GTX 660 SLI vs. GTX 680 vs. HD 7970 GHz – Value & Performance Evaluation

 This evaluation is about value, since two GTX 660s cost about the same $440 that a GTX 680 or a HD 7970 GHz Edition costs.  So the natural question is, what about performance?  Can the midrange 192-bit GTX 660 SLI surpass the high-end 256-bit GTX 680, or a 384-bit HD 7970 in performance at high resolution and high detail settings - and what about microstutter playing PC games?A pair of GTX 660s will cost you about $440 at NewEgg.   This is about the same price you will pay for a GHz Edition of the HD 7970 or for a GTX 680.  The evaluation that we are presenting here today compares the performance of the very fastest single AMD and Nvidia video cards versus the decidedly midrange GTX 660 in SLI.

This evaluation is a continuation of an ABT series that begins where ourSLI vs. CrossFire, Part 1 – mid-range multi-GPU scaling & value,” left off.  In fact, that series continued with High-end Multi-GPU Scaling, but we are going to return to comparing a pair of mid-range video cards – the GTX 660 in SLI, versus the GTX 680 and versus the HD 7970 GHz edition.

One thing to note is that all of our video cards were run at their stock speeds whereas we overclocked our Core i7-3770K CPU to 4.5GHz to make sure that there is no CPU bottleneck.  We are actually expanding on our midrange SLI versus a single powerful card series with three synthetic benches and 25 relatively new games – including seventeen DX11 games, five DX10 games, and three DX9 games.  We are using the two fastest single-GPU graphics cards from each vendor – the GTX 680 and the HD 7970 at GHz edition clocks.

We are continuing to test at two of the most demanding wide-screen resolutions, 1920×1200 and 2560×1600. We generally use 2x/4xAA or 8xAA plus 16xAF and with maximum (ultra) DX11/10.1/10/9c details whenever it is available. For all of our testing in this review, we are benching with Catalyst 12.11 and GeForce 310.33 drivers; each one a very solid and stable beta driver set.

What about “micro-stutter”?  In the past, we have noted it on CrossFire and SLI setups.  We shall see what happens when the highest performance single-GPU video cards meet a midrange multi-GPU video card in SLI in the Autumn of 2012.

Please continue on to the next page for the complete hardware and software setup of our testing platform.



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Founder and Senior Editor of ABT.

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