Today we are taking a look at MSI’s flagship Z77 motherboard, the Z77A-GD80. Beyond being the GD80 SKU, which for several generations now has been given MSI’s premiere options, this GD80 in particular is an innovative board. This is due to the Z77A-GD80 being the first Windows motherboard that was certified for Intel’s Thunderbolt technology.
As many of you may know, Thunderbolt has 10 Gbps of bandwidth, as well as integrates Mini DisplayPort for video. With all of this bandwidth, Thunderbolt is an exciting standard, which we will focus on in depth later in this review.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 22, 2012 - 04:01 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, MSI GTX660 HAWK, msi, gtx 660
This week has certainly had its share of leaked graphics card news, and the latest information on that market indicates that MSI is working on a enthusiast-level HAWK version of the GTX 660 GPU. That card will take the GK106 Kepler chip to the max with the fastest factory overclocks yet.
Last week Nvidia debuted its GTX 660 graphics card, which is currently the lowest-end GPU to use the Kepler GK106 chip. Once the NDA broke, the review of the card went live, and the performance of the reference designs was analyzed.
GK106 features 5 SMX units in 2.5 Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC), which Nvidia has said is the most that the chip will ever have. The GTX 660 version has 960 CUDA cores, 80 texture units, 24 ROPs, and a 192-bit memory bus.
While GK106 will likely not see a version with three complete GPCs, the mid-range Kepler chip still has a bit of performance headroom that can be unleased with overclocking, and several OEMs are preparing factory overclocked GTX 660 graphics cards with custom coolers.
The latest custom GTX 660 to be leaked is the MSI GTX 660 HAWK edition with out-of-the-box overclocked settings, beefed up power management hardware, and a TwinFrozr IV cooler.
MSI has gone with a custom PCB and cooler to keep the GK106 fed with power and running cool. The PCB has been fitted with a 10-phase VRM, SSC chokes, and IR DirectFETs to provide the power needed to run at overclocked settings. Of course, MSI has included its GPU Reactor hardware – a feature exclusive to its HAWK branded cards that differentiates them from the lower tier lightning and power edition cards. The GPU Reactor is a set of tantalum capacitors that are said to deliver more stable voltage to the Kepler chip.
The graphics card continues to be powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. MSI has also added a dual BIOS feature to the HAWK card that will run the GPU at GTX 660 reference speeds (980/1033MHz) or at the overclocked profile, depending on physical BIOS switch position.
Clockspeeds are where the MSI GTX 660 HAWK really gets interesting, however. The base clockspeed of 1100MHz is more than most GTX 660 cards run at /boost/ speeds, and the 1176MHz boost speed is the fastest boost speed we’ve seen yet. In an interesting twist, MSI has not touched the clockspeed for the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Instead, it has left the graphics card clocked at 6008MHz memory (the reference speed). It may be that the memory chips simply cannot overclock much beyond the reference clockspeeds as there are no other factory overclocked GTX 660s that I know of that push the memory clocks beyond reference.
Of course, the other big selling point of this MSI card is the custom cooler – one that Josh seems to like thanks to the addition of “supa pipes!” The Twin Frozr IV is a dual fan cooled aluminum fin array that is connected to the block over the GPU by five heat-pipes. There does not appear to be much information on the HSF beyond that, unfortunately. Judging by past iterations, it should be more than capable of running at the factory overclocked speeds, however.
Display outputs will include two DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI. Pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect it to command a small premium over the standard GTX 660’s $229 price tag.
EXPreview was the source of the photos, however the webpage seems to be down at the moment. Fortunately, WCCF Tech manged to grab them before the original page was lost, and you can see more photos of the MSI GTX 660 HAWK (SKU: N660GTX HAWK) on that page.
A comparison chart of the various GTX 600 series cards.
Note: GTX 650 is GK107, GTX 660 is GK106, GTX 660Ti and above is GK104.
Read more about Nvidia's Kepler graphics card architecture at PC Perspective!
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 05:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, msi, kepler, gtx 660, gk106, geforce, evga, factory overclocked
As those of you who have already read the post below this one know, ASUS decided to create a DirectCU II model for their GTX 660, with the famous heatpipe bearing heatsink. They have overclocked the GPU already and the card comes with tools to allow you to push it even further if you take the time to get to know your card and what it can manage. Check the full press release below.
Fremont, CA (September 13, 2012) - ASUS is excited to release the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series featuring the Standard, OC and TOP editions. Utilizing the latest 28nm NVIDIA Kepler graphics architecture, the OC and TOP cards deliver a factory-overclock while all three cards feature ASUS exclusive DirectCU thermal design and GPU Tweak tuning software to deliver a quieter, cooler, faster, and more immersive gameplay experience. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series set a new benchmark for exceptional performance and power efficiency in a highly affordable graphics card. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II is perfect for gamers looking to upgrade from last-generation graphics technology while retaining ASUS’ class-leading cooling and acoustic performance.
Superior Design and Software for the Best Gaming Experience ASUS equips the GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked up to 6108MHz. The TOP edition features a blistering GPU core boost clock of 1137MHz, 104MHz faster than reference designs while the OC edition arrives with a factory-set GPU core boost speed of 1085MHz. Exclusive ASUS DIGI+ VRM digital power delivery and user-friendly GPU Tweak tuning software allows all cards to easily overclock beyond factory-set speeds offering enhanced performance in your favorite game or compute intensive application.
The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series feature exclusive DirectCU technology. The custom designed cooler uses direct contact copper heatpipes for faster heat transduction and up to 20% lower normal operating temperatures than reference designs. The optimized fans are able operate at lower speeds providing a much quieter gaming or computing environment. For enhanced stability, energy efficiency, and overclocking margins the cards feature DIGI+ VRM digital power deliver plus a class-leading six-phase Super Alloy Power design for the capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs meant to extend product lifespan and durability while operating noise-free even under heavy workloads.
ASUS once again includes the award winning GPU Tweak tuning suite in the box. Overclocking-inclined enthusiasts or gamers can boost clock speeds, set power targets, and configure fan operating parameters and policies; all this and more is accessible in the user-friendly interface. GPU Tweak offers built-in safe guards to ensure all modifications are safe, maintaining optimal stability and card reliability.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 04:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, msi, kepler, gtx 660, gk106, geforce, evga
The non-Ti version of the GTX 660 has arrived on test benches and retailers, with even the heavily overclocked cards being available at $230, like EVGA's Superclocked model or MSI's OC'd card once you count the MIR. That price places it right in between the HD 7850 and 7870, and ~$70 less than the GTX 660 Ti, while the performance is mostly comparable to a stock HD7870 though the OC versions can top the GTX660.
[H]ard|OCP received ASUS' version of the card, a DirectCU II based version with the distinctive heatpipes. ASUS overclocked the card to a 1072MHz base clock and 1137MHz GPU Boost and [H] plans to see just how much further the frequencies can be pushed at a later date. Their final word on this card for those looking to upgrade, for those of you with "a GTX 560 Ti, and even the GTX 570, the GTX 660 is an upgrade".
"NVIDIA is launching the new GeForce GTX 660 GPU, codenamed GK106. We have a retail ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II custom video card fully evaluated against a plethora of competition at this price point. This brand new GPU aims for a price point just under the GTX 660 Ti but still promises to deliver exceptional 1080p gaming with AA."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 @ The Tech Report
- ASUS GTX 660 Direct CU II TOP Review @ OCC
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SC (SuperClocked) 2GB @ Bjorn3D
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 @ Hardware.info
- NVIDIA Geforce GTX 660 Reviews @Hi Tech Legion
- The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Review: GK106 Fills Out The Kepler Family @ AnandTech
- SI GEFORCE GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2GB OC @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 @ Legion Hardware
- Gigabyte GTX 660 Overclock 2GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB SuperClocked @ Benchmark Reviews
- MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr @ Kitguru
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 @ Techspot
- Gigabyte GTX 660 OC Video Card Review @ Ninjalane
- MSI GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2GB OC @ LanOC Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Overclocked Graphics Card Review (EVGA/ZOTAC)@ HardwareHeaven
- EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked 2Gb @ LanOC Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS, KFA2 and MSI GeForce GTX 660 reviews with 2-way SLI @ Guru of 3D
- MSI GeForce GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GTX 660 Windforce OC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Direct Cu II 2 GB @ techPowerUp
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Video Card Review w/ MSI and EVGA @ Legit Reviews
- Six GeForce GTX 660 Ti graphics cards: ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI and Zotac @ Hardware.info
- Gigabyte GTX 660 Ti OC Windforce @ Kitguru
- AFOX Radeon HD 7850 (Single Slot), MSI R7870 Hawk Graphics Cards @ iXBT Labs
- Inno3D GTX 680 iChill Black Series Accelero Hybrid 4GB Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- MSI Geforce GTX 670 Power Edition @ Rbmods
- i3DSpeed, August 2012 @ iXBT Labs
- Arctic Accelero Xtreme 7970 VGA Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X OC 6GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire FleX HD 7770 GHz Edition @ LanOC Reviews
GK106 Completes the Circle
The release of the various Kepler-based graphics cards have been interesting to watch from the outside. Though NVIDIA certainly spiced things up with the release of the GeForce GTX 680 2GB card back in March, and then with the dual-GPU GTX 690 4GB graphics card, for quite quite some time NVIDIA was content to leave the sub-$400 markets to AMD's Radeon HD 7000 cards. And of course NVIDIA's own GTX 500-series.
But gamers and enthusiasts are fickle beings - knowing that the GTX 660 was always JUST around the corner, many of you were simply not willing to buy into the GTX 560s floating around Newegg and other online retailers. AMD benefited greatly from this lack of competition and only recently has NVIDIA started to bring their latest generation of cards to the price points MOST gamers are truly interested in.
Today we are going to take a look at the brand new GeForce GTX 660, a graphics cards with 2GB of frame buffer that will have a starting MSRP of $229. Coming in $80 under the GTX 660 Ti card released just last month, does the more vanilla GTX 660 have what it takes to replace the success of the GTX 460?
The GK106 GPU and GeForce GTX 660 2GB
NVIDIA's GK104 GPU is used in the GeForce GTX 690, GTX 680, GTX 670 and even the GTX 660 Ti. We saw the much smaller GK107 GPU with the GT 640 card, a release I was not impressed with at all. With the GTX 660 Ti starting at $299 and the GT 640 at $120, there was a WIDE gap in NVIDIA's 600-series lineup that the GTX 660 addresses with an entirely new GPU, the GK106.
First, let's take a quick look at the reference card from NVIDIA for the GeForce GTX 660 2GB - it doesn't differ much from the reference cards for the GTX 660 Ti and even the GTX 670.
The GeForce GTX 660 uses the same half-length PCB that we saw for the first time with the GTX 670 and this will allow retail partners a lot of flexibility with their card designs.
Subject: Motherboards | September 12, 2012 - 07:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, MSI Z77A-G41, lga 1155
MSI adds to the value end of their Z77 based motherboard lineup with the Z77A-G41 at a mere $100, $90 after MIR. For that price you get a board with a pair of PCIe 16x slots as well as a pair of both PCIe 1x and PCI slots. [H]ard|OCP were less than impressed with the SATA ports, while there are six in total they are vertical and so add to the clutter of the machine as well as being in the way of the second PCIe slot. They have never been fans of MSI's ClickBIOS, an opinion this board did not change nor were theu impressed with the overclocking abilities of the board, no matter how long they spent adjusting setting in the UEFI implementation. That is not to imply that this board is not a good choice for everyone, it is only the enthusiast that will be disappointed, those looking for a stable motherboard to build an inexpensive machine will find this board fully up to the task.
"While it's usually the high end boards that get the most attention, it's often the lower end and mid-range boards that many people purchase. With this in mind we get back to basics with the Z77A-G41 which is an entry level offering from MSI that boasts many enthusiast features."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- Gigabyte X79S-UP5 WiFi Intel LGA 2011 @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte X79S-UP5 WiFi Review: Ultra Durable 5 Meets the C606 Chipset @ AnandTech
- ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe mainboard @ Hardwareoverclock
- ASRock X79 Extreme11 Review: PCIe 3.0 x16/x16/x16/x16 and LSI 8-Way SAS/SATA @ AnandTech
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5 TH @ Bjorn3D
- Asrock Z77 OC Formula Socket 1155 Motherboard @ Pro-Clockers
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire and ECS X79 Motherboard Review @ OCC
- ASRock X79 Extreme11 Intel LGA 2011 @ techPowerUp
- Super Mainboard for a Mega-Computer: ASRock Z77 Extreme9 @ X-bit Labs
- ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Champion Motherboard @ Kitguru
- ASRock Z77 Extreme6 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI Big Bang Z77 Mpower @ Guru of 3D
- BIOS Option Of The Week - Frame Buffer Size @ TechARP
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2012 - 07:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, gtx 660 Ti, GK104, factory overclocked, Twin Frozr, 660 Ti Power Edition OC
MSI's GTX 660 Ti Power Edition OC will set you back $300, the same price as most other GTX 660 Ti cards, however that is where the similarity stops. This card sports the famous Twin Frozr IV cooling system, Military Class III components, Triple Overvoltage with Afterburner support and is overclocked above the reference design. If you like the sounds of the card so far does knowing that [H]ard|OCP managed to push the card frequencies farther past the factory overclock than the factory overclock was above the reference design?
"MSI is offering a custom cooled and factory overclocked rendition on the recently released NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti. We examine how well MSI's Twin Frozr IV cooling technology allows us to overclock this new generation video card. We will compare it to a Radeon HD 7950, an overclocked Radeon HD 7870, and a GeForce GTX 670."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- MSI GTX 670 Power Edition OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- GTX 660 Ti 5-Way Roundup (ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, Galaxy, MSI) @ Hardware Canucks
- GALAXY GTX 660 Ti GC OC vs. OC GTX 670 & HD 7950 @ [H]ard|OCP
- NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 2GB @ Tweaktown
- NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 660 2GB @ Tweaktown
- GIGABYTE GTX 680 Super Overclocked Edition @ [H]ard|OCP
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti at High AA Settings @ [H]ard|OCP
- EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Superclocked Signature 2 @ X-bit Labs
- Matrox DualHead2Go Digital ME and Matrox DualHead2Go Digital SE @ Hardware.info
- Arctic Accelero Hybrid VGA Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel OpenGL Performance: OS X vs. Windows vs. Linux @ Phoronix
- Arctic Accelero Hybrid Graphics Card Cooler @ Bjorn3D
- ntel’s HD 4000; Four Months Later @ SemiAccurate
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- AMD’s Enduro Switchable Graphics Levels Up @ AnandTech
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Vapor-X OC with Boost @ Tweaktown
- Sapphire HD 7970 Vapor-X GHZ Edition Review @ OCC
- Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti iChill 3GB @ Guru of 3D
- Club 3D HD 7750 Low Profile 1 GB @ techPowerUp
- Sapphire HD7770 Videocard @ Rbmods
- Club 3D Radeon HD 7970 royalAce @ Hardware.Info
- PowerColor Devil 13 HD 7990 Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Powercolor HD 7990 Devil 13 6 GB @ techPowerUp
- apphire Radeon HD 7750 Low Profile Review @ OCC
- HIS Radeon HD 7970 X Turbo edition @ Guru of 3D
- Sapphire HD 7770 GHz FleX Edition Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 Low Profile Video Card @ Pro-Clockers
- Sapphire HD 7950 Vapor-X 3 GB @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2012 - 04:22 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: zotac, Steamroller, ssd, revodrive, podcast, ocz, msi, MARS III, Intel, galaxy, evga, asus, arm, ARES II, amd, 7990, 690, 660ti
PC Perspective Podcast #216 - 08/30/2012
Join us this week as we talk about our GTX 660Ti Roundup, AMD Steamroller Details, Multi GPU Graphics Card Rumors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malvantano
Program length: 1:01:56
- PCPer moving to pcper.com/live
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:29:45 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:30:25 EVGA 1500 watt power supply
- 0:34:30 Powercolor HD 7990 Devil 13 graphics card
- 0:37:26 AMD releases FX-4130 and lowers prices
- 0:39:24 Synology refreshes DiskStation
- 0:40:50 ASUS MARS III GTX 680 - dreamers only
- 0:43:17 EVGA Mini ITX Z77 motherboard
- 0:45:15 NVIDIA shows Unreal Engine 3 on Tegra 3
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Multiple Contenders - EVGA SC
One of the most anticipated graphics card releases of the year occurred this month in the form of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti from NVIDIA, and as you would expect we were there on the day one with an in-depth review of the card at reference speeds.
The GeForce GTX 660 Ti is based on GK104, and what you might find interesting is that it is nearly identical to the specifications of the GTX 670. Both utilize 7 SMX units for a total of 1344 stream processors – or CUDA cores – and both run at a reference clock speed of 915 MHz base and 980 MHz Boost. Both include 112 texture units though the GeForce GTX 660 Ti does see a drop in ROP count from 32 to 24. Also, L2 cache drops from 512KB to 384KB along with a memory bus width drop from 256-bit to 192-bit.
We already spent quite a lot of time talking about the GTX 660 Ti compared to the other NVIDIA and AMD GPUs in the market in our review (linked above) as well as on our most recent episode of the PC Perspective Podcast. Today's story is all about the retail cards we received from various vendors including EVGA, Galaxy, MSI and Zotac. We are going to show you each card's design, the higher clocked settings that were implemented, performance differences between them and finally the overclocking comparisons of all four.
Subject: Motherboards | August 22, 2012 - 08:35 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z77 mpower, Z77, video, msi, mpower, live review, live
Earlier this week MSI's Alex Chang stopped by the PC Perspective office to show off a new motherboard, the Z77 MPower. If you missed the live stream, you can check out the replay right here below! Be sure you keep an eye on our LIVE schedule on the right hand side as future events pop up!
MPower introduces a 24-hour burn-in test that is one of a kind. Electronic components are manufactured on an assembly line and then statistical sampling is used to ensure quality of construction. Every MPower board is tested using a full Prime95 burn-in test for 24 hours under a heavy overclock.
While you can probably reproduce this yourself in the comfort of your own home, MSI basically is doing this at the factory level to ensure every single board performs at the highest level. Not only are we changing the game of overclocking, but we’re also ensuring consistent and enduring performance from a desktop mainboard.
Get notified when we go live!