Graphics, Hardware

EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti SC Preview

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti is NVIDIA’s latest GPU offering to gamers and just so happens to be the most affordable one as well. The GTX 660 Ti is based on NVIDIA’s Kepler Architecture but is a cut-down version from the GK-104 based GTX 680. The GTX 680 features 1536 CUDA Cores while the GTX 660 Ti features 1344, additionally, the base clock and boost clock are lowered from 1006 and 1058 on the 680 to 915 and 980 MHz on the 660. This results in a reduced texture fill rate of 102.5 billion pixels per second compared to 128.8 billion pixels per second.

Interestingly, both cards ship with the exact same amount of frame buffer (Graphics RAM) with both cards featuring 2GB of RAM at 6.0 Gbps, however, the GTX 680 has a wider 256-bit bus vs the 192-bit bus on the GTX 660 Ti. This difference affects the overall memory bandwidth of the GPU and reduces the memory bandwidth down from 192.2 GB/s to 144.2 GB/s. The GTX 660 Ti does this while reducing power consumption down to 150w from the GTX 680’s 192w. Even though the GTX 660 Ti is 42w lower, it still requires two 6-pin power connectors because it pulls 75W from the motherboard and 75W from each 6-pin power connector. So, Theoretically, this card could draw up to 225w, but realistically, the card only needs 150w to operate. The second 6-pin power connector is purely there in order to make sure that there’s enough power if the card needs to go over 150w since otherwise the card would have to throttle itself if it were running at its maximum current draw.

From left to right: GTX 680, HD 7870, GTX 670, GTX 660 Ti

You get all of this for the price of $300, which is less than the $399 for the GTX 670 and $499 for the GTX 680. There was a lot of talk about this card going for $199 or $249, however, it leaves to large of a price gap in NVIDIA’s line-up and underprices the card to the point where NVIDIA likely cannot produce enough cards to fulfill demand at that price. In our full review, we will evaluate the value of this card relative to other NVIDIA Kepler GPUs as well as AMD Radeon HD 7000 series.

With that introduction, we want to delve into the EVGA GTX 660 Ti SC. This card is EVGA’s median offering of the GTX 660 Ti as they have a GTX 660 Ti, a GTX 660 Ti SC  and a GTX 660 Ti FTW. The primary difference between these cards is based upon their base and boost clocks as the SC clocks in at 980 MHz base and 1059 MHz boost, while the FTW clocks in at 1020 MHz base and 1098 MHz boost. In addition to having three clock speeds, EVGA also offers each clock speed in 2GB and 3GB variants, however, without the added memory bandwidth, the 3GB variants are effectively a complete waste of money. Furthermore, in our graphical testing of 4K resolution (4x 1080P) we were just barely able to max out the 2GB of VRAM on the GTX 680 with BF3 running at maximum settings and 4096×2160 resolution. Not to mention, if you plan on playing at those settings and resolution (3+ monitors), you should be buying a GTX 680 or HD7970.

The carbon texture of the EVGA GTX 660 Ti SC really seems to attract dust particles like a magnet.

As a result, our expectation is that this card will ever so slightly outperform the reference clocked model from NVIDIA.The funny thing is that this card does not actually come to us as a reference design from NVIDIA as all the board partners are responsible for their own cards and designs, however, many of them appear to mimic the GTX 670 design in both PCB and cooling, with less power consumption. The EVGA GTX 660 Ti SC retails for $309.99
The card itself comes with the standard faire of power cables, a DVI to VGA adapter, and a ton of EVGA materials ranging from user guides, posters, case badges, driver CDs and other EVGA branded material. The card itself is inside of a plastic clamshell, indicative of a slight cheaper card as most of EVGA’s higher-end cards tend to come in nice foam enclosures rather than the cheaper clamshells.

In terms of performance, since this is a preview, we will be providing our synthetic benchmark results from 3DMark 11, PCMark 7 and Unigine Heaven 3.0. Admittedly, these benchmarks are not going to be representative of all gaming scenarios, however, any trends between the three are very likely to be seen across most games that we test anyways. In our full review we will be testing multiple titles to compare actual frame rates and gaming experiences at 1080P resolutions.

3DMark 11

In 3DMark 11, we were able to test the most graphics cards and to give the greatest spread of performance, as you can see from our tests, the GTX 660 Ti SC actually performed close to where the HD 7970 did while handily beating the HD 7870. We admittedly don’t expect this to happen in our game tests, however in 3DMark 11, this did happen.

PCMark 7

PCMark 7 is also a synthetic benchmark, however, it is more designed to measure overall system performance. Taking a look at these results you can see that once again the GTX 660 Ti SC beats out the HD 7870, while expectedly lagging behind the GTX 590 and GTX 680.

Unigine Heaven 3.0

Finally, we have the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark, which we consider to be one of the most strenuous graphical benchmarks out there today. In this test, we effectively set every possible setting to the maximum possible setting and then ran the test at 1920×1080 resolution. Our results pretty much indicate that the GTX 660 Ti performs at the level that is expected of it, however, it’s minimum frame rate is actually higher than that of the GTX 670. Since this is a preview, we will also be adding the HD 7870 to this graph to improve the comparison chart.

Well, there you have it. Our little preview of the GTX 660 Ti SC from EVGA and NVIDIA. Also, if you’re interested in getting one of these cards, they’re currently for sale all around the web and if you buy them from certain retailers, you will also get a code for a free copy of Borderlands 2 (when it comes out). That game is due out in about a month.