Articles: Graphics

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We don’t often have the chance to review and benchmark several graphics cards at once and we've never carried out a roundup review of one and the same model in its multiple versions from all the leading manufacturers. But that’s exactly what we are going to do now. We will examine as many as eight original versions of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti card which features Nvidia’s GK104 GPU with Kepler architecture. These are products from ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, Inno3D, KFA2, MSI, Palit and Zotac. If you like this way of our providing our content, we will try to prepare such large-scale comparative reviews in the future, too. So, please, don’t forget to share your opinion in comments to this article.

Now, let’s take a look at the hardware we’ve got today.

Testing Participants

Technical Specifications

The following table sums up the specifications of eight GeForce GTX 660 Ti based graphics accelerators side by side:

Click to enlarge

Now let’s take a closer look at each individual graphics card.

ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP 2GB (TI-DC2T-2GD5)

The new TOP series card from ASUS is shipped in a large and colorful box with traces of someone’s claws on the front:


You can also see basic information about the product there. For full information you can refer to the back of the box. Surprisingly, the accessories are very few, including just a quick installation guide and a DVI->D-Sub adapter.

Power cables and a CD with drivers and ASUS utilities must have been lost on the way. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP is manufactured in China and costs $309, which is a mere $10 higher than Nvidia’s recommended price for the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. The warranty period is 3 years.

ASUS cards can be easily identified by their DirectCU II cooler that covers the entire face side of the PCB. It looks stylish and austere:


The cooler goes beyond the PCB, making the whole card as long as 269 millimeters. It is the longest GeForce GTX 660 Ti in this review, actually, but its height is only 38 millimeters, so it doesn't block three expansion slots as, for example, flagship GTX 680s do.

The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP offers a standard selection of video outputs: DVI-I, DVI-D (dual-link), HDMI and DisplayPort. Besides these connectors, there’s a vent grid in the card’s mounting bracket to exhaust the hot air out of the system case.

Two MIO connectors for building 2-, 3- and 4-way SLI configurations and two 6-pin power connectors can be found in their conventional locations:


Running a little ahead, we can tell you that most of the other cards in this review have the same pairs of MIO and power connectors with only one exception we will dwell upon specifically. That’s why we won’t talk about them in the descriptions that follow below.

A 450-watt PSU is recommended for a computer with one such graphics card.

Known for its friendly attitude towards overclockers, ASUS has developed a custom PCB with enhanced power system:

There are as many as six power phases for the GPU, two for the memory chips and one PLL phase.

Coupled with high-quality and durable components (which are referred to as Super Alloy Power technology), the exclusive digital power system DIGI+ claims to ensure 30% lower EMI, 15% higher efficiency and 2.5 times the service life of the reference card. It is good that ASUS-exclusive technologies previously spotted only on the company’s hi-end products are now available in midrange solutions as well.

The GPU of our sample of the card was manufactured in Taiwan on the 18th week of 2012 (early May). It is revision A2:

We already know the GK104 configuration for the GTX 660 Ti card, so we will only focus on any changes in frequencies compared to the reference sample. The ASUS version has a base GPU clock rate of 1059 MHz which can be boosted to 1137 MHz. This is in fact the record-breaking GPU clock rate not only among the eight products we've got together for this review but among all serially manufactured GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards.

The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP is equipped with eight FCBGA-packaged GDDR5 memory chips from Hynix Semiconductor with a total capacity of 2 gigabytes.

Labeled H5GQ2H24AFR R0C, the chips are rated for a clock rate of 6000 MHz and are indeed clocked at that frequency on the ASUS card. Coupled with a 192-bit bus, this means a peak memory bandwidth of 144.2 GB/s, just like with the reference GTX 660 Ti. Every card in this review carries the same memory chips but not all of them have the same memory frequency.

Here is a summary of the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP specs:

Besides the custom PCB, ASUS is ready to please every user who values efficient and quiet cooling. We mean their exclusive DirectCU II cooler, of course:

It consists of an aluminum heatsink, three 8mm copper heat pipes with direct-touch technology, and an aluminum casing with two fans:

There is an additional aluminum heatsink with thermal pad on the power system components. It gets some air flow from one of the fans. The two 75mm impellers from FirstD support PWM-based regulation:

The card varies their speed automatically within a range of 1000 to 3500 RPM. The peak power consumption of one such fan is no higher than 4.2 watts.

Hereinafter we are going to use five consecutive runs of Aliens vs. Predator (2010) with the highest image quality settings in 2560x1440 resolution with 16x anisotropic filtering and MSAA 4x antialiasing to test the card’s operational temperatures.  We used MSI Afterburner 2.2.3 and GPU-Z 0.6.4 as our monitoring tools. These tests were performed in a closed system case (which configuration is discussed in the corresponding chapter of this review) at room temperature of 20°C. All graphics cards were taken apart before the test session that is why they were all tested with identical thermal interface – Arctic MX4.

Here is the temperature of the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP in our test:

Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

So, the card is 69°C hot in the automatic regulation mode and only 54°C hot at the maximum speed of the fans. That’s an excellent performance considering the pre-overclocked GPU. Take note of the peak speed of the fans in the automatic mode too: it is only 1440 RPM. We'll discuss the noise level in more detail later, though.

We explored the overclocking potential of each graphics card at the default GPU voltage. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP didn’t impress us in this respect. It was stable and produced no visual artifacts when its GPU clock rate was increased by 50 MHz and its memory clock rate, by 960 MHz.

The resulting frequencies of the ASUS card were 1109/1187/6968 MHz:

That’s neither the best nor the worst result in this review but the card is unrivalled in terms of temperature and noisiness:

It is only 70°C hot at peak load, its fans rotating at 1410 RPM. Take note that the peak GPU clock rate, according to the monitoring data, was 1239 MHz.

Now let’s see what the other brands have to offer.

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