Comparative Review: GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards from Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, Inno3D, KFA2, MSI, Palit and Zotac

Today we are going to talk about eight graphics accelerators with proprietary designs that we managed to get in for review. All of them are based on the recently launched Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti GPU.

by Sergey Lepilov
10/05/2012 | 07:55 AM

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.

EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked 2GB (02G-P4-3662-KR)

The EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked is packed into a small cardboard box designed in EVGA’s unmistakable style.

 

The plastic window lets you check out the serial numbers on the packaging and on the graphics card's PCB.

The EVGA comes with more accessories than the ASUS. They include everything necessary to install and use the card as well as a couple of extras (stickers and a huge poster).

The EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked is manufactured in China and costs $309. Its warranty period is 3 years.

It’s easy to see that the card is a copy of the reference sample:

 

The words on the plastic casing are the only indication that this is an EVGA product. The video outputs are standard but have plastic caps. The vent grid in the mounting bracket is as large as possible:

The short reference PCB may be known to you from our earlier reviews.

The tall aluminum heatsink covers 4+2+1 power phases (GPU+memory+PLL) managed by an ON Semiconductor NCP5392P controller.

The GPU die is protected by a steel frame. Manufactured on the 19th week of 2012, it is one week younger than the GPU of the ASUS card.

The GPU revision, marking and configuration are the same. The base clock rate in 3D mode is 980 MHz. The boost clock rate is 1059 MHz. This is the lowest frequency among the products in this review but, while we were doing our tests, EVGA replaced this GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked model with a faster FTW version with clock rates of 1046/1124 MHz. That's almost as fast as the ASUS version. Hopefully, we'll have a chance to test it, too.

The memory chips and the total memory amount are the same as those of the rest of graphics cards in this review.

The memory clock rate is 6008 MHz in 3D mode, just like on the reference card, so the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked has the following specs:

We can find a copy of the reference cooler under the plastic casing:

It is an aluminum heatsink with copper base and thick fins. A centrifugal fan is driving a stream of air through the fins, cooling the GPU and the heatsink on the power components.

The cooler is simple, inexpensive and exhausts all of the hot air out of the system case. But how efficient is it?


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The reference cooler couldn’t be expected to match the efficiency of the ASUS DirectCU II, yet it copes well enough, anyway. The GPU is 75°C hot in the automatic fan regulation mode at 1770 RPM and 54°C at the maximum 3780 RPM.

Our GPU overclocking only added 60 MHz to the base GPU frequency but the memory chips did much better, speeding up by 1220 RPM.

The resulting frequencies of the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked were 1040/1119/7328 MHz:

The GPU clock rate reached 1197 MHz at high loads. Its peak temperature was 78°C.

Thus, the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked is a copy of the reference card with slightly increased frequencies. Can Gigabyte offer something more exciting?

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable 2GB (GV-N66TOC-2GD)

Gigabyte’s product packaging still looks at you with a Decepticon eye. Next to it, you can see information about the graphics card model, cooling system, memory amount and factory overclocking.

 

Product features, system requirements and supported technologies are listed on the back. There’s a cardboard box inside the colorful external wrapper. It has two compartments, one for the graphics card and another for its accessories which include two power adapters, a CD with drivers and a brief installation guide.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable is manufactured in Taiwan and sells for $299. It is shipped with a 3-year warranty.

The Gigabyte card looks different from the two previous products thanks to its blue PCB and original cooler.

 

The cooler makes the card as long as 252 millimeters. Its height is 39 millimeters.

The card has the same video, SLI and power connectors as the previous two products:

The PCB looks interesting. Its increased length implies original design.

However, on closer inspection we can see that the Gigabyte uses the same PCB design with 4+2+1 power system as, for example, the above-described EVGA.

The empty-looking back part of the PCB is only populated by two power connectors, a fan connector and a couple of smaller components. Gigabyte claims that this model features Ultra Durable technology which means 5 to 10% lower GPU temperature, 10 to 30% higher overclocking potential and 30% lower power consumption compared to the reference GeForce GTX 660 Ti. We wonder how much of this marketing talk is true.

The GPU of the Gigabyte card was manufactured on the same week in early May as the ASUS’s.

Its base clock rate is increased from 915 to 1033 MHz and can be boosted up to 1111 MHz. We can also note that even though its GPU clock rate is not the highest, our monitoring tools report the Gigabyte to reach the highest GPU frequency during our tests, up to 1229 MHz.

The 2 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory are represented by the same Hynix chips as we've seen on the two previous products.

They have a 3D frequency of 6008 MHz, which is identical to the memory frequency of the reference GeForce GTX 660 Ti.

Now let’s take a look at the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable specs and check out its cooling system.

The original cooler Windforce 2X is a lite version of Gigabyte's Triangle Cool which can be seen on top-end graphics cards.

The Windforce 2X has a triple-section aluminum heatsink with two 8mm copper heat pipes and a light plastic frame with two 100mm fans. The fins are soldered to the pipes and to the base while the power system components are cooled by a separate copper plate which is part of the smaller heatsink section.

The speed of the fans is PWM-regulated in a range of 1200 to 2550 RPM (according to our monitoring data). The original maker of the fans, their bearing type and electrical parameters are not disclosed.

With the fans regulated automatically, the Windforce 2X is quite efficient, keeping GPU temperature below 68°C at peak load. The speed of the fans is only 1620 RPM at that.


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

At the maximum 2550 RPM the cooler keeps the temperature 8°C lower at 60°C.

When testing the overclocking potential of our Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable, we managed to increase its GPU clock rate by 65 MHz, which is higher than with the previous two cards, yet still not impressive enough. The memory chips did better, accelerating by 1460 MHz, which is the highest result in this review.

The overclocked card worked at 1098/1176/7468 MHz:

According to our monitoring data, the GPU clock rate was 1293 MHz at peak load. This is yet another record among the graphics cards in this review.

The overclocked GPU grew hotter by 3°C while the fans rotated at the same speed.

Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti HerculeZ2000S

The graphics card from Inno3D is packed into a small upright box:

 

There’s little information on the packaging and all of it seems to be copied from the Nvidia website. The card is shipped together with a power adapter, a DVI->D-Sub adapter, and a CD with drivers.

The card was manufactured in China. It comes with a 1-year warranty for $299.

The face side of the PCB is covered by a cooling system which is somewhat larger than the PCB itself.

 

The total length of the card is 203 millimeters. Its height is 42 millimeters.

The PCB follows the reference design.

So, there is nothing special about the power system.

The Inno3D boasts the newest GPU chip in this review. It was manufactured in late June or early July this year.

The base GPU clock rate in 3D mode is 915 MHz (boosted to 980 MHz), exactly like on the reference GeForce GTX 660 Ti. The memory frequency and amount are also the same as the reference card’s: 6008 MHz and 2 GB.

Thus, the Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti HerculeZ2000S is the only graphics card in this review to have no factory overclocking.

That’s why the only interesting thing about this model is its exclusive cooler HerculeZ2000S. Compact and light, it consists of a dual-section aluminum heatsink with four copper heat pipes (6 millimeters in diameter), two fans in plastic frames, fan faceplates, and a metallic plate with thermal pads for the memory chips and power system components.

 

The heatsink fins are soldered to the heat pipes.

The two 75mm impellers are secured in plastic frames which are hooked on to the sides of the heatsink. Manufactured by Colorful, these fans run on sleeve bearings.

The speed of the fans is PWM-regulated automatically in a range of 1260 to 3240 RPM. Each fan is specified to consume no more than 3.4 watts.

Let’s see how efficient the HerculeZ2000S is:


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The GPU was 71°C hot as the fans were automatically set at 1680 RPM. At the maximum speed of 3240 RPM the temperature was 59°C. That’s average performance compared to the other coolers in this review.

The low default clock rate helped the Inno3D do well in our overclockability test. We managed to increase its GPU frequency by 105 MHz and its memory frequency by 980 MHz.

However, the resulting GPU frequency of the Inno3D card was only 1020 MHz. This is lower than the default clock rates of the ASUS and Gigabyte cards, for example.

The peak temperature of the overclocked Inno3D was 72°C, its fans rotating at 1770 RPM.

That’s good, considering that the Inno3D is quieter than most of the other cards in this review.

KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC 3GB

KFA2 is the European brand of Galaxy Microsystems, so if you’re in the USA, the KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC is going to be available to you under the name of Galaxy GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC. Our sample comes under the KFA2 brand, though. Its box is similar to the Inno3D one except for the size and the picture on its front.

 

Besides the graphics card, the box contains two power adapters, a DVI->D-Sub adapter, a CD with drivers, an installation guide and a promo booklet.

The card is manufactured in China, costs $299 and has a 2-year warranty.

The KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC is grandiose compared to the three previous products. It looks more like a GeForce GTX 680 rather than a GTX 660 Ti. It is 255 millimeters long.

 

The vent grid in the mounting bracket has very large cells.

Having the same MIO connectors for SLI configurations as the other cards in this review, the KFA2 differs from them in terms of the power connectors. It has one 8-pin and one 6-pin connector instead of two 6-pin ones.

Its PSU requirements haven’t changed, though. It needs a 450-watt or better PSU, just like the rest of the cards.

With the cooler removed, we can see the original PCB of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 680 EX OC model:

There are five power phases for the GPU and two more for the graphics memory chips.

The GPU voltage regulator is based on a Richtek RT8802A controller. The enhanced power circuit is supposed to ensure better overclockability and stability. We’ll check this out shortly.

The GPU of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC differs externally from those of the above-discussed cards in one line of its marking: date of manufacture.

Internally, it differs in frequency, which is 1006 MHz and 1085 MHz in normal and boost mode, respectively. This is average compared to the GPU clock rate of the other cards in this review.

The memory chips are not overclocked, working at 6008 MHz, but the amount of memory is increased to 3 gigabytes. The card uses the same Hynix chips as the others.

So, here are the specs of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC:

The card’s original cooler has no proper name, but it is no indication of inferior quality. It is a massive nickel-plated thing with a copper base, four 8mm heat pipes and slim aluminum fins.

The parts of the cooler are all soldered to each other. It is easy to see that the KFA2 card has the largest heatsink among all the cards in this review.

There are two 92mm impellers in plastic frames secured on the metallic casing. They are manufactured by Everflow.

The fans run on a sleeve bearing with extended service life. Depending on load and GPU temperature, the PWM-based regulation can vary the speed of the cooler’s fans from 1100 to 3100 RPM.

The KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC proved to be the most efficient cooler both in the automatic regulation mode and at the maximum speed of the fans.


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The GPU is 60°C hot when the fans rotate at 1620 RPM and only 49°C at the maximum 3090 RPM. Again, this is the best result among the eight graphics cards discussed in this review.

Unfortunately, the efficient cooling system and improved PCB do not endow the card with high overclocking potential. Its GPU could only be overclocked by 50 MHz and its memory, by 1300 MHz.

The resulting frequencies were 1056/1135/7308 MHz:

According to our monitoring tools, the GPU frequency of the overclocked card peaked up to 1187 MHz but the high-performance cooler kept the temperature at the same level:

The GPU is still only 60°C hot when the fans are regulated automatically. The KFA2 card turns out to be a highly interesting product. Now let’s see what is offered by MSI.

MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC TwinFrozr IV 2GB

The MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC TwinFrozr IV is the first Power Edition series product we’ve got a chance to test. We are curious to learn its differences from reference products as well as from its more advanced cousins.

The eye-catching box offers basic information about the product, mentioning its triple overvoltage protection and enhanced PWM design.

 

Detailed product specs, minimum system requirements and key features are listed on the back of the box in two dozen languages.

Included with the graphics card are two power adapters, one DVI->D-Sub adapter, a CD with drivers and utilities, an installation guide, and a promo booklet.

The graphics card is manufactured in China and costs $299. It is shipped with a 3-year warranty.

Like ASUS products, MSI graphics cards can be easily identified by their stylish design and exclusive TwinFrozr cooler.

 

The MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC TwinFrozr IV is the second longest card in this review at 257 millimeters. You should note this fact if you’re planning to build your gaming configuration in a cramped system case. The height of the card is 37 millimeters.

The standard selection of video interfaces (DVI-I, DVI-D (dual-link), HDMI and DisplayPort) allows the GeForce GTX 660 Ti to support up to four monitors concurrently. The MSI card is no exception in this respect.

The SLI and power connectors are identical to the reference card’s, but the PCB is original:

We can see a 5+2+1 power system (GPU+memory+PLL) here.

These are heavy-duty Military Class III components: tantalum-core Hi-c capacitors, Super Ferrite Chokes and Dark Solid capacitors. MSI suggests that the high-quality components will help an overclocker get the very best from the GK104 chip.

The GPU is dated the same week as the GPUs of the ASUS and Gigabyte cards.

The card is specified to have a GPU clock rate of 1020 MHz boosted to 1098 MHz, but our monitoring tools showed that it peaked to 1176 MHz. So, we’ve got some good factory overclocking here. The amount (2 GB) and frequency (6008 MHz) of the onboard memory are perfectly standard and we see the same Hynix chips once again.

Let’s glance over the MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC specs and proceed to its TwinFrozr IV cooler.

The original cooler from MSI may be familiar to you from our earlier reviews because the company installs it on many other of its products. It consists of an aluminum heatsink with four 8mm nickel-plated copper heat pipes that go out of a copper base.

 

It has two fans covered with a metallic casing from above. The memory chips and power system components are cooled by a metallic plate with thermal pads. The parts of the heatsink are soldered to each other.

The 80mm fans are manufactured by Power Logic (it is the PLD08010B12HH model) and run on dual ball bearings.

That’s not the best choice in terms of noisiness but perfect in terms of service life. However, MSI claims a 17.1 dB lower noise level and a 14°C advantage in temperature in comparison with the reference cooler. The TwinFrozr IV copes with its job well enough:


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

We have 70°C when the fans are regulated automatically (1620 RPM) and only 55°C at the maximum speed (4170 RPM). The noise factor will be discussed later on.

In our overclockability test the MSI card was stable after our increasing its GPU and memory frequencies by 90 and 1160 MHz, respectively.

Thus, the MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC is second among the eight cards in this review in terms of overclocking potential. Its peak stable frequencies were 1110/1188/7168 MHz.

The temperature of the overclocked card increased by 3°C to 73°C, the two fans rotating at 1740 RPM.

The peak GPU clock rate reached 1266 MHz during our tests. We wouldn’t view the MSI version as something special, but it’s a well-made product that’s worth considering.

Palit GeForce GTX 660 Ti JetStream 2GB (NE5X66TH1049-1043J)

We review Palit products on a regular basis and now we’ve got their GeForce GTX 660 Ti JetStream. If the size of the graphics card’s box mattered in choosing the best product, the Palit would win immediately as its box is the largest of all.

 

It is the third time that we see the same design of the back of the packaging: some designers just don't take the trouble of creating something original. The top of the box can be opened to reveal both the graphics card and exhaustive information about it.

The accessories include two adapters, a power cable and a disc with drivers:

Manufactured in China, the Palit card costs $299 and has a 1-year warranty.

Palit’s JetStream design is easily recognizable for its plastic casing with two translucent fans and a hieroglyph in between.

 

The graphics card isn’t long at only 245 millimeters but higher than the rest of the products at 49 millimeters. You won’t be able to use this model in SLI mode if there’s only one expansion slot between your mainboard’s graphics slots.

As usual, we have two 6-pin power connectors, two MIO connectors, and a standard selection of video outputs:

It’s the fourth time that we see this PCB design today. It is a copy of the reference sample.

The Palit carries somewhat different power components than the EVGA and Inno3D cards but the power system follows the same formula: 4+2+1 phases.

Like the other GPUs, this 28nm chip comes from Taiwan. It is revision A2 and was manufactured on the 13th week of 2012 (March-April).

Its base and boost clock rates are 1006 and 1085 MHz, respectively. According to our monitoring tools, the GPU was clocked at up to 1150 MHz at high loads.

As opposed to all the previous products, the Palit’s 2 GB of onboard memory is pre-overclocked. Not much, though. The frequency is only increased by 100 MHz to 6108 MHz. Of course, they didn’t have to use some other chips for that, so we can see the same Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR R0C memory here:

The Palit GeForce GTX 660 Ti JetStream specs can be viewed in this GPU-Z screenshot:

The graphics card is equipped with the same cooling system as we saw on the Palit GeForce GTX 670 JetStream: an aluminum heatsink with three 6mm copper heat pipes and a plastic casing with two fans.

 

There is a tall aluminum heatsink with thermal pad on the power system components. Like the MSI card, the Palit uses fans from Power Logic (part number PLA09215S12H).

With PWM-based regulation, they can rotate at 900 to 2900 RPM.

The Palit is comparable to the other products in this review in terms of the operating temperature: 71°C in the automatic fan regulation mode and only 55°C at the maximum speed of the fans.


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

Notwithstanding the reference PCB design, the lack of newfangled technologies and the modest cooler, our sample of the Palit GeForce GTX 660 Ti JetStream could be overclocked by 135 MHz (the best result in this review) and 1200 MHz in terms of GPU and memory frequency, respectively.

The resulting frequencies were 1141/1220/7308 MHz:

Moreover, the peak GPU frequency was as high as 1285 MHz at high loads, which is the second best result after the Gigabyte.

The overclocked Palit had a rather high temperature: 77°C at 1470 RPM.

Now we’ve got only one product left. It is a Zotac.

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition 2 GB (ZT-60804-10P)

We explored the capabilities of the Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti model in our first GTX 660 Ti review. Now it’s time to take a look at the faster version which is referred to as AMP! Edition.

The graphics card is shipped in a medium-sized cardboard box. The product’s model name, memory amount, DirectX 11 support, extended warranty and Dual Silencer cooler are all mentioned on the front of the packaging:

 

There's a picture of the card on the back of the box. A few icons tell you that the card's cooler is 10°C more efficient and 10 dB quieter than the reference one and that the AMP! Edition is 10% faster. Key product features, supported Nvidia technologies and minimum system requirements are all listed there, too.

The Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition is shipped together with the following accessories: two power adapters, a DVI->D-Sub adapter, a CD with drivers, utilities and other software, short and long versions of the installation guide, and a coupon for downloading TrackMania 2.

The graphics card is manufactured in China and has a recommended price of $229, exactly as the reference GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB. Zotac provides an extended 3-year warranty for this product.

The Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition is the most compact graphics card in this review at only 191x100x37 millimeters.

 

And for the fifth time we can see the reference PCB design.

Like in the other four cases, the power system includes four phases for the GPU and two phases for the graphics memory.

The GK104 chip is revision A2. It was manufactured in Taiwan on the 18th week of 2012.

The base GPU frequency of the Zotac card is 1033 MHz (boosted to 1111 MHz), which is 118 MHz higher than the reference card’s. According to our monitoring tools, the GPU worked at 1215 MHz at peak loads. Its clock rate is dropped to 324 MHz at 0.987 volts in 2D applications.

The graphics memory comes from Hynix. The chips have the same marking as those of the other cards in this review.

As opposed to the other products, the memory frequency of the Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition is 6608 MHz. This should give the Zotac an edge under heavy loads with enabled antialiasing. We’ll check this out in our performance tests soon.

Here’s a summary of this product’s specs:

Like its non-overclocked cousin, the Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition is equipped with an original cooler called Dual Silencer. It has three copper heat pipes, 6 millimeters in diameter.

There are two 70mm fans installed on the compact aluminum heatsink and covered with a metallic casing.

The fans are branded Apistek and have a part number of GA81S2U. Their speed is PWM-regulated from 1100 to 3500 RPM.

One such fan is supposed to consume no more than 4.6 watts of power.

Let’s see how efficient the Dual Silencer is on the factory-overclocked Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition.


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

Its performance is good overall but doesn’t match the best coolers. The GPU is 71°C hot in the automatic fan regulation mode and 65°C hot at the maximum speed of the fans.

Like the rest of the products in this review, the Zotac was tested for overclockability at the maximum Power Limit parameter, which was 123% for our sample. The GPU frequency could be increased by 65 MHz and the memory frequency by only 260 MHz, which is the worst result in this test session.

The final frequencies of the card were 1098/1176/6868 MHz.

The peak GPU frequency of the overclocked Zotac was 1280 MHz in 3D mode.

The overclocked GPU grew 72°C hot at a fan speed of 2490 RPM.

Now that we’ve glanced over each card, we can proceed to checking out their noise level and comparing their temperature and frequency parameters.

Noise Level, Temperature, Clock Rates

We measured the level of noise using an electronic noise-level meter CENTER-321 in a closed and quiet room about 20 sq. meters large. The noise measurements were taken outside the system case, when the only noise source was the cooling system and its fans. The noise-level meter was set on a tripod at a distance of 15 centimeters from the graphics card cooler fan rotor. The mainboard with the graphics card was placed at the edge of a desk on a foam-rubber tray. The bottom limit of our noise-level metering device is 29.8 dBA whereas the subjectively comfortable (not low, but comfortable) level of noise when measured from that distance is about 36 dBA. The speed of the graphics cards’ fans was changed with the help of a special controller supporting 0.5 V voltage adjustment increments.

Let’s check out the obtained results in the graph and table below:

The ASUS card is clearly the best with its DirectCU II cooler. It is also the quietest subjectively. The Zotac’s Dual Silencer is second, yet it is not much better than the rest of the coolers. The Palit’s JetStream and the reference cooler of the EVGA card are the noisiest while the rest of the cards are comparable in this parameter.

It must be noted, however, that the fans of these coolers had different peak speeds when regulated automatically. That’s why we usually mark this parameter too, but eight additional graphs would make the diagram hard to read. So, we want to show these numbers in a different way. There’s another diagram for you with data about the noise level in the automatic fan regulation mode and at the maximum speed of the fans. Peak GPU temperature is indicated as well. The graphics cards are sorted in the order of ascending noise level.

The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP is the quietest card in the automatic regulation mode, which might be expected as its fans have a peak speed of 1440 RPM only. The ASUS is also third in terms of the maximum GPU temperature. Quite an impressive performance from ASUS. The leader is followed by the cards from Inno3D, MSI and KFA2, the latter boasting an especially efficient cooler. The KFA2 cooler is in fact the best overall among all the eight cards. The Gigabyte and EVGA go next, the reference cooler being expectedly inefficient. The cards from Palit and Zotac are the noisiest in the automatic regulation mode.

When the fans work at their maximum speed, the Gigabyte goes ahead in terms of noisiness, pushing the ASUS down to second place. The latter is 6°C better than the Gigabyte in peak GPU temperature, though. The Zotac becomes one of the leaders, although its temperature is the highest at the maximum speed of the fans. Being only 0.1 dBA worse than the Zotac, the Inno3D cools the GPU better by 6°C. The difference in GPU clock rates should be noted, though. The KFA2 is in the middle of the diagram, but leads in terms of temperature. The cards from EVGA, MSI and Palit are comparable in terms of noisiness and temperature.

The following table shows you the clock rates of the cards at the default and overclocked settings. The highest numbers are red, the lowest are blue:

Despite its highest default frequencies, the ASUS doesn’t have the highest frequency at peak load (according to our monitoring data). The Gigabyte is the leader in this respect. The Palit boasts the highest overclocking potential of the GPU, yet the Gigabyte still has a higher GPU frequency at peak load even though its Power Limit parameter is not the highest. Moreover, the Gigabyte is the best in terms of memory overclocking. The Inno3D and the Zotac are the worst cards in terms of GPU and memory overclocking, respectively.

The next diagram shows the temperature and noise of the overclocked cards with their fans regulated automatically. The cards are sorted in the order of ascending noise level.

As before, the ASUS is the leader in terms of acoustic comfort. It is also second in terms of GPU temperature. The KFA2 has the lowest GPU temperature, enjoying a 10°C lead over the others. So, this card’s cooler is especially efficient, making the KFA2 second in terms of noisiness. The products from Inno3D, MSI and Gigabyte follow behind the two leaders, being comparable to each other in noisiness as well as GPU temperature. The MSI and Gigabyte have higher clock rates than the Inno3D, though. The rest of the cards produce more than 50 dBA of noise, but the Zotac keeps the GPU colder. The Palit and the EVGA are 5 to 6°C worse in this parameter.

Power Consumption

We measured the power consumption of our testbed equipped with different graphics cards using a multifunctional Zalman ZM-MFC3 panel which can report how much power a computer (without the monitor) draws from a wall outlet. There were two test modes: 2D (editing documents in Microsoft Word or web surfing) and 3D (three runs of the Metro 2033: The Last Refuge benchmark at 2560x1440 with maximum image quality settings, but without antialiasing).

Here are the results:

The systems with different GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards do not differ much in terms of their power consumption. The Zotac is the only exception, obviously due to its pre-overclocked memory. Otherwise, the difference is within 10 to 12 watts, which is negligible considering the total power draw of about 400 watts. Thus, we can suppose that all the claims of the manufacturers about their products being especially economical are nothing but marketing tricks. The overclocked GeForce GTX 660 Ti from Gigabyte needs 14 watts more than at the default frequencies, almost reaching the level of the GeForce GTX 670. The system with Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 has the highest power draw here, yet it needs no more than 450 watts anyway.

Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

All participating graphics cards were tested with the following testbed configuration:

Besides the above described graphics cards, we also added Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 Ultra Durable 2 GB and Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Dual-X 3 GB with the latest BIOS versions:

 

 

As we can see, the clock frequencies of these graphics cards have been increased above the nominal level, but we chose not to lower them to the nominal, because almost all the today’s testing participants have increased frequencies, too.

In order to lower the dependence of the graphics cards performance on the overall platform speed, we overclocked our 32 nm six-core CPU with the multiplier set at 37x, BCLK frequency set at 125 MHz and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 4.625 GHz. The processor Vcore was increased to 1.49 V in the mainboard’s BIOS:

Hyper-Threading technology was enabled. 16 GB of system DDR3 memory worked at 2 GHz frequency with 9-11-10-28 timings and 1.65V voltage.

The test session started on September 14, 2012. All tests were performed in Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all critical updates as of that date and the following drivers:

Since there are ten participants in our today’s test session we will only check their performance in one resolution - 1920x1080 pixels. Nevertheless, the tests were performed in two image quality modes: “Quality+AF16x” – default texturing quality in the drivers with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and “Quality+ AF16x+MSAA 4(8)x” with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and full screen 4x or 8x antialiasing if the average frame rate was high enough for comfortable gaming experience. We enabled anisotropic filtering and full-screen anti-aliasing from the game settings. If the corresponding options were missing, we changed these settings in the Control Panels of Catalyst and GeForce drivers. We also disabled Vsync there. There were no other changes in the driver settings.

The list of games and applications used in this test session was shortened to include one popular semi-synthetic benchmarking suite and seven most recent and most resource-demanding games of various genres with all updates installed as of the beginning of the test session date:

If the game allowed recording the minimal fps readings, they were also added to the charts. We ran each game test or benchmark twice and took the best result for the diagrams, but only if the difference between them didn’t exceed 1%. If it did exceed 1%, we ran the tests at least one more time to achieve repeatability of results.

Performance

The GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards are sorted in alphabetic order in the diagrams and “bracketed” by GeForce GTX 670 and Radeon HD 7950. The test results of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 Ultra Durable 2 are colored green. Red is the color of the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Dual-X 3GB while dark-teal is for all the GeForce GTX 660 Ti models, the overclocked Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti being marked out individually. The amount of onboard memory is only indicated for the KFA2 card for obvious reasons.

3DMark 2011

Although most of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards have comparable clock rates, we can see them differ at the Performance settings. It is not the ASUS or the Zotac which have the highest GPU and memory clock rate, respectively, but the Gigabyte that is ahead. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable has the highest peak GPU clock rate, which must be the reason why it wins here. The Inno3D is expectedly the slowest of the GTX 660 Ti cards as it has reference frequencies. At the Extreme settings the gaps are smaller, yet the Gigabyte and Zotac are still somewhat faster than the others.

Metro 2033: The Last Refuge

The eight GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards differ by no more than 1 or 2 fps in Metro 2033: The Last Refuge. The Zotac is formally ahead thanks to its pre-overclocked memory. The Radeon HD 7950 beats every GeForce GTX 660 Ti and even the slightly overclocked GTX 670. The extra gigabyte of memory doesn’t provide any benefits for the KFA2.

Total War: Shogun 2

The difference between the GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards is negligible again. They only differ a little when there is no antialiasing. The Inno3D is the slowest again while the Gigabyte and the Zotac are on top. The overclocked GeForce GTX 660 Ti is just as good as the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 Ultra Durable and the KDA2 model still has no advantage from its extra memory.

Crysis 2

We see the same picture here as in the previous test:

 

Battlefield 3

The GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards differ more in Battlefield 3 than in the previous games, yet the leaders and the loser remain the same. The 3GB of memory do not make the KFA2 any faster than the ordinary 2GB versions of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti card.

Nexuiz

The Zotac stands out among the rest of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards while the Gigabyte is closer to the others. We should also note the overwhelming advantage of the Radeon HD 7950 in this game which was developed with AMD’s support.

Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark

It is only without antialiasing that we can see any difference between the original GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards in Sniper Elite V2. The Zotac and Gigabyte are again ahead of the others then. But when we turn on supersampling, the cards differ by a mere 1-2 fps. Each of the Nvidia-based products is much slower than the Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 here.

Sleeping Dogs

This game doesn’t show us anything exceptional.

Here is a table with the full test results:

 

Conclusion

Notwithstanding the different clock rates of the eight GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards we’ve tested today, the slowest of them is only 6 to 8% behind the fastest. This difference doesn’t show up much in real-life applications. However, considering that the difference in price is only about $10, most of us will surely prefer the fastest versions, even for purely psychological reasons. The performance of the KFA2 model suggests that 3 GB of memory doesn’t ensure any tangible benefits compared to 2 GB, at least in 1920x1080 with antialiasing enabled. That’s why such factors as noisiness and efficient cooling become the most important criteria for choosing the best GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Overclocking potential is important too, yet we can’t evaluate it properly with only one sample of each card. So, below you can read our brief summary about each of the tested products.

ASUS GeForce GTX 660Ti DirectCU II TOP seems to be the best choice among these GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards. Besides the highest default GPU clock rate, it features an exceptionally quiet and efficient cooler that can satisfy both a noise-conscious user and an overclocker. Overclockers will also appreciate its custom PCB with high-quality components and its 3-year warranty. The scanty accessories are not up to the product status, yet we don’t think this is a crucial factor. Thus, this product is undoubtedly our Editor’s Choice:

EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Superclocked is a copy of the reference card with a slightly overclocked GPU. We have a lot of respect for EVGA, but, unfortunately, the company loses this round by taking the last place in our competition. Noisy and relatively inefficient cooler, simple reference PCB and mediocre results in our overclocking and performance tests determined our decision. Maybe this is the reason why EVGA has already discontinued this product, replacing it with a more interesting FTW modification.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable represented Gigabyte gloriously in this roundup. Like the other six products, it is inferior to the ASUS in acoustic performance and temperature tests, but by a very small margin. Moreover, Gigabyte outperformed all other cards, except Zotac, in our benchmarks. And taking into account Gigabyte’s user-friendly pricing, it is our absolute pleasure to award Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Ultra Durable our second place title – the Recommended Buy:

Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti HerculeZ2000S is yet another product with a reference PCB but, unlike the EVGA card, it features a unique and rather high-performance cooler. Unfortunately, they forgot to increase the default frequencies, so the Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti HerculeZ2000S is the only card in this review to have the same frequencies as the reference sample.

KFA2 GeForce GTX 660 Ti EX OC 3GB (also known as Galaxy GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC 3GB) features an impressively efficient cooler. Even its improved PCB design, borrowed from the flagship GTX 680 EX OC, is not as advantageous as the cooler, which keeps the GPU temperature 10°C lower compared to the other cards. The pre-overclocked GPU, moderate noisiness, and second place in terms of noise/temperature in overclocked mode are the reasons why decided to award KFA2/Galaxy product our Ultimate Innovation title:

MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5/OC TwinFrozr IV is a product we can’t find anything wrong with. It is a high-quality device with expensive components, an efficient cooler, overclocked GPU and eye-catching exterior design. The dust removal feature is quite unique. If MSI card were just a little quieter, faster and cooler, it would rival the Gigabyte or even the ASUS card easily. We would definitely recommend it for purchasing, if you can’t get any of the leading products.

Palit GeForce GTX 660 Ti JetStream consists of a reference PCB, unique cooler and overclocked GPU and memory. It is the noisy JetStream cooler that doesn’t let us recommend this product. The engineers should work a little more on the plastic casing with fans to reduce the noise it generates and make the card more attractive in this respect. However, we should give Palit due credit for demonstrating the highest GPU overclocking potential of all the cards tested today.

Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition is the smallest graphics card in this roundup and also the fastest across all the performance benchmarks. Comparable to the other cards in default GPU frequency, it features well-overclocked memory that helps it beat the others in sheer speed. It is inferior to the leaders of this test session in temperature and acoustic performance, though. Hopefully, the recently released AMP! Extreme Edition is better in this respect.