MSI GEFORCE GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2GB OC Video Card Review

NVIDIA's GEFORCE GTX 660 has officially launched. We take the Twin Frozr option from MSI for a spin and see how it goes.

@TweakTown
Published Thu, Sep 13 2012 8:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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When we checked out the reference GTX 660 just the other week we didn't find ourselves getting the same "wow" factor that we got from other GTX 600 based models like the GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670 and GTX 680. That's not to say it's not a good video card, but ultimately we found that the GTX 660 didn't hold any real surprises as it lined up almost perfectly against its main competitor, AMD's Radeon HD 7870.

Today, though, we get to take more of an in-depth look at the new model as we're able to look at not just the performance numbers, but also the temperature, power draw and noise levels with what MSI are offering us. Being part of the Twin Frozr series of course means that it's going to carry the Twin Frozr cooler and if the past is anything to go by, that's only a good thing, as it has impressed us each and every time.

We're hoping that with a retail video card in hand now we'll find ourselves a little more impressed with the new GTX 660. As always, though, before we look at the card, we've got to look at a couple of things before we get started.

The first thing we'll do is check out the package MSI is offering and the bundle. Once we've done that we'll move onto the card itself and see how the Twin Frozr cooler looks on the new model before we look at the specification side of things and see what they've done with the clocks. We'll then quickly look at our testbed, cover the cards that will be in our graphs and then get into the performance side of things.

Package

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Looking at the front of the box we can see a picture of the Twin Frozr cooler and we've got some of the main details including the model number and amount of memory.

Opening up the box we're greeted with a wealth of information including talk about MSI Afterburner, information on the Solid Caps that MSI opted to use and some of the awards that MSI have got for its Twin Frozr cooler.

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Moving to the bottom portion of the box we've got a window that lets us look at the card and we've got a bunch of information regarding the Twin Frozr cooler design that tells us know why it's so special. Some of the main features include the propeller blades, nickel-plated copper base and multiple heatpipes to cover just some of the main features. Turning to the back you can see most of the information is focused on the GTX 660 and the specific features that it offers.

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When it comes to the bundle we don't have a heap going on which doesn't come as a huge surprise considering this is a mid-range model. We've got a bit of paperwork along with a dual Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connector and a DVI to VGA connector to round everything off.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the card we don't have any real surprises as it carries the impressive Twin Frozr III cooler that we're quite used to seeing nowadays. Across the top we can see the heatpipe and the typical dual fan setup with a massive heatsink that sits behind that really does cover majority of the video card.

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Taking the time to move around you can see power comes from just a single 6-pin PCIe power connector which should bring with it fairly low power draw. Closer to the front you can see we've got a single SLI connector which gives us the ability to run up to two of these video cards together.

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On the connectivity side of things you can see we've got Dual-Link DVI connectors along with a single HDMI and DisplayPort connector to round off that side of things. You can also see we've got a bunch of vents to help let some of the hot air escape the chassis.

Specifications

Being part of the Twin Frozr series it comes as no surprise that out of the box the GTX 660 from MSI comes overclocked.

A reference clocked GTX 660 comes with a 980MHz core which via boost gets pushed up to 1033MHz. The memory sees a default clock of 6008MHz QDR.

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Looking above you can see that while MSI have decided to leave the 2GB of GDDR5 at 6008MHz QDR, they have bumped the core up to 1033MHz which via boost pushes the GPU up to 1098MHz. Overall it's not a huge overclock, but something nonetheless.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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

With our testbed fairly well covered above let's just quickly get into the video cards that will be seen in our graphs today.

Alongside the MSI GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2GB OC we've also got the reference clocked GTX 660. This will give us an idea what the overclock does for performance.

Along with that we've got a number of other NVIDIA based cards including the older GTX 580, new GTX 660 Ti as well as the GTX 670 and GTX 680.

We've also got a bunch of cards on the AMD side of things which include the main competition to the GTX 660, the HD 7870. Above that we've also got the HD 7950, HD 7970 and new HD 7970 GHz Edition.

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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Getting into the benchmarks we start with 3DMark 11 and you can see the overclock that MSI offers help extends the lead on the GTX 660 over the GTX 580 and the HD 7870, which as we mentioned is the main competition for the GTX 660.

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.

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Heaven paints a similar picture to what we just saw out of the MSI GTX 660 under 3DMark 11 with a nice lead over the older GTX 580 and the HD 7870 from AMD.

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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Looking at the H.A.W.X. number we can see that we're ahead of the AMD HD 7870, but behind the GTX 580 in this case. The lead over the HD 7870 doesn't come as a huge shock though as we see NVIDIA video cards always do quite well under H.A.W.X. 2.

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 sees numbers that are very similar to the GTX 580 here, but you can see against the HD 7870, the AMD offering manages to come out ahead at 2560 x 1600 with a bit more breathing room.

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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Lost Planet 2 performance is very strong for the GTX 660 here with great numbers at 1920 x 1200, while the HD 7870 struggles a bit.

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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Looking at the HD 7870 and GTX 660 you can see the numbers are identical across the board at all resolutions. As for what's playable you can see 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 aren't an issue, 2560 x 1600 in this case is.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

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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Numbers across the board here are similar to the HD 7870 and you can see both video cards just fail to reach that 60 FPS number we want at the highest resolution for a solid gaming experience. Below that we've got some strong playable numbers, though.

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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Again we see that the numbers between the MSI GTX 660 and HD 7870 are extremely close with playable numbers at 1920 x 1200, but you can see we fall short at 2560 x 1600 again.

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.

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We continue to see the MSI GTX 660 perform strong at 1680 x 1060 and 1920 x 1200, but you can see that 2560 x 1600 isn't really an option on these intensive game engines.

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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Here we see strong numbers across the board which is no surprise, but you can see we're behind the HD 7870 in this case at all resolutions.

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 the AA side of things you can see we manage to sneak in playable numbers at 1920 x 1200. The 62 FPS number is slightly behind the HD 7870, though.

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Looking at Aliens vs. Predator you can see that AA just isn't an option with low numbers at both resolutions.

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Far Cry 2 sees playable numbers at 1920 x 1200, but you can see at 2560 x 1600, we're below that 30 FPS minimum we want for smooth gameplay.

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Metro 2033 with AA and AF isn't an option as you can see with low FPS.

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Finishing up with Just Cause 2 you can see that we manage to get playable numbers just at 1920 x 1200. The fact we're just seeing playable numbers at 1920 x 1200, though, of course means that 2560 x 1600 numbers are pretty low coming in at 39 FPS. We don't consider this playable.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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On the temperature side of things you can see we're looking pretty good with under 60c when under load.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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On the noise side of things you can see the Twin Frozr III cooler as always does a great job coming in towards the bottom of the graph with 57.8dB under load.

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw numbers are very aggressive. You can see that this MSI video card sits towards the bottom of the pack with just under 350 watt of power consumption.

Final Thoughts

MSI's GEFORCE GTX 660 Twin Frozr video card is no doubt more impressive than the reference clocked version thanks to the overclock that MSI offers. Alongside that the Twin Frozr III cooler as always does a fantastic job and we can see some excellent cooling numbers that are achieved at low noise level.

Moving onto the bundle we don't have a whole lot going on like most video cards these days. Apart from the typical line up of paperwork, we've just got a single DVI to VGA connector and a Dual-Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connector.

When it comes to performance you can see that the overclock from MSI really does help separate the GTX 660 a little more against some of the other models on the market. We often see it close the gap or come out ahead of the GTX 580 which was of course the last generation top dog from NVIDIA. You'll be fine with most games at 1920 x 1200, but it struggled many times at 2560 x 1600.

On the AMD side of things we also see the overclock help extend the lead against the HD 7870. Of course, it's worth remembering that the HD 7870 we're using here is just running at the reference clock speeds. Considering we saw the GTX 660 reference card perform so close to the HD 7870 reference card, we'd expect an overclocked offering to consistently manage to sneak ahead.

Overall, though, our impression on the GTX 660 hasn't changed with the retail version from MSI. It's a good model and MSI offer us a nice variant that runs cool and quiet. Performance is slightly up thanks to the modest factory overclock that is on offer, but remember AMD also have the same options when it comes to the Radeon HD 7870.

If you're going to go down the path of a GTX 660, the MSI version is one that you're no doubt going to be looking at. If you've used the Twin Frozr series of video cards before, you'll already know how well they perform.

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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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