|ASUS GeForce GTX 660Ti DirectCU-II TOP|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 16 August 2012|
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First Look: ASUS GeForce GTX 680Ti TOP
This review examines the best-in-class ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU-II TOP video card, model TI-DC2T-2GD5. The ASUS 660 Ti DirectCU-II TOP features three major stand-out features that set it apart from the competition: 1) an extreme cooling solution, 2) nearly silent cooling fans, and 3) digital voltage control to ensure ultra-stable overclocking results.
The reference design NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti is a 1.5" tall double-bay, 3.9" wide, 9.0" long graphics card that will fit into nearly all mid-tower computer case enclosures with plenty of room to spare. However, the added ASUS DirectCU-II heatpipe-laden cooler stretches GTX 660 Ti to 4.6" wide and beyond 10.5" long. For comparison, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570, GeForce GTX 580, AMD's Radeon HD 6970, and Radeon HD 7970 each share the same overall length.
Cooling on the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU-II TOP is extreme, leaving plenty of potential for heat-generating overclock settings. With 8mm nickel plated heat-pipes bending out from beneath the plastic shroud, DirectCU-II is designed to soak up every watt of heat from the Kepler GPU secured beneath it. Two low-profile 74mm fans drive air down through aluminum heatsink fins with nearly no audible indication they're spinning, while chamfered depressions in the shroud's surface helps draw cool air whenever two or more video cards are combined into close-proximity SLI configurations.
Specified at 150W Thermal Design Power output, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti demands much less of the power supply, allowing NVIDIA to recommend a 450W PSU for single-card installations. GeForce GTX 660 Ti requires power from two six-pin PCI-E connections, which ASUS has implemented with special visual diagnostic LEDs. When a six-pin connection is fitted with proper power a green LED light shines to indicate ideal operating conditions, or the LED shines red when insufficient power is supplied or not connected.
Both the ASUS and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti designs offers two simultaneously functional dual-link DVI (DL-DVI) connections, a full-size HDMI 1.4a output, and a DisplayPort 1.2 connection. Only one GTX 660 Ti video card is necessary to drive triple-display NVIDIA 3D-Vision Surround functionality, when using both DL-DVI and either the HDMI or DP connection for third output. All of these video interfaces consume exhaust-vent real estate, but this has very little impact on cooling because ASUS' DirectCU-II heatsink drives air out from under the heatsink. Furthermore, the 28nm Kepler GPU already generates less heat than past GeForce processors, requiring less ventilation for exhausted air.
As with past-generation GeForce GTX series graphics cards, the GTX 660 Ti is capable of two and three card SLI configurations. Because GeForce GTX 660 Ti is PCI-Express 3.0 compliant device, the added bandwidth could potentially come into demand as future games and applications make use of these resources. Most games work well using medium settings with a single GeForce GTX 660 Ti graphics card, but multi-card SLI configurations are perfect for gamers wanting to experience high-performance video games played at their highest quality settings with all the bells and whistles enabled.
ASUS' GTX 660 Ti DirectCU-II TOP is certainly unique, but like any high-performance machine it's what hides under the hood that counts. On the inside NVIDIA's codename "Kepler" GPU architecture reshapes the internal landscape, and reveals a lot of unused space on the printed circuit board (PCB). That same 12-layer PCB ensures the highest signal integrity, and helps disperse heat more effectively across the entire board.
With the ASUS DirectCU-II heatsink removed to expose a NVIDIA GK104 28nm graphics processor, three 8mm heat-pipe rods cross through a solid aluminum base that features a potent heat-pipe direct touch configuration.
The memory subsystem has been tweaked on GeForce GTX 660 Ti, allowing the 2048MB GDDR5 video frame buffer to produce 144.2 GB/s total memory bandwidth at an impressive 6008 MHz data rate. Three memory controllers combine six GDDR5 ICs for a 192-bit memory lane, which moves data more efficiently than previous designs to yield a fill rate of 102.5 GigaTexels per second.
ASUS utilizes nine solid polymer formed electrolytic chip capacitors (referred to as a POSCAP), whereas the reference design uses only two. Furthermore, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti refernce design uses only 4-phase PWMs with analog IC's. But just as ASUS offers on their ultra-duty motherboards, electronic components such as chokes, capacitors, and MOSFETs use fully digital DIGI+ VRM technology to combine effects with 6-Phase Super Alloy Power (SAP) to deliver precision voltage to the video card. By virtually eliminating flutter and voltage ripple through precision digital control, components last longer and have a much more stable overclock.
In the next section, we detail our test methodology and give specifications for all of the benchmarks and equipment used in our testing process...