We've been waiting for the mainstream-oriented Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti to hit the shelves since we first saw the Kepler architecture way back in March this year. As is its wont Nvidia brought the top-end GeForce GTX 680 out first, aiming squarely at AMD's top GPUs, and to start with had the edge.

As time has moved on though the AMD Graphics Core Next architecture, exemplified by the excellent AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, has proven to be a tough nut to crack. As the AMD driver sets have matured and more Compute-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 is looking to fight back now though 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 which can make or break a GPU generation.

This Asus GTX 660 Ti DCU 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 as well as a price premium on top too.

GPU genes

So what makes up this new mainstream GPU then? Well, it's the self same Kepler GPU which has made up the bulk of Nvidia's 600 series cards.

So it's the GK104 chip, the same as in the the GeForce GTX 690, GTX 680 and the 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's also got the same 112 texture units but crucially is missing eight ROPs for a reduced total of twenty-four.

The GK104 GPU in the GTX 660 Ti is kept company by the same 2,048MB of GDDR5 video memory, running at the breakneck speed of 6,008MHz, though the bus betwixt chip and VRAM is a rather cut-back 192-bit compared with the 256-bit bus used by the rest of the Kepler top-table GPUs.

The close connection between the chips in the GTX 670 and this GTX 660 Ti explains why there is only a £50 difference between the £250 RRP for this latest card and the £300 you can pick up a reference GTX 670 for.

In the scheme of things though that £50 makes all the difference. And when you're talking about the overclocked SKUs of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti, then we start to hit a price parity with the GTX 670 the new Nvidia card can't hope to replicate in terms of gaming frame rates.