NVIDIA GTX 660Ti Roundup with ASUS, Galaxy, MSI Reviewccokeman , BluePanda - August 16, 2012
» Discuss this article (105)
The box on the Galaxy GTX 660Ti is that of a standard Galaxy 600 series card. It has the silver stripe along the left edge of the box with the manufacturer's name "GALAXY" in all caps. A three dimensional "G" pops away from the box leaving nothing but space behind it – a still seemingly futuristic type view on things as space was/is a future frontier. The added sticker at the bottom of the box reads off some quick features to get your blood flowing: 2GB frame buffer, three-year extended warranty, GC Factory overclock, force air bracket for increased air flow, custom cooling, and of course a 3 + 1 for gaming displays. The back of the box goes on to give you a little more excitement. It has the usual HD banter, Windows 7 compatibility, and all the standards to sell it at your local store, but it also has something us OCers really like to see – a nice new designed OC software utility: Galaxy Xtreme Tuner Plus. It allows for full visible control over the card with no extra hassle. I'll cover this a little more in depth in the OC section of the review, I will say however, that it is a neat little tool.
Inside the box is another box; really there is, it's a black box, kinda like an airplane holding all the secrets of the last flight. A little message is left on top of the card to remind you to register your card online to get the three-year extended warranty (you should probably remember to do this). Beneath the styrofoam protection around the card is another neat little secret box to pull out; it reads "Galaxy" across the middle in glossy black letters. It isn't much a surprise to find reading information and adapter cables packaged within, but it was pretty neat to see them packaged in neat anti-static zip bags. There’s a dual Molex to 6-pin and a dual Molex to 8-pin adapter for those of you short a few plugs and of course a DVI to VGA dongle is included as well.
The Galaxy GTX 660Ti out of the box is already a unique card – it's super lightweight and has a new shroud design that doesn't expand past the edge of the PCB making it perfect for SLI configurations. The shroud also has some neat features I'll show off just a bit later. The card itself isn't quite a reference unit with it's almost Sapphire-esque blue PCB: it also has 5+2 phase power circuitry above the 4+2 reference circuitry. The card is designed to be used in a PCIe slot with a wingspan of only 9.5 inches in length allowing it to fit in even some of the smaller cases out there. The two fans with the nickel-plated heat pipes greatly improve cooling without making your case sound like it has a tornado inside. The "Force Air Bracket" maximizes the airflow so that less heat recirculates inside the chassis itself. The back of the card shows off the thru-board ventilation near the MOSFETs for enhanced cooling on the easiest to "fry" components. You can also see the two memory modules that help make up the 2GB of GDDR5. Overall it’s already got a nice start being super light and showing off some style – I hope its looks can keep up with the performance I'm looking for. There's a bit of text on the side of the shroud talking about "Cleaning Mode," but more on that later.
The back end of the card is open to allow for maximum thermal performance – it allows full ventilation from the front and rear of the card. The fins hang just past the PCB to drop heat away from the card. The front end of the card has your standard connection options for the GTX 600 series cards – a pair of Dual Link DVI ports, a full size DisplayPort, and an HDMI port. This allows the GTX 660Ti to support three monitors in surround configuration (that's essentially Eyefinity for you AMD nuts) though at the 5760x1080 resolution it won't be amazing, but it with some compromising down from "ultra" settings this thing ought to still be quite a beast.
The fingers are there for SLI configurations as I mentioned before, so you may use two or more cards if you desire and if your wallet can handle the bill. The card requires you to feed it power through both an 8-pin and a 6-pin connector, which allows for a full 300W pull with PCIe and technically 375W with PCIe 2.1 and up. The board design power is 170W so you won't get close to those theoretical maximums, but it's nice to know they're there and won't be limited.
Pulling things apart to see how this cooling works, I got to see what that "Cleaning Mode" was exactly. The edge has some special flexible plastic that allows you to unclip it from the edge of the heat sink to release a gullwing-esque fan shroud. The fans move with the shroud and allow you to blow out the dust bunnies from the fins without a complete tear down of the card. I was pretty impressed with this feature and look forward to having a more happy, clean card. You can unscrew it completely, but with the hinge setup why would you?
Flipping it over there is a massive cooling pad for the GPU itself with a nice solid mount. There are four plastic spacers to prevent you from crushing the card if you have the desire to take it apart; the screws also bottom out preventing issues as well. Not that I would guess many of you would be taking it a part to look at, but it is designed well from the manufacturing standpoint. The four heat pipes dissipate the heat to the fins and away from the GPU. The VRMs have a nice chunk of aluminum with fins to again pull away the heat. The memory on the other hand is cooled by airflow alone, which I found a bit interesting and I hope I won’t see a damper on the OC.
Two 85mm fans from EVERFLOW push all the air through the heatsink. These PWM controlled fans run on 12V consuming up to 0.50A. Maxing them out with the Xtreme Tuner Plus (which only allows a "max" of 80%) spun the fans at 3100RPM. It was nice to actually hear how quiet these fans actually are – even at this "full" speed, the card was more than tolerable. I assure your game volumes will cover up the noise. The board does a nice job adjusting the fan speed as it needs it and isn't a harsh binary function of a fan.
The PCB is a Galaxy custom design increasing energy efficiency and OC potential. It feeds a bit more power with the previous mentioned 5+2 phase power allowing for more power when pushing harder. A dual BIOS allows you to recover if you try flashing the BIOS and something doesn't go right – a well appreciated backup. The 8-pin and 6-pin power as I've mentioned before ensures you will be providing more than this card can consume, so there is less chance of a voltage drop or lack of power for your maximum OC.
The Kepler core is back as the 28nm GK104 core is found beneath all the beauty the heatsink is. There are four Graphics Processing Clusters and seven SMXs just like the GTX 670. On board as well are 1344 CUDA cores, 112 texture units, 24 ROP units, and 2GB of GDDR5 through a 192-bit memory interface. The base core clock comes in at 1006MHz with a Boost clock speed of 1084MHz, which is the variable speed it will allow the clock to speed up to if headroom allows for it. The stock memory clock also comes in at a respectable 1502MHz (6008MHz effective), which has a bit of play room as well for you OCers out there. Xtreme Tuner Plus will show to be a good friend for you indeed.