Video Comparison: Noise
Asus GTX 660Ti DirectCU II
Just like Asus' interpretation of the GeForce GTX 670, its GTX 660Ti DirectCU II is by far the quietest card under full load in this round-up. This is partly a result of the competition's compulsion to push fan speeds higher than necessary in taxing workloads. Of course, compute-oriented environments apply the greatest load, and once you shift to games, Asus' advantage isn't as significant. In short, Asus' GTX 660Ti DirectCU II is a good two-slot card with a lot of cooling reserves.
Gainward GTX 660 Ti Phantom
We weren’t particularly happy with the cooler Gainward used on its GeForce GTX 670, but it's sufficient for the company's GTX 660 Ti Phantom. The 192-gram aluminum cooling block is fairly light, and this de-tuned board is pretty much the maximum it should be reasonably expected to handle.
Gainward's GTX 660 Ti Phantom is a tad quieter than Palit's GTX 660 Ti Jetstream, which is identical aside from the shape of its fan fins and plastic shroud. This card doesn’t really have any additional cooling performance to offer, so anyone who wants to overclock the GeForce GTX 660 Ti should avoid it. The card monopolizes three slots, which is one too many given its modest cooler.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce 2X OC Edition
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce 2X OC Edition posts a solid performance. It’s not as quiet as Asus' GTX 660Ti DirectCU II. However, the company took our advice and lowered its minimum fan duty cycle from 40% to 30% at idle. We had a chance to test the latest BIOS, and we're very happy with it, delivering acoustics on par with Asus' card at idle.
Under load, the 10 cm fans don’t do as well. The baseline tone is acceptable, but it's joined by a high-pitched whirring once the fans really spin up. The card could conceivably tolerate higher temperatures (and less aggressive acoustics). We manually adjusted the fan speed down under duress and took Gigabyte's card to a comparable noise level as Asus'.
Galaxy GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC 3 GB
Galaxy's GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC 3 GB is the only 3 GB card in our round-up. The company uses the same cooler seen on its GeForce GTX 670-based board. Even though the cooler does its job well, we can’t really recommend it because it’s just too loud. We don’t know why Galaxy chose such a large heat sink and then set its fans to run at such high speeds, but the profiles need some more work.
MSI N660 Ti PE 2GD5/OC
The MSI N660 Ti PE 2GD5/OC is close to Asus GTX 660Ti DirectCU II. It’s a well-rounded card that does well at idle, but exhibits a bit of high-frequency noise under load.
Palit GTX 660 Ti Jetstream
Just like we said for Gainward's GTX 660 Ti Phantom, there is really no good reason for Palit's GTX 660 Ti Jetstream to populate three expansion slots. This card's fan fins are shaped a little differently, which gives the noise a little more “grhh" and subjectively makes it louder than the Gainward implementation.
Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition
Zotac's GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition uses a short PCB and small cooler, making the two-slot card the shortest in today's piece. The resulting disadvantage is that more airflow is needed to compensate. Consequentially, the card is loud. It's the only submission in our round-up to break the 40 dB(A) barrier.
HIS HD 7870 IceQ GHz Edition
We threw in a HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition to give us a basis for comparison. If you're looking to compare a Radeon HD 7950, check out Radeon HD 7950 3 GB: Six Cards, Benchmarked And Reviewed.
HIS' cooler does well, ending up somewhere in the middle compared to our GeForce GTX 660 Tis.