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Written by David Ramsey   
Thursday, 16 August 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video Card
Closer Look: MSI N660Ti Power Edition
N660Ti PE Detailed Features
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX11: 3DMark11
DX11: F1 2010
DX11: Batman: Arkham City
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 3.0
DX11: Battlefield 3
Temperature and Power Consumption
MSI N660Ti PE Overclocking
GTX 660 Ti Final Thoughts
MSI N660Ti PE Conclusion

MSI N660Ti PE Overclocking

Overclocking Kepler-based cards isn't the way it was in "the old days". With previous generations of GPUs, you overclocked simply by increasing the clock frequency (and perhaps power and voltage) until the card failed. Although some cards could "protect themselves" by throttling power draw and frequency at the high end, there was no unified strategy for managing top-tier performance.

All that changes with Kepler. Kepler GPUs will vary their clock speeds from "somnolent" to "insane" depending on a number of factors, and your overclocking settings are treated as requests rather than commands. NVIDIA uses both hardware and software constraints to achieve the maximum performance possible under a given set of parameters, taking into account power draw and temperature as well as (according to NVIDIA) "many other" factors-- and no, they don't want to talk about what those other factors are.

This means that when you see NVIDIA or other vendors talking about "boost clock", don't assume that this clock speed is what a Kepler-based card will run at under load. According to NVIDIA, the "boost clock" is the average frequency the GPU runs at under NVIDIA's test suite. MSI says the boost clock for the N660Ti Power Edition is "1097MHz", which means that they guarantee the card will average this speed under load. In some cases it may be faster. In some cases it may be slower.

NVIDIA's performance strategy means that identical Kepler-based cards from the same manufacturer are not guaranteed to have identical performance-- in fact they almost certainly won't. While they'll boost to at least the quoted boost clock under load, how much further they will go will vary from card to card.

With this in mind, I used MSI's own Afterburner 2.2.3 to increase the voltage and power draw to that maximum allowed for this card (+100mv and 114%, respectively), and then set out to achieve the highest GPU clock and memory clock offsets I could. This turned out to be 160Mhz and 470MHz, respectively.

msi_n660ti_pe_OC.jpg

In the benchmarks, this resulted in a maximum observed boost clock of 1,280MHz. Again, remember that this represents the maximum I saw, and is not necessarily the average clock speed across all of the benchmarks. Yes, it would be nice were there a utility that actually would record average GPU clock speeds on the fly.

msi_n660ti_pe_oc2.jpg

This overclock propelled the N660Ti Power Edition into rarefied territory, enabling it to beat a reference design GTX680 in some tests. Below I summarize the performance increase overclocking yielded in each benchmark (in those that were run at multiple resolutions, I include results only from the highest resolution):

Stock FPS Overclocked FPS Delta %
3DMark 11 GT1 40.2 43.8 +8.95
3DMark 11 GT2 38.9 42.8 +10.03
3DMark 11 GT3 50.4 57.3 +13.69
3DMark 11 GT4 25.0 28.0 +12.00
F1 2010 76.0 87.0 +14.47
Batman: Arkham City 61.0 70.0 +14.75
Alien vs. Predator 44.3 51.1 +15.35
Lost Planet 2 67.9 74.9 +10.31
Metro 2033 23.9 27.3 +14.23
Unigine Heaven 3.0 36.7 39.5 +7.63
Battlefield 3 57.0 64.5 +13.16
Average increased FPS with overclocking +12.23

NVIDIA claims that although cards based on 660 series GPUs are priced to compete with 7800 series AMD Radeons, the performance can "often" compete with a Radeon 7950. The XFX Radeon 7950 I had for comparison is a factory overclocked card, but let's check out that claim anyway. For this chart I'm comparing both cards with their as-delivered factory overclocks:

MSI N660Ti FPS XFX Radeon 7950 FPS MSI Delta %
3DMark 11 GT1 40.2 30.5 +31.80
3DMark 11 GT2 38.9 34.3 +13.41
3DMark 11 GT3 50.4 43.4 +16.13
3DMark 11 GT4 25.0 20.5 +21.95
F1 2010 76.0 84.0 -9.52
Batman: Arkham City 61.0 70.7 -13.72
Alien vs. Predator 44.3 56.0 -20.89
Lost Planet 2 67.9 54.0 +25.74
Metro 2033 23.9 34.1 -29.91
Unigine Heaven 3.0 36.7 37.4 -1.87
Battlefield 3 57.0 51.8 +10.04
Average increase 660Ti vs. 7950 +3.92

So across this particular set of benchmarks the MSI N660Ti Power Edition is 3.92% faster than the XFX Radeon 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation. While this number doesn't really mean anything in absolute terms-- note how the differences tend to be rather large (>20%) up or down depending on the benchmark-- it's still amazing that this card can credibly be said to be in roughly the same performance arena as the much more expensive 7950.

Interesting note: when using Afterburner 2.2.3 to overclock MSI's N680GTX Lightning, I found that I had to constantly watch the voltage offset, since the card would tend to move it down. I never saw that happen with the N660Ti.

I'll present my final thoughts on this card in the next section.



 

Comments 

 
# Good To See,...RealNeil 2012-08-16 07:08
Usually when something comes out that waxes the competition's offerings, we see prices come down. I wonder it this 660Ti series of cards is going to influence prices on the Radeon side?
Good read, and now it's official, I want one (or two) of them.
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# RE: Good To See,...David Ramsey 2012-08-16 07:37
Well, that's what we saw when the GTX 670/680 were introduced: immediate AMD price drops.
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# RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardJohn Lauro 2012-08-16 19:12
As those are dual link dvi, could you support 6 monitors (assuming only 1920x1200 or less and not 2560x1600 on the dvi ports)?
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# RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardDavid Ramsey 2012-08-16 19:37
A dual-link DVI port has the bandwidth to support resolutions higher than 1920x1200. You can't run two monitors off a dual-link port, so the answer to your question is "No."
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# RE: RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video Cardhcforde 2012-08-17 19:51
There are splitters that can be used to expand to 2 monitors for DVI and another type of splitter for Display Ports. The Display Port ones are a bit pricy because it is a bit more sophisticated. One I saw went to 2 dp monitors and the other went to 2 DVI monitors. Max res was 1920*1200 for both
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# RE: RE: RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardDavid Ramsey 2012-08-17 21:21
You know that DVI splitters will only provide the same image to two different monitors, right?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardJohn Lauro 2012-08-17 21:44
A cheap splitter that is true, but if you use something like the matrox TripleHead2Go ##matrox.com/graphics/en/products/gxm/th2go/digital/ you will get the hir-res image spread over multiple monitors where each lower-res monitor displays a different portion.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardDavid Ramsey 2012-08-17 21:48
Interesting. I was unfamiliar with that product.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video Cardhcforde 2012-08-18 03:47
On the cheap ones you can extend the desktop over the 2 monitors and also have 2 distinct displays.
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# RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardDoug Dallam 2012-08-16 20:39
Only thing to say here: 22nm kicks the lama's ass. Getting close to a disruption in Moore's Law, unless we can find a way to get over silicon.
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# RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video CardJohn Lauro 2012-08-18 06:03
Are you sure you are not thinking of a DMS-59 connector to dual DVI or VGA? It looks similar to a dual link DVI connector but is a little wider and doesn't have the cross on the side, just dense pins.
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# RE: RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video Cardhcforde 2012-08-18 19:38
I have used both. The Nvidia NVS series of cards uses the DMS-59.
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# RE: MSI GTX 660-Ti Power Edition Video Cardjhs 2013-02-17 06:59
msi n660 twin frozr and msi n660 ti power edition. Which between this 2 is better? and how much is the different?
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