Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 And 660 Review: Kepler At $110 And $230

Memory Bandwidth: Testing The Limits

Just as we saw in our coverage of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 Ti (and the subsequent round-up, Seven GeForce GTX 660 Ti Cards: Exploring Memory Bandwidth), we face the challenge of testing the 660's pared-down memory interface. To be fair, we need to compare Nvidia's OEM and retail versions of the GeForce GTX 660, which center on different GPUs (the former employs GK104, while the latter is GK106-based, as we already know). The direct competition includes Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 Ti and 670, along with AMD's Radeon HD 7950, 7870, and 7850.

After the first GeForce GTX 660 Ti reviews went live, many readers correctly pointed out that different sites came to a wide range of conclusions. And, depending on the game, quality setting, and resolution, AMD or Nvidia hardware might have ended up on top. 

Today, we see this same back and forth between the GeForce GTX 660 and Radeon HD 7870. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 and 660 Ti find themselves at a disadvantage when we run tests that aren't GPU-intensive. In those cases, Nvidia's powerful architecture isn't being fully utilized because the narrower memory interface bottlenecks performance.

As in yesterday's GeForce GTX 660 Ti round-up, we're using Batman: Arkham City to illustrate our case. We disabled tessellation, horizon-based ambient occlusion (HBAO), and multi-view soft shadows (MVSS) in order to not slow down the GPU too much. Running the game like this, without anti-aliasing, yielded the benchmark results we were expecting at both tested resolutions based on each card's specs. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 670 inched out AMD's Radeon HD 7950, followed by the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and Radeon HD 7870. Both the OEM and retail GeForce GTX 660s keep the Radeon HD 7850 at bay. The real question is this: what happens when we increase the resolution and turn on anti-aliasing?

Benchmarks At 1920x1080 and 2560x1440

Let’s begin our analysis with the results we obtain without any anti-aliasing, aside from FXAA. As expected, our contenders place exactly in the order we detailed above. Bringing up the rear are two passively-cooled Radeon HD 7750s running in CrossFire. Why did we bother including them? Consuming less than 100 W, their combined performance is more than compelling, especially considering their price.

Next, we drop the entry-level CrossFire setup and re-run this test at a higher resolution.

The GeForce cards manage to keep up, even at higher resolutions, despite their 192-bit memory interface and, in some cases, smaller capacity. However, this only applies when anti-aliasing is turned off. Once you start turning on higher MSAA levels, the performance situation turns ugly for the Nvidia's mainstream line-up, and limited bandwidth becomes more obvious. Interestingly, the GK106-equipped GeForce GTX 660 actually fares better at higher resolutions than the theoretically-superior GeForce GTX 660 Ti, based on GK104. Meanwhile, the OEM GTX 660 built on GK104 doesn’t stand a chance when more demanding MSAA modes are selected.

AMD's Radeon HD 7850 does unexpectedly well, too, becoming more competitive starting at 4x MSAA. Looking at these numbers, we can safely say that factory overclocked models with core clocks at 1 GHz are a good match-up to the GeForce GTX 660.

Why is this benchmark even relevant? Simple: it represents any game with a less demanding graphics engine, such as those ported over from gaming consoles and many older DirectX 9 or 10 titles still popular today.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
206 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • lahawzel
    Goddamn Mike NY Gmail or whatever the hell your name is supposed to be, here, proper commenting etiquette:

    1. Read the article.
    2. Understand what the article is talking about.
    3. If you find an urge to comment about "______ sucks" or "_______ wins again", especially when the article says the opposite of what you want to post, chances are your comment will look dumb as hell when it's posted and earn you 20 downvotes. Therefore, don't post that goddamn poor excuse of a "comment".
    29
  • Anonymous
    Why are there giant gaps in both lineups? AMD has the 7770 at $130 and 7850 at $230 -- nvidia has the 650 and 660 at similar price points -- ideally for my budget would be something in the $150-170 price range, but I either have to compromise or shell out more. It seems like an obvious market gap.
    26
  • EzioAs
    Nice article to be honest. I'm really glad you tested the Radeon cards with the new driver compared to other review sites.

    I've got nothing else to say on the GTX650 but to just point out that it's a weak card.

    On the other hand, the GTX660 is probably the only Kepler (besides the 670) that impresses me. I don't know about everyone else though. To point out one thing, most Radeon 7870s can be found at $240 or lower without MIR. The GTX660 is priced well for a release MSRP and makes the 660ti offers less value, kind of like the 670 vs 680. For 8xMSAA, the performance does cripple but I think at this price point, most people are going to stay with 4xAA or possibly lower.
    25
  • Other Comments
  • EDVINASM
    Was waiting for GTX 650 to see if it can beat the old GTX 550 Ti but it seems other than power draw it's no match. Might as well keep my GPU until next NVidia lineup. GTX 660 on other hand is only €50 cheaper than GTX 660 Ti meaning its a no budget saver to buy non Ti version. Fail...
    21
  • mikenygmail
    AMD wins again!
    -34
  • mikenygmail
    Buy a 7770 or 7870 instead.
    Wait for sales on whichever one is needed and then grab one -
    AMD 7770 can be had for just over $100.
    AMD 7870 can be had for about $220.
    -27
  • lahawzel
    Goddamn Mike NY Gmail or whatever the hell your name is supposed to be, here, proper commenting etiquette:

    1. Read the article.
    2. Understand what the article is talking about.
    3. If you find an urge to comment about "______ sucks" or "_______ wins again", especially when the article says the opposite of what you want to post, chances are your comment will look dumb as hell when it's posted and earn you 20 downvotes. Therefore, don't post that goddamn poor excuse of a "comment".
    29
  • tomfreak
    How "nice" of u tomshardware. By only compared 7750/7770 vs 650 in high detail but not comparing 7750/7770 on the Ultra detail, then when u pull out a 460 SE/9800GT for benchmark, u are taking away 650(why?).

    Is it because 650 performance is too poor to show off on benchmark? It doesnt take a genius to figure out the huge diff between 6870 vs 650. 7770= 6850 speed. So I guess even the 7750/460SE are putting shame on 650 on those high quality detail? too shy to show off 460SE/9800GT up against 650?

    I dare u put on a detailed benchmark with 650 up against 7770/7750/GTS450/550ti/460/9800GT/9800GTX on all condition. Not a selective benchmark.
    -13
  • Anonymous
    Why are there giant gaps in both lineups? AMD has the 7770 at $130 and 7850 at $230 -- nvidia has the 650 and 660 at similar price points -- ideally for my budget would be something in the $150-170 price range, but I either have to compromise or shell out more. It seems like an obvious market gap.
    26
  • mikenygmail
    LaHawzelGod damn Mike NY

    Thanks for the attempted compliment, but call me Mike. I'm glad you've been paying attention.

    It was more of a joke than anything else to simply write "AMD wins again!" and it was actually pretty funny! I try to balance things out so that no one company is viewed too favorably.

    For example, I recently bought an Nvidia GTX 460 1 GB 256 bit card for $70, new, with a 3 month warranty for a friend to upgrade his gaming computer. Unusual? Yes. Great deal? You better believe it! Of course, if an equivalent AMD card was available at a cheaper price, that's the one I would've bought.

    Now, relax and try to control yourself. Refrain from the use of profanity in future posts. Thanks.
    -26
  • EzioAs
    Nice article to be honest. I'm really glad you tested the Radeon cards with the new driver compared to other review sites.

    I've got nothing else to say on the GTX650 but to just point out that it's a weak card.

    On the other hand, the GTX660 is probably the only Kepler (besides the 670) that impresses me. I don't know about everyone else though. To point out one thing, most Radeon 7870s can be found at $240 or lower without MIR. The GTX660 is priced well for a release MSRP and makes the 660ti offers less value, kind of like the 670 vs 680. For 8xMSAA, the performance does cripple but I think at this price point, most people are going to stay with 4xAA or possibly lower.
    25
  • mikenygmail
    EzioAsNice article to be honest. I'm really glad you tested the Radeon cards with the new driver compared to other review sites.I've got nothing else to say on the GTX650 but to just point out that it's a weak card.On the other hand, the GTX660 is probably the only Kepler (besides the 670) that impresses me. I don't know about everyone else though. To point out one thing, most Radeon 7870s can be found at $240 or lower without MIR. It's priced well for a release MSRP and makes the 660ti offers less value, kind of like the 670 vs 680. For 8xMSAA, the performance does cripple but I think at this price point, most people are going to stay with 4xAA or possibly lower.


    Exactly - Savvy TH readers will wait for sales on whichever one is needed and then grab one!
    AMD 7770 can be had for just over $100 on sale.
    AMD 7870 can be had for about $220 on sale.
    -13
  • mubin
    Gtx 660 is the only option in mid-range gpu
    -22
  • EzioAs
    Quote:
    Why are there giant gaps in both lineups? AMD has the 7770 at $130 and 7850 at $230 -- nvidia has the 650 and 660 at similar price points -- ideally for my budget would be something in the $150-170 price range, but I either have to compromise or shell out more. It seems like an obvious market gap.


    The 6870 might be more compelling at that price point. Newegg still sells them. It's too bad that AMD didn't release a 7830 or something similar from the Nvidia side. But chances are, you probably can get the 7850 or 660 below $200 by the end of the year. Fingers cross though.
    11
  • tomfreak
    mikenygmailThanks for the attempted compliment, but call me Mike. I'm glad you've been paying attention.It was more of a joke than anything else to simply write "AMD wins again!" and it was actually pretty funny! I try to balance things out so that no one company is viewed too favorably.For example, I recently bought an Nvidia GTX 460 1 GB 256 bit card for $70, new, with a 3 month warranty for a friend to upgrade his gaming computer. Unusual? Yes. Great deal? You better believe it! Of course, if an equivalent AMD card was available at a cheaper price, that's the one I would've bought.Now, relax and try to control yourself. Refrain from the use of profanity in future posts. Thanks.
    they cant even dare to put up a weaker 460SE up against 650 let alone a full 460. I guessing the 650 got trash hard when u put serious shader and resolution on it. It is a garbage card @ $110.
    7
  • EzioAs
    270205 said:
    Gtx 660 is the only option in mid-range gpu


    That is if you don't need the compute performance in which AMD clearly leads
    12
  • Anonymous
    I totally agree with TomFreak

    another thing, i would prefer more comparison to old cards like the 460 1GB (256bit). i am sure alot of gamers still use that old card
    15
  • jimbaladin
    Buy a 7850, overclock it. Win.
    12
  • cleeve
    TomfreakHow "nice" of u tomshardware. By only compared 7750/7770 vs 650 in high detail but not comparing 7750/7770 on the Ultra detail, then when u pull out a 460 SE/9800GT for benchmark, u are taking away 650(why?). Is it because 650 performance is too poor to show off on benchmark? It doesnt take a genius to figure out the huge diff between 6870 vs 650. 7770= 6850 speed. So I guess even the 7750/460SE are putting shame on 650 on those high quality detail? too shy to show off 460SE/9800GT up against 650?I dare u put on a detailed benchmark with 650 up against 7770/7750/GTS450/550ti/460/9800GT/9800GTX on all condition. Not a selective benchmark.


    Dude, we included the 650 for reference at high details in the rest of the benchmarks. The info is there, just trying to keep it focused.

    It's all there. Just look for it.

    Tomfreak I guessing the 650 got trash hard when u put serious shader and resolution on it.


    It did, look at the numbers from the other high detail benches. The 460 kills it.

    But the 460 192-bit is too expensive for a direct comparison, so I didn't include it in the standard low-detail benches. It has a higher price point than the 7770.
    20
  • Gman450
    NVIDIA seriously needs to step up their mid range cards! The 650 is weaker than expected...
    21
  • EzioAs
    433119 said:
    NVIDIA seriously needs to step up their mid range cards! The 650 is weaker than expected...


    True. I thought it could at least give the 7770 some competition, but as it turns out it's slower than the 7750. But actually, that's to be expected since it's basically a GT640 with GDDR5. They should probably called it a GT645 or GTS640. It doesn't deserve the GTX name
    21
  • tomfreak
    CleeveDude, we included the 650 for reference at high details in the rest of the benchmarks. The info is there, just trying to keep it focused.It's all there. Just look for it.It did, look at the numbers from the other high detail benches.
    according to the bench, each game have 2 presets, the similar priced 7770/7750 is missing on the second higher bench on most games. Would be love the 6870 being replace with 7770/7750 on the second game bench.
    5
  • bawchicawawa
    WHY didn't they add the 7770 to the 1920 x 1080 preset? =\
    5