ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II Video Card Review

NVIDIA is launching the new GeForce GTX 660 GPU, codenamed GK106. We have a retail ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II custom video card fully evaluated against a plethora of competition at this price point. This brand new GPU aims for a price point just under the GTX 660 Ti but still promises to deliver exceptional 1080p gaming with AA.


We had literally just published our GALAXY GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC 3GB video card evaluation on August 16th, introducing the new GeForce GTX 660 Ti GPU, when we got word from NVIDIA that we were invited to discuss another upcoming GPU launch. We didn't know exactly what NVIDIA had up its sleeve, but we suspected that the non-Ti GTX 660 might just be ready to go. We were not only right, but NVIDIA had even more up its sleeve to tell us. Not only was the non-Ti GTX 660 almost ready to go, but so was the GTX 650, completing NVIDIA's "Kepler" lineup of GPUs. The GTX 650 you all are probably not at all concerned about, but the non-Ti GTX 660 may interest gamers in the "sweet spot" $230-$250 segment.

Let's first start out by talking about what we already know, the GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670 and GTX 680. All three of these GPUs are based on the "GK104" chip from NVIDIA. Though the specifications are different, i.e. cutting SMX units, the silicon is the same. The GeForce GTX 680 based on GK104 has 3.5B transistors, 1536 CUDA Cores, 128 Texture Units, 32 ROPs and runs at 1006MHz/1058MHz (base clock / boost clock). The GeForce GTX 670 based on GK104 has 3.5B transistors, 1344 CUDA Cores, 112 Texture Units, 32 ROPs and runs at 915MHz/980MHz. The just released GeForce GTX 660 Ti is also based on GK104 and also has 3.5B transistors and 1344 CUDA Cores, 112 Texture Units, but 24 ROPs, and runs at 915MHz/980MHz. As you can see the GTX 660 Ti GPU is almost identical to the GTX 670, the only difference is 8 ROPs.

GeForce GTX 660

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Now, the new "non-Ti" GTX 660 is based on new GK106 silicon. This new chip is still on TSMC's 28nm manufacturing process. What has been changed is a reduction in SMX units so that there are 5 SMX units in the GPU. There are 960 CUDA Cores, 80 Texture Units, and 24 ROPs. The clock speed runs at a base clock of 980MHz with a Boost clock of 1033MHz.

In terms of memory, the GeForce GTX 660 will have 2GB of GDDR5 on a 192-bit memory bus at 6GHz. If you recall, this is the same reference memory configuration on the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Therefore, this provides 144GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

Combine all of this and the total board power will be 140W and require only one 6-pin power connector. In addition, this video card will still support the same 4-display setup that the GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670, and GTX 680 support. You will find 2x DL-DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 on board as well as PCI Express 3.0.

SLI support is different from the GTX 660 Ti, 670, and 680. The GeForce GTX 660 will only support 2-way SLI. This means you can only hook up two of these video cards to improve performance; there will be no 3-way SLI with GTX 660. The GTX 660 Ti, 670, and 680 all support 3-way SLI.

Pricing on the GeForce GTX 660 is going to start at $229, and most of the video cards will be at stock frequencies at this pricing. However, NVIDIA has shared with us that there will be some OC models from partners that will also be found at this exact price. Expect other high-end custom models based on the GTX 660 to be more. We wouldn't be surprised to see some custom cards at $249, or possibly even higher on some highly clocked models.

GeForce GTX 650

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We aren't going to spend much time on the GTX 650, other than to tell you what it is. This GPU is based on GK107, which is already out in the market place; you know it as the mobile GPU model GT 640. This GPU supports DX11, has 384 CUDA cores, 32 Texture Units and 16 ROPs. It has a clock speed of 1058MHz, and no GPU Boost support. It will have 1GB of GDDR5 on a 128-bit memory bus at 5GHz. It will have a 6-pin power connector, and the reason for this is because NVIDIA has found this GPU to be highly overclockable and the added power connector will ensure stability when overclocking. Board power is 64W. The video card will have 2X DL-DVI, Mini-HDMI and supports PCIe 3.0. This video card is aimed as a gateway video card into DX11 gaming at 1080p. You should expect low quality settings in DX11 games at 1080p.

The GeForce GTX 650 is going to start its pricing at $109. This is not a video card that will interest most hardware enthusiast. It does however give an inexpensive option so gamers will have a lower priced with DX11 support at 1080p.

Specifications Compared

An easy to compare specification table has been made for comparison.

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ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II

We have a full retail GTX 660 based video card for evaluation today. This is the standard model from ASUS, with reference clock speeds, but using a custom DirectCU II cooler. There will be an OC and TOP version which have higher clock speeds. The pricing for the standard version, which we are evaluating is $234.99. The high-end TOP version will be $249.99.

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You can see how the heatsink is attached to the GPU above, there are three heatpipes which make direct contact with the GPU.

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On the box you will find displayed the memory capacity, the fact it uses the DIGI+ VRM and Super Alloy Power along with GPU Tweak and PCIe 3.0. The DirectCU II cooler is prominently displayed and even shows you how the heatpipes are setup. In the box is a CD with GPU Tweak, an install guide and a DVI to VGA adapter.

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The video card itself is setup similar to other DirectCU II based video cards from ASUS. There are three heatpipes that directly touch the GPU and spread heat out to the fins. There are two fans to cool the heatsink. Unfortunately most of this heat is exhausted inside your case. There are two dual-link DVI ports, HDMI and DisplayPort. This video card supports 4-displays. The memory modules are exposed with no passive cooling. The PCB itself is quite "clean" with many bare spots void of circuitry. The video card measures 10" to the edge of the PCB, but the heatsink shroud itself extends just a bit further to 10.25" in length.

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There is 2GB of GDDR5 on board in the form of Samsung K4G20325FD-FC03 chips. Only one 6-pin power connector is required for this video card. The video card fits the full length of our motherboard and the heatsink shroud sticks out a quarter of an inch farther.

Please read the next page for a detailed description of our comparison video cards and why we picked these.