Nvidia Corp. on Thursday unleashed its new graphics card based on Kepler architecture that the company positions as an ultimate solution for gamers. The novelty is based on the well-known GK104 chip with 1344 stream processors and thus provides excellent performance for modern video games. However, given positioning of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti product, the price tag of $299 seems to be too high.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti graphics card is based on a cut-down version of the GK104 graphics processing unit (GPU) made using 28nm fabrication process, the same chip that is used on high-end models GTX 670 and 680. The model GTX 660 Ti has 1344 stream processing units, 112 texture units, 24 render back ends, 7 tessellation engines and 192-bit memory controller. Nvidia clocks the GK104 chip of GTX 660 Ti at 915MHz and recommends partners to install 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 6008MHz onto the GeForce GTX 660 Ti graphics cards.
Given its Kepler origins, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti supports contemporary capabilities like DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.2, OpenCL 1.2, stereoscopic-3D, 4 multi-monitor output, PhysX, 4-way multi-GPU, PCI Express 3.0 and so on.
According to Nvidia itself, the GTX 660 Ti is 41% faster on average than the GeForce GTX 560 Ti from 2011 and can successfully compete against AMD Radeon HD 7950 that has recommended price-tag of $349. According to performance tests conducted by X-bit labs, in some cases the GeForce GTX 660 Ti is faster than the Radeon HD 7950, but in some cases the GTX 660 Ti fails to beat even its direct rival, the Radeon HD 7870 1GHz Edition. One advantage that the GeForce GTX 660 Ti clearly has over competing solutions from AMD is relatively low power consumption (no more than 150W in peak case scenario) and resulting short design of printed-circuit board, which means that the GTX 660 Ti can be installed into almost any computer case.
Nvidia releases its Kepler-series graphics card with $299 price-tag over five months after its arch-rival AMD first released its Radeon HD 7800-series "Pitcairn" GPUs. Therefore, it is not truly surprising that the GeForce GTX 660 Ti manages to beat the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition in loads of benchmarks. What is surprising is that Nvidia decided to address the market of graphics cards for gamers with the same chip it uses on enthusiast-class products. It is not a secret that TSMC charges AMD and Nvidia more for 28nm chips than it did for 40nm GPUs, which calls for development of specialized graphics processors for each market segment as despite of relatively small die size, the GK104 just cannot efficiently serve all markets from $299 to $999.
Another thing to observe is that due to increase of chips' price, both AMD and Nvidia now position graphics cards with $299 price-tags for gamers. Previously, the sweet-spot for gamers was something between $149 and $249. It remains to be seen whether gamers will actually start to buy more expensive solutions to play the latest titles or will wait for price-cuts or introduction of new products.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti GPU is available now from numerous add-in card suppliers, including ASL, Asustek Computer, Colorful, Elitegroup Computer Systems, EVGA, Gainward, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Innovision 3D, Jetway, Leadtek, MicroStar International, Palit, Point of View, PNY, Sparkle and Zotac.
For a limited time, gamers who purchase a GTX 660 Ti GPU from a participating retailer or e-tailer will receive a voucher for a free copy of Gearbox Software's Borderlands 2, which is launching next month.