Nvidia launched its new Kepler architecture earlier this year with the glorious GTX 680 - a behemoth of a video card with a $500 price tag and performance to match. We all stood in awe of its power, and its price tag, but the reality is most people can't afford to drop five big ones on a graphics card so we've been waiting for a slightly watered down version of the card to arrive with a price tag that's a bit easier to stomach.
Nvidia delivered such a card in May, the GTX 670, which was a little bit slower than the GTX 680, but would still set you back $400, so for most people it was still just a bit out of their wallet's reach. Nvidia is releasing another Kepler card, the GTX 660Ti, at a price point of just $299 (MSRP), which is what most of us consider to be the sweet spot when it comes to price, performance and power consumption when it comes to graphics cards.
Anything above this is typically the size of a small sedan and capable of consuming the same amount of power, and cards below this price point are usually not designed for gamers with huge monitors who are playing next-gen titles. We know $300 isn't exactly pocket change, but when you consider the GTX 660Ti is a descendant of the fastest videocard available right now, you can understand what an alluring proposition this card is for a lot of gamers.
Memory and clock speed
In many ways the GTX 660 Ti is extremely similar to its more expensive siblings, having the same 2GB of video memory, the same 6GB/s memory data rate, the same dual six-pin power connectors and the same 9.5-inch PCB.
In fact, the GPU itself is none other than the exact same GK104 chip found on both the GTX 680 and the GTX 670, rather than a redesigned piece of silicon. The GTX 660 also shares the same number of SMX units as the GTX 670 as well - a total of seven compared to the GTX 680's eight - for a nice round number of 1,344 CUDA cores, since there are 192 cores per SMX unit.
Getting into the hard numbers we see that Nvidia decided not to neuter the GTX 660 when it comes to clock speeds for the GPU core, Boost clock and memory clock, as they are all exactly the same as the GTX 670. Where the GTX 660 is different from the GTX 670 is in three key areas: ROPs, L2 cache size and memory interface width.
In these areas the 660Ti has been downsized slightly to justify its lower asking price, so whereas the 670 has 32 ROPs, the 660Ti has only 24. For L2 cache the 670 has 512KB compared to the 660Ti's 384KB, and we also see a narrower memory interface, going from 256-bit on the 670 down to 192-bit on the 660.
All in all, this is not a terrible list of changes, and we're excited to see they left all the clock speeds the same and also kept the same number of SMX units, as the GTX 680 has one more than the GTX 670, so it's natural to assume the GTX 660 would have one less, but that's not the case, thankfully.
Due to its slightly de-tuned nature the GTX 660Ti also requires a bit less power than the GTX 670, and for that most people will probably be a bit thankful. Both cards require a power supply with dual six-pin connectors, but whereas the GTX 670 was a 170W card, the 660Ti is just 150W, which is impressive considering the size of the card and its performance.
For comparison, the same card from the previous generation - the GTX 560 - is a 210W card, displaying the advancements in power consumption Nvidia has achieved with its Kepler architecture.
One other Kepler advancement that has carried over to the GTX 660Ti is Nvidia's GPU Boost technology, which dynamically overclocks the card during gaming. Since this card is already defanged slightly it should have a decent amount of Boost capability, and Nvidia's partners are taking advantage of this fact by offering cards that are overclocked right out of the box, though you can also push them even further if you have the desire and the skill to do so.
Nvidia stated that it's not releasing a reference card for testing purposes, so reviews such as this one will all be based on real world cards offered by Nvidia's partners, EVGA in this particular situation. We've seen several of the partner cards already and they will all offer basically the same package with mild differences in clock speeds - think 20-30MHz or so. The only other major difference between cards sold by its partners is the size and shape of the cooling mechanism, the included software and warranty terms.
We know the GTX 660Ti will obviously be a little slower than the GTX 670, but what about its competitors over in AMD land? Well, this is where it gets interesting as AMD has both an HD 7950 card for around $350, and an HD 7870 card for just $330, so the competition between performance between these three cards should be very close.
To summarize, this card fulfills the exact same promise as the well-received GTX 670, which is Kepler performance in a more affordable package with less power consumption. Also, the GTX 670 showed in testing that with a bit of fiddling with the clock speeds it could be just as fast as the more expensive GTX 680, so we're very curious to see if the GTX 660 can achieve the same feat.