The EVGA GTX 660 Ti Superclocked edition arrives
Nvidia has just released its “value” $299 GeForce GTX 660 Ti based on its 28nm Kepler DX11.1 architecture today. This new GPU is the fourth in Nvidia’s lineup - after the dual-GPU $1000 Flagship GTX 690 and the single-GPU $500 GTX 680, as well after the $400 GTX 670. We will focus primarly on the performance of the GTX 660 Ti as it relates to the current GeForce lineup in performance and price.
We received a EVGA GTX 660 Ti Superclocked video card from EVGA under NDA and for the past week, we have been comparing it to the GTX 560 Ti that it replaces as well as to Nvidia’s existing Kepler line-up. We are also comparing it as well as to Nvidia’s flagship of the last generation, the GTX 580 as well as our 4-year old GTX 280 as a upgrade path for DX10 gamers. Of course, we will also compare our reference-clocked PowerColor HD 7970 (925/1375MHz) to see exactly where the new GTX fits in regarding its price to performance.
The GTX 660 Ti’s Competition – the HD 7870 and the HD 7950
Nvidia designed the GeForce GTX 660 Ti for gamers who want to enjoy their games with the graphics settings and anti-aliasing (AA) turned up, paired with a 1920×1200 or 1920×1080 display. That means that Nvidia has positioned it directly against the HD 7870 which sits solidly in the $300 price range. It is very likely that the GTX 660 Ti will also be compared against the “new” faster HD 7950 that AMD has just this week announced lowered pricing for at about $330.
The GTX 660 Ti is Nvidia’s replacement for the GTX 560 Ti which launched at the beginning of 2011 at $249. This time, Nvidia is aiming for slightly less than GTX 670 performance in a “value” package to directly compete with AMD’s upper-midrange cards, the HD 7980 and the HD 7950. The reference HD 7870 is now selling for an average price on Newegg for $300 with a couple of cards available for as little as $270 after mail-in-rebate. The HD 7950 is available for an average selling price of $350 right now on Newegg and the cheapest one on Newegg is $304.99 plus $12.24 shipping.
EVGA GTX 660 Ti Pricing
There are going to be many varieties of the GTX 660 Ti with the suggested base price starting at $299. The EVGA Superclocked GTX 660 Ti that we are testing is priced at $309.99 and it is part of this EVGA 660 Ti lineup that includes 2GB and 3GB versions and they will also include a Borderlands 2 coupon at participating USA etailers:
· EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB – $299.99
· EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked 2GB -$309.99
· EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti FTW 2GB – $329.99
· EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti+ 3GB – $329.99
· EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked+ 3GB – $339.99
· EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti FTW+ 3GB – $359.99
The GeForce GTX 660 Ti ships with 1344 CUDA Cores and 7 SMX units. The memory subsystem of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti consists of three 64-bit memory controllers (192-bit) with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Its specifications are virtually identical to the GTX 670 but on a narrower bus..
The base clock speed of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti is 915MHz. The typical Boost Clock speed is 980MHz. The Boost Clock speed is based on the average GeForce GTX 660 Ti card running a wide variety of games and applications. Note that the actual Boost clock will vary from game-to-game depending on actual system conditions.
Thanks to GPU Boost, it isn’t uncommon for the GeForce GTX 660 Ti to run at speeds well in excess of 1GHz when gaming. On our own sample, we saw over 1100MHz at stock EVGA factory settings and near 1200MHz when it was overclocked further from EVGA’s factory overclock. We expect to see many overclocked SKUs from Nvidia board partners as well. EVGA clocked the Superclocked version +65MHz over Nvidia’s reference clocks and here are its specifications:
Under load, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti typically draws up to 134W of power in most non-TDP apps. This is what you should experience with the power target slider set at its default 100% setting. For our testing of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti, we maxed the slider out at +123% as we do for all Kepler cards. Likewise, we also max the PowerTune slider for AMD cards. At this setting, GTX 660 Ti will draw up to 165W in non-TDP apps.
GeForce GTX 660 Ti’s memory speed is 6008MHz data rate, the same rate as for all the Kepler cards. With our GTX 690 and GTX 680 we were able to get overclocks of +500MHz on the memory; about +400MHz on the GTX 670 and we will naturally try for the max core and memory overclock possible with our new 660 Ti.
So you will see us pit the EVGA Superclocked GTX 660 Ti at EVGA reference clocks and further overclocked, against our PowerColor reference design HD 7970 (925/1375MHz) which will more than stand in for a overclocked HD 7950. We are also going to compare the GTX 680, GTX 670, GTX 580, GTX 560 Ti and GTX 280 using 22 modern games and 3 synthetic benchmarks using 1920×1200 and 2560×1600 resolutions.
In this way, are can compare the performance of the current as well as the last generation of GeForce video cards to see if the GTX 660 Ti is a worthy upgrade from the GTX 560 Ti and how it compares to last generation’s flagship GTX 580. And the gamers who still have a GTX 280 from about four years ago might want to know how it compares to Nvidia’s new $300 card. Of course, the most important comparison might be the EVGA GTX 660 Ti Superclocked against the much more expensive HD 7970 which is selling for well over $400.
What’s New with Kepler’s GTX 660 Ti?
Nvidia’s marketing buzzwords for the GTX 680, GTX 690 and GTX 670 launches were, “Faster. Smoother. Richer.” The GTX 660 Ti is also designed for extreme efficiency and high performance.
The GTX 680′s Kepler architecture has 8 SMX units and 1536 CUDA cores. In comparison, the more affordable GeForce GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti both ship with 1344 CUDA Cores and 7 SMX units. The main difference between the GTX 670 and the GTX 660 Ti is that the less expensive card has a narrower bus – cut down from 256-bit to 192-bit. This is a cost-saving feature that should still give great performance at 1920×1200 and 1920×1080 resolutions, the displays at which it is aimed.
The Kepler GTX 660 Ti promises better geometry and texture processing than Fermi’s GTX 560 Ti thanks to its improved instruction throughput and redesign. In addition, Nvidia brings “GPU Boost”, a dynamic way to boost clocks speeds and maximize performance for each game.
New kinds of anti-aliasing – FXAA and TXAA – now compete with MSAA in terms of IQ while not sacrificing performance. TXAA which we evaluated in the Secret World, brings anti-aliasing without texture crawling or shimmering when the camera is in motion. Also, there is a new “Adaptive VSync” that is reduces tearing and stuttering associated with regular VSync. Great hardware needs great software to support it and Nvidia is also a software company.
For the first time, it is now possible to play games spanning 3 displays in Surround off of a single GeForce GTX 660 Ti just as with the GTX 680 and the GTX 670. And this time, the GTX 670 brings two dual-link DVI connectors, one HDMI and one DisplayPort connector (for a 4th accessor display) so that only one adapter is needed for any DVI-enabled display for 3-panel Surround. In contrast, you will generally need two adapters for the HD 7970 to run the competing 3-panel Eyefinity and you may also experience more tearing with the AMD solution.
PhysX has also been improved. The GeForce GTX 660 Ti reference board measures 9.5″ in length. Two 6-pin PCIe power connectors are required for operation and if you forget to connect them, you will get an on-screen reminder.
How does the $299 GTX 660 Ti compare with AMD’s reference HD 7970 at over $400, recently down from $550
This evaluation attempts to analyze and compare GTX 660 Ti, GTX 680 and GTX 670 performance. We also include HD 7970 performance as well as Nvidia’s fastest card of the last generation, their single-GPU GTX 580 and we may be able to announce a price to performance winner. We will see what this new Nvidia Kepler enthusiast value GPU brings to the table for about three hundred dollars.The above chart is from Nvidia. Although we do not have these exact cards, we also believe that it is important to see how much performance increase the GTX 660 Ti has brought over last generation’s GTX 560 Ti so as to see if it is a worthy upgrade and we’d also like to see how a flagship GTX 280 from 4 years ago compares.
Since we do not want any chance of our CPU “bottlenecking” our graphics, we are testing all of our graphics cards by using our Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7-3770K at 4.80GHz, 8 GB Kingston PC1866 DDR3 and an EVGA Z77 FTW motherboard. This new motherboard features 16x + 16x PCIe 3.0 specification for CrossFire/SLI, and we will have an evaluation of it up this weekend. The Core i7-3770K at 4.8GHz is more than enough to differentiate even high-end video cards at high resolution and high detail settings.
Before we do performance testing, let’s take a look at the EVGA GTX 660 Ti and quickly recap its new Kepler DX11.1 architecture and features.