ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP Review
What we have here is the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card. This version comes with 2048MB of GDDR5 memory and GPU stock speed of (Core: 1059Mhz Boost: 1137Mhz Memory: 6008Mhz).
The front of the box provides information about the card indicating that it is using an ASUS DirectCU II cooler which is 20% cooler and vastly quieter than the reference design cooler. It also provides further information about the card:
- TOP Overclocked Edition
- 2GB GDDR5 Memory
- DIGI+ VRM Super Alloy Power Stable Overclocking
- GPU TWEAK Real-time Graphics Tuning
The back of the box shows the same information but presents you with more detailed information about each feature. It also shows you the video outputs available, the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP card has 2xDVI, 1xHDMI and 1xDisplay Port output. A DVI to D-Sub adapter and power cable is also provided in the box.
Inside the box you find a black ASUS cardboard box with the companies logo name printed in the centre. Now normally when you open this box you find the graphics card in its protected foam padding. In this instance this graphics card is so new that ASUS has shipped us a card for testing before the packaging is complete. Unfortunately the plastic cover holding the graphics card down had detached itself from the box allowing the card to move about in transit (in the above picture the plastic has been folded back for photographic purposes).
As this is a preproduction card the box only contained a generic set of Instructions. According to the ASUS web site the card will be released with the following:
- Driver & Installation Guide
- VGA to DVI adapter
- Power Cable
At the time of writing the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP is retailing for approximately £280 and comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
courtesy of ASUS
|Graphics Engine||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti|
|Bus Standard||PCI Express 3.0|
|Video Memory||GDDR5 2GB|
GPU Boost Clock : 1137 MHz
GPU Base Clock : 1059 MHz
|Memory Clock||6008 MHz ( 1502 MHz GDDR5 )|
|Resolution||DVI Max Resolution : 2560×1600|
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I), Yes x 1 (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
1 x Power cable
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
|Software||ASUS GPU Tweak & Driver|
|Dimensions||10.7 ” x 5.4 ” x 1.7 ” Inch|
To have the best cooling performance, ASUS GTX660 TI-DC2T-2GD5 extends the fansink to 2 slots.
Please double check your Chassis and Motherboard dimension prior to purchase to make sure it fits in your system!
Note that the actual boost clock will vary depending on actual system conditions. For more information, please visit http://www.geforce.com/
Having opened the box to find the card moving about during transit I must admit to hoping that ASUS provide the graphics card with the relevant foam packing as standard. I can only hope that the movement hasn’t damaged the card, anyway that will be something which I uncover during installation etc later…
The card feels solid to the touch, the fan housing is made of thick (2mm approx) ridged black plastic.
The card is slightly smaller in most aspects when compared to my default Graphics Card an HIS 7870 IceQ GHz 2048MB graphics card and weighs less at 720 grams compared to 824 grams for the 7870.
The backing plate features the card’s main options for video output with 2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI and 1 x Mini Display Port. The graphics card requires 2 x 6 pin power connectors which can be found at the back of the card just situated between the fan housing and the main board.
The heat-sink features 3 flattened copper heat-pipes that are in direct contact with the GPU, enabling the 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP to run 20% cooler than the reference design. Unlike my HIS 7870, which blows the heat out of the card the GTX 660 Ti recirculates it relying on the case fans to extract it.
The instructions provided with the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP Edition are a generic set of instructions showing the general requirements of how to install a graphics card. In this instance the graphics card shown in the instructions is not a GTX 660 Ti, ignoring this the instructions should provide a novice with sufficient detail on how to install the card.
The hardware installation of the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP Edition graphics card into my rig was very straight forward once my existing HIS 7870 was removed. Both cards have the same 2 x 6 pin power connectors in roughly the same place, but the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP edition has the power connectors mounted with the retaining clip towards the cards PCB. Due to this minor change in the graphics cards power I had to reroute the power cables from my power supply.
As new drivers were required for the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP Edition card my rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers installed.
Overclocking will be conducted using the ASUS GPU Tweak utility provided with the graphics card. The following benchmarks will be used to help evaluate the card’s performance:
Each Benchmark will be run 3 times with a reboot between each run.
As well as the above mentioned benchmark utilities the following games were used to test the machine over the 10+ days that the graphics card was installed in my rig. These were used to ensure that the overclocked settings were stable and to see how the card performed in a real world environment (Gaming!) rather than a synthetic one.
- Metro 2033
- Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3
- Blacklight Retribution
- ASUS GPU Tweak
The ASUS GPU Tweak utility allows you to investigate in real time what settings your graphics card is currently running. It also provides options to save 4 user profile settings as well as providing a Gaming Mode and a Power Saving mode (I’m not sure why you want this as an ardent overclocker, but it is there, all I can say is I will not be using it…). The utility also provides you with the option of recording video @ 720p and is according to the web site able to work with AMD cards as well (whether this is just ASUS AMD cards I can’t say). ASUS GPU Tweak also provides information about the graphics cards current settings (in collaboration with TechPowerUp’s GPU-Z) and a real time monitoring tab which can monitor the following:
- GPU Temperature
- GPU Usage
- VID Usage
- FB Usage
- GPU Voltage
- FAN Duty
- FAN Speed
- GPU Clock
- Memory Clock
- Processor Clock
- Power Target Status
As well as a graph showing the latest trend a Maximum and Minimum figure is recorded since the utility has been loaded. Further information about ASUS’s GPU Tweak can be found at its own micro site here.
Right, back to the benchmarks, Game On…
Thankfully the card had not received any damage during transit and booted first time. After installing the ASUS GPU Tweak utility I noticed that it has a gaming mode which increases the graphic card’s performance. With the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP card it increases the both the Boost Clock and the Memory from 1137MHz to 1157MHz and 6008MHz to 6048MHz respectively. Based upon this new information I will test the stock speed of the card and then the gaming mode before attempting to overclock the card further.
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|Unigine Heaven||22||69||47||972 (38.6 FPS)|
|Metro 2033||22||69||47||26 FPS|
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|Unigine Heaven||22||71||49||993 (39.4 FPS)|
|Metro 2033||23||70||47||26 FPS|
The slight increase to the cards GPU Clock and Memory improved the scores in both 3d Mark 11 and Unigine benchmarks, but did nothing for the Metro 2033 benchmark.
Although this is the ASUS TOP overclocked card I will still attempt to overclock the card a little more to try and increase the bang per buck value of the card (sorry for the Americanism but bang per pound just doesn’t sound right!).
I first increased the GPU clock speed using the ASUS GPU Tweak Utility. Unfortunately in a benchmark test of Unigine Heaven, artefacts were noted. The benchmark was run several times and artefacts were noted in different places, indicating that the card wasn’t stable.
I then attempted to increase the memory speed in line with the GPU Clock speed, but still received the same artefact issues in Unigine. Finally I increased the GPU voltage to see if this could increase the chance of success. Irrelevant of what voltage increase I tried it didn’t make any difference to the results and Unigine still showed artefacts during its benchmark tests.
Whilst writing up the test results and checking my link to the ASUS GPU Tweak utility micro site I came across an option (according to the micro site) in the utility which links the GPU Voltage to the GPU Clock speed. This, again according to the micro site, ensures the graphics card receives sufficient voltage for its current speed. Unfortunately even though I was running the latest ASUS GPU Tweak software this option isn’t available (or I just can’t find it!?) with the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU TOP graphics card. This leads me to think that my unsuccessful attempt at overclocking this card is more due to the fact that ASUS have already overclocked this card to its limit, hence the TOP name branding for the card, ah well you can’t have it all…
Now that I have the maximum stable overclock figures let’s compare them to my current graphics card’s (HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition) overclocked results.
* All of the data shown here is with the cards at their maximum overclocked speeds
|Graphics Card||3DMark 11||Unigine Heaven||Metro 2033|
|HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition (Core: 1000Mhz Boost: 1150Mhz Memory: 1380Mhz)||6865||1019 (40.5 FPS)||28.5 FPS|
|ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP (Core: 1059Mhz Boost: 1157Mhz Memory: 6048Mhz)||8896||993 (39.4 FPS)||26 FPS|
The ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP card excels at the 3D Mark 11 benchmark test, but is beaten into second place on the Metro 2033 and Unigine tests.
This has been noted on other pcGameware Graphics Card reviews. This leads us to a question about the differences between the various benchmarks…
- 3D Mark 11 is currently run in Peformance Mode (resolution runs at 1280×720)
- Unigine Heaven is run in native mode (resolution runs at 1920×1080)
- Metro 2033 is also run in native mode (resolution runs at 1920×1080)
QUESTION: Are the Nvidia cards better at performing below 1920×1080?
In an attempt to shed further light upon this, I have also run 3DMark 11 in Extreme mode (1920×1080), with the following results.
* All of the data shown here is with the cards at their maximum overclocked speeds
|Graphics Card||3DMark 11 (Extreme Mode)|
|HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition (Core: 1000Mhz Boost: 1150Mhz Memory: 1380Mhz)||2283|
|ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP (Core: 1059Mhz Boost: 1157Mhz Memory: 6048Mhz)||2945|
In 3DMark 11 Extreme mode the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card still destroys the HIS 7870! The percentage increase between the Performance result and the Extreme result in 3D Mark 11 is also similar (29% increase approx in favour of the ASUS card of over HIS), the change to Extreme mode hasn’t shown any difference between the graphics cards. I’m not sure why NVidia cards seem to perform so well when it comes to 3DMark 11 tests, but not as good in Unigine and Metro 2033 and it’s a shame as Unigine and Metro 2033 are the more real world benchmarks from a Gaming point of view.
In all benchmark tests and gaming sessions the fans on the 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP have made themselves known, as the sound of the fans on the card is louder than my current card. I suspect this may partly be due to that fact that my case is situated on a desk to my right. My Cooler Master HAF case has a fan enclosure on the side nearest to me with the top of the grill at the same height as the graphics card in the case. This and the fact that the graphics card has 2 fans, means that one fan is in line with this opening in the case, where as the fan on my current graphics card is situated further towards the front of the case and is therefore out of direct ear-shot.
During testing of the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card the maximum wattage recorded was 338 watts. This compared to a previous result of 318 watts when running with the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition graphics card.
The ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DIrectCU II TOP graphics card has also run with a higher temperature, a maximum of 71 degrees Celsius, compared to a maximum of 59 degrees C with the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition, this I find interesting as the ASUS card has the two fans compared to the one on the HIS card, although the cards cooler designs are of course quite different. To be fair both cards are running within the recommended temperatures and it’s possible that the ASUS has been configured to run at a higher temperature. `
On a final note I have to report that while playing the games listed above I saw no artefacts and encountered no driver issues even when running in the high overclock Gaming Mode.
I must admit I don’t like being beaten when it comes to overclocking, I like to at least achieve a small increase even if it’s just a percent or two. But in the case of the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card ASUS have done an excellent job in finding, what appears to be the limit of a GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti. This is ideal if you want your graphics card running at its maximum without you having to go through overclocking the card yourself.
The ASUS GPU Tweak utility is also worth a mention. I found its interface was intuitive and it was a pleasure to work with. For anyone who buys this particular card I suspect its profiles option will be wasted as you are likely to set the profile to Gaming Mode and leave it at that.
I was surprised at the increase in sound level from the fans, particularly as this is using the DirectCU II cooler, but as noted above this is potentially more to do with the position of my case and the graphics card having 2 fans and it was only noticeable when I wasn’t wearing my headphones. In game with headphones on I didn’t notice the increase in noise and if your case is situated below you desk I doubt this would be an issue.
In providing my verdict on the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card I am going assume a couple of things when looking at the Design/Quality score
1) When the card is in full production it will have the foam packaging that all graphics card have to protect it during transportation.
2) The instruction manual presented is the one that will be provided with the graphics card being supplied and not a generic one.
My only other thought is at present my current card, a HIS 7870 GHz Edition is available for £199 from Overclockers.co.uk and this is also bundled with Sleeping Dogs. Comparing this to the price of the ASUS GEFORCE GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP (at approx £280) edition and you will appreciate why I think the card is a little too expensive, particularly when you look at the results of the benchmarks.