ASUS Launches the GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II Lineup

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 05:09 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: ASUS

New Kepler on the Block, meet the vanilla GTX 660

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 04:49 PM |
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".

H_660gtx.gif

"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."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

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.

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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. 

Continue reading our review of the GeForce GTX 660 graphics card!

NVIDIA Launches GTX 650 for Budget Gamers

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 09:38 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 650, graphics cards, geforce

Ah, Kepler: the (originally intended as) midrange graphics card architecture that took the world by storm and allowed NVIDIA to take it from the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690 all the way down to budget discrete HTPC cards. So far this year we have seen the company push Kepler to its limits by adding GPU boost and placing it in the GTX 690 and GTX 680. Those cards were great, but commanded a price premium that most gamers could not afford. Enter the GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti earlier this year and Kepler started to become an attractive option for gamers wanting a high-end single GPU system without breaking the bank. Those cards, at $399 and $299 respectively were a step in the right direction to making the Kepler architecture available to everyone but were still a bit pricey if you were on a tighter budget for your gaming rig (or needed to factor in the Significant Other Approval Process™).

Well, Kepler has now been on the market for about six months, and I’m excited to (finally) announce that NVIDIA is launching its first Kepler-based budget gaming card! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 brings Kepler down to the ever-attractive $109 price point and is even capable of playing new games at 1080p above 30FPS. Not bad for such a cheap card!

GTX 650.jpg

With the GTX 650, you are making some sacrifices as far as hardware, but things are not all bad. The card features a mere 384 CUDA cores and 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus. This is a huge decrease in hardware compared to the GTX 660 Ti’s 1344 CUDA cores and 2GB memory on a 192-bit bus – but that card is also $200 more. And while the GTX 650 runs the memory at 5Gbps, NVIDIA was not shy about pumping up the GPU core clockspeed. No boost functionality was mentioned but the base clockspeed is a respectable 1058 MHz. Even better, the card only requires a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector and has a TDP of 64W (less than half of its higher-end GeForce brethren).

Specs Comparison

The following chart compares the specifications between the new Geforce GTX 650 through the GTX 670 graphics card. 

GTX 650 and GTX 660 Specifications.jpg

Click on the above chart for a larger image.

Gaming Potential?

The really important question is how well it handles games, and NVIDIA showed off several slides with claimed performance numbers. Taking these numbers with a grain of salt as they are coming from the same company that built the hardware, the GTX 650 looks like a capable GPU for the price. The company compared it to both its GTS 450 (Fermi) and AMD’s 7750 graphics card. Naturally, it was shown in a good light in both comparisons, but nothing egregious.

NVIDIA is claiming an 8X performance increase versus the old 9500 GT, and an approximate 20% speed increase versus the GTS 450. And improvements to the hardware itself has allowed NVIDIA to improve performance while requiring less power; the company claims the GTX 650 uses up to half the power of its Fermi predecessor.

20percent better than fermi.jpg

The comparison between the GTX 650 and AMD Radeon HD 7750 is harder to gauge, though the 7750 is priced competitively around the GTX 650’s $109 MSRP so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out. NVIDIA is claiming anywhere from 1.08 to 1.34 times the performance of the 7750 in a number of games, shown in the chart below.

GTX 650 vs HD 7750.jpg

If you have been eyeing a 7750, the GTX 650 looks like it might be the better option, assuming reviewers are able to replicate NVIDIA’s results.

FPS GTX 650.png

Keep in mind, these are NVIDIA's numbers and not from our reviews.

Unfortunately, NVIDIA did not benchmark the GTS 450 against the GTX 650 in the games. Rather, they compared it to the 9500 GT to show the upgrade potential for anyone still holding onto the older hardware (pushing the fact that you can run DirectX 11 at 1080p if you upgrade). Still, the results for the 650 are interesting by themselves. In MechWarrior Online, World of Warcraft, and Max Payne 3 the budget GPU managed at least 40 FPS at 1920x1080 resolution in DirectX 11 mode. Nothing groundbreaking, for sure, but fairly respectable for the price. Assuming it can pull at least a min of 30 FPS in other recent games, this will be a good option for DIY builders that want to get started with PC gaming on a budget.

All in all, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 looks to be a decent card and finally rounds out the Kepler architecture. At this price point, NVIDIA can finally give every gamer a Kepler option instead of continuing to rely on older cards to answer AMD at the lower price points. I’m interested to see how AMD answers this, and specifically if gamers will see more price cuts on the AMD side.

GTX 650 Specs.jpg

If you have not already, I strongly recommend you give our previous Kepler GPU reviews a read through for a look at what NVIDIA’s latest architecture is all about.

PC Perspective Kepler-based GTX Graphics Card Reviews:

NVIDIA Shows Unreal Engine 3 Running On Windows RT Tablet

Subject: Mobile | August 29, 2012 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine, tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, gaming

One of the reasons why I have hope for Windows RT is its gaming potential. Microsoft has been hit-or-miss with its gaming projects, but when it succeeds, it really knocks it out of the park – see DirectX, the Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s digital distribution via its console. Bringing Windows to tablets could make life easier for game developers in that space and offer a wider selection of mature titles rather than mobile-focused games, which often (in my opinion) feel watered down and look underwhelming.  

NVIDIA showcased this potential at IFA 2012 by demonstrating a Windows RT tablet (with Tegra 3 hardware, of course) running Unreal Engine 3. The tablet is shown playing the NVIDIA “Epic Citiadel” demo which we saw at the editor’s day conference used to debut the GTX 680 earlier this year. Quality details are probably reduced compared to the version that ran on the GTX 680 (it’s hard to tell in the video) but it still looks excellent and runs smoothly.

 


 

The demonstration highlighted the fact this isn’t some one-off or stripped-down version of the engine designed only for mobile devices. It’s a port of the existing Unreal Engine 3 engine used to make Windows PC games, which means developers shipping games that use UE3 should have minimal trouble porting their game to a Windows 8 RT tablet. Mark Rein, president of Epic Games, stated that Windows 8 RT code is now available to UE3 licenesees. It’ll be interesting to see which game developer is first to jump on board.

The tablet in the video is an ASUS Vivo Tab RT, an upcoming Windows 8 RT tablet with an 11.6” IPS display with 1366x768 resolution and a Tegra 3 SoC.  A tablet like this could be a compelling mobile gaming device if the games become available. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Source: NVIDIA

ASUS Mars III Dual GTX 680 Graphics Card Pictured, Set to Launch Soon

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 28, 2012 - 07:31 PM |
Tagged: triple fan, nvidia, mars 3, gtx 680, dual gpu, custom cooler, asus

If rumors hold true, NVIDIA’s GTX 690 will soon be joined by a custom dual GTX 680 card from ASUS. First shown off at Computex, the Mars III combines two GTX 680 graphics chips, 8GB RAM, and a massive triple fan cooler. Expect it to cost quite a bit but offer up some impressive performance numbers. 

Update: According to ASUS speaking with TechPowerUp, this card is not going to be released to the public after all. I suppose the  Powercolor 7990 Devil 13 will have to suffice!

ASUS has a long history of taking high-end graphics chips to the extreme, even going so far as to put more than one graphics processor on the same PCB. The third iteration of its custom dual GPU "MARS" series graphics cards, the MARS III was first shown off at Computex. At the time, the company indicated that the dual NVIDIA GPU card was not quite ready for final release as the GPU cooling solution and PCB in particular required further tweaking.

marsiii02b.jpg

Going by the recently leaked photos, ASUS has been hard at work refining the custom design, and it certainly looks ready for prime time. The MARS III takes two Kepler architecture-based GTX 680 GPUs, beefed up power phases, and a total of 32 RAM chips (8 per GPU) for 8GB of total RAM, and places it on a single black PCB. Further, the two GTX 680 GPUs are configured in SLI using a PLX PEX8747 bridge chip. While it does not have more CUDA cores than the NVIDIA reference GTX 690 (which we recently reviewed), it should have a bit more overclocking headroom in addition to the extra 4GB of GDDR5 memory. I would expect that it will cost more than the GTX 690 as a result of its custom design and extra memory, but so far there is no word on what that price might be.

marsiii03b.jpg

Needless to say, all that hardware is going to require a lot of power. Internally, each GPU will be fed electricity using an 8+2 power phase. Further, the board continues to feature the three 8-pin PCI-E power connectors which allows the dual-GPU graphics card to draw up to 525 Watts of power. While the color of the cooler has been changed from the model seen at Computex to a red and black color scheme, the red overclocking button is still there on the side of the card. It will spin the fans up to 100% to allow you to push the NVIDIA GPUs as far as possible.

Video outputs include three DVI and a single mini-DisplayPort connector for NVIDIA Surround gaming and a fourth accessory monitor.

The dual GTX 680 graphics card at Computex.

Sources speaking with Videocardz have confirmed that the card is nearly ready for retail availability, and is only waiting NVIDIA’s go ahead.

Now that the rumored 7990 is on the way (or at least a custom version of the 7990), I would bet that we will be seeing this custom ASUS card sooner rather than later – and that NVIDIA’s “okay” to unleash this beastly graphics card should not be difficult to get.

Have you been following the ASUS Mars III? You can find more Mars III coverage and photos by following the Mars III tag. Further, you can see more leaked photos over at Videocardz.

[Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean the drool off of my desk.]

Source: EXPreview

Just how fast can the GTX 660 Ti go?

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2012 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: GeForce GTX 660 Ti GC, galaxy, overclock, nvidia, 660ti

The majority of the GTX 660 Ti models run faster than the stock clocks, with some having a Boost Clock approaching 1.1GHz and some sporting memory overclocks as well.  This lead [H]ard|OCP to ask two questions; just how fast can the card go and are you better off with faster memory or a faster processor.  When they left the GPU as is, they could hit an effective speed of 7.71GHz and when they returned the memory to the base speed they pushed the core to 1.3GHz.  Along the way they discovered that the reported clocks might be a bit lower than the actual clocks, which is a nice bonus to owners.  Read on to see what happened when they overclocked both components.

H_overclock.gif

"We've evaluated the GALAXY GeForce GTX 660 Ti 3GB video card, now it is time to overclock it to its maximum potential with XtremeTuner Plus and find out how it compares to the GTX 670 and Radeon HD 7950. We will also find out if it is best to concentrate on the GPU clock speed or its 192-bit memory speed to get the best performance gains."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #215 - NVIDIA's GTX 660 Ti, MSI ZPower Z77 Motherboard, AMD GPU Price cuts and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: Voodoo3, podcast, nvidia, Intel, HAF, coolermaster, amd, 7970, 7950, 660ti, 660

PC Perspective Podcast #215 - 08/23/2012

Join us this week as we talk about NVIDIA's GTX 660 Ti, MSI ZPower Z77 Motherboard, AMD GPU Price cuts and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano and Steve Grever

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 0:53:31

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. PCPer moving to pcper.com/live
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. http://pcper.com/podcast
  5. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 00:01:45 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti Review
      1. Live Review Recap with Tom Petersen
    2. 0:15:00 Cooler Master HAF XM Case
    3. 0:16:00 Building a PC with Legacy Hardware
  2. 0:19:35 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:20:40 Hey, about OnLive...
    2. 0:22:10 Synaptics Touchpads and keyboards
    3. 0:25:30 Live Review Recap: MSI Z77 MPower
    4. 0:30:07 AMD Price cuts on GPUs yet again
    5. 0:34:00 Windows 8 upgrade pricing for OEM machines, $14.99
    6. 0:36:27 Catalyst 12.8
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:41:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: New Video Card!!
      2. Jeremy: What about $45, would you upgrade then?
      3. Josh: A Mumford and Sons box set
      4. Allyn: Give Windows 8 a shot
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

 

ARM-A9 SOC showdown, Tegra 3 versus ODROID-X

Subject: Mobile | August 21, 2012 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, Samsung, nvidia, Exynos 4412, cortex-a9, arm

The participants in this System on a Chip showdown both bear long names, on one side is NVIDIA's Tegra 3 ARM SoC and on the other the ODROID-X Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9.  NVIDIA's offering is well known by now but the ODROID-X is a relative newcomer to the market, offering their product for about $130.  After setting up Linux on these systems Phoronix got to benchmarking and the results will surprise NVIDIA fans as the ARM based system actually came out on top on quite a few of the tests.

ph_odroidx.jpg

"While not as popular as NVIDIA's Tegra 3 ARM SoC, the Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 found on cheaply priced ODROID-X can actually outperform the quad-core NVIDIA ARM processor. Here are benchmarks of the $129 USD ODROID-X benchmarked against the NVIDIA Tegra 3 reference tablet and a PandaBoard ES running the Texas Instruments OMAP4460."

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Source: Phoronix

Live Review Recap: GeForce GTX 660 Ti

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | August 16, 2012 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: video, nvidia, live review, live, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, GK104

A PC Perspective Live Review Recap is a recorded version of a previously live streamed event from http://pcper.com/live.  If you couldn't make the original air time, or simply want to re-watch, the on-demand version is provided below!

Today has been a busy day for the PC Perspective crew.  Not only have we published like 100 graphics card reviews in the last three days but we also held a live event at the offices to host NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss and debate the release of the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti.

If you need to catch up, you should check out our GeForce GTX 660 Ti review posted earlier today to learn all about this $299 GPU that offers very compelling performance that competes with the HD 7950 and leaves the HD 7870 a fairly distant second.  Based on the same GK104 chip as the GTX 680 and the GTX 670, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti should find a lot of new homes this week.

For this event we not only gave a short presentation with some demos and review discussion, we also featured questions from the hardware subreddit and gave away an EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti to a lucky viewer! 

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more events and contests and the best reviews anywhere on PC hardware!!