A GeForce GTX 660 Ti For Everyone?
All seven GeForce GTX 660 Ti graphics cards in today's story are decent. There is no real winner, and the best model for you depends largely on what you want from a new graphics card.
Asus' GTX 660Ti DirectCU II has the most powerful cooler and is the quietest card in our round-up. But even though it manages to keep the GPU running at low temperatures, the same cannot be said for the PCB or some of the components mounted on it, which get very hot. The cooler keeps up with the GPU under full load, maintaining low fan speeds. However, the rest of the card can use more airflow. More disturbing was the card's failure during our benchmarking session. It was never overclocked, and its GPU Boost levels were pretty low (about 250 MHz behind MSI's N660 Ti PE 2GD5/OC). We could even get through our suite without it crashing, so we can't give it any sort of recommendation.
Gainward's GTX 660 Ti Phantom and Palit's GTX 660 Ti Jetstream are based on Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 670 board design. They monopolize three slots without giving back great cooling or exceptional acoustics in return.
The Galaxy GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC 3 GB is a good board that demonstrates solid acoustic performance and aggressive GPU Boost clock rates. But its 3 GB of GDDR5 get in the way more than they help.
Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce 2X OC Edition uses 10 cm fans, which is a first for the company. An updated firmware does good things for this card's noise levels. It might be a little louder than Asus' GTX 660Ti DirectCU II, but it also has a 1033 MHz GPU clock rate to show for it. Gigabyte built this card to be thin and light, which makes it ideal for SLI configurations.
The MSI N660 Ti PE 2GD5/OC demonstrates that, once again, the company can build a really nice cooler that lets GPU Boost do its job to make the card faster even than what we were expecting.
Zotac's GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition gets ambitious, shooting for high clock rates and a compact form factor. As a result, though, Nvidia's GPU Boost feature isn't able to stretch its legs. This would be a great addition to a mini-ITX-based platform thanks to its dimensions, though.
The price points of these cards are also of interest. Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce 2X OC Edition sells for as low as $300. Galaxy's GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC 3 GB is at the other end of the spectrum at $340. Meanwhile, Zotac's fast and compact GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition is a scant $10 more than the $300 MSRP Nvidia set at launch. Each card has advantages and disadvantages that we've explored in depth, so pricing, availability, and brand preference will likely steer your decision more than any one glaring omission. Overall, though, we think GeForce GTX 660 Tis will become more attractive once they've come down in price compared to Radeon HD 7870 and 7950.
Our last few comments concern the 660 Ti's 192-bit memory interface. Our benchmarks show that this can really put Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 Ti at a disadvantage, even at 1920x1080 and without obscene texture detail settings. Whether or not you run into a performance problem depends mostly on the game you're playing. In general, though, the card really starts to run out of steam at anti-aliasing settings at and beyond 4x MSAA. This is too bad, since the GPU goes underutilized at that point. The problem is unique to this card. None of the other Kepler-based boards experience it. We're not saying the GeForce GTX 660 Ti is a bad card, but there are competing configurations that demonstrate better balance.