The product MSI puts on the table is once again a classic. In this sub 250 USD price range a card with the TwinFrozer III cooler simply is golden. A great looking and very decent build is what you get. It comes factory overclocked and is customized and custom cooled. So again it is one of these cards where all the variables are done right and play out well.
But as always let's first discuss the GeForce GTX 660 as reference product all by itself. With the new GK106 silicon NVIDIA certainly has a product at hands with the means to be extremely competitive in the mainstream market. It is however a little weird to see the product released so close after the Ti, and the 660 Ti definitely is my favorite product out of the two. Realistically though, the 660 Ti does come with a higher price tag and that's where the regular GeForce GTX 660 cards are going to rule. We expect these products to sell in the sub 250 EUR/USD segment once prices settle a little.
For that money you'll receive a card that is very capable of playing the very latest games. A rough equivalent would be saying that the 660 is performing somewhere in-between a GeForce GTX 570 and 580 .. and that's not a bad position. At the competitor side the competition is the Radeon HD 7870.
The 192-bit memory bus definitely has en affect, but being GDDR5 and running at roughly 6 Gbps really isn't as big of an Achilles heel as I expected. The fact that this mid-range product is equipped with 2GB of memory, does help as well as it is a great balance in-between frame buffer needs and 1920x1080/1200 monitor resolutions.
If you do purchase the reference clocked based products, hey no worries, crank open the power limiter to it's maximum and clock it at say 1050~1100 MHz on the core clock frequency. You will have forfeited a tiny little bit on power consumption but immediately the card will be at competitive GTX 660 Ti performance levels.
The GeForce GTX 660 is a card that is very lovely for those gaming at 1920x1080/1200. Your performance will be quite good and in balance with the games of 2012. In Battlefield 3 you are at roughly 42 frames per second on average with 4x AntiAliasing, 16xAF at Ultra quality settings. That's in 1920x1200 by the way. If we take Anno 2070 at the same resolution with the same settings in the very best quality we average out at 59+ FPS. Crysis 2 with the High Quality texture pack in DX11 at Ultra settings .. roughly 45+ FPS. These are the scores that matter as they are in very acceptable ranges.
Power consumption then, it's low if you place it into context with the game performance. Roughly 110 Watt is what we measure during gaming. The card is allowed to peak to 140 Watts. That does pose a problem though, these card will not be grand overclockers as they quickly run into the power design limitations.
The noise levels for this product are pretty non-existent as well. The TwinFrozer III cooler might not be the latest revision, but is certainly does its job really well, in a closed chassis you won't be able to hear it, well perhaps if you put your ear physically onto the PC chassis but it's just really silent.
Directly related to the cooler are obviously GPU temperatures. The card will idle at give or take 30 Degrees C and we measured a maximum of 60 Degrees C under full workload. That really is very good.
Overclocking itself then, I already mentioned the power design imitation on GK106 with the one 6-pin power connector but on top of that NVIDIA put brakes on tweaking. Your maximum added (software based) voltage will be 100 Mv (if the AIB/AIC partner supports voltage tweaking of course). The Power Limiter will get you a little extra out of the board, the MSI card allowed a rather small +10% extra on the power design is possible. Meaning 140W x 1.10%= 154 Watt. Once the GPU reaches that power state or a certain heat level, it will start throttling down. Regardless of that fact, we where able to add another 50 MHz on the core but honestly the card was barely overclockable as remember, this card come factory overclock for you. The memory can be overclocked fairly well though, add +350 MHz and you'll end up at 6696 MHz. Your card now is 5 maybe 10% faster on average.
Okay it's time to wrap things up. MSi has a lovely product at hand with the TwinFroZr III based product. Over time the cooler has proven itself and in combination with this GeForce GTX 660 its just really silent and offering more then plenty cooling performance. The overall looks of the product are sturdy, the top plate, the component selection .. it really all works out well for this card. Armed with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory the product is going to deliver as promised as the GTX 660 is an excellent mid-range product with a fair pricetag. If a 1920x1080/1200 monitor resolution is your domain and when your budget is restricted at the sub 249 USD range then MSI has a very strong offering at hand for you. Any modern game will run beautiful at that resolution with very decent framerates and image quality settings. The MSI GeForce GTX 660 is a card we can recommend for any gamer that needs good gaming performance for an okay price at that oh-so important Full HD resolution..
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