Zotac GeForce GTX 660 2GB Graphics card Review

Introduction :

The GTX 660 is the Kepler on a budget. Its priced around $200-$250, which has been dominated by AMD with their HD 7800 series graphics cards. The GTX 660 is the younger brother of the GTX 660Ti, but at its heart its got a different silicon, the GK106 (GTX 660Ti is based on GK 104). The card has 960 CUDA cores with 80 TMUs , 24ROPs and a 192bit wide memory bus. The card comes with 2GB of GDDR5 memory having an effective memory clock of 6.00GHz. The card we have today is the Zotac GTX 660, which comes with a core clock of 993MHz, slightly above the reference clock of 980MHz. Its priced at around Rs15,000 so its fairly affordable, but can it perform enough to meet the demands of the latest games? Lets find out…

zotac-gtx660-1

The Package:

The card comes in a fairly small box with the typical zotac branding. I actually like the simple design and color schemes. Inside, you find the card (obviously!), a DVI to VGA adapter, a 4pin to 6pin molex power converter and a 3 day game pass for Track mania canyon. Nothing special, pretty much the standard packaging that comes with all Zotac cards these days.

Zotac gtx 660 package

Closer Look:

The card has a fairly short PCB and has a dual fan design. The cooler heatsink feels really beefy and the card feels surprisingly heavy for the sides. 2 Large copper heat pipes remove heat from the center of the heatsink towards the sides.  The card with the black PCB looks pretty attractive and I like the overall compact design of the card.

Zotac GTX  660
Zotac GTX 660
Zotac GTX 660

There are plenty of connectivity options with 2 DVI ports, one HDMI port and one Display port.

Zotac GTX 660 outputs

Testing Methodology :

We tried to keep all tests as fair as possible. In games, whenever possible, we tried using in game benchmarks. But not all games have that, so we had to recreate the same scene manually. Hence, the results might not be perfect, but they should give you a fairly good idea. These scenes might not be the most graphics intensive (no explosions, etc) as they are much harder to reproduce.

To remove any possibility of bottlenecks, we have overclocked our 2500k to 4.5GHz and the RAM is overclocked as well. Below are the detailed test bench specifications :

Processor : Intel Core i5 2500k (Overclocked to 4.5GHz)

Motherboard : ASRock Z77E-ITX Motherboard

RAM : 8GB DDR3 RAM (@ 2133MHz ,10-10-10-26-1T) Samsung 30nm Green RAM

Graphics Card : Zotac GeForce GTX 660 2GB

PSU : Corsair 550VX

Cooling : SVG Tech HOC 40

Casing : Bitfenix Prodigy

Here is the list of games that we have used for our review:

  • Battlefield 3
  • Crysis 2 (with HD texture pack)
  • Formula One 2012
  • Mafia 2
  • Just Cause 2
  • Starcraft 2
  • Farcry 3

If you guys would like to see more benchmarks, feel free to post them in our comments section.

Overclocking :

So before we look at the benchmark results, lets see how this card overclocks. In all the benchmarks, the overclocked results have been included so you can see what kind of real world gains are seen. For overclocking, I used the EVGA Precision X utility. I set the power target to 110% (max allowed on this card) and started with overclocking.

The GTX 660 is not known for huge overclocks. The Zotac GTX 660 pretty much came with some modest overclocks. This is the most stable overclock I could achieve, which I tested with some 30 mins of gaming (Farcry 3).

GTX 660OC

So that’s an overclock of 115MHz (~11%) on the core and 95MHz (~6%) on the memory. The memory overclock was particularly disappointing.  Even a slightly higher clock would lead to instability. Lets see how this overclock reflects in real world gains.

Noise and Temperatures :

The card is very silent. Even in a silent room, you can barely hear it, but thats when it runs at around 30% speed. Running at 40%+, you can start hearing it and at 100% its pretty loud. During normal gaming though, you dont hear it at all.

Here are the temperatures at various load levels :

GTX 660 temp

Battlefield 3 :

Battlefield 3(aka BF3) is a really popular first person shooter. Its known to be a very GPU intensive game and hence it has been included in our benchmark list. The game does not come with its own benchmark, so had had to use a cut scene in the game. This scene is definitely not the most GPU intensive sequence in the game, but it should still give a decent idea on relative performance. So here are the performance figures(Note : All in game settings were set to maximum) :

GTX-660-BF3-1
GTX-660-BF3-2

Crysis 2 :

 

After huge success of the original Crysis, which created a big roar among gamers with its amazing graphics and Physics. Forums were filled with requests of ‘can it play crysis?’ Crysis 2 uses the same engine, but from a lush island environment you are taken into a modern city. The game does not come with its own benchmark, but there are tools available for benchmarking. We applied HD Textures (comes as a 1GB+ update) and all settings were set to maximum.

GTX-660-Crysis2-1
GTX-660-Crysis2-2

Starcraft 2 :

A sequel to a very successful game,Starcraft 2 sold more than 1.5 million copies in the first 2 days of release and is the most successful strategy game out there. This is is the effect of not only a great story line and multiplayer experience, but also some pretty neat looking graphics. You need to have a fairly beefy system to run this game at all high settings. There is no in game benchmark for this, so I took a replay of one of my games. Its a 2v2 game with all 4 players with 200+ units.

GTX-660-SC2-1
GTX-660-SC2-2

Some odd results here, overclocking showed a negative effect. Not sure why, but these results were consistent over various runs.  We had a similar result with other cards as well.

Mafia 2 :

The original Mafia game was one of the best games I had ever played. It had an amazing story along with great graphics (for that time). When Mafia 2 was announced, I had huge hopes. The graphics was something the developers really spoke about. After playing the game, I think they have done a good job, the game is not as good as the original, but good none the less. The game comes with its own benchmark tool(yay!), so the results are with all settings set to maximum and physx switch off.

GTX-660-Mafia2-1
GTX-660-Mafia2-2

We see some nice gains here with overclocking. The performance is more than enough to play this game at highest detail. For consistency, I have turned physx off.

Just Cause 2:

Just cause 2 is on open world adventure game where you can go anywhere and basically do whatever you want. The environment looks rich and the game is fairly demanding. The game comes with a build in benchmark, so that is what was used in our testing. All in game settings were set to maximum and physx was switched off.

GTX-660-JC2-1
GTX-660-JC2-2

Here again we see some good gains with overclocking, around a 10% performance boost!

F1 2012:

I am a die hard formula 1 fan, so this game had to be included in the benchmark list. The game looks pretty good and overall I feel codemasters has done a decent job, a lot of fun playing it with friends. The game comes with a buit in benchmark, where Button its it around a lap of the US GP. The benchmark does not run exactly the same every time, but we really cant do much about it. Despite that, I feel the you should get a decent idea about relative performance.

GTX-660-F12012-1
GTX-660-F12012-2

Farcry 3:

One of the most graphic intensive games in the market, Farcry 3 has a very beautiful gameplay environment and a decent story as well, so you should enjoy playing the game. You really need a good system to play this game with the highest settings, hence I used 2 slightly different settings to play this one. All in game settings were set to maximum, only change was the AA, I used 2x and 8x settings to play the game. The is no built in benchmark, hence I had to recreate a scene manually to benchmark this. Note that this scene was not the most intensive in the game, but should give a decent idea on relative performance.

GTX-660-FC3-opti-1
GTX-660-FC3-opti-2

On max settings :

GTX-660-FC3-max-1
GTX-660-FC3-max-2

We see some minor gains from overclocking here, the game is fairly playable even with rather low frames.

The Verdict :

The Zotac GeForce GTX 660 is a great little card which brings most of the benefits of the Kepler at a much more affordable price. Performance wise, it is powerful enough to run most games at highest detail at 1080p. In comparison to the HD 7850, the GTX 660 has a significant performance advantage at stock clocks, but it is far less overclockable than the HD 7850 (at least with the samples we got). This card runs cool and fairly quiet and does not draw a lot of power. A good quality 500W PSU should be enough to run this card on a fairly high end system. In addition to all this, I really like the fact that they provide a HDMI as well as a full size display port option as well.

This card currently goes at around Rs16,500 and is one we would recommend to a gamer who is looking for a graphics card at around the Rs15,000 mark.  I would rate it 8/10 for the great performance it gives, but loses out a bit on the slightly expensive price tag and relatively small overclocking headroom.

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