Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP Review


The graphics card industry is one of the fastest moving – with Nvidia and AMD battling it out for the performance crown and more importantly, sales. Today we are looking at the brand new Asus GTX 660 TI Direct CU II TOP which features a custom two fan cooling solution and pre-overclocked speeds. How does the new solution fit into the market? Is it worth an upgrade?
Nvidia enjoyed huge sales with their ‘mid range’ performance oriented GTX460 and GTX560 video cards and they are hoping to recreate the same success story with their latest GTX660 Ti. That said, the GTX 660 Ti is not targeting the same sub £200 market.
We don’t imagine the punter who originally bought the GTX460 will be able to afford the GTX660 ti. Our contacts at etailers are claiming (before launch) that the ‘cheapest’ GTX660 Ti will be priced at £249 inc. vat, with overclocked solutions priced right up to £280 inc vat.
At this price the GTX 660 Ti will be going head to head against AMD’s HD7950.
This card ships with the lovely Direct CU II metal cooler with multiple heatpipes and dual fan configuration. How does the Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP stack up?
ProductNvidia GTX670Asus 660 Ti Direct CU II TOPNvidia GTX680AMD HD7970
Transistors3540m3540m3540m4310m
Core Clock915 mhz+1059 mhz+1006mhz+925mhz
Memory clock1,502mhz1,502mhz1502mhz1375mhz
Shaders1344134415362048
ROPs32243232
Memory2GB2GB2GB3GB
Memory bus width256 bit192 bit256 bit384 bit
The Asus GTX 660 TI Direct CU II TOP is clocked at 1,059mhz core, with a turbo boost speed of 1,137mhz. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 1,500mhz (6Gbps effective), and is connected via a 192 bit memory interface.
The Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP ships in a dramatic box with three claw marks visible beside a split view of the Direct CU II cooling system.
The bundle includes a power and video converter alongside a user guide for configuring the card.
The Asus GTX 660 Ti is built around a black PCB, featuring the large metal, Direct CU II dual fan cooling system. This oversized cooling system slightly overhangs the PCB on one side.
The GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP features two SLi connectors, for 2, 3 and 4 way configurations.
It takes power from two 6 pin PCI E connectors.
There are two dual link DVI ports, a full sized HDMI port and a full sized DisplayPort. All of these can be used simultaneously with the latest hardware. Something AMD have offered for a very long time now.
The Asus GTX 660 Ti cooler is comprised of a copper core with three thick direct touch heatpipes leading into two separate racks of aluminum fins. Asus are using a separate heatsink to help cool the VRM’s. 2GB of high grade Hynix GDDR5 memory is incorporated.
The Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP is based around the GK104 processor, manufactured on the 28nm process. This particular ‘TOP’ model has received a core clock increase to 1,059mhz, with an effective Core Boost Clock to 1137MHz. It ships with 2GB of GDDR5 memory connected via a 192 bit interface.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
To test today we are using our long standing Core i7 970 system, which is overclocked. We have a variety of hardware benchmarked on this system this year which will make for an interesting market comparison. We will also be able to compare performance against the latest Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X solution as we published the review earlier today.
Main Test System:
Processor: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics
Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard
: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis
: Thermaltake Level 10
Power Supply
: Corsair AX1200
Memory
: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage
: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
Monitor: Dell U3011.
We also change the system later in the review to test Eyefinity across three 24 inch screens.
Ultra High End System (For 3 screen testing):
Processor: Core i7 3960 X Extreme Edition @ 4.6ghz
Cooler: Antec 920 H20
Memory: 16GB G.Skill 2,400mhz @ 10-11-10-30
Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Extreme
Power Supply: Enermax Platimax 1200W
Optical Drive
: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis
: Lian Li PC-A77FR Aluminium Red Full Tower Case
Boot Drive: Patriot WildFire 120GB
Secondary Drive: 1TB Samsung
Monitors: Dell U2410 x 3.
Comparison Cards:
KFA2 GTX680 LTD OC
Asus GTX680
Asus GTX670 Direct CU II TOP
Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition
HD7970 GHZ Edition
HD7970
Sapphire HD7950 Vapor-X Edition (@950mhz core clock)
HD7950
Sapphire HD7870 Overclock Edition
HD7870
HD7850
HD6990 (880 core)
HD6970
HD6950
HD6870
Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition
XFX HD7770 Black Edition S CFx
HD7770 CFx
HD7770
Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate Edition
HD6790
HD6770
HD6670
GTX590 SLi
GTX590
GTX580 SLi
GTX580
GTX570
Software:
Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
FurMark
Games:
Alien V Predator
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
F1 2011
Total War: Shogun 2
Battlefield 3
Elder Scrolls V: SkyRim
Dirt Showdown
Max Payne 3
All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform generally under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Some game descriptions are edited from Wikipedia.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.
Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures
We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.
The Asus GTX660 Ti Direct CU II TOP manages to match two of the XFX HD7770 Black Edition cards in Crossfire. Additionally the Asus card is 1 frame per second quicker than the overclocked Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X, which is impressive.
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.
Excellent performance, slightly edging out the Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X Edition, scoring 30,220 points.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
A phenomenal result from the Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP, scoring 8,864 points – right behind the AMD HD7970 GHZ Edition, which is only 8 points ahead.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here.
Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern5
Gray Bars5
Violin5
Stadium 2:25
Stadium 3:25
Horizontal Text Scroll3
Vertical Text Scroll5
Transition to 3:2 Lock5
Transition to 2:2 Lock0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood5
Ferris Wheel
5
Skin Tones
5
Total192
The hardware scores 192 points out of a possible 210 which is excellent.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.
A good result, averaging 71 frames per second at these settings, very close in performance to the Sapphire HD7870 Overclock Edition.
Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.
To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so results are comparable throughout reviews.
This Direct X 11 game runs better on AMD hardware/drivers and we can see that the Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP slots in underneath the Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X Edition, averaging 83 frames per second. It is faster than the reference clocked AMD HD7950 however.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.
We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.
An engine which favours Nvidia hardware and runs exceptionally well on the ASUS video card, averaging 126 frames per second.
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.
Good results again, averaging 154 frames per second, just behind the Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X Edition.
Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.
Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.
Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.
Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).
A strong engine for Nvidia hardware, and the Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP almost manages to catch the AMD HD7970 GHZ Edition, falling 2 frames per second behind.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
This Direct X 11 engine typically runs better on AMD hardware although the Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP has no problems maintaining excellent frame rates at 1080p.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Skyrim‘s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon god who is prophesized to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn. The open world gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely. Skyrim has received universal acclaim from critics, selling more than 3.5 million copies within the first 48 hours of release.
Excellent performance at 2560×1600, averaging 60 frames per second, identical to the Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X Edition.
According to EA, Battlefield 3 garnered 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. It is unknown at present whether these figures are worldwide or just for the US. The pre-order total makes it “the biggest first-person shooter launch in EA history”, according to the publisher. The engine is beautiful on the PC and very demanding of the partnering hardware.
Excellent results, slightly outperforming the AMD HD7970, averaging 88 frames per second.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 24c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.
The Direct CU II cooler is excellent, maintaining temperatures around 60c when gaming. This rises to 69c when running the synthetic Furmark stress test. Excellent results from the cooling solution.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with almost completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum
The twin fan cooler is very quiet, even under load. When gaming it is barely audible, measuring 33.6 dBa. When idle, the fans only spin at 1,000 rpm meaning it could be classed as ‘almost silent’ under real world situations.
To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.
In such an energy aware climate, AMD are making a big deal out of their new ‘ZeroCore Power’ technology. Many solutions today use power gating, clock gating and memory compression to reduce idle power requirements, but ZeroCore power technology can completely power down the core GPU while the rest of the system remains active.
The GTX660 Ti is an efficient design, consuming only 152 watts when gaming.
To overclock today we are using the latest version of Asus GPU tweak software.
We didn’t find much headroom on this card, pushing the core speed from 1059mhz to 1132mhz, boost from 1137mhz to 1210 mhz. This translated to a 6.4% increase. The memory could be pushed to 1,591mhz, or 6.36Gbps effective. This translated to a 5.92 % increase.
At the maximum overclocked settings, the Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP produced a final score of 9,287 points. This places the card slightly above the Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition when running at the slower bios setting. Incredible results.
The GTX660 Ti is an important card for Nvidia as it is set to fill the gaping performance hole between £250-£300. At £270 inc vat the Asus GTX660 Ti Direct CU II TOP has certainly impressed us.
We don’t have a reference Nvidia solution on hand to deliver direct comparisons, but the Asus GTX660 Ti Direct CU II TOP is certainly faster than the AMD HD7950 it is targeting. When we directly compare against the heavily overclocked Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X which we reviewed earlier today then it is a tight run battle. We would say it is a 50-50 split either way, depending on the game or benchmark being used.
That said, in regards to pure ‘value for money’, it looks as if the Asus GTX 660 Ti Direct CU II TOP has the edge at £270 inc vat, as we would expect the Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X to cost around the £300 mark, or possibly a little more. While it has taken Nvidia some time to issue a challenge to AMD, the GTX660 Ti certainly hasn’t failed to deliver.
I was particularly impressed with Direct X 11 performance via 3DMark 11, scoring 8,864 points. This is right in line with the AMD HD7970 GHZ Edition. An impressive feat, especially when factoring in the difference in pricing.
Nvidia have also nailed the board design in regards to power draw and heat dissipation. Obviously our review product offers key enhancements over the reference design, the Direct CU II cooling solution is fantastic and when under gaming load it can maintain a 60c thermal threshold with minimal noise emissions from the dual fans.
We only achieved a minor clock increase on pre-overclocked ASUS settings, pushing the core boost from 1,137mhz to 1,210mhz. This translated into a final 3DMark 11 score of 9,287 points – right in line with the Sapphire HD7970 6GB Toxic Edition at the slower of the two bios settings.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this card to the Nvidia audience reading the review today. At £267.54 inc vat it is the fastest gaming card for the money.
Pros:
  • Fantastic performance.
  • This Asus GTX660 Ti outperforms AMD’s reference HD7950.
  • Quiet.
  • runs cool.
Cons:
  • If you want the best bang for buck around £200, then you have to wait a while longer.
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