Nvidia must be pretty proud of itself right about now. The company is in a very good position as far as marketshare is concerned with all its product lines doing well, whether it is the Tegra SoCs or desktop graphics cards. The company hit another homerun with its new Kepler series of graphics cards that was launched earlier this year. So far we’ve seen two high-end cards and one entry level card, but nothing to show for the mainstream and mid-range. Today, the green team has made the GTX 660 Ti official and is positioned to replace the GTX 570. The naming convention may throw people off a bit as it sounds like a successor to the GTX 560 Ti, but this card is priced quite a bit higher.
Design and Build
ZOTAC sent us the AMP! Edition of the GTX 660 Ti which comes with higher clocks for the memory and core, out-of-the-box. Apart from the typical packaging which highlights the important features of the card, you also get Borderlands 2 along with it. Nvidia is bundling Borderlands 2 from its side for a limited period, but this is only in the US and Europe, so in India, it’s ZOTAC who’s taken the initiative. This is great value added right here. The card is actually deceptively small and is about the size of a GTX 560. This makes it super easy to install in most systems, so props to ZOTAC for the great design. It’s a dual-slot card with two DVI ports, HDMI and DisplayPort.
A handsome looking card
The GTX 660 Ti also debuts ZOTAC’s new cooling system called ‘Dual Silencer’. The setup consists of an aluminium heatsink with copper pipes to dissipate heat more effectively, which is then cooled by two fans. It’s an open cooler, in the sense, the hot air is not channeled outside the case but rather inside. This shouldn't be a problem considering the low TDP (150W) of the card and the smaller 22nm fabrication of Kepler.
Good set of connectors
You’ll need two 6-pin PCIE power connectors to power it up. In case you run short, you’ll find adapters bundled in the box along with a DVI-to-VGA adapter. Overall, ZOTAC has done a good job with the GTX 660 Ti and we especially like the tiny footprint it leaves inside your system. That and the fact you get a copy of Borderlands 2 when it launches makes it a very compelling package.
Nvidia’s aim for the GTX 660 Ti was to give gamers the power of its higher-end cards like the GTX 670 and GTX 680 but at a reduced price. In order to do this, Nvidia has made some cutbacks in the specifications, but thankfully, haven’t neutered it too much. In fact, the only thing that’s changed is a slightly narrower memory bus of 192-bit instead of 256-bit and fewer ROPs (24 instead of 32). The rest of the specifications are identical to the GTX 670, so you get 1344 CUDA cores running at 1033MHz and 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at 1652MHz (6608MHz effective speed). The core and memory clocks are overclocked since this is the AMP! Edition from the stock 915MHz for the core and 1508MHz for the memory. This is still a lot of horsepower and the reduced memory bandwidth shouldn’t really affect the performance by too much as long as you game at 1920 x 1080, i.e, on a single monitor. Nvidia recommends a 450W PSU from a good brand, so chances are you won’t have to upgrade your PSU for this card.
Better power efficiency than the higher-end cards
Since this GPU is based on the same GK104 die, you get all the new features that Kepler offers. We’ve covered this in our previous reviews, but in case you missed it, here they are once more. The new features include GPU Boost, Adaptive V-Sync and new Anti-Aliasing (AA) models. GPU Boost is similar to Turbo Boost, in the sense, the card will dynamically increase the clock speeds and voltages in a game, if and only if it does not go beyond the set TDP. For instance, if there is an intense battle scene in the game which demands more shader power, the built-in algorithms will automatically check the current power draw, temperature, voltage etc. of the card and accordingly increase only those parameters that can be pushed. This keeps changing as you play the game and is built into Kepler itself, so it kicks in by default. Adaptive V-Sync can now be found in the Nvidia Control Panel and what it does is, dynamically toggle the V-Sync state depending on the frame rate. For instance, if you’re getting more than 60fps, then V-Sync will be on to avoid screen tearing and if it dips below 60fps, then it switches it off to avoid stuttering. The two new AA modes (FXAA and TXAA) are said to offer similar quality levels as MSAA, but without the huge performance hit.
So far so good; the GTX 660 Ti seems to have all the ingredients for a powerful high-end card but with a lower TDP and smaller form factor, thanks to ZOTAC’s design.
We’ve compared the ZOTAC GTX 660 Ti to cards in its price bracket starting from the GTX 570 to the HD 7870, HD 7950, GTX 670 and then the high-end ones from either camp. Right from the Synthetic tests to all the games that we threw at it, the ZOTAC GTX 660 Ti simply butchers the GTX 570 and HD 7870. It very easily trumps the HD 7950 as well and is right on the heels of the GTX 670. While benchmarking and even during FurMark, the card runs absolutely whisper quite while keeping the temperatures in check at all times. The card idles at around 39 degrees Celsius and doesn’t go beyond 64 degrees Celsius while under load, which is very good considering the threshold is 98 degrees.
There is some overclocking headroom left
We tried to push the card even further using the latest version of EVGA’s Precision X tuning software. We managed to get a 6.8 percent boost in the core clock speed, which resulted in real world performance gain of just 3.1 percent, so not a very big jump. Still, it’s good to know you can still squeeze out a little more performance if you really want to.
3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark Corporation to determine the performance of a computer's 3D graphics rendering and CPU workload handling capabilities. The latest version makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. We used the ‘Performance’ preset for this benchmark.
Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and is based on the new Frostbite 2 game engine. The game only supports DX10 and DX11, which enables enhanced in-game destruction with Destruction 3.0, creating more refined physics than its predecessor and quasi-realtime radiosity using Geometrics' Enlighten technology. The game is a visual treat and a nightmare for graphics cards, which makes it perfect for our test. We used the ‘Ultra High’ preset, Post AA: High, Blur: Full, Field of View: 90, Level: ‘Fear no Evil’.
Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek and is based on the new CryEngine 3. Just like the first iteration of the game, Crysis 2 continues to be one of the best looking shooters to date. The settings used for this benchmark were ‘Ultra High’ preset in Adrenalin, DX11 and High-resolution texture patch.
Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. The game is extremely scalable and features DX11 tessellation effects. We used the built-in benchmark tool, along with ‘Ultra’ quality preset.
Metro 2033 is a slightly older first-person shooter, which continues to bring even the toughest of graphics cards to their knees. The game has a lot of DX11 eye-candy, which really puts a strain on any GPU. All DX11 features were enabled for the benchmark and we used the “Tower” level for our test.
Batman: Arkham City
A sequel to Arkham Asylum, Arkham City features a more open-world style of gameplay as well as DX11 elements. For this test, we disabled Nvidia's PhysX, since it would be unfair to AMD’s cards. Everything else was maxed out.
Verdict and Price in India
ZOTAC has priced its 660 Ti cards at Rs.24,000 for the standard edition and Rs.26,000 for the AMP! Edition. These are still the MRPs, so the actual street price should be quite a bit lower. This is not a bad launch price considering it eats the HD 7950 for breakfast and costs less. We believe the frame rates should not drop by much even with the standard edition of the card and you should be able to overlclock it to achieve the frame rates of the AMP! Edition. Nvidia has another winner on its hands with the GTX 660 Ti and with performance like this, you really don’t need a 30K-plus card if you’re gaming at or below 1920 x 1080. If you’re shopping in the 20-25K price range, then look no further, the GTX 660 Ti offers very good bang for buck and ZOTAC’s offering is really hard to beat considering the card's miniature design and game bundle.
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