Nvidia’s ‘Kepler’ onslaught continues with two newly launched GPUs – the GTX 660 and GTX 650. The GTX 660 is a mid-range card that will eventually replace the GTX 560 Ti whereas the GTX 650 sits in the range of the HD 7770 and GTX 560. ZOTAC has sent us its standard edition of the GTX 660 2GB, which is based mostly on Nvidia’s reference design. Let’s see how much of a performance difference there really is between this and the more potent, GTX 660 Ti and if it really offers good bang for the buck.
Design and Build
The card looks very similar to the GTX 660 Ti both in terms of size and design. ZOTAC has used the basic design from Nvidia for the PCB along with its custom cooler, which is something we can expect on all its cards from here on out. It’s nice to see OEMs going the extra mile in offering end users some value-added features without slapping a premium on them. The card is small enough to easily fit inside any mid-tower chassis. The open design of the cooler will blow air directly into the case rather than channel it out the back, so it helps if you have a good cross-ventilation system inside your cabinet.
Great design and build
Connectivity includes two dual-link DVI ports, HDMI and DisplayPort. The ZOTAC GTX 660 supports 3DVision Surround for up to four monitors via a single card. It also uses less power as compared to the GTX 660 Ti, so you only need a single 6-pin PCIe power connector. With a 140W TDP, Nvidia claims that you can easily power the GTX 660 with a good 450W PSU. ZOTAC’s solution is a dual-slot card. so you will lose one expansion slot on your motherboard. The bundle includes a DVI-VGA adapter, coupon for a game called TrackMania Canyon and a PCIe to Molex power adapter.
Not very power hungry
The overall build and design of the card is very good, something we’ve come to expect as a given from ZOTAC. The addition of copper heatpipes in the cooler should ensure lower operating temperatures as well.
Unlike the existing Kepler GPUs, the GTX 660 is the first to be based on the new GK106 silicon, a scaled down version of the GK104 silicon used in the GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670 and GTX 680. While the primary features remain pretty much intact, the GK106 die has a lower transistor count, which is why the power draw is less. You get a total of 960 shaders or CUDA cores instead of 1,344 while the ROPs remain the same at 24. Nvidia has made 2GB of GDDR5 RAM as standard on the GTX 660, which runs at an impressive 6,008MHz (effective speed). The memory bus remains at 192-bit, just like the GTX 660 Ti. ZOTAC has tweaked the frequencies just a little bit so the core now runs at 993MHz (980MHZ stock) while the memory is kept the same. It’s not much, but a boost nonetheless.
Good set of connectors
Features found in the GK104 are also present here in the GTX 660. You get GPU Boost, Adaptive V-Sync and new Anti-Aliasing (AA) modes. GPU Boost is similar to Turbo Boost in the sense that the GPU will dynamically increase its own clock speeds and voltages in a game, if and only if it does not go beyond the set TDP. TXAA is a new antialiasing mode that combines MSAA, temporal filtering and post processing for better edge quality in games. Next, let's see how this stacks up against the competition.
The ZOTAC GTX 660 delivers really good performance and easily manages to blow past the GTX 560 Ti and the HD 6950 2GB. In fact, it’s even faster than the GTX 570, which is more expensive than the GTX 660. Except for Dirt 3, where AMD cards have an upper hand, the card manages some impressive frame rates, especially in games like Battlefield 3 at Full HD resolution and all the DX11 goodness turned on. ZOTAC’s offering also ran incredibly silent throughout the benchmarking process and the temperatures were in check at all times. The card idles at 44 degrees Celsius and when stressed (using FurMark), doesn’t breach 57 degrees Celsius.
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 kept the street price quite aggressive at Rs.17,222 for the standard edition and Rs.18,444 for the AMP! Edition. This is slightly more expensive than the GTX 560 Ti and HD 6950 2GB but the performance difference balances out the increase in price, especially if you plan on gaming at Full HD resolution. Of course, this is just the launch price; give it a few months and the street price should easily settle at around 15K or so, making it a very attractive purchase. ZOTAC has once again delivered a well built and good looking card with great performance to boot. If you were thinking of picking up the GTX 560 Ti or HD 6950 for that matter, we'd recommed you put in a little more and get the GTX 660 instead or simply wait for the price to settle and then pick it up.
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