Last month, Nvidia rocked the enthusiastic GPU market by introducing its most affordable Kepler offering to date. At $ 299, the GK104-based GeForce GTX 660 Ti was $ 100 (~ 30%) cheaper than our previous favorite enthusiast graphics card, the GTX 670, and only 13% slower.
Likewise, the GTX 660 Ti was 11% faster and more energy efficient than the competing Radeon HD 7870 when tested on most games at 1920 x 1200, although it was priced the same.
Most likely, AMD neutralized this threat by cutting prices. The price of the HD 7870 fell to $ 249, while the price of the HD 7850 fell from $ 239 to $ 209, and the price of the HD 7950 fell from $ 349 to $ 319. This balanced the situation as products from the two major GPU manufacturers found their rightful place in the market. As is so often the case, Nvidia dominated the premium segment, while AMD was more strongly represented in the mainstream.
Always looking to keep AMD on its toes, Nvidia is continuing its foray into the mid-range market with a Kepler-based card that is expected to retail for about $ 230 – right between AMD's Radeon HD 7850 and 7870 The GTX 660 is based on the new 28nm GK106 architecture and although this part differs from the GK104 in Nvidia's Ti card, the GK106 still features all of the major innovations introduced by the GTX 680 .
Compared to the GTX 660 Ti, the non-Ti GPU has a lighter core configuration, which undoubtedly has an impact on performance – the result, of course, is a lower price. Kepler hasn't disappointed us yet, so we're optimistic that the GTX 660 is an attractive alternative to AMD's sub-$ 250 offer. Of course, we have to get our hands dirty before we can draw any conclusions.
Gigabyte GTX 660 in detail
As with the GTX 660 Ti, the GTX 660 does not have an official Nvidia reference board, so manufacturing partners can develop their own products. This means that circuit boards and lengths between cards can vary significantly.
We received Gigabyte's version of the GTX 660 (GV-N660OC-2GD). The board of the board is 18.5 cm long, which is quite compact on its own, but the cooler pushes it down to 24.0 cm (9.44 ") which is the length of the HD 7870 reference design. At that length should Gigabyte's GTX 660 will fit in most ATX cases as it is much shorter than high-end cards like the HD 7950.
The GTX 660's GPU has 960 CUDA cores (384 fewer than the GTX 660 Ti), 5 SMX units and 2 SMX units. The TAU count has been reduced from the Ti 112 to 80 while the ROPs remain the same at 24.
The memory subsystem remains the same as in the GTX 660 Ti with three 64-bit controllers for a 192-bit bus. Combine this with 2048MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1502MHz (6008MHz DDR) and you get 144.2GB / s of bandwidth, which is not bad, although it's 33% less than the GTX 670 , and this is where the performance difference lies.
Nvidia's specification for the base clock speed is 980 MHz, while the average boost clock speed is 1033 MHz. Gigabyte has increased this to 1033 MHz and 1098 MHz, while the memory operates at the standard of 6008 MHz.
What makes the Gigabyte iteration really unique is the WindForce 2X cooler, which uses two extremely quiet 75mm PWM fans attached to a custom case. Underneath these fans is a massive heat sink made up of three main parts connected by 8mm copper heat pipes.
At the heart of this setup is the largest block with a unique RAM heat sink to cool the GDDR5 modules and Triangle Cool technology, which uses a series of fins and triangular clip modules to better flow air over the heat sink to steer.
According to Gigabyte, Triangle Cool technology can lower temperatures by up to 10% compared to conventional designs. So we're excited to see how cool this card is.
In order to provide the card with sufficient juice, the Nvidia specification requires a single 6-pin PCI Express power connector – identical to the HD 7850. According to Nvidia, those who want to use a single GTX 660 graphics card should have a 450 -Watt power supply or more.
Of course, the GTX 660 supports SLI (2-way SLI), so it has a single connector. The only other ports are on the I / O control panel, where you can find two dual-link DVI-I ports, a single HDMI 1.4a port, and a DisplayPort 1.2 port.