The rumours have come true, so just before the “back to school” season, we’re being greeted by the new GeForce, poised to find its place under the sun in the very attractive 250€ segment. Yes, the model in question is GTX 660 Ti, and it’s now finally clear that NVIDIA has decided to bring back the Ti(tanium) suffix for good. We’re glad to see this move, as this suffix has always been synonymous with quality and performance. The speculations surrounding GTX 660 Ti were reaching boiling point, with the latest “real” specs changing from day to day, from the idea that the chip on the card is entirely new, to the more realistic standing that the card will essentially be an impoverished GTX 670. All this journalist hype goes to prove just how much the IT public is interested in this model, especially since NVIDIA has taken so long to start descending into the masses with their latest generation. It’s clear that certain problems with the 28 nm lithography are present, but this doesn’t change the fact that NVIDIA is well behind its competitor, which has already started refreshing the existing latest-gen models, while NVIDIA is merely presenting the first ones, and the completion of the gamma is still not in sight. Yet all this fades into the background now that we finally have this card at hand, especially for those whose pockets aren’t too deep, but still want to have a Kepler GPU inside their enclosure.
Believe it or not, it’s quite difficult to spot the differences between GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti “on paper”. The list of referent specifications contains only three dissimilar points, making it seem like playing “spot the differences” at first. Therefore, the graphics card has the same GK107 GPU which we’ve already seen in GTX 670, implying that it has 1344 out of the total 1536 stream processors at disposal. With one SMX block of 192 stream processors out of the way, the number of texture units has been reduced by 16, to 112. The nominal clock for the GPU has been lowered to 850 MHz, but this won’t impact performance too much due to the dynamic overclocking system shared by all Kepler-based GeForce models. In other words, the theoretical difference of 70 MHz between the two will usually be narrower in practice. The card is supplied with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory, and believe it or not, its clock has been left intact at 1500 MHz, or 6 GHz effectively. So where are the differences? Well, firstly, there’s the bus, as this was the only way to create tangible differences compared to GTX 670. For this reason, the memory bus has had a bit “chopped off”, totalling to 192 bits. This reduced memory bandwidth by 25%, which isn’t all that much; mathematically, GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti stand at 240 GB/s versus 192 GB/s, respectively. The second modification is tied to the first one, since the number of ROP units has been reduced from 32 to 24. And that’s about it! Good news so far, but it’s impossible to estimate just how large the difference in performance will be without extensive testing. That said, let’s get acquainted with the actual model that has managed to reach us first.
MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti Power Edition
Similarly to ASUS, MSI is a company which has built its reputation in the graphics card business through their customised cooling systems, a brand on their own. TwinFrozr IV is the fourth generation (you don’t say?) of this excellent solution, which has been improved year by year. As with ASUS’ DirectCU, certain errors have appeared from time to time, but generally speaking, our experiences with this cooler have been excellent thus far. MSI calls this card PE, or Power Edition, which is a series under the famed Lightning models, but still contains a range of advanced capabilities. The first one is the implemented Dust Removal Technology, part of the new cooler. Essentially, it’s a mechanism which reverses fan direction and thereby airflow for a few seconds when the PC is first turned on; this manages to “shake off” the most bothersome dust off the cooler and into the main enclosure airflow. The design of the card is unified, in a not-too-attractive combination of black and purple, although this remains open to interpretation and personal taste. The cooler dominates the appearance of the card with its large aluminium profile intersected by four nickel-plated heatpipes. The cooler’s active element consists of two 80 mm fans, and the advances made since TwinFrozr III are obvious in that the coolers are much quieter despite the same RPM rate as before. Beneath all this is the GK107 GPU, surrounded by six GDDR5 memory chips signed by Hynix and declared to 6 GHz effectively. We like the fact that they too are covered by an aluminium cooling profile, which does its best to draw away any leftover heat, and it also covers the power unit elements. Since the card has Military Class II components, quality is undisputable. The triple voltage control enables offset voltages for CPU, PLL and memory, which will cheer up all those who are already planning to attempt to reach GTX 670 performance with a smarter choice (which they’ll probably manage to do, in fact). MSI has done its best to live up to the Power Edition suffix, closing the gap on more powerful versions, not least by increasing the nominal GPU clock by an entire 170 MHz. As already stated, this frequency is one of the three changed specifications, and this move by MSI has effectively eliminated it, reducing the count to two. Consequentially, all GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti will likely have very similar clocks, simply because we have yet to see a non-overclocked version of the GK107 chip. As far as extension goes, two SLI connectors are present on the PCB, making Tri-Way SLI an option. Since the piece of hardware in question is a slightly weakened version of GTX 670, it doesn’t come across as surprising that it has two 6-pin molex connectors for additional power supply. You needn’t worry about video outputs, as there are two DVIs, one HDMI and one DisplayPort – the same configuration already seen in the two stronger models. With power consumption declared around 150W, NVIDIA has placed GTX 660 Ti just below GTX 670. This is a paper value which, just as manufacturer states, can vary, showing no real-life difference between two cards. Especially as most of them will be overclocked by manufacturer, creating bigger GPU demand for power.
The tests that we’ve run have definitely confirmed the good news concerning this card’s performance, and we believe that many will be pleased. Performance yielded by GeForce GTX 660 Ti is somewhere between 5% and 15% lower compared to the more expensive GTX 670. This is a good enough result on its own, but with some additional tweaks, you’ll probably be able to close the gap even further. Increasing memory clock aids this particular model immensely, as it increases the weakened memory bandwidth, so with a bit of luck, you might eliminate the impact of the missing 64 bits. Although the card on the whole is nothing new or revolutionary, getting a Kepler GPU for even less money can only be considered good value, especially since there’s still no proper mid-range GeForce model in the desktop range, making GTX 660 Ti welcomed even more warmly. MSI has done their part of the job expectedly well, and as long as the card gets an appropriate price tag, it’ll be a very good choice. Temperatures never reached more than 72 degrees Centigrade even under full load and extensive testing, while dynamic overclocking functioned in a very satisfactory way. All this can only mean our warm recommendation in the form of an award.
|Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC||Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Dual-X||MSI GeForce GTX 660Ti Power Edition||Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 2GB|
|Clock (GPU / MEM)||900MHz / 1250MHz (5GHz)||1000MHz / 1450MHz (5,8GHz)||1020MHz / 1500MHz (6GHz)||980MHz / 1500MHz (6GHz)|
|1680x1050 4xAA 16xAF / 1920x1080 4xAA 16xAF|
|Futuremark 3DMark 11 (performance preset) GPU Score||3.288 / 2.753||3.781 / 2.914||4.033 / 3.162||4.365 / 3.430|
|Futuremark 3DMark 11 (extreme preset) GPU Score||2.858 / 2.291||3.389 / 2.679||3.291 / 2.612||3.611 / 2.912|
|3DMark Vantage (Extreme preset) GPU Score||18.772 / 17.145||21.472 / 19.198||19.816 / 17.498||22.350 / 19.828|
|3DMark Vantage (high preset) GPU Score||19.987 / 17.822||23.299 / 21.101||20.429 / 18.225||23.377 / 20.776|
|Unigine Heaven 3.0 (DX11, high, normal tesselation) [fps]||67,2 / 61,3||76,3 / 69,7||67,9 / 59,9||78,6 / 70,5|
|Unigine Heaven 3.0 (DX11, high, extreme tesselation) [fps]||48,4 / 43,1||54,8 / 50,2||54,2 / 48,7||60,9 / 55,8|
|Crysis Warhead (DX10, Enthusiast) [fps]||58,6 / 52,6||66,1 / 59,3||54,6 / 47,6||64,4 / 56,7|
|Crysis 2 (DX11, Ultra, HD Textures) [fps]||90,5 / 80,9||91,7/ 83,6||80,5 / 70,2||96,4 / 89,1|
|Metro 2033 (DX11, very high, tesselation) [fps]||49,4 / 44,7||54,1 / 47,3||38,4 / 43,1||50,3 / 44,8|
|AvP DX11 (DX11, max) [fps]||65,8 / 59,1||69,9 / 64,8||51,7 / 44,7||65,1 / 57,7|
|F1 2010 (DX11, max) [fps]||79 / 75||79/ 76||86 / 77||95 / 88|
|Dirt Showdown (DX11, Ultra) [fps]||52,3 / 41,4||54,5 / 50,2||34,4 / 31,5||32,6 / 30,1|
|Sniper Elite (DX11, Ultra) [fps]||28,7 / 25,2||35,3 / 30,1||22,3 / 19,1||24,9 / 22,1|
|Sniper Elite (DX11, High) [fps]||45,8 / 40,1||55,2 / 48,9||36,7 / 31,9||40,8 / 35,4|
|Test configuration: Intel Core i5 760 @ 3,8GHz, 2 x 4GB AMD Memory 1600MHz DDR3, ASUS Maximuss III Extreme, WD 500GB, Windows 7 64bit Ultimate, ForceWare 305.37 Beta, Catalyst 12.6|
Direct comparison with GTX 670
|MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB||Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 2GB|
|GPU Clock [MHz]||1020||980|
|ROP / Texture units||24 / 96||32 / 112|
|Mem. type/ Capacity/ BUS||GDDR5 / 2GB / 192||GDDR5 / 2GB / 256|
|Memory Clock/ Effective Clock[MHz]||1500 / 6000||1500 / 6000|
|Power Consumption [Idle/Load]||129/337||130/ 346|
|Price[€]||Reference design will retail around 259+VAT||395|