Our GTX 1650 benchmark article has been getting a lot of attention lately, mostly during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shopping frenzy. This is something we see every year, as parents, PC enthusiasts and gamers look to upgrade their specification without breaking the bank. Budget graphics cards and RAM upgrades are usually the first port of call. Upgrading either (or both) of these components will give a specification the boost it needs to hugely improve gaming experience.
Although graphics card prices have now returned to normal, 2022 marks a year where consumers find it tough financially in the UK, so saving as much money and getting the best performance is the goal of most shoppers. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 ticks a lot of boxes, and its very clear why it is so popular.
In this article we are going to look at graphics card options in the same price range as the GTX 1650, and ask - is it the best value entry level graphics card?
Minecraft or bust
According to CharlieIntel.com and activeplayer.io, Minecraft had a monthly player base in August 2021 of around 164 million. A year on, that number is a staggering 173 million players booting up Minecraft in August 2022. The majority of those users are indeed kids under the age of ten, but Minecraft also has a huge share of adult users, too. Besides the duvet covers adorned with Creepers and Zombies, and the novelty nightlight shaped like a pig, the Minecraft game also gives gamers the option of upgrading the look and feel of characters, as well as adding to the vast world with well-made DLCs, keeping fans entertained and hooked on the open world sandbox for years.
It's no surprise, then, that the sales staff at CCL are often asked for a PC or graphics card that will run Minecraft. It seems that the game is a litmus test for all entry level PCs, graphics cards and processors. The great thing about Minecraft is that it was always intended for mass appeal, and to enable as many people to play the game as possible, the system requirements are quite modest.
System requirements for Minecraft: Java Edition
Not only is it possible to play Minecraft on a laptop (like the Geo 140 Minecraft Edition), you don't need a high end processor, graphics card or lots of memory in a desktop PC either.
Do I need a powerful GPU for Minecraft?
One fact you should understand about Minecraft is that the CPU is actually the most important piece of hardware, if you don't want to spend a lot of money on the graphics card. A lot of the heavy lifting is done by the processor, and Minecraft is always going to be much more CPU intensive than it is GPU reliant. As the game involves rendering an expansive world with millions of objects, the processor is the component that takes on this burden, with the GPU focussing on shading and smooth movement through the world.
Whilst you can certainly run Minecraft with integrated graphics, the experience would be somewhat marred by the jerky animations and jagged lines in the visuals. Ideally, a dedicated (discreet) graphics card would be taking care of the framerate and graphics, leaving the CPU to build the world around you.
You will certainly run into trouble with Mods if you are playing Minecraft without a graphics card, however. Mods for Minecraft on PC are one of the biggest appeals for fans, as this gives unlimited creativity in an already fun-packed game. With some of the Mods available offering incredible lighting and shading effects, a dedicated GPu is definitely a must.
GTX 1650 Minecraft Benchmarks
Back in 2019, Minecraft's user base exploded in June 2020, with over 13 million new players joining servers. Back then, the (now discontinued) Ryzen 5 3600 was a great processor for entry level gaming PCs, especially if you played Minecraft. With a base of 3.8 GHz and a Max Boost frequency of 4.4 GHz, 6 Cores and 12 Threads, you had the perfect gaming processor, as long as you paired it with a graphics card; the Ryzen 5 3600 did not come with an integrated GPU.
Even in 2019, with the Ryzen 5 3600 and a GTX 1650, you could expect framerates of 120 FPS with "Fancy Graphics" enabled and at 1080p.
This example tells you a lot. When you compare the performance on a modern, comparable processor such as the Intel Core i5-11400F (a processor this author is very fond of), you will find that you get the maximum framerate that your monitor allows. With Mods installed (even heavy Mods), you will still see 120 FPS or more.
What about other games?
The GTX 1650, whilst perfect for Minecraft, also manages to be an outstanding graphics card for modern games, too. zWORMz Gaming recently put the two year old graphics card to the test in titles that are popular, and it performed admirably with a AMD Ryzen 9 5900X processor and 32GB DDR4 RAM.
Graphics setting: HIGH / 1080p
Note: Some settings were turned to LOW or MEDIUM, such as Ambient Occlusion and Antialiasing Quality.
- Forza Horizon 5 - 85 FPS
- Cyberpunk 2077 - 55 FPS
- Halo Infinite - 106 FPS
- Dying Light 2 - 53 FPS
- Far Cry 6 - 71 FPS
- Battlefield 2042 - 60 FPS
- Elden Ring - 47 FPS
- Call Of Duty Warzone - 69 FPS
- God Of War - 49 FPS
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla - 48 FPS
- Fortnite - 162 FPS
- GTA 5 Online - 93 FPS
As we can see, the GTX 1650 holds its own in 2022, with some of the most popular titles. Some of this is down to good coding and optimisation by developers, who realise that not everybody purchased an RTX 380 when GPU prices returned to normal.
Upgrading to the GTX 1650 - is it worth it?
For gamers who like variety or competitive Esports titles, the GTX 1650 is a superb graphics card for the money, at under £200 for all vendors. That said, even though you can't take advantage of Ray Tracing and DLSS, you will still enjoy playing AAA titles with a few settings tweaked.
GTX 1650 Gaming PC
If you're looking for a gaming PC that has a GTX 1650 on board, then you can opt for the great value Horizon Dragoon Gaming PC or the Horizon 3M AMD GTX 1650 Gaming PC.
Both of these PCs include processors that can more than meet mid-tier gaming needs, and 8GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM. You'll get 500Gb of fast SSD storage, as well as Windows 11 Home. This means the PC is ready to install and play games out of the box.
Upgrade to a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card
If you already have a decent processor and just need to revamp an ageing graphics card, the GTX 1650 is well-priced at under £200. If you have a little extra in your budget, it would be a good idea to upgrade your DDR4 RAM to boost gaming performance, though this is optional.
Two excellent value GTX 1650 graphics cards are the pre-overclocked 4GB versions by MSI and Gigabyte: -
Is the GTX 1650 the best budget GPU?
AMD fans will tell you that you can opt for the Radeon equivalent of the GTX 1650 - the Radeon RX 6400. This is true. You might even save a little money in the process. However, the RX 6400 does not have hardware encoding, which means you will be 100% reliant on your CPU if you are streaming on Twitch or YouTube for example. NVIDIA graphics cards can take advantage of NVENC and a raft of updates that are designed to get the most out of all gaming pursuits.
Right now, the GTX 1650 is a great choice as an upgrade or as the dedicated GPU in a gaming PC. There are other options for a little more oomph, such as the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050, which offers 1080p Ray Tracing and DLSS. You will, however, pay around £120 extra for the privilege, and the RTX 3050 is priced quite closely to the RTX 3060 - a much better option if you want AAA+ visuals.
All in all, its hard to see a better option at this price range, and there's no shame in waiting for the RTX 3060 or even the RTX 3070 to come down in price before you upgrade to a Ray Tracing gaming PC. For entry level gaming, the GTX 1650 is a real winner.