GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Cards Roundup (Part 4)

4/26/2013 11:37:48 AM

Settings and methods of testing

All graphics cards joining in the test were tested in a system with the following configuration:

·         Mainboard: Intel Siler DX79SI (Intel X79 Express, LGA 2011, BIOS 0494 from 7/23/2012)

·         CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, 3.3GHz, 1.2 V, 6x256KB L2, 15MB L3 (Sandy Bridge-E, C1, 32nm)

·         CPU cooler: Phanteks PH-TC14PE (2x135mm fans at 900RPM)

·         Thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4

·         Graphics cards: Asus GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP 2GB (TI-DC2T-2GD5); Asus GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II OC 2GB (GTX660-DC2O-2GD5); Sapphire Redeon HD 7870 GHz Edition OC 2GB; HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X 2GB (H785QT2G2M)

·         System memory: DDR3 4x 4GB Mushkin Redline (Spec: 2133MHz / 9-11-10-28 / 1.65V)

·         System hard drive: Crucial m4 256GB SSD (SATA-III,CT256M4SSD2, BIOS v0009)

·         Drive for programs and games: Western Digital VelociRaptor (300GB, SATA-II, 10000RPM, 16MB cache, NCQ) inside Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5” HDD silencer and cooler

·         Backup drive: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI (SATA-II, 2TB, 5400RPM, 32MB, NCQ)

·         Case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: three Noiseblocker NB-Multi-frame S-Series MF12-S2 fans at 1020RPM; back panel: two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilentPRO PL-1 fans at 1020RPM; top panel: standard 200mm fan at 400RPM)

·         Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3

·         Power supply: Seasonic SS-1000XP Active PFC F3 1000 W (with a default 120mm fan)

·         Monitor: 27” Samsung S27A850D (DVI-I, 2,560x1,440, 60Hz)

GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Cards

GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Cards

Besides the graphics cards discussed above we also added five more products to the performance comparison charts. Firstly, the source Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB works at 980/6008MHz frequencies which will help us judge the advantages of the factory overclocked products against the standard solution. Secondly, Asus GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP 2 GB (TI-DC2T-2GD5) is included for comparison against one of the overclocked GeForce GTX 660 graphics cards from today’s test. Thirdly, The Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP 2 GB (GTX680-DC2T-2GD5) was added for comparison against a pair of GeForce GTX 660 based graphics cards which is tied with each other in a 2-way SLI setting. Finally, we also added two graphics cards using AMD processors, named Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition OC 2 GB and Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC Dual-X 3 GB. I believe there’s no necessary comment to explain why we chose these contestants. Moreover, I would like to add that like all other testing contestants, these additional graphics cards were also tested at their initial clock speeds (while the factory overclocking is right from the start).

As usual, so as to reduce the dependence of the graphics cards performance on the overall platform speed, I overclocked our 32nm six-core CPU with the BCLK frequency set at 125MHz and “Load-Line Calibration” allowed at 4.625GHz. The processor’s Vcore was raised up to 1.49V in the mainboard BIOS.



Hyper-Threading technology was activated. 16GB of system DDR3 memory worked at 2GHz frequency with 9-10-10-28 timings plus 1.65V voltage.

The test was carried out in Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all updates and drivers, at that day, as following:

·         Intel Chipset Drivers WHQL from 12/08/2012 for the mainboard chipset

·         DirectX End-User Runtimes libraries from November 30, 2010

·         AMD Catalyst 12.11 beta (9.010.8) driver from 12/02/2012 + Catalyst Application Profiles 12.11 (CAP2) for AMD based graphics cards

·         Nvidia GeForce 310.70 beta driver from 12/04/2012 for Nvidia based graphics cards

As we have already tested GeForce GTX 660 generally in one of our previous reviews, today we will check out only one resolution – 1,920x1,080 pixels. The tests were done in two image qualities: “Quality+AF16x” – default texturing quality in the drivers with 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and “Quality+ AF16x+MSAA 4(8)x” with 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and full screen 4x or 8x antialiasing if the average frame rate was high enough for enjoyable gaming experience. We also activated anisotropic filtering and visual anti-aliasing while adjusting the game settings. If these corresponding options were not enough, we changed them in the Control Panels > Catalyst and GeForce driver sections. We also disabled Vsync. There were no further changes in the driver settings.

The list of games and applications that were in this test session was shortened and included two benchmarking standards and 8 newest games featuring various genres with all updates installed by the time of the test taken:

Games participating in the test:

·         3DMark 2011 (DirectX 11) – version, Performance and Extreme profiles;

·         Metro 2033: The Last Refuge (DirectX 10/11) - version 1.2, maximum graphics quality settings, official benchmark, “High” image quality settings; DOF and MSAA4x disabled; AAA aliasing enabled, two consecutive operations

·         Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai (DirectX 11) – version 1.1.0, built-in benchmark (Sekigahara battle) at maximum graphics quality settings and enabled MSAA 4x in one of the test modes

·         Crysis 2 (DirectX 11) – version 1.9, we used Adrenaline Crysis 2 Benchmark Tool v. BETA with “Ultra High” graphics quality profile and activated HD textures, two operations of a demo recorded on “Times Square” level;

·         Battlefield 3 (DirectX 11) – version 1.4, all image quality settings set to “Ultra”

·         Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark (DirectX 11) – version 1.05, using Adrenaline Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark Tool v1.0.0.2 BETA with maximum graphics quality settings (“Ultra” profile), Advanced Shadows: HIGH, Ambient Occlusion: ON, Stereo 3D: OFF

·         Sleeping Dogs (DirectX 11) – version 1.5, using Adrenaline Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Tool v1.0.0.3 BETA with maximum image quality settings, Hi-Res Textures pack installed, FPS Limiter and V-Sync disabled, two consecutive operations of the built-in benchmark with quality antialiasing at Normal and Extreme levels

·         F1 2012 (DirectX 11) – update 9, we used Adrenaline Racing Benchmark Tool v1.0.0.13 with “Ultra” image quality settings during two laps on Brazilian “Interlagos” race track with 24 other cars and a drizzling rain, “Bonnet” camera mode

·         Hitman: Absolution (DirectX 11) – version 1.0, built-in test with Ultra image quality setting

If the game allowed for recording the minimal fps indicator, they would also be added to the charts. We ran each game test or benchmark twice but only when the difference between them didn’t get over 1%. If it exceeded 1%, we ran the tests at least once again to have the results repeated.

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