ASUS GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP Reviewccokeman -
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After looking at the GTX 660Ti and seeing the direction NVIDIA was headed in its march to bring Kepler to the largest section of the video card market, it was interesting to see what the first swing at the market would be. What it delivered was a card that is priced in the $230 range for reference cards putting it right between the $190+ HD 7850 and $250+ HD 7870 GHz edition in both price and performance. ASUS' GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP is priced slightly higher than the $230 price point at $249. At that price you get a video card that is able to play every title I tested at greater than 30FPS using high to maximum in-game settings. Dropping the visual quality will allow higher FPS but having the ability to run the number at 1920x1080 with the eye candy on is a little more appealing for $250 or less. Adding in a 3DVision system most of the games were playable although there is a performance hit. Even so Batman had a solid 50FPS while DiRT 3 was right at 60FPS with 3DVision enabled. If you enjoy the 3D experience the GTX 660 can deliver it.
Out of the 20 performance tests run, the GTX 660 DCU II TOP was faster than the HD 7870 GHz Edition in 14 out of the 20 tests. As a percentage the GTX 660 DCU II TOP was faster in games 70% of the time. As part of the DirectCU II product stack the GTX 660 DCU II TOP delivers excellent cooling performance to go along with the gaming performance by allowing the card to run well below the thermal limits of the card with load temperature of 64 °C when the fan speed is controlled by the card's BIOS. That fact that 64 °C was attained with the fan speed running at the 10% level is pretty amazing and a testament to the design's cooling efficiency. Add in the double sealed fans as part of ASUS "Protective Design" feature set and you have a card that has the capability of outlasting that reference design cooling solution. The fans on this card are another area of improvement. Running at normal speeds and controlled by the BIOS, the fans are inaudible over the rest of the test system. Kicking the fan speed up to100% results in some whirring that is quieted down by reinstalling the side panel of the chassis.
Stock performance is great but overclocking adds performance allowing a lower end GPU to many times out perform its price point. ASUS adds in its Digi+VRM/ SAP implementation to allow the end user to have the tools to overclock the GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP to deliver that increase in performance easily and reliably. Stability and longevity are other areas addressed with the DIGI+VRM/Super Alloy Power implementation. ASUS GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP is already one of if not the fastest card from the start so overclocking margins should be on the slim side starting at a boost clock of 1137MHz. I was able to reach a solid boost clock of 1206MHz on the GK106 core used in this card with it at most times running well into the 1230MHz range in games. The memory delivered solid increases as well at 134MHz over the factory 1502MHz.
Rather than promote an aftermarket utility from another vendor, ASUS has put together its own utility called GPU Tweak. This monitoring and tweaking utility includes the ability to record your own gaming escapades to save and post online, saving you the cost of a FRAPS purchase, all for $0. As an NVIDIA-based card the GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP gets the latest feature set that comes with the Kepler architecture including Adaptive Vsync, TXAA, PhysX, SLI, and 3D Vision.
ASUS' GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP hits the performance marks set for it in convincing fashion with an expansive feature set that includes high quality components, excellent cooling, and great looks all wrapped up in the $250 price point. For 1920x1080 gaming on a budget, the GTX 660 DirectCU II TOP has the ability to leverage the right price/performance point with the latest DX11 feature set to entice gamers to make that next upgrade to enjoy all that DX11 gaming has to offer.
- 1920x1080 gaming
- Cooling solution
- Build quality
- NVIDIA technologies
- GPU Tweak-Added value
- Protective Designs
- Good looks