Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan Review & Rating
Did we ask for it? Not really. Is it here anyway? Most definitely. Does it game well? Yeah, actually. The $159 Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan is the first GeForce GTX 1650 Super card we’ve tested, and it is a decisively more compelling mainstream graphics card than the original GTX 1650. But the line between GTX 1650 and GTX 1650 Super models is so thin that if you just glance at the differences, you might miss them entirely. Even so, this Zotac card does exactly what its name suggests it should: It performs better than a GeForce GTX 1650 and in some cases, AMD’s competing Radeon RX 5500 XT (launching today), while performing slightly under what we saw in the GeForce GTX 1660. If you were considering the GeForce GTX 1650, the GTX 1650 Super is clearly the better buy, and it just edges out AMD’s latest on value, if not absolute speed. It will get you to the midpoint of powering most games in 1080p at a frame rate above 60 frames per second (fps), so long as you tweak your settings accordingly. It earns a new Editors’ Choice award for budget cards.
Super-Sizing the Junior GeForce
The original GeForce GTX 1650 launch was, at best, uninspiring. The card was met on the whole with a lukewarm reception by review sites (including ours) for having meager overclocking potential, being a little overpriced versus relevant AMD Radeon cards, and, most important, posting speed results behind the curve at its price. The GTX 1650 Super starts at $159, while the base models of the standard GTX 1650 retail for $149 (with no word of a price drop in parallel with the GTX 1650 Super launch). Most third-party versions of the card go for anywhere between $10 and $30 above that.
Now, however, Nvidia could be changing the narrative around the GTX 1650 line, and doing what it’s done best all throughout 2019: “Super-ing” it, a verb we’ve now coined simply out of convenience, since so many GeForce cards are getting the same treatment. In essence, the Super cards are ticked-up or ticked-down versions of existing GeForce “Turing” (current-generation architecture) cards.
In our minds, Super-ing is essentially the process of rebranding and reclassing cards to spur sales or clear them off dusty shelves, though Nvidia would never admit to that outright. In fact, the only card we’ve seen that’s been truly “Supered” in the upward sense—as in, sold as a premium, up-binned version of the same card it started as—in this release cycle is the GeForce RTX 2080 Super, which is based on the same TU104 die as the non-Super RTX 2080.
Most of the Super cards in the GeForce RTX line reflect their origins by being a card one step down in the GeForce-family naming scheme from the one it takes its die from. (The GeForce RTX 2070 Super is just a down-binned GeForce RTX 2080, for example.). The GTX 1650 Super follows that model, and tellingly shares quite a few specs with the card in the GeForce line right above it, the GeForce GTX 1660.
Like the rest of the non-GeForce RTX Turing cards, Nvidia hasn’t produced any reference versions (despite providing reference specs for the card on its website). So the only models of GeForce GTX 1650 Super card available are being provided by the usual third-party manufacturers, such as Asus, Gigabyte, and Zotac.
But how heavy a Super treatment does the GeForce GTX 1650 Super actually get, though? Let’s get down to some spec comparisons.
To set a baseline for how the GTX 1650 Super relates to other cards in Nvidia’s line of late, here’s a comparison of the GTX 1650 Super against the non-Super GTX 1650, as well as some other Nvidia cards in the same price and performance bracket. The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, not charted here, is the closest last-generation (“Pascal”) equivalent.
GeForce GTX 1650 Super Versus Relevant GeForce Cards
The main difference right off the bat? Instead of relying on the TU117 (Nvidia’s tiniest GPU die), as the company did in the original, the GeForce GTX 1650 Super borrows from its peers and is based on a chopped-down version of the TU116, the same variant that powers the original GeForce GTX 1660, GTX 1660 Super, and GTX 1660 Ti cards.
The card also gets the same memory boost that the GTX 1660 Super did from its original GTX 1660 version: an upgrade from GDDR5 video memory to GDDR6, as well as an increase in both the bandwidth and memory clock. In many ways, the GTX 1650 Super is much closer in spirit and specs to a standard GTX 1660 than it is to the original GTX 1650, and it even features a faster memory clock speed than the GTX 1660. (The former will run at 12Gbps, while the latter tops out at 8Gbps.) At $60 cheaper than a GTX 1660, however, it seems like there could be a whole lot of punch hiding inside this petite powerhouse.
Now it’s on to the AMD comparisons…
GeForce GTX 1650 Super Versus Relevant Radeon Cards
For about two years now, AMD has been strong in the under-$200 GPU space, with cards from both the Radeon RX 400 and RX 500 lines performing above what you could expect from competing Nvidia cards in the same price bracket. They weren’t overly efficient, based on older silicon tech, but they were great values for the money for the cash-strapped gamer.
That dynamic is changing fast with the release of Turing, though, and Nvidia looks to be taking back what it can in this department inch by inch, card launch by card launch. Now the GTX 1650 Super is pitted directly against AMD’s latest “Navi”-based GPU, the Radeon RX 5500 XT. The two share a lot of spec similarities, though AMD still beats it out with faster clock speeds and a higher memory bandwidth.
Note: While the launch price of the Radeon RX 580 back in the day was set at $229, these days you can find those cards hovering anywhere between $159 and $200, depending on the vendor and time of year, which is why we felt it was fair to pit the $159 GTX 1650 Super against it here. We assume they will be selling through for some time as the RX 5500 series eventually take over that space for AMD.
Zotac’s Twin Fan: The Card Walkaround
Like the Zotac GeForce GTX 1660 Super Twin Fan that we reviewed back in October of this year, this GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan features, you guessed it: two fans, in a very tight design. Anyone looking to build a compact PC will be pleased with the small size of this dual-slot card, measuring just 6.2 inches at its longest point.
The back of the card has a DisplayPort 1.4b port and an HDMI 2.0 port (no VirtualLink to be found), as well as one DVI-D connector.
The main difference here between the original GTX 1650 and the new GTX 1650 Super is the power draw. Where the previous card required just 75 watts and needed no cables to power it, the TDP on the GTX 1650 Super is ticked up by a third, to 100 watts. All third-party cards bearing the GTX 1650 Super badge will be powered by a single six-pin connector.
Bumping Into the Budget Set’s Elite
PC Labs ran through a series of DirectX 11- and 12-based synthetic and real-world benchmarks on the Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan. Our test rig is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8700K processor, 16GB of G.Skill DDR4 memory, a solid-state boot drive, and an Aorus Z370 Gaming 7 motherboard.
For our benchmark results, we wanted to focus some of our efforts on the esports aspect of the GTX 1650 Super’s abilities, as much of the press from Nvidia has centered around its ability to push 1080p multiplayer games efficiently for the money.
We also ran it through the rest of our standard benchmarks which test a card’s abilities to handle AAA games at the highest possible quality settings. With the GTX 1650 Super being the budget-focused card it is, we weren’t expecting it to smash any records in this department and graded it on a curve with that consideration in mind.
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra
Synthetic benchmarks can be good predictors of real-world gaming performance. Futuremark’s circa-2013 Fire Strike Ultra is still a go-to for 4K-based gaming. We’re looking only at the Graphics Subscore, not the Overall Score.
Straight off the line, the GTX 1650 Super offered up results that came with no surprises: The card is a good deal faster than the original GTX 1650, while just a bit slower than the GTX 1660. It’s also a good deal slower than the Radeon RX 570 and RX 5500 XT on this run, not a great sign for the start of our bench run. But as we explained in our RX 5500 XT review, that card’s extra-high score here might have been a fluke.
3DMark Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme
This is Futuremark’s DirectX 12-enabled benchmark for predicting the performance of DirectX 12-enabled games. It uses major features of the API, including asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading.
In this test the GTX 1650 Super’s boosted memory clock and upgrade to GDDR6 got a chance to shine, showing just how substantially better it is than GDDR5 when compared to the GTX 1660 on the standard Time Spy run. It still comes in well under what the GTX 1660 Ti (a card with GDDR6) posted in the same test, as well as the Radeon RX 5500 XT.
Our last synthetic benchmark is Unigine’s 2017 release, Superposition. This benchmark does incorporate ray tracing, but it’s done in software, which sets a good example of how a card can handle highly optimized, but still very polygon-dense, games running a lot of math on the back end.
This test sets the last bar for synthetic tests that we’ll start to see again throughout the rest of our gaming results: The GTX 1650 Super is clearly faster than its predecessor, and is much closer to a GTX 1660 in performance and spirit than the card from which it takes its name.
The following benchmarks are games that you can play. The charts themselves will list the settings we used (typically the highest in-game presets and, if available, DirectX 12). As mentioned, we’ve got a mix of AAA titles in here as well as some more optimized, multiplayer-focused titles.
A quick note: Though most of our game tests are maxed out in graphical fidelity to push the cards to their limit, multiplayer gaming is all about maintaining the best balance between graphical fidelity and frame rate. As such, we’ve kept CS:GO and Rainbow Six: Siege tuned to the best combination of necessary improvements in settings (higher anti-aliasing and lower resolution rendering scales, for example), while still trying to keep frame rates for 1080p games above that coveted 144Hz mark.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Square Enix’s recent title is our first real-world test. This game is well-optimized for the PC platform, but very demanding at its higher visual quality settings.
Here we should mention some anomalous results which we’ve covered previously in the GTX 1660 Super review: those results seemed to have been hampered by some dodgy drivers, so while it may look like the GTX 1650 Super is the clear winner here, we need to re-run that card to get updated benchmark numbers that take the new driver sets into account. Otherwise, though, its more par-for-the-course results for the GTX 1650 Super in SOTR. It clearly beats the older “Polaris”-based AMD cards at the resolutions that matter, and the new RX 5500 XT had issues here that we detailed in that review.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The 2015 predecessor to Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still a great benchmark.
Here, the GTX 1650 Super is back on track. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the GTX 1650 Super is undoubtedly more able than the original GTX 1650, while still maintaining just enough of a gap between itself and the GTX 1660 (non-Super) to give each card wins in their own respective price brackets. It barely underperforms compared to the RX 580 or the RX 5500 XT, but that’s to be expected given the three cards’ respective price points.
Far Cry 5 and Far Cry Primal
The fourth and fifth installments in the Far Cry series are based on DirectX 11, but still demanding. We’re looping these two benchmark charts together since they benchmark similarly.
Far Cry 5 results show the comparatively priced RX 570 finally catching up to the GTX 1650 Super, posting numbers barely a sliver slower (possibly an anomaly), while the GTX 1650 Super dominates on Far Cry Primal. However if it’s between the two we’re still going to recommend the GTX 1650 Super (more on those reasons below). The Radeon RX 5500 XT comes out price-proportionally ahead.
Final Fantasy XV
We’ll take a respite from fps-based benchmarks for Final Fantasy XV.
No surprises that the Nvidia card beats any AMD competition here, even the RX 580 and slightly pricier RX 5500 XT. The Final Fantasy XV test has always skewed for Nvidia (due to the company’s close involvement in the development of the PC port), so on this test it usually just boils down to a race between Nvidia and Nvidia. In that vein, again the GTX 1650 Super is trouncing the original GTX 1650, but lags a bit further behind the GTX 1660 than it has in other benchmarks.
World of Tanks Encore
This is another non-fps-based benchmark that’s available as a free download.
It’s not super demanding, but World of Tanks is a reliable test that returns consistent results, so it should be no surprise to see more of the same narrative playing out here as it has on the rest of the tests.
These three games still offer a AAA gaming experience, despite being more than a few years old by this point. The legacy tests include runs of Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider (2013), and Bioshock: Infinite, the last being a game that no one asked to be still as well-optimized as it is in 2019.
In these tests, the AMD Radeon RX 570 just trailed the GTX 1650 Super, but ultimately they still tell the same story we’ve seen throughout the rest of our results: faster than the old GTX 1650, and just a bit slower than a standard GTX 1660.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
One of the oldest, yet still most popular, games around the globe, Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the latest in a long line of titles that have changed almost nothing about their core gameplay since 1999…and gamers wouldn’t have it any other way.
The engine is considered one of the best optimized in all of PC gaming, which makes it easy to see major gaps in any one card’s abilities versus another.
Here’s one of the few edge cases where the old Radeon RX 570 actually looks like a better value than the GTX 1650 Super. The RX 5500 XT is proportionally faster in line with price. However, since every result still breaks through the coveted 144fps barrier at 2,560 by 1,440 pixels and above, no matter which card you go with, you’re still going to get the speed you need to compete at the highest levels. We’d certainly go with the much newer tech in the GTX 1650 Super, in expectation of bigger future gains via driver tweaks.
Rainbow Six: Siege
Finally there’s Rainbow Six: Siege. Ubisoft has worked hard on its competitor to CS:GO to make it one of the most highly played games on the Steam platform, with 45 million players and growing as of late 2019.
Things fell back into Nvidia’s favor once we ran the card through this benchmark. Again: The card is faster than the GTX 1650, but still a tick slower than the straight GTX 1660.
Overclocking and Thermals
With such a small card sporting such a tiny cooling solution, I really wasn’t expecting much overclocking potential out of the GTX 1650 Super. You can imagine my surprise, then, when it let me keep kicking up those clocks higher and higher, further and further, until I hit a crash ceiling of 225MHz on the boost clock, and 350MHz on the memory clock.
In testing Far Cry 5 both in and out of the overclock, I saw a performance boost of just over 11 percent in 1440p and 1080p testing (paired against a 12 percent boost clock increase, that’s almost exactly what we’d hope to see), while the benchmarking tool 3DMark saw score gains that were just a bit lower, at 9.7 percent.
To test the thermals of the Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan, I turned off the overclock and ran the Fire Strike Ultra Benchmark Stress Test for 10 minutes, and recorded our results in GPU-Z. I also took FLIR One Pro thermal-camera images of the card (seen above) while it was running at its hottest to see how the heat was dissipated around the case.
During that period, the card maxed out at 73 degrees C, off a resting idle temperature of 34 degrees C. This is considerably higher than the non-Super GTX 1650, which in our testing only topped out at a maximum of 57 degrees C (and that was an overclocked version, too). As far as heat displacement goes, just as the case has been for most third-party Super cards, almost all of it is collected on the backplate, with the smallest amount making it out of the rear of the case through the backplane and fans.
Splitting Super Hairs
If you take anything away from our review of this newest GPU line from Nvidia, let it be this: The GeForce GTX 1650 Super is a redemption story. In our opinion (and in that of many other reviewers), the original GTX 1650 was a rare Nvidia disappointment, and the GTX 1650 Super is anything but.
Does it always outperform the Radeon RX 5500 XT, Radeon RX 580, or even the RX 570? Not quite. But here’s the catch: Versus the two latter, older cards, it’s way quieter and runs a bit cooler, and its generous amount of overclocking headroom is surprising for such a small card that you’d never expect to be a boundary-pusher.
When it comes to AMD’s current competition at this tier, the $10-pricier Radeon RX 5500 XT, the GTX 1650 Super does underperform comparatively in many cases. But the inconsistent results garnered in testing the Radeon RX 5500 XT in the early going means the GTX 1650 Super is still, by a nose, the stronger recommendation between the two, especially given the $10 savings you get for going with Nvidia in this case.
The Zotac GTX 1650 Super Twin Fan may not be the best choice if you’re on a tight cooling leash in a compact build; its increased heat output could present some issues. But if you were contemplating getting a standard GTX 1650 a few weeks ago, there’s almost no reason not to chip in the extra $10 to get the GTX 1650 Super instead. The card offers great esports performance, delivers solid AAA gaming at lower resolutions, and is still small enough to fit in nearly any build, to boot. What’s not to like?