MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr Review


Nvidia have been very active in recent months, releasing a slew of performance cards targeting the high end enthusiast gaming audience. Sadly, for those on a restricted budget under £200, there have been very few choices, unless you opt for AMD’s HD7870 or HD7850.
That is set to change today with the release of the new Nvidia GTX660. We aren’t focusing on the reference card today but a customised model from MSI, featuring a core clock boost and high grade dual fan cooling system.
At less than £190 inc vat, is this the graphics card to coax the credit card from your wallet?
ProductNvidia GTX670Gigabyte GTX 660 Ti OC WindforceNvidia GTX680MSI GTX660 OC Twin Frozr
Transistors3540m3540m3540m3540m
Core Clock915 mhz+1033 mhz+1006mhz+980mhz+ (1033mhz+)
Memory clock1,502mhz1,502mhz1502mhz1502mhz
Shaders134413441536960
ROPs32243224
Memory2GB2GB2GB2GB
Memory bus width256 bit192 bit256 bit192 bit
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr is overclocked, with a core clock increase from 980mhz on the reference card to 1,033mhz. The boost speed is subsequently increased from 1,033mhz to 1,098mhz. The card ships with 2GB of fast 1,502mhz GDDR5 which is connected across a 192 bit memory interface.
When compared against the GTX660 Ti, we can see that Nvidia have reduced the CUDA shader processing power, from 1,344 down to 960. Both cards have 24 ROP’s.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr ships in a dramatic box, featuring an angled, side view of the cooler.
A fancy gatefold box design which opens up to reveal some of the design specifications of the card. This card uses high grade Solid Capacitors with a 10 year rated lifespan. Can you spot the award logo bottom left?
The bundle includes a software/driver disc and several power converter cables, along with a quick start guide.
The Twin Frozr cooler is made from metal, and looks great. It houses two ‘Propeller blade’ fans  which are designed to increase the angle of airflow, while reducing noise emissions.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr takes power from a single 6 pin connector.
This card is SLI capable in a 2 way configuration. If you want 3 or 4 way SLi then you need to buy the ‘Ti version’ of the card.
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.
The card has several plates attached to the PCB which improve cooling of the VRM’s. The substantial heatsink is comprised of a nickel plated copper base which runs into three thick heatpipes. These heatpipes span the width of the cooler, moving heat into various sections of the aluminum fins. A competent design on a variety of levels.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr is based around the GK106 processor with 960 CUDA Cores, manufactured on the 28nm process. This particular ‘OC’ model has 24 ROPS and has received a core clock increase to 1,033mhz, with an effective Core Boost Clock to 1098MHz. 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.
Main Test System:
Processor: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics
MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr
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.
Comparison Cards:
KFA2 GTX680 LTD OC
Asus GTX680
Asus GTX670 Direct CU II TOP
Gigabyte GTX 660 Ti OC Windforce
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
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.
Performance is off to a promising start, the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition delivers comparable performance to the AMD HD7870, averaging around 65 frames per second at these demanding settings.
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.
Fantastic performance in this Direct X 10 benchmark, scoring 26,113 points. This places the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr between the Sapphire HD7870 FleX Edition and the last generation Nvidia GTX580 in our performance chart.
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.
3DMark 11 is a Direct X 11 based benchmark. We recorded a very impressive level of performance from the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr. The card outperforms the overclocked Sapphire HD7870 Edition scoring over 7,000 points. It actually almost manages to catch up with two of the XFX HD7770 Black Editions in Crossfire.
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.
MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr
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.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr averages 67 frames per second at these settings, which places it within a single frame per second behind the last generation flagship, the GTX580.
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.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr scores well in this AMD friendly title, averaging 72 frames per second. It actually manages to slightly outperform the Sapphire HD7870 Overclock Edition which is a good achievement.
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.
This engine is a particular favourite for Nvidia and the results are noteworthy, outperforming the AMD HD7950 by around 6 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.
An engine which is known to run better on AMD hardware. Regardless these are strong results, slotting in between the HD7850 and HD7870.
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).
When we look at the results we can see that the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr manages to almost keep up with the fantastic flagship GTX580 from the last generation. This is an Nvidia focused game title, and the HD7950 and HD7970 perform at a lower level with this specific engine.
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.
We use the built in STEAM benchmark with this game, so you can compare directly against your own hardware.
An engine that favours AMD hardware/drivers although we experienced no performance issues. The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr averages 53 frames per second at 1080p, which is considerably faster than the AMD HD7850, averaging 43 frames per second.
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.
No problems powering this engine at 1080p, averaging 52 frames per second. Strong results.
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 in Battlefield 3, averaging almost 70 frames per second, slightly ahead of the HIS HD7870 IceQ X Turbo X.
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 2 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 Twin Frozr cooler is formidable, maintaining a 54c load result in our room. This rises to 60c when loaded with the synthetic stress test Furmark. These are class leading results.
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
When idle, the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr is basically silent, at the limits of our test equipment. When loaded with a game, the fans spin up from 1,100 rpm to 1,500 rpm, generating around 33.3 dBa of noise. This is also very quiet, barely audible inside an enthusiast chassis.
When primed with the synthetic Furmark benchmark, the fans spin up by another 100 rpm and this increases the noise levels to around 34 dBa.
When factoring in thermal performance with noise emissions, this is a very well balanced fan profile and a good indication that the heatpipe cooler is doing a great job without the need for overactive fan speeds.
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 2 and record the results.
Nvidia have been nailing power efficiency with their current generation of hardware and the GTX660 is no exception. The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition consumes around 110 watts when gaming and this rises to 128 watts when loaded with the synthetic stress test Furmark.
To overclock today we are using the latest version of MSI Afterburner.
There was close to 10% headroom available on the core clock, peaking at 1,127mhz before artifacting would occur. We managed to overclock the memory to 1,587mhz (6.35GB/s effective) which translates to a 5.6% clock increase.
The decent manual overclock translates into noticeable increases with the Direct X 11 based 3DMark 11. The final score of 7,480 points places the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr ahead of two XFX HD7770 Black Edition cards running in Crossfire. The card is only 400 points behind the Sapphire HD7950 Vapor X Edition.
Very impressive results.
Nvidia gamers can finally rejoice because at last they can spend their hard earned cash on a kick ass GTX600 series graphics card, under the sweet spot of £200. Their GTX660 is a superb discrete solution which sets a new benchmark against competing AMD parts.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr which we reviewed today is a showcase of how to successfully customise a mid range solution to reduce noise while increasing performance. We have reviewed the Twin Frozr cooler many times before and it makes for a sublime pairing with the GTX660.
The MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr is able to outperform the overclocked HD7870 cards from AMD partners, often by a clear margin. Direct X 11 performance is a particular strength, scoring over 7,000 points in 3DMark 11 and delivering smooth frame rates with demanding titles such as Total War Shogun 2, Battlefield 3 and Alien V Predator.
While we have been impressed with the gaming performance, there are other remarkable traits, such as a very low power drain and almost silent gaming performance. We haven’t reviewed a reference GTX660, but I have certainly been impressed with the Twin Frozr cooler mounted on the overclocked MSI solution.
The Twin Frozr cooler combines low noise performance with excellent cooling potential. Under load the core temperature was maintained at 54c when playing Crysis 2. Both fans spin at only 1,500 rpm under load, supported by the high grade nickel plated copper base on the cooler which runs into a substantial tri-configuration of thick heatpipes.
Nvidia seem to also have hit the pricing sweet spot, because the MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr is available from Overclockers for £189.95 inc vat and ARIA for £187.14 inc vat. We would imagine a reference clocked card/cooled will be available for around the £170 inc vat mark. At this price it is difficult to find fault.
If you plan on gaming with a single 1080p screen, then we don’t really see the need to spend any more money right now. We are positive before Christmas that the prices of these cards will drop even further.
Pros:
  • Superb performance.
  • Overclocked speeds push this card past HD7870 performance.
  • quiet.
  • dedicated VRM cooling.
  • further overclocking headroom via software.
  • low power drain.
Cons:
  • weak bundle from MSI.
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