The MSI GeForce GTX 660 HAWK graphics card has been released and we are ready with a review, a bit of a surprize really as the HAWK series alwyas have been targeted at the more enthusiast audience. Well truth be told, albeit the GeForce GTX 660 really is a nice mid-range graphics card, thus HAWK makeover certainly brings something special to the table.
An all customized PCB, TwinFrozr IV cooler, military class components and to top it off, a very high factory overclock that places this product smack down in the middle of GeForce GTX 660 Ti performance. The HAWK edition also comes with the V-Check points that allow voltage measurement points for enthusiasts wanting accurate voltage readings via multi-meter and even an LN2 secondary BIOS. Not bad for a 175 EUR card eh ?
MSI figured, why not bring a GeForce GTX 660 towards GTX 660 Ti performance ? And so they did, the new flagship HAWK GeForce GTX 660 is a mid-range card series using the TwinFrozr IV cooler, with its three slots the card is completely silent and runs ridiculously cool. We received SKU model 660HAWk which comes factory overclocked, our model comes with with a core clock frequency set at 1085 and a boost frequency of 1150 MHz and the memory at 6 Gbps. Regardless, this to date makes it amongst the fastest GTX 660 we have tested and as such for just over 175 EUR the product beats the GeForce GTX 660 Ti.
The GeForce GTX 660 is based on a new chip, the GK106. The card will be one of the more anticipated dedicated graphics card series for a long time as the price performance ration of the GeForce GTX 660 should be pretty interesting. This product is positioned in the sub 200 EUR/USD segment of the market, and can address pretty much any modern game at everybody's favorite monitor resolution 1920x1080/1200 with extremely acceptable framerates and image quality settings.
Being based on the Kepler GPU architecture obviously NVIDIA had to put some breaks on it in order for the 660 series of product not to compete too much with their bigger brothers. Being more cost effective to produce the GK106 silicon was designed, it really is a new chip, opposed to the GK104 being used on the 660 Ti model.
NVIDIA shaved down the the number of shader processors a little towards 960 (active) if you compare a little with high-end. To understand the positioning a little better simply keep keep in mind that the GeForce GTX 680 has 1536 of them. So that's roughly 38% less shader processors. More had to be done though, the GeForce GTX 670 and 680 all use a 256-bit memory bus, and the GTX 660 series has a 192-bit memory bus tied towards 2 GB of memory. But with the memory running at 6008 MHz in combo with the memory bandwidth gDDR5 memory these days offers, really the difference will be noticeable but certainly not by excessive standards. The last change can be found in the raster operation engine, now cut down to 24 units opposed to 32 that the 670 and 680 use. More on that latest in the technology overview of this article though.
The ever so popular clock frequencies then, the reference (default design) products will be clocked at 980 MHz and are to boost towards 1033 MHz. Realistically though the boost feature is an average, and you'll notice that these cards will boost to roughly 1100 MHz. With a TDP of 140 Watts the GeForce GTX 660 isn't going to consume heaps of power either, in fact with your average gaming experience the card typically uses roughly 115 Watt as we have measured. Not bad, no Sir.
For this review we'll look at an offering from MSI in the form of a GeForce GTX 660 HAWK edition, it's already factory overclocked for you, comes in a custom design PCB out and is custom cooled with that sweet TwinFrozr IV cooler. Let's head on over to the next page shall we ?
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