Asus GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II Top (Part 1)

11/18/2012 11:37:51 AM

Kepler for the mainstream – at this price?

Well, it’s all feeling rather 2012 around here. Nvidia has transported me back to when we couldn’t figure out which shower of self-serving idiots to form our government so we just left them to figure it out, a time when own low-res reality TV show, and a time when we finally found out how destructive a weapon the vuvuzela could be.

Why am I feeling so nostalgic? Because Nvidia has decided to release a new graphics card that’s channeling the spirit of one of the worst releases of its last few generations. When I look at the new GTX 660 Ti, all I can see is the frankly offensive spectre of the GTX 465 looming over it.

Description: Description: Asus GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II Top

Asus GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II Top

That was a card housing a pared-to-the-bone version of the then top GPU, offering limited performance for almost the same price as the far superior GTX 470. Two years later and the same can be said of the GTX 660 Ti and impressive GTX 670.

That’s a shame, as I’ve been waiting for the mainstream-oriented GTX 660 Ti to hit the shelves since I first saw the Kepler architecture way back in March this year. Nvidia brought the top-end GTX 680 out first, aiming squarely at AMD’s top GPUs, and to start with it had the edge.

As time has moved on though, the AMD Graphics Core Next architecture – exemplified by the surprisingly excellent HD 7970 GHz Edition – has proven to be a tough driver sets have matured and more Computer-focused game engines have emerged, such as those powering DiRT Showdown and Sniper Elite, the Radeon cards, have taken the ball and ran with it.

Nvidia was hoping to fight back with the GTX 660 Ti, and in the volume end of the market that’s where you want your graphics cards to take the crown. That’s where the bulk of the graphics card upgrade money is spent, and it’s the segment that can make or break a GPU generation.

This Asus GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II Top is the Taiwanese company’s heavy overclocking card and, as such has come to market with seriously tweaked clocks, a bespoke PCB and cooling solution, and a chunky price premium on top.

GPU genes

So what makes up this new mainstream GPU, then? Well, it’s the same Kepler GPU that has made up the bulk of Nvidia’s 600 series cards. Therefore, it’s the GTX 690, GTX 680 and GTX 670. In fact, it’s an almost identical chip to that in the most recent Kepler card, the GTX 670, but with a few key parts turned off or turned down.

It’s still rocking seven of those SMX modules, so comes with a total of 1,344 CUDA cores, all now running at the same speed as the base clock. It also has the same 112 texture units, but crucially is missing eight ROPs for a reduced total of 24.

The GK104 GPU in the GTX 660 Ti is kept company by the same 2,048MB of GDDR5 video memory, running at breakneck 6,008MHz, though the bus betwixt chip and VRAM is a rather reduced 192-bit affair. Compared with the 256-bit bus used by the rest of the Kepler top-table GPUs, that’s a little weak.

The close connection between the chips in the GTX 670 and this GTX 660 Ti explains why there’s only $75 difference between the $375 RRP for this latest card and the $450 you can pay for a reference GTX 670.

In the grand scheme of things though, that $75 makes all the difference. When you’re talking about the overclocked SKUs of the GTX 660 Ti, like this Asus Top edition, then we start to hit price parity with the GTX 670 the new Nvidia card can’t hope to replicate in terms of gaming frame rates.

To be fair though, Asus’s impressive cooling solution meant it could really push the clockspeed of the Nvidia GPU. The base clock for a standard GTX 660 Ti is 915MHz and Asus has upped this to 1,059MHz. In practice, however, that translates to a general boost clock, in game, of around 1,215MHz.

Sadly, even that heavy overclock isn’t enough to push this card up to the frame rates that you’d expect from a $450 graphics card. And that’s the real problem with this GPU.


“Put it up against the cheaper HD 7950 and things look grim”

So, what of those frame rates? How does the card Nvidia says will bring next-gen tech to a ton of gamers actually perform? It performs exactly as you might expect a chopped-up GPU to – not very well.

This Top edition has all the advantages of Asus’s overclocking nous, but even that can’t push this sliced-up GPU toward the performance of its immediate competition. And that competition is intense. On the Nvidia side you’ve got the GTX 670 at the same price as this Asus card, on the AMD side there’s the HD 7950 at around $390.

Description: Description: Despite the relative weak GPU the actual DirectCU II cooler is impressive

Despite the relative weak GPU the actual DirectCU II cooler is impressive

Nvidia claimed that the real competition was with the HD 7870, but that can be picked up for around $315 these days, which is still considerably cheaper than even the reference GTX 660 Ti at $375.

Let’s give Nvidia the benefit of the doubt for a second though and look at its ‘new’ GPU against the HD 7870. Yes, it’s an overall win, with the bulk of titles favouring the green side, but the more comute-focused games like DiRT Showdown and Sniper Elite favour the GCN Pitcairn core in the HD 7870.

Put it up against the HD 7950 though, and things look grim. Even against this seriously over-stretched version of the GTX 660 Ti, the cheaper card has the edge. Only in Shogun 2 can the Nvidia card claim a win – in everything else the HD 7950 is all you need. It also has the performance chops to really work a high-res monitor.

It’s downright embarrassing when the GTX 660 Ti faces up to its own big brother, the GTX 670. As we’ve said, the Asus Top edition is the same price as a stock GTX 670 at $450 and is a long way off it in terms of gaming frame rates. The synthetic Heaven benchmark is generally a good yardstick of overall graphical power and at this the top-end GTX 660 Ti comes up woefully short.

Top 10
New App for Women ‘Remix’ Offers Fashion Advice & Style Tips
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
The latest Audi TT : New angles for TT
Era of million-dollar luxury cars
Game Review : Hearthstone - Blackrock Mountain
Game Review : Battlefield Hardline
Google Chromecast
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 3) - Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 2) - Zagg Slim Book for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 1) - Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
- First look: Apple Watch

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 1)

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2)
Popular Tags
Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone