TDP of just 75W, which is both a good and bad thing. While the GeForce GTX 1650 technically starts at US$149, you can expect the additional features of the card to drive up its price. At the time of writing, ASUS hasn't revealed the local pricing for the card yet, but it's currently listed on Newegg for US$179. And while the more robust feature set is certainly nice, the fact remains that it can sometimes push the price of the card outside the budget of its intended audience. 

This cooler is probably a bit of an overkill. (Image Source: ASUS)

That said, the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming OC offers much of what ASUS' other ROG Strix cards do. This includes semi-passive fans that will stop spinning when the GPU temperature falls below 55°C, Aura Sync RGB lighting, and a single FanConnect II 4-pin header. There's a metal backplate as well, which helps protect the PCB and conveys a more premium feel to the card. 

Here's a look at the metal backplate. (Image Source: ASUS)

The power delivery subsystem comprises of a 4+1-phase design and solid polymer capacitors and alloy chokes that ASUS says will last longer and won't produce annoying buzzing noises. In addition, the card is manufactured using the company's Auto-Extreme Technology, which basically relies on automation for better reliability and consistency.

For display connectors, it has two HDMI 2.0b and two DisplayPort 1.4 outputs.

However, while NVIDIA's reference design technically doesn't require an external power connector, ASUS has included a single 6-pin PCIe connector anyway. 

Here's a table showing how the reference specifications stack up against its closest siblings:

  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
GPU Core TU117 TU116 TU116
Fabrication process 12nm 12nm 12nm
Transistor count 4.7 billion 6.6 billion 6.6 billion
Graphics processing clusters 2 3 3
Texture processing clusters 7 11 12
Streaming multiprocessors 14 22 24
CUDA cores 896 1,408 1,536
Texture units 56 88 96
ROPs 32 48 48
Base/Boost clock 1,485MHz/1,665MHz 1,530MHz/1,785MHz 1,500MHz/1,770MHz
Memory clock 8,000MHz 8,000MHz 12,000MHz
Total video memory 4GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR6
Memory interface 128-bit 192-bit 192-bit
Memory bandwidth 128GB/s 192.1GB/s 288.1GB/s
TDP 75W 120W 120W
Price (USD) $149 $219 $279

The ASUS card sticks to the same base clock, but it has a significantly higher 1,830MHz boost clock in Gaming Mode. This goes up to 1,860MHz in OC Mode, but the card ships in Gaming Mode by default.

The TU116 GPU that the GeForce GTX 1650 uses is a smaller variant of the TU117 chip in the GeForce GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti. You'll notice that it features markedly fewer streaming multiprocessors, which also means fewer CUDA cores, texture units, and ROPs. It still has most of the benefits of the Turing architecture though, which you can read about it in further detail in my review of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. I say most though, because it is actually missing something, and that's the new NVENC video encoder that the other Turing cards have. Instead, NVIDIA has slipped in the older Volta NVENC encoder, which means you don't get the 15 per cent boost in efficiency and new features to avoid artifacting. 

This isn't really a deal-breaker since someone who buys the GeForce GTX 1650 probably isn't into content creation or streaming, but it's still a puzzling omission on NVIDIA's end.

That aside, the card is still a step up from the GeForce GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti, with more CUDA cores and higher memory bandwidth. According to NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 1650 should also be up to twice as fast as the GeForce GTX 950, and it's no doubt hoping owners of older, budget systems will upgrade. 

7.5
  • Performance 7
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 7
The Good
Runs cool and quiet
Relatively compact form factor
The Bad
Expensive for this class of cards
Unimpressive gaming performance
Lacks Turing's newer NVENC encoder
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