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The star of our show
Our guinea pig for today is Zotac's GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! Edition—the fastest GTX 650 Ti variant the company offers, and quite possibly the high-water mark for GTX 650 Ti cards everywhere. It feature twice as much memory as the reference design, and it pushes the GPU and the memory to a blistering 1033MHz and 6200 MT/s, respectively, quite a ways up from the reference 925MHz and 5400 MT/s. On top of that, Zotac has slapped on a meatier, dual-slot cooler and beefed up the display output configuration:

This card trades the reference offering's Mini HDMI port for two full-sized HDMI connectors. Nvidia says all of its Kepler GPUs support up to four displays in tandem, but only custom versions of the GTX 650 Ti like this one have enough outputs to take advantage of that capability.

As you might expect, all these extras come at a price. Zotac charges a whopping $179.99 for the GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! Edition. That represents a $25 premium over the company's vanilla 1GB card, and it's also $10 above the price of Zotac's reference-clocked 2GB card. It ain't cheap, but then again, hot-clocked cards with extra memory rarely are.

The competition
Because of its price premium, the Zotac 2GB AMP! card is up against some pretty serious competition. AMD's Radeon HD 7850 has come down in price since the GeForce GTX 660's arrival last month, and 1GB versions can be had for well under $200. The XFX Core Edition variant (pictured below and featured in our testing) sells for $179.99 at Newegg right now, and that's before a $20 mail-in rebate. It has a longer circuit board than the GTX 650 Ti, at 7.8", but it still requires just one PCI Express power connector.

The 7850 1GB is at somewhat of a disadvantage because of its 1GB frame buffer. However, this puppy has a wider, 256-bit path to memory, which gives it roughly 55% more bandwidth than the Zotac card. That's not the only place where the two cards' priorities diverge, either. Take a look:

ROP rate
MSI GeForce GTX 560 Twin Frozr II 870 N/A 32 49/49 1.2 4.1 GT/s 131 $169
Zotac GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! 1033 N/A 16 66/66 1.6 6.2 GT/s 99 $179
XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition 1120 N/A 18 45/22 1.3 5.2 GT/s 83 $154
XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition 860 N/A 28 55/28 1.8 4.8 GT/s 154 $179
XFX Radeon HD 7850 2GB Black Edition 975 N/A 31 62/31 2.0 5.0 GT/s 160 $229

The 7850 1GB can talk to its memory faster and churn out more pixels than the GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP!, and its shaders are a little faster, but its texture throughput is weaker. This is going to be a hard race to call without plenty of testing.

Interestingly, the same can be said about the GeForce GTX 560. Although that card is nearly 18 months old now, it's still available in roughly the same price range as our two current-gen contenders. The hot-clocked MSI GTX 560 variant we selected for our testing has specifications not dissimilar from those of the 7850 1GB.

Let's get on to the numbers—as soon as we've outlined our testing methods, that is.