Test Setup And Benchmarks
The closest-performing card to the GeForce GTX 660 Ti in Nvidia’s prior-generation line-up is GeForce GTX 580. So, we obviously wanted to include it in our tests. Of course, we also want to see how this new model compares to GeForce GTX 670 as well.
AMD's similarly-priced Radeon HD 7870 is an obvious contender, as is the more expensive Radeon HD 7950. We're throwing the Radeon HD 7970 in as a reference point, too. We had MSI's R7970 Lightning and R7950 on-hand to represent those two products, and we dropped each card's clock rates to reference levels. MSI supplied the GeForce GTX 680 Lightning specifically for this review, and we tested it at stock and factory overclocked settings, too.
From here, things get more complicated. AMD is attempting a preemptive strike against GeForce GTX 660 Ti in the form of Radeon HD 7950 Boost Edition. Essentially, this is a BIOS update to the vanilla Radeon HD 7950 that overclocks the board from 800 to 850 MHz and implements a 925 MHz boost state. The accelerated frequency is adjustable in the Catalyst Control Center's overdrive tool.
We’re not going to spend a lot of time talking about the Radeon HD 7950 Boost Edition because, frankly, we're not fans of such last-minute retaliations. Company representatives claim 7950 Boost Edition cards will be available by Friday. But the last time we were promised availability of a Boost Edition card (the 7970), AMD was about a month too ambitious. We'll believe this one when we see it. You'll find the card's results in our overclocking tests as a result.
Speaking of overclocking, we're including MSI’s GeForce GTX 660 Ti a second time, its core accelerated an impressive 150 MHz and memory running 250 MHz faster thanks to MSI's Afterburner tool. We were able dial in an extra 100 millivolts on the core and set 114% of the maximum board power in order to get there.
Finally, we are looking to find the highest playable settings in each game that deliver a minimum of 30 FPS and an average of at least 40. We don't want to waste GPU performance on rendering hundreds of frames per second, and we aren't interested in numbers that aren't playable.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz, Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled, Overclocked to 4.2 GHz|
|Motherboard||ASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express|
|Networking||On-Board Gigabit LAN controller|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T|
|Graphics||Zotac GeForce GTX 580 AMP2 Edition815 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1025 MHzMSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti1019/1097 MHz Base/Boost GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1502 MHzGigabyte GeForce GTX 670 Overclocked980/1058 MHz Base/Boost GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1502 MHzReference Radeon HD 78701000 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1200 MHzMSI Radeon R7950800 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1250 MHzReference Radeon HD 7950 Boost Edition850/925 MHz Base/Boost GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1250 MHzMSI Radeon R7970 Lightning925 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHzAll overclocked cards reduced to reference specification for testing|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 256 GB (SSD)|
|Power||ePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W ATX12V, EPS12V|
|Software and Drivers|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 x64, Service Pack 1|
|Graphics Drivers||Nvidia: 305.37 betaAMD: Catalyst 12.7 beta|
|Battlefield 3||Campaign Mode, "Operation Swordfish" 60 second Fraps|
|Crysis 2||Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool 126.96.36.199, Times Square, DirectX 11|
|Batman: Arkham Asylum||Version 188.8.131.52, Built-in DirectX 11 Benchmark|
|Metro 2033||Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene|
|DiRT Showdown||Version 184.108.40.206, DirectX 11 Benchmark|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||Update 1.4.27, THG Benchmarks save, 25 seconds Fraps|
|Max Payne 3||Version 220.127.116.11.7, Chapter 3, save 16, 65 second Fraps|