According to the statements of many users who prefer resource-intensive dynamic games, the video adapter based on NVidia's GeForce 660 chip is the cheapest device that can not only run, but also provide an opportunity to play comfortably at the minimum settings of the application. It should be noted that most modern games in the system requirements recommends the user to have a video card on a GTX 660 chip and above. In this article, the reader will get acquainted with this product, learn the technical characteristics and, thanks to the feedback from the owners, make their own conclusions on the game class representative in the market of computer accessories.
Positioning on the market for products based on GeForce 660
As expected from the manufacturer, there are two chip modifications on the market. This GTX 660 and its improved version - GTX 660 Ti. However, unlike other NVidia products, these video cards are not built on a single chip, respectively, according to the statements of many professionals, in fact they are different products. All this looks rather strange, but if you shift the focus to the cost of GeForce 660 video cards, it turns out that it is minimal for the High-End class, and performance is maximal for the budget class.
That is, the manufacturer decided once again to erase the line between the two classes of video adapters, creating a semblance of a transition model. Several years ago, NVidia had already set up such an experiment on the example of the 6800 GS 256-bit video card, and the results exceeded all expectations. Apparently, the manufacturer decided to repeat the forgotten success in sales.
Technical characteristics of video cards based on the chip
To make it easier for the reader to understand what the difference and similarity between the two video adapters are, he is invited to see the characteristics of a comparison in the NVidia GeForce 660 chip:
- The lightweight GTX 660 version has its own core GK106, while the GTX 660 Ti uses the base of the game segment - GK104.
- Let the chips and created by one technical process, but the crystals they are significantly different. GTX 660 chip has an area of 221 mm2 and 2540 million transistors, and the modification of Ti - 294 mm2 and 3500 million transistors.
- The number of stream processors for the GeForce 660 is 960 total, while the Ti model has their 1344 pieces.
- The frequency of the graphics core in GeForce 660 is 908 MHz (in Boost mode 1033 MHz), in GTX 660 Ti it is lower: 915 MHz (1097 MHz Boost).
- But the characteristics of the memory are identical: 192-bit bus GDDR5 with a volume of 2048 MB, which has an effective frequency of 6008 MHz, is used.
Mobile version of the graphics core
And if everything is clear with video adapters for personal computers (the lower segment is not able to exceed the performance of the line with a higher level), then with discrete NVidia GeForce 660 video cards for mobile devices, a completely different picture is observed. In the race for high performance in games, the manufacturer, apparently, was very interested in the characteristics of the AMD 6950M chip. Trying to outperform a competitor, they released a mobile GTX 660M chip in their NVidia lab that outperforms their older brother GTX 570M.
Due to the fact that the problem was discovered after the presentation of Asus and HP laptops with new video cards, the new gaming chip did not return to the laboratory. As a result, the buyer turned out to be the winner, who purchased a laptop of the initial game level and discovered an untapped potential in it. As the owners note in their reviews, the mobile video card can handle FullHD resolution with demanding toys Metro 2033 and Crysis 2 (at maximum settings).
The first acquaintance with the video adapter
Unlike other products from NVidia, the GeForce 660 video card is present in the retail sale of some countries. Some sources claim that the manufacturer itself sells stale products at world-famous auctions, while others claim that it is the distributors who specifically create a stir among buyers. In any case, with a special desire, you can find a reference board with the NVidia logo at retail. But the improved modification of the GeForce 660 Ti is not available in retail.
The video card comes without the box (OEM) and does not have any accompanying documentation. Even the marking of the device belonging to the 660 series is missing on the grille. Only by removing the protective casing of the cooler, you can see the marking and make sure that the video card is original. The PCB user can detect 6 free video slots. Apparently, this is done with a margin for the future.
Appearance and cooling system
At first glance, the video adapter looks a lot like a representative of the High-End-class, but upon detailed inspection it turns out that the manufacturer simply increased the length of the cooling system casing, and the printed circuit board has a size that is standard for a budget class. On the one hand, this solution has allowed to improve the flow of air into the fan turbine (it is taken from both sides). But, as practice shows, part of the cold flow is dissipated before it hits the radiator grille, respectively, reducing the cooling efficiency.
The NVidia GeForce 660 graphics card itself is solidly assembled: the manufacturer has assembled the power elements together and placed them on the front of the device. There are questions to mounting the radiator on the crystal and memory chips (loosely fit), but the situation can be fixed by installing spring-loaded screws. In general, the impression of the cooling system is good.
The performance of the original NVidia video adapter
If the reader thinks that a representative of the initial game class without modifications of well-known manufacturers in the market of computer components will not be able to show high performance, then he is mistaken. The reference video card NVidia GeForce 660 fits perfectly into all performance graphics, taking place between similar video adapters built on the basis of the same chip (Asus, Gigabyte, Zotac, EVGA and others).
But with the overclocking of the video card things are not the best way. The usual raising of the frequency of the graphics core to 3% leads to overheating of the crystal, which displays the "window of death Windows" and restarts the computer. Definitely the whole problem in the cooling system. Therefore, lovers of increasing system performance using overclocking should take a closer look at GTX 660 chips from other manufacturers.
Leader of sales
The representative of Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 can rightfully be considered a popular video adapter in the markets of the former Soviet Union. A worthy title to the product was provided by Taiwanese technologists, who made small changes in the PCB design of the video card and installed a proprietary cooling system. In the market, the buyer may encounter several modifications of the device based on this chip: with a volume of 2 and 3 GB, as well as with an active cooling system consisting of two and three fans.
The changes affected first of all the batteries - all the heating elements were replaced with modern modules that could not be heated (solid-state capacitors, ferrite controllers). Also, the manufacturer made changes to the distribution of the phases of the power supply GeForce 660, separating the power supply of the crystal from the memory modules. The only flaw in the constructors is the presence of several controllers (including memory chips for modifying 3 Gb) on the back of the printed circuit board - they are not cooled at all.
Gigabyte Proprietary Cooling System
Regardless of the model of the device, as well as the amount of RAM, all representatives of the Gigabyte GeForce 660 line (including the modification of Ti) have two types of cooling systems: with two and three fans. Accordingly, the presence of three coolers indicates that the video adapter is ready to cope with overclocking. In the media, opinions on this issue differ. This is due to the presence of uncooled memory modules on the back of the printed circuit board (we are talking about modifications with 3 GB of memory).
In any case, the cooling system still more effectively copes with heating than the NVidia reference device. The aluminum radiator isolates not only the graphics core and memory chips - almost the entire surface of the board is covered with its grille. For effective heat removal, the manufacturer used copper tubes, which are reduced to the contact area with the ends. Owners have no complaints about the fans either: they are big, reliable, silent and perfectly cope with the task set before them.
Performance and overclocking
A decent cooling system allowed the manufacturer of the video card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 to increase the frequency of the graphics core by almost 100 MHz. But, as noted by the owners of this device, this is far from the limit, and the crystal can continue to be overclocked to 1211 MHz, but as practice shows, the performance gain in synthetic tests and games is not directly proportional to the increase in frequency. Accordingly, it does not make sense to increase the frequency.
The situation with memory modules is not entirely clear - it is impossible to raise the frequencies of their work even on 10 MHz. Artifacts (colored squares) immediately appear on the screen. It turns out that the memory chips themselves at the hardware level simply cannot work faster. It becomes clear what caused the affordable cost of the product in the domestic market (10 000 rubles) - the video card is productive, but it has limitations in overclocking.
Game class representative
Quite different results are expected by fans of Gigabyte products on GeForce 660 Ti. Outwardly, almost identical device, the same cooling system, preliminary factory overclocking, but completely different overclocking behavior. Even when working at regular frequencies (915 MHz by core and 6008 MHz by memory), the video adapter bypasses the high-end class representative — the NVidia GTX 580 model (which is rather strange considering that video cards have the same graphics core).
Overclocking for the NVidia GeForce 660 Ti is also better than the younger version. The crystal demonstrates stable operation at a frequency of 1180 MHz, and the memory operates at 6800 MHz. No failures and equipment failures are observed. It turns out that the problem with overclocking the younger model is not at all in the cooling system, but in the hardware of the video card. True, for the prefix "Ti", and accordingly, for the performance with overclocking, the buyer will have to pay 15 000 rubles in the store (one and a half times more than the GTX 660 modification).
Another decent player on the market
The Asus GeForce 660 video adapter is also in demand in the domestic market, however, having seen its cost (12-13 thousand rubles), many buyers switch their attention to products from a cheap segment. And after all, the product of Asus company demonstrates the best performance among all competitors, both in normal operation and in overclocking. In the market, the buyer can meet two modifications of video cards from the Taiwanese manufacturer: TOP and OC. They differ only in a complete set - the TOP model comes with a free game (the buyer chooses an option that interests him from the list).
The standard graphics core frequency is 1020 MHz (overclocking 1212 MHz), but in games and synthetic tests this slight factory overclocking somehow places the video card on top of the GeForce GTX 660-based video adapter rating table. Reviews in the media come down to the fact that the performance is ensured by the installed Hynix memory modules with low response time (0,2 ns).
Asus cooling system
Taking the Asus video card in hand and feeling its weight, any potential buyer will understand what caused the high cost of this representative in the market. Non-ferrous metal in the production of the cooling system at the factory clearly did not regret. An aluminum heatsink covers the entire surface of the motherboard. Copper tubes pass through its gratings and are reduced to a contact area with a crystal. Two huge fans create a powerful air flow, which, passing through the grille, is displayed outside the case through the ventilation grille.
It is clear that not only the cooling system owes the high performance of the GeForce 660 chip. Characteristics of the device also play an important role: the installation of PWM controllers, replacement of power phase distributors, ferrite cores, and proprietary memory modules — all together made the video adapter more productive.
On devices based on the GeForce 660 graphics chip, reviews are twofold. On the one hand, affordable cost and good performance. On the other - a weak potential for overclocking. It is this modification of video cards that is best viewed in the context of the brand, and not to judge the performance of the chip in the performance of NVidia. After all, the product from the company Asus proved to everyone in the market that intervention in the technological process is capable of bearing fruit. Here it is up to the buyer to decide: to give preference to cheap or high performance.