NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review

We don't know when it's officially coming because NVIDIA don't talk to us, but we've got the new GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB video card in our hot little hands to tell you all about right now.

Manufacturer: NVIDIA
15 minutes & 36 seconds read time

Introduction and Specifications

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 01

The fact that we're doing this right now, bringing another NVIDIA review to you before the GPU is released, is not a shock to us. You know where most of our information comes from for NVIDIA video cards these days? The same place most of our readers get it from; the internet! Of course we get some information from partners, but even they're quite often kept in the dark.

The one thing I could've told you, though, was the second we got our hands on a GTX 660 Ti, we were going to start testing the card straight away. Even if NVIDIA wanted to work with us on this video card launch, we would've said no. Not because we're trying to be difficult, but because NVIDIA simply don't have enough respect towards us to support us on the high-end models and choose to only come out and play with us on the mid-range and lower ones. This is obvious by the fact we still haven't tested a GTX 690.

We're actually expecting retail versions of the GTX 660 Ti to start coming in, but out of respect to the partners that we like, we will follow the imaginary launch date that doesn't really exist to us. That doesn't stop us from having a play with a video card that came to us literally tonight. That is a video card that arrived with no package, no bundle - just the card and a driver CD. Just like the GTX 670, though, we reviewed this video card from a company's R&D department and while the cooler design is new to us, when the model officially launches, it would be obvious who sent the sample. For that reason we have to refrain from pictures of the video card again. To be honest, though, we feel that people care more about the results than they do the look.

The card we're looking at today carries with it the default clock speeds we'll see on reference clocked GTX 660 Ti based cards and that's what we'll be testing at today. The bottom line is we don't want to bite the hand that feeds us, and for that reason, we don't want to do anything that can give away who sent the card to us. While we're happy for NVIDIA to winge at us, we don't want them winging at the people who give us the ability to do this.

There's not a whole lot we can do today when it comes to showing the card. We will, though, check out the (edited) GPU-Z screenshot and quickly cover the clock speed side of things before we take a closer look at the testbed we're using and the cards we'll be using in our graphs today. Once we've done that it's just straight into the performance side of things.

Quickly, though, before we get into the specifications. It's important to know that here at TweakTown we have no problems respecting NDAs. We've signed more than we can count over the years and followed every one of them as best as possible. Like most websites, we've made the odd mistake when it comes to translating the time to our locale, but content has always been removed when that's happened. What we're doing here today isn't breaking an NDA for the simple reason we don't have one. If you're a website and you have a problem with that, take it up with NVIDIA - don't complain to us about it. What we're doing is essentially breaking "street date". Fortunately 99% of our readership loves that and that's good enough for us. So let's get into the specifications of the GTX 660 Ti.


Looking below we can see the main specifications. Looking at the core you can see we've got a 915MHz clock that is boosted to 980MHz. Looking below you can see we're dealing with 1344 CUDA cores and while not shown, we're on a 28nm GPU.

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 02

On the memory side of things we're dealing with 2GB of GDDR5 that comes clocked in at 6008MHz DDR. Looking above you can see that we're sitting on a 192-bit memory bus offering a total of 144.2 GB/s bandwidth.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 99

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

Above you can see our standard X79 video card testbed we've been using since late last year. With everything covered above let's get into the video cards we'll be using in our graphs here today before we get into the performance side of things to see what NVIDIA's new GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti is capable of achieving.

We'll be comparing the GTX 660 Ti reference model against a number of cards today to find out just how the new model sits. On the NVIDIA side of things we'll be looking how it goes against the older GTX 580 which was last generation's top-dog single GPU option. We'll also be seeing how it compares against its big brothers, the GTX 670 and GTX 680.

More importantly, though, we'll be checking out how it compares against the AMD line up of cards starting with the HD 7850 and HD 7870, which will be its main competition. Along with that, though, we've also got the HD 7950, HD 7970 and the new GHz Edition version of the HD 7970.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting off with 3DMark 11 we get a great idea of just how powerful the upcoming GTX 660 Ti is.

You can see under the Performance preset it comes out ahead of the HD 7970 in this instance and sits only just behind the GTX 670. Moving to the X preset we see it fall back slightly with it coming in a little behind the HD 7970 and it falls slightly further behind the GTX 670 as more pressure is placed on the card due to the resolution.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 21

Looking at Heaven performance we can see that compared to the GTX 580 we've got some really nice gains and against the AMD Radeon line up of cards we're sitting around HD 7950 levels with the card losing the lead it had when moving to 1920 x 1200. Compared to the GTX 670 we see that performance isn't nearly as close.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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H.A.W.X. 2 has always been a favorite for NVIDIA and we see here that we're looking at numbers that sit around the same level as the HD 7970 in this instance. Interesting enough, though, we see that we're behind the GTX 580. I think the most important information, though, is that we've got strong playable FPS across the board at every resolution.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Mafia II performance is very strong across the board and we're again sitting at levels around the HD 7950 at the highest resolution while at the lower resolution we see numbers that line up with the higher end HD 7970. Across the board we see strong gains over the GTX 580 as well with a solid 72 FPS present at 2560 x 1600 in this instance.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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We again see that at the lower resolutions we're ahead of the HD 7970 while when we climb up to 2560 x 1600 the cards become a lot closer with the HD 7970 and GTX 660 Ti putting out identical numbers here.

I think more importantly, though, we've got playable numbers at all resolutions under this intensive game which sees a very solid 63 FPS present at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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We've said it a number of times; Aliens vs. Predator hasn't been the best benchmark for the NVIDIA GTX 600 series and you can see here we've got performance that just sneaks ahead of the GTX 580 and 2560 x 1600 just isn't an option. Compared to the AMD line up of cards, though, we see again the performance is very strong sitting around the same level as the HD 7950.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used:

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Moving into Just Cause 2 you can see we've got solid performance across the board with a great looking 65 FPS present at 2560 x 1600. Compared to the AMD offerings we see that we're sitting around the HD 7970 at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 while at 2560 x 1600, it falls back a little.

The difference here, though, is that the HD 7950 falls just shy of breaking the 60 FPS number we want for a smooth gaming experience, while the GTX 660 Ti as we just mentioned, doesn't have a problem.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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While 2560 x 1600 isn't possible here like every other card bar the HD 7970 GHz Edition, we can see strong numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, which see the GTX 660 Ti sit between the HD 7950 and HD 7970.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 28

At all resolutions we've got fantastic numbers here with a solid 67 FPS present at 2560 x 1600. We're well ahead of the GTX 580 and the GTX 660 Ti manages a strong showing against the HD 7970.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Considering the performance we've seen out of the GTX 660 Ti so far it comes as no surprise that across the board we see it has no issues dealing with Far Cry 2.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Getting into some AA / AF tests we can see that 1920 x 1200 isn't an issue for the GTX 660 Ti, but moving to 2560 x 1600, our FPS simply drops too much. This isn't much of a surprise though as we don't see a single card here break the 60 FPS mark at 2560 x 1600 with AA and AF turned on.

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Something as intensive as Aliens vs. Predator sees a miserable 42 FPS at 1920 x 1200 and even lower numbers at 2560 x 1600. Times like this we see the smaller memory bus and less memory come in to play.

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 32

While Far Cry 2 might be considered old, you can see at 2560 x 1600 we still manage to fall shy of that 30 FPS minimum we want. 1920 x 1200 continues to not be a problem, though, with very playable numbers present.

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 33

While not as bad as Aliens vs. Predator when it comes to the numbers, like that game, we see we're below 60 FPS at both resolutions here.

NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti 2GB Reference Video Card Review 34

Under Just Cause 2 we can see some great numbers at 1920 x 1200, but again at 2560 x 1600 we see there's simply not enough grunt to hit that 60 FPS average we want for a solid gaming experience.

Final Thoughts

It's hard to fault NVIDIA's upcoming GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti and for good reason. You're talking about a video card that is rumored to hit at the mid-$200 range yet performs like a video card priced $100 more. In this case we're talking about the HD 7950 specifically. You could argue that it can be compared against the more expensive HD 7970 at times, too.

On the flaws side of things, the GTX 660 Ti is plagued with the same issue as all NVIDIA video cards. As soon as we move to 2560 x 1600, the lead it had, generally disappears. We're not sure if AMD is just really good at handling the higher resolution or NVIDIA is just not great at it. At this price point, though, you wouldn't expect a video card to handle 2560 x 1600; often it does, though.

There are also a few areas we haven't tested today like power, noise and heat. Due to reasons mentioned in the introduction, we've chosen to avoid those particular tests today, as they could help identify the supplier of the video card. Of course we'll be looking at all these numbers when we start to test retail based models that are set to arrive later this week. Out of respect to those partners, though, we won't be showing off the card until it officially launches later in the month and while we've got this card for roughly just another 24 hours before it has to go back to a certain companies R&D lab, we will be taking the time to see how the overclocking side of things go.

It's clear that NVIDIA had all intensions of shaking things up with this generation. Sure, they came out later then they would've hoped and NVIDIA has left this mid-$200 price bracket empty for what I feel is too long, but they're ready to hit it, and it seems like they're going to hit it extremely hard.

I suppose the best news for AMD is that since NVIDIA choose to be such a pain in the behind to us, they've got two weeks heads up on what to expect with this new part before it officially launches. The problem for AMD, though, is that while this card is priced at levels around the HD 7850 and HD 7870, its performance is around that of the HD 7950 and HD 7970. You combine this with the fact that AMD really don't have any more room to move on price due to recent price drops. We really do wonder what AMD can do. NVIDIA do this excellent job of taking on multiple AMD models with just one video card and in this case, we see that happening again.

The GTX 660 Ti is going to be a fantastic model and we can't wait to see what partners do with it. While we might not like how NVIDIA treat us, we don't let it ever get in the way of our judgment and today we can again see that NVIDIA have put together a great model that is surely set to be really popular based on what we've shown you here today.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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