Overclocking and Conclusions
If you missed our live stream with PC Perspective's Ryan Shrout and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen discussing the new GeForce GTX 660 Ti you can find the replay at this link!!
I am going to save the majority of my overclocking time with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti for when we do our retail card roundup, but for now I wanted to present the most basic and preliminary overclocking I have done thus far. Overall, I would say I was just as impressed with the ease and immediate scalability of this version of GK104.
I was able to push the card up to a base clock rate of 1088 MHz and a Boost clock of 1167 MHz – a pretty reasonable 18% clock speed increase. Because the card we were using for testing (the Galaxy) was already set to a base clock of 1006 MHz (91 MHz over the reference) our offset was only able to hit 82 MHz, for a total offset of 173 MHz.
The GeForce GTX 660 Ti card has some interesting performance characteristics. I will be the first to admit that when the rumored specs (correctly) were leaked, I was certain that NVIDIA was going to be cutting into the realm of the GTX 670 for performance. As it turns out, in most of our games, the performance gap between the 256-bit and the 192-bit memory bus was not only noticeable but notable. In Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Batman and Metro the difference was 15 or more. In DiRT 3 it was only 5-8% while in Deus Ex it was negligible thanks to a less texture-intense engine. While for my dollar the $100 difference of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and the GTX 670 is a lot, for many users that 15% performance delta will mean the world.
Compared to the AMD cards, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti did pretty well. In all games but one (Metro 2033) the $299 GK104 was faster than the Radeon HD 7870 that is currently selling for around $279. In many cases the performance delta was significant in favor of NVIDIA leaving no doubt in mind which card is the better of the two. The newly updated Radeon HD 7950 3GB (with Boost) is a bit more of a battle though with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti usually having the edge at lower resolutions like 1680×1050 and 1920×1080 with the 660 Ti falling behind at 2560×1600 and 5760×1080. Overall I would call the battle between the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and the Radeon HD 7950 3GB a tie.
If you are gaming at 1080p or below then the GeForce GTX 660 Ti makes a lot more sense – better performance AND a better price. The NVIDIA option is going for $50 less than the AMD card today and with the Borderlands 2 pack in that KIND OF brings the price down to $249. Kind of. And once we get these overclocked retail cards full tested we'll see if anything changes – a 1019 or 1033 MHz base clock could make a world of difference. (And note MSI and Galaxy are both telling me their overclocked models will sell for $309.)
Great news for gamers – the features of the GTX 660 Ti are identical to those of the GTX 670, GTX 680 and GTX 690.
There are a host of new features included on Kepler, starting with the addition of being able to support more than two displays. Yes, the AMD cards can still support 6 outputs if you can find one of those magic DP hubs but I think that the four NVIDIA has included are probably enough for most users. I really still wish that NVIDIA wasn't 2+ years behind on this — but we have it now so NVIDIA fans can stop being pestered by the AMD camp.
GPU Boost is the other big contributor to the success of Kepler as it enables the GPU to perform optimally for EACH game and allows the GPU clock to scale accordingly. In my testing the feature works — and works rather well — and yet still is flexible enough to allow gamers to overclock their new graphics cards with some easy to manipulate software. Yes, there are going to be some slight variances in performance for the same card in different environments as well as variances from card to card. However, until I am proven wrong I don't believe that it will be a dramatic difference that will plague consumers.
I am a big fan of both the new Adaptive VSync and Frame Rate Target options as well, because they give users the ability and added flexibility that we haven't seen before. The eternal debate of vsync on versus vsync off hasn't been put completely to rest, but with the capability to smoothly scale under 60 FPS now an option on the GTX 680/670 I can see enabling that more and more in my own gaming. Frame rate targeting allows gamers that are on older or less strenuous games to slow down the GPU and decrease power consumption rather than wasting both to unneeded frames.
Pricing and Availability
The GeForce GTX 660 Ti is set with an MSRP of $299 for the base SKUs and overclocked models will go up from there. Let's take a look at the competition again:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB – $299
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 2GB – $399
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB – $279
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB – $349
Obviously the overclocked models will be slightly higher, but even at the performance and pricing we have described here, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti looks pretty good. There IS a pretty sizeable performance gap between it and the GTX 670, but for that $100 price cut I think the 1080p gamer will have no complaints with the 660 Ti. The HD 7950 3GB is $50 more and while it can put up a fight, it doesn't win everything, or even most things. The HD 7870 is a non-discussion for me as it is only $30 cheaper and falls behind in just about everything.
Plus you can get a copy of Borderlands 2 with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Nice.
If you haven't checked it out yet, you should give the PCPartPicker.com website a try and maybe spec out a new system based around the GeForce GTX 660 Ti or your favorite GPU. This DIY enthusiast site allows you to build a complete system, find the best prices at dozens of online vendors and share it with your friends in our forums or anywhere else.
The GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB card from NVIDIA based on the GK104 Kepler chip continues the trend of dominating GPU releases from NVIDIA. The card is able to not only wipe the floor with the HD 7870 for $30 more, it can hit above its class too competing with the Radeon HD 7950 3GB card, even with the new Boosted BIOS for $50 less. Gamers that didn't want to spend $400 or $500 on a new graphics cards but fell in love with the performance and efficiency of the Kepler architecture will find a lot to like with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and I imagine retailers will be shuffling through quite a few of them this week.
We are going to give the GeForce GTX 660 Ti the PC Perspective Gold Award though I imagine some of these overclocked retail card will be seeing the coveted Editor's Choice…