NVIDIA GTX 660Ti Roundup with ASUS, Galaxy, MSI Reviewccokeman , BluePanda - August 16, 2012
Category: Video Cards
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The introduction of NVIDIA's Kepler architecture opened a new salvo in the video card wars; the architecture proved to be a match for what the red team had to offer. The GTX 690, GTX 680 and GTX 670 easily proved their gaming worth as far as raw performance was concerned. With the edict to be more power efficient the design team took the failures of FERMI and worked the architecture to deliver a more power efficient core that ran cooler. Each of those goals were met. Not only did you get a better performing video card, but you got one that was able to deliver surround gaming with a single video card. Plus you can take advantage of NVIDIA's latest technologies including 3DVision, PhysX, GPU Boost, Adaptive VSync, and TXAA - a new anti-aliasing algorithm designed to reduce temporal aliasing. All features that have been proven to work and offer improved visual quality or a unique view in games.
When you look at the Kepler product stack, the lowest priced video card, the GTX 670, is in the $399 and up range leaving a huge section of the market unable to take advantage of having a GTX 6XX series video card. NVIDIA waited roughly three months to deliver a product for consumers not looking to spend upwards of $400 for their gaming fix. Much like the GTX 560Ti the GTX 660Ti is poised to fill that void in the product stack with a card that offers up all of the features and technologies of its big brothers without all of the cost. The GTX 560Ti was impressive in its own right and the GTX 660Ti is poised to do the same.
Packed with the same amount of CUDA cores as the GTX 670 (1344) as well as running 2GB of GDDR5 memory through a smaller 192-bit bus, performance should not be an issue at a resolution of 1920x1080 or even 5760x1080. Clock speeds on the reference cards will be 915MHz (GPU Boost of 980MHz) on the cores and 1502MHz (6008MHz effective) on the memory. However it looks like the vast majority of cards to be seen today are going to be factory overclocked cards including the ASUS GTX 660Ti Direct CUII TOP, MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition and Galaxy GTX 660Ti GC. Clock speeds will be significantly higher on this batch of cards ranging from 1006MHz on the Galaxy to 1019 and 1072MHz on the MSI and ASUS offerings, respectively. Each of these cards offer significant upsides over the reference version cards with custom PCBs, improved power delivery systems, improved cooling solutions, and reliability enhancements to ensure that these cards make it to the end of a typical three year retention or upgrade cycle.
As part of the Kepler family the GTX 660Ti is able to take advantage of all the features embedded in the feature set including SLI (with up to 3 cards), PhysX, TXAA, Surround, and 3DVision.
Much like the GTX 670, the GTX 660Ti uses the same 28nm Kepler SMX architecture introduced on the GK104-based GTX 680. The GPU consists of a series of GPCs (Graphics Processing Clusters), four in this case, on each GK104 with two SMX units in each GPC. A single SMX is disabled leaving a total of 1344 CUDA cores on the GTX 660Ti; identical to the configuration on the GTX 670. To more effectively manage power consumption, the traditional method of running the shader clock at twice the core clock was abandoned and now the clock speeds run at a 1:1 ratio. Each GPC has a single raster engine and dynamically share 1MB of L2 cache. The GPU core features 112 texture units and 24 ROPs on the GTX 660 Ti. A new feature with GK104 is hardware and software-based GPU Boost technology, which dynamically boosts the clock speeds of the GPU cores when there is available TDP headroom, much like the latest CPUs from Intel and AMD. The base clock speeds for the GTX 660Ti are 915MHz with a GPU Boost core clock speed of around 980MHz. The GTX 660Ti memory subsystem is dropped to 3x64-bit (192-bit) memory controllers handling the installed 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at 1502MHz (6008MHz effective). In essence you have a card that is very similar to the GTX 670 and is scaled down to fit in the price performance point for the vast majority of gamers.
While OCC is not looking at all of the cards coming out today we do have a representative of samples with three different clock speed points from ASUS, Galaxy, and MSI. There will be plenty of reference cards out but the upper end cards offer a value in terms of increased longterm reliability and stability through enhanced cooling and component selection. Seen below are a good selection of the performance offerings from many of NVIDIA's partners, including the cards we are looking at today.
Each of the cards we will be looking at today have features that make a point of difference when it comes time to spend your hard earned cash on a video card upgrade. Special cooling, build quality, component selection, noise reduction, warranty, performance, brand recognition, and any added value items such as game bundles all factor into the purchase decision. Lets take a look at what ASUS, Galaxy, and MSI have to offer for the mainstream gamer. With performance increases of up to 3x over previous generation products there is no better time to look at an affordable Kepler-based video card.