NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Shootout - True Mid-range Kepler

By James Lu - 13 Sep 2012

Meet the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660

Is This The Card You've Been Waiting For?

Last month, NVIDIA released the first of its long-awaited mid-range Kepler graphics cards, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti. While it scored well, it was priced slightly higher than anticipated (especially in this region) due to its use of the high-end GK104 GPU core (the same found in NVIDIA's GTX 670 and flagship GTX 680 models). From our testing, it turned out to have performance much more in common with a high-end part than a mid-range one that many were hoping it would be.

Today, NVIDIA releases its GeForce GTX 650 and the card many people have been waiting for - the GTX 660. This is a card that can be considered as NVIDIA's first true mid-range performance Kepler card, as it will be utilizing a brand new GPU core, designed especially for it: GK106.

While the GTX 660 is using a new core, it still retains full Kepler capabilities, which includes NVIDIA's GPU Boost, a technology that dynamically adjusts a GPU's clock speed according to its current operating environment. At a very affordable US$229, NVIDIA is pushing the GTX 660 as the Kepler card for everyone, citing its strong price/performance ratio and likening it to the NVIDIA 8800 GT/9800GT, one of the more popular cards from 2007/2008 era. According to data collected by NVIDIA on Steam, these old cards are still used by about 53% of NVIDIA users today.

If you're one of these gamers, the question you're probably asking is: is this the card you've been waiting for?


Meet the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660

The GeForce GTX 660 is the first performance oriented Kepler card not to use the GK104 core, instead it uses a completely new GK106 core.

The GeForce GTX 660 utilizes 2.54 billion transistors packed into 960 CUDA cores, with a default clock speed of 980MHz. The memory subsystem consists of three 64-bit memory controllers (for a total memory bus width of 192 bits) with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, clocked at a default 6008MHz DDR and sustaining a bandwidth of 144.2GB/s. There are 80 Texture Mapping Units and 24 Raster Operator Units. 

Compared to the GTX 660 Ti, you can see that while they share the same number designation, they're actually very different cards: the GTX 660 has 1 billion less transistors, 384 less CUDA Cores, and 32 less Texture Mapping Units. With these reductions, its power requirements are lower and only requires a single 6-pin Molex PCIe power connector for operation.

Display outputs on the GTX 660 follow the same pattern as all of NVIDIA's other Kepler cards, consisting of one DVI-I port, one DVI-D port, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort port. Together, they allow the card to support four monitors simultaneously with 3D Vision Surround support from just a single GPU (one of the promises of the Kepler based GPUs). 

Against the red camp, pricing on the GTX 660 puts it squarely in competition with AMD's Radeon HD 7850, which has a revised RSP of US$239.

Here’s a quick look at how the GeForce GTX 660 compares against the rest of its competitors.

GeForce GTX 660 and competitive SKUs compared

Model NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti AMD Radeon HD 7850 AMD Radeon HD 7870 AMD Radeon HD 7950 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Core Code GK106 GK104  Pitcairn Pro  Pitcairn XT  Tahiti Pro GF110 GF104
Transistor Count 2.54 Billion 3.54 Billion  2.8 Billion  2.8 Billion  4.3 Billion 3 Billion 1.95 Billion
Manufacturing Process 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 40nm 40nm
Core Clock 980MHz 915MHz 860MHz 1000MHz 800MHz 772MHz 822MHz
Stream Processors 960 Stream processing units 1344 Stream processing units  1024 Stream processing units  1280 Stream processing units 1792 Stream processing units 512 Stream processing units 384 Stream processing units
Stream Processor Clock 980MHz 915MHz  860MHz  1000MHz 800MHz 1544MHz 1644MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 80 112  64  80 112 64 64
Raster Operator units (ROP) 24 24  32  32 32 48 32
Memory Clock 6008MHz GDDR5 6008MHz GDDR5  4800MHz GDDR5  4800MHz GDDR5 5000MHz GDDR5 4000MHz GDDR5 4008MHz GDDR5
DDR Memory Bus 192-bit 192-bit  256-bit  256-bit 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth  144.2GB/s 144.2GB/s  153.6GB/s  153.6GB/s 240GB/s 192.4GB/s 128GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 3.0 x16  PCIe ver 3.0 x16  PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 3.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors  1 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin  1 x 6-pin  2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin 2 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology SLI SLI  CrossFireX  CrossFireX CrossFireX SLI SLI
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link  1 x Dual-Link  1 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link
HDMI 1 1 1 1 1  1 (mini-HDMI) 1 (mini-HDMI)
DisplayPort 1 (version 1.2) 1 (version 1.2) 1 (version 1.2 HBR2) 1 (version 1.2 HBR2) 2 (version 1.2 HBR2) None None
HDCP Output Support Yes Yes  Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Street Price Launch Price: US$229 Launch Price: US$299 Current Price: US$239 Current Price: US$299 Current Price: US$349 Current Price: US$379

Current Price: US$199


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