It’s hard not to notice that NVIDIA has a bit of a problem right now. In the months since the launch of their first Kepler product, the GeForce GTX 680, the company has introduced several other Kepler products into the desktop 600 series. With the exception of the GeForce GT 640 – their only budget part – all of those 600 series parts have been targeted at the high end, where they became popular, well received products that significantly tilted the market in NVIDIA’s favor.

The problem with this is almost paradoxical: these products are too popular. Between the GK104-heavy desktop GeForce lineup, the GK104 based Tesla K10, and the GK107-heavy mobile GeForce lineup, NVIDIA is selling every 28nm chip they can make. For a business prone to boom and bust cycles this is not a bad problem to have, but it means NVIDIA has been unable to expand their market presence as quickly as customers would like. For the desktop in particular this means NVIDIA has a very large, very noticeable hole in their product lineup between $100 and $400, which composes the mainstream and performance market segments. These market segments aren’t quite the high margin markets NVIDIA is currently servicing, but they are important to fill because they’re where product volumes increase and where most of their regular customers reside.

Long-term NVIDIA needs more production capacity and a wider selection of GPUs to fill this hole, but in the meantime they can at least begin to fill it with what they have to work with. This brings us to today’s product launch: the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. With nothing between GK104 and GK107 at the moment, NVIDIA is pushing out one more desktop product based on GK104 in order to bring Kepler to the performance market. Serving as an outlet for further binned GK104 GPUs, the GTX 660 Ti will be launching today as NVIDIA’s $300 performance part.

  GTX 680 GTX 670 GTX 660 Ti GTX 570
Stream Processors 1536 1344 1344 480
Texture Units 128 112 112 60
ROPs 32 32 24 40
Core Clock 1006MHz 915MHz 915MHz 732MHz
Shader Clock N/A N/A N/A 1464MHz
Boost Clock 1058MHz 980MHz 980MHz N/A
Memory Clock 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 3.8GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 320-bit
FP64 1/24 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/8 FP32
TDP 195W 170W 150W 219W
Transistor Count 3.5B 3.5B 3.5B 3B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm
Launch Price $499 $399 $299 $349

In the Fermi generation, NVIDIA filled the performance market with GF104 and GF114, the backbone of the very successful GTX 460 and GTX 560 series of video cards. Given Fermi’s 4 chip product stack – specifically the existence of the GF100/GF110 powerhouse – this is a move that made perfect sense. However it’s not a move that works quite as well for NVIDIA’s (so far) 2 chip product stack. In a move very reminiscent of the GeForce GTX 200 series, with GK104 already serving the GTX 690, GTX 680, and GTX 670, it is also being called upon to fill out the GTX 660 Ti.

All things considered the GTX 660 Ti is extremely similar to the GTX 670.  The base clock is the same, the boost clock is the same, the memory clock is the same, and even the number of shaders is the same. In fact there’s only a single significant difference between the GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti: the GTX 660 Ti surrenders one of GK104’s four ROP/L2/Memory clusters, reducing it from a 32 ROP, 512KB L2, 4 memory channel part to a 24 ROP, 384KB L2, 3 memory channel part. With NVIDIA already binning chips for assignment to GTX 680 and GTX 670, this allows NVIDIA to further bin those GTX 670 parts without much additional effort. Though given the relatively small size of a ROP/L2/Memory cluster, it’s a bit surprising they have all that many chips that don’t meet GTX 670 standards.

In any case, as a result of these design choices the GTX 660 Ti is a fairly straightforward part. The 915MHz base clock and 980MHz boost clock of the chip along with the 7 SMXes means that GTX 660 Ti has the same theoretical compute, geometry, and texturing performance as GTX 670. The real difference between the two is on the render operation and memory bandwidth side of things, where the loss of the ROP/L2/Memory cluster means that GTX 660 Ti surrenders a full 25% of its render performance and its memory bandwidth. Interestingly NVIDIA has kept their memory clocks at 6GHz – in previous generations they would lower them to enable the use of cheaper memory – which is significant for performance since it keeps the memory bandwidth loss at just 25%.

How this loss of render operation performance and memory bandwidth will play out is going to depend heavily on the task at hand. We’ve already seen GK104 struggle with a lack of memory bandwidth in games like Crysis, so coming from GTX 670 this is only going to exacerbate that problem; a full 25% drop in performance is not out of the question here. However in games that are shader heavy (but not necessarily memory bandwidth heavy) like Portal 2, this means that GTX 660 Ti can hang very close to its more powerful sibling. There’s also the question of how NVIDIA’s nebulous asymmetrical memory bank design will impact performance, since 2GB of RAM doesn’t fit cleanly into 3 memory banks. All of these are issues where we’ll have to turn to benchmarking to better understand.

The impact on power consumption on the other hand is relatively straightforward. With clocks identical to the GTX 670, power consumption has only been reduced marginally due to the disabling of the ROP cluster. NVIDIA’s official TDP is 150W, with a power target of 134W. This compares to a TDP of 170W and a power target of 141W for the GTW 670. Given the mechanisms at work for NVIDIA’s GPU boost technology, it’s the power target that is a far better reflection of what to expect relative to the GTX 670. On paper this means that GK104 could probably be stuffed into a sub-150W card with some further functional units being disabled, but in practice desktop GK104 GPUs are probably a bit too power hungry for that.

Moving on, this launch will be what NVIDIA calls a “virtual” launch, which is to say that there aren’t any reference cards being shipped to partners to sell or to press to sample. Instead all of NVIDIA’s partners will be launching with semi-custom and fully-custom cards right away. This means we’re going to see a wide variety of cards right off the bat, however it also means that there will be less consistency between partners since no two cards are going to be quite alike. For that reason we’ll be looking at a slightly wider selection of partner designs today, with cards from EVGA, Zotac, and Gigabyte occupying our charts.

As for the launch supply, with NVIDIA having licked their GK104 supply problems a couple of months ago the supply of GTX 660 Ti cards looks like it should be plentiful. Some cards are going to be more popular than others and for that reason we expect we’ll see some cards sell out, but at the end of the day there shouldn’t be any problem grabbing a GTX 660 Ti on today’s launch day.

Pricing for GTX 660 Ti cards will start at $299, continuing NVIDIA’s tidy hierarchy of a GeForce 600 at every $100 price point. With the launch of the GTX 660 Ti NVIDIA will finally be able to start clearing out the GTX 570, a not-unwelcome thing as the GTX 660 Ti brings with it the Kepler family features (NVENC, TXAA, GPU boost, and D3D 11.1) along with nearly twice as much RAM and much lower power consumption. However this also means that despite the name, the GTX 660 Ti is a de facto replacement for the GTX 570 rather than the GTX 560 Ti. The sub-$250 market the GTX 560 Ti launched will continue to be served by Fermi parts for the time being. NVIDIA will no doubt see quite a bit of success even at $300, but it probably won’t be quite the hot item that the GTX 560 Ti was.

Meanwhile for a limited period of time NVIDIA will be sweeting the deal by throwing in a copy of Borderlands 2 with all GTX 600 series cards as a GTX 660 Ti launch promotion. Borderlands 2 is the sequel to Gearbox’s 2009 FPS/RPG hybrid, and is a TWIMTBP game that will have PhysX support along with planned support for TXAA. Like their prior promotions this is being done through retailers in North America, so you will need to check and ensure your retailer is throwing in Borderlands 2 vouchers with any GTX 600 card you purchase.

On the marketing front, as a performance part NVIDIA is looking to not only sell the GTX 660 Ti as an upgrade to 400/500 series owners, but to also entice existing GTX 200 series owners to upgrade. The GTX 660 Ti will be quite a bit faster than any GTX 200 series part (and cooler/quieter than all of them), with the question being of whether it’s going to be enough to spur those owners to upgrade. NVIDIA did see a lot of success last year with the GTX 560 driving the retirement of the 8800GT/9800GT, so we’ll see how that goes.

Anyhow, as with the launch of the GTX 670 cards virtually every partner is also launching one or more factory overclocked model, so the entire lineup of launch cards will be between $299 and $339 or so. This price range will put NVIDIA and its partners smack-dab between AMD’s existing 7000 series cards, which have already been shuffling in price some due to the GTX 670 and the impending launch of the GTX 660 Ti. Reference-clocked cards will sit right between the $279 Radeon HD 7870 and $329 Radeon HD 7950, which means that factory overclocked cards will be going head-to-head with the 7950.

On that note, with the launch of the GTX 660 Ti we can finally shed some further light on this week’s unexpected announcement of a new Radeon HD 7950 revision from AMD. As you’ll see in our benchmarks the existing 7950 maintains an uncomfortably slight lead over the GTX 660 Ti, which has spurred on AMD to bump up the 7950’s clockspeeds at the cost of power consumption in order to avoid having it end up as a sub-$300 product. The new 7950B is still scheduled to show up at the end of this week, with AMD’s already-battered product launch credibility hanging in the balance.

For this review we’re going to include both the 7950 and 7950B in our results. We’re not at all happy with how AMD is handling this – it’s the kind of slimy thing that has already gotten NVIDIA in trouble in the past – and while we don’t want to reward such actions it would be remiss of us not to include it since it is a new reference part. And if AMD’s credibility is worth anything it will be on the shelves tomorrow anyhow.

Summer 2012 GPU Pricing Comparison
Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition $469/$499 GeForce GTX 680
Radeon HD 7970 $419/$399 GeForce GTX 670
Radeon HD 7950 $329  
  $299 GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Radeon HD 7870 $279  
  $279 GeForce GTX 570
Radeon HD 7850 $239  


That Darn Memory Bus
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  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    you LIED

    Deal with it.
  • Galidou - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    And you think AMD is much different, 7950 on newegg, 4 out of 18 models are reference models and no overclocker will ever buy em because we're already informed of that.Seems like you're not checking both side stock, that's what it is to be an Nvidia fanboy, you speak of things without having a clue about what you say.

    Blah blah blah they only have 3 reference cards....

    I get on and I see 4 reference designs 2 of them are overclocked, I see 4 stock clocked cards 2 are non reference coolers. It isn't different from amd with his 4 out of 18. Poor newbie, speaking like he knows something while he's in total darkness.
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Hey dummy, the initial statement was a crybaby whine that the 660Ti was reviewed in OC models.
    Try to DEAL with what I said in response to some idiot not knowing why the 660Ti had a lot of OC model reviews.
    The author here pointed out why, but I'm sure you crybabies didn't read, or just had a rage3d brain fart instead of any comprehension, otherwise you wouldn't have whined.
    PS dummy - amd cards have been out for 9 months for OC models, so checking egg now is pretty dang stupid... amazingly stupid, but that's what fanboys do - make stupid idiotic complaints, get corrected, then make more stupid idiotic replies.
    Get your head screwed on straight.
  • Galidou - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    You're right on that one, still, AMD AT LAUNCH had almost as much overclocked parts available to the public as they have now. How could you know, like you ever check the stock of AMD cards, you lack informations anyway.

    But still on almost 80% of the website they were reviewed stock clocked only. On the opposite of Nvidia having pushed for more overclocked parts to be reviewed, 80% of the 660 ti were OCed, why being so unfair if your products are FAR superior, well, because they simply are not THAT much superior.
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    How could I know, and NO THEY DIDN'T.
    The crybaby liar attacking rage3d boy got it wrong again.
    Facts are what I KNOW, bs is what you talk.
    You've been corrected, AGAIN.
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    LIAR " You're right on that one, still, AMD AT LAUNCH had almost as much overclocked parts available to the public as they have now."


    But as it’s turning out the Radeon HD 7970 isn’t going to be a traditional launch. In a rare move AMD has loosened the leash on their partners just a bit, and as a result we’re seeing semi-custom cards planned for launch earlier than usual. XFX looks to be the first partner to take advantage of this more liberal policy, as alongside the reference cards being launched today they’re launching their first semi-custom 7970s.
    Fully custom cards will come farther down the line. Of these 4 cards, 2 of them will be launching today: XFX’s Core Edition pure reference card, and their customized Black Edition Double Dissipation model, which features both a factory overclock and XFX’s custom cooler. It’s the Black Edition Double Dissipation

    So... hopefully you UNDERSTAND WHY you're full of it.
  • Galidou - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    There's no reason for ''Hey dummy'', ''crybaby whine'', ''PS dummy'' in our discussion, the lack of respect you use there just shows even more you're not able to maintain a good level of objectivity.

    ''Get your head screwed on straight''

    You're always trying to attack... always, sad, you're just trowing your credebility out the window yourself, not others are doing it, you alone are just trowing what little dignity you could have on a forum speaking about video cards.... comon, we're better humans that that.
  • TheJian - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    And look at the OMG wattage used and heat given at that rate...LOL.

    You live in alaska maybe this is good. You live in AZ like I do, you're mentally having issues if you leave the store without a 660 TI in this battle at $299+.

    Power@load 315w zotac amp vs. 353 7950 (vs 373w for 7950B)!

    Nevermind what happens when you OC your beloved 7950.

    NOISE? The worst 660 TI (Zotac Amp) is 49.2DB. The 7950 is already 54.9, and 7950B is even worse at 58DB (the highest card in the list!). So do you want to hear your speakers and game sounds or that fan driving you out of the room. We are talking a 9DB difference (and DB's are exponential in noise rising), not overclocked on your 7950B in these results in this article. The 7970 is less noisy than the 7950B here.
  • Galidou - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    I'm looking for the Sapphire 7950, no overclocker will buy a reference design and overclock it unless they want a jet engine..... The sapphire OC is really quiet even under load, and it gets to 1150 core on low voltage and low enough temp, if it's too hot I'll even let 50mhz go away anyway it will translate into a 40% overclock.

    The thing is I don't play Battlefield 3 and never will, same for portal 2, I'm a skyrim player looking for more memory than the 1gb of my 6850 crossfire ATM. I'll play other games, but the real power of Nvidia is mainly in those 2 games.
  • TheJian - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    You got a 30 inch monitor? Otherwise the 660TI is better in almost all games and usually by a larger than 20% margin, in some cases as I already proved, even vs. the 7970ghz edition.

    Already stated 660TI is less noisy even the Factory OC'd tested here and anywhere around the web. These are not HIGHLY clocked (none of the 79xx series are in the benchmarks except for the ghz edition) and all are noisy compared to 660TI.

    Power of nv only in two games?...Already debunked unless you have a 30in or have multi-monitor spanned res (way over 2560x1600) and in both cases you're running something like a gtx690 or more than one card. See my other posts in this review comments section. I've done the comparison work for you (and tore ryan a new one while at it). All you have to do is read it and verify it all. Easy. You're wrong. Or prove it at 1920x1200 or below.

    This card comes with 2GB :) You're welcome ;)
    Show me a REVIEW site showing a 1150 core clock on 7950 that isn't pumping out an extra 80 watts to do it and I'll accept that opinion.
    1.25v, 79 watts more than 7950 default.
    Bureau of Labor Stats, avg cost per watt in usa 13.5c.
    3hrs per day (how much do you game?) @13.5c for roughly 80watts extra to run at 1150 per year=~$12 per year...Game heavy on weekends, or more during the week too? I know people that put in 10-20 hours on a weekend easy with a hot game...LOL. I wish I had that much time. Factor that over 3yrs, or live in a higher cost (Miami FL, anywhere in CA, Chicago IL) and it goes up. So at your modified version it will at least cost you ~$36 or so, not to mention the heat it generates for 3 years which may cause you to turn up your AC if you're in AZ/TX etc... :) Assuming you own the card for a good 3years before upgrading again and are a regular gamer (you have dual cards already - safe to say SLI users game more than most?), this is going to cost you some extra cash. It's NOT just the purchase price that gets you. Also I'm only talking VS the 7950 regular speeds. I'm not talking vs an already lower watt (.987v) 660TI by default, that is already cooler too no matter where you look. So the savings in more pronounced (say $40 instead of $36 over 3yrs at 3hrs).

    What can you do with a $40 savings over 3 years? Add another 8GB DDR3 module (or 2x4GB) to your machine...Buy a K chip instead of regular IVY/Sandy (really, any point in sandy now? for a $10-20 savings? Don't buy Sandy people), and get a 50PK of blank Taiyo Yuden dvdr's or some DL's, or a 25pk of blurays with that K chip. You get the point. :) It's FREE money if you choose correctly. Not to say I'm telling you to buy a 660TI...IF you have a 30in and run at 2560x1440 I'd hint at a 680 and OC it instead :) I am completely against dual cards because of heat, noise and watts...But if you couldn't care less about these things the sky is the limit for you. I will NEVER buy 2 cards when I can get ONE with a dual chip config for anywhere near the same price. It will always win on watts/not splitting mem/heat etc...Just hard to beat a card like GTX690 for all these areas vs. sli/crossfire. I want my pc silent and COLD. If you have no speakers or like my nephew game 90% with headphones, again maybe 2 cheaper cards would rock for you vs a 690 etc. Personally it's against my religion... :)
    Model #: 100352OCSR
    Model #: 100352FLEX
    Model #: 100352SR
    All newegg...Make sure you get the right one if you really want a 7950 sapphire oc. Note the connectors differences, and I'd take the top one if I was you. Not sure why the bottom one exists, as it seems a dupe of the same priced top...But you'll need to look closer, I don't want one :) Sorry.
    Nice card though, and I saw a review of the 7970 version at Hardocp (one of the best they've seen they said), it was BUILT very nice and they commented on the component level parts being better and more suited to OC. Not sure if it's the same here. Just an observation of the big brother :)

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