At lower resolutions Battlefield 3 is less memory bandwidth intensive, allowing the GTX 660 Ti 2GB to put in a solid performance. A minimum frame rate of 54fps at 1,920 x 1,080 with 4x AA for the stock card and 56fps for the overclocked models surpass the 7950 3GB with boost and the OC cards are a shade faster than a 7970 3GB. There's a good ten per cent gap to between the GTX 660 Ti 2GB stock and the GTX 670 2GB too. The situation is much the same at 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA, although here the stock and OC cards all managed a minimum frame rate of 32fps. At 5,760 x 1,600 though the GTX 660 Ti 2GB's memory bandwidth limitations show, and with a minimum frame rate of 16fps, finds itself well down the pecking order.
Crysis 2 with its high-res texture pack and DX11 patch has proven to be a huge hardware hog and the GTX 660 Ti 2GB is some way off the pace. at 1,920 x 1,080 with 0x AA its minimum frame rate of 48fps is close to the CPU limited maximum of 50fps, but at 2,560 x 1,600 with 0x AA the GTX 660 Ti 2GB falls away with a minimum frame rate of just 21fps , while the overclocked memory of the Zotac amp! edition allows it to hit 22fps. In comparison the 7950 3GB with boost is 27 per cent faster with a minimum frame rate of 28fps, whilst the cheaper 7870 2GB is on par with the new GeForce card with a minimum of 22fps. At 5,76- 1,080 with 0x AA there's less of a gap, but no card bay the GTX 690 4GB can deliver playable frame rates.
Dirt 3 mightn't be the most demanding of titles, but it's very much GPU limited. At 1,920 x 1,080 with 4x AA the GTX 660 Ti 2GB is ahead of the 7950 3GB with boost thanks to a minimum frame rate of 105fps, with the OC versions marginally faster still. At 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA the 7950 3GB with boost sneaks ahead though, with a minimum of 67fps surpassing the 64fps of the stock GTX 660 Ti 2GB. It's the same at 5,760 x 1,080 with 4x AA too, as the 7950 3GB with boost managed a minimum of 51fps the GTX 660 Ti 2GB's 46fps.
Click to enlarge - The Zotac amp! Edition's short PCB makes it ideal for smaller systems, but it's also more expensive and noisier than the MSI Power Edition
Skyrim remains a game where Nvidia cards dominate, and at 1,920 x 1,080 with 4x AA the GTX 660 Ti is faster even than the HD 7970 3Gb GHz Edition thanks to a minimum frame rate of 84fps. At 2,560 x 1,600 with 4 x AA the stock GTX 660 Ti 2GB is just ahead of the 7950 3GB with boost thanks to a minimum of 60fps and even at 5,760 x 1,080 with 4x AA, the GTX 660 Ti 2GB proved the faster card.
As we've not been able to get our hands on a stock card for launch, we've looked at the power and thermals of our two overclocked cards. Both idled with a system power of 90W, but at load the MSI Power Edition was far more thirsty, with a peak power consumption of 242W to the amp! Edition's more frugal 222W. The MSI's larger PCB and carry over from MSI's GTX 670 Power Edition is likely the culprit here, but both are at least 15W lower than the consumption of the 7950 3Gb with Boost.
Both cards performed well thermally too, with the smaller and less power hungry Zotac peaking at 43°C above ambient and the MSI at a slightly higher 47°C above ambient. Due to the larger surface area of its cooler though, the MSI Power Edition and its twin Frozr cooler's fans were extremely quiet even under load, whilst the Zotac's Dual Silencer didn't quite live up to its name and was clearly audible over the rest of our test system at load.
Click to enlarge - While it's larger and more power hungry, the MSI Power Edition is also cheaper and quieter.
AMD's announcement of the HD 7950 3GB with Boost has thrown an all-mighty spanner into the works for the GTX 660 Ti 2GB. Last week it looked set to perfectly position itself between the cheaper HD 7870 2GB and pricer HD 7950 3GB whilst out-performing both, but AMD's boost has changed that.
However, stock and concrete pricing info for 7950 3GB's with boost is non-existent and won't be available for weeks, while the average price of a non-boost enabled HD 7950 3GB still sits at around £270. Considering that 'stock' versions of the GTX 660 Ti 2GB are going to be rare, with board-partners preferring to add a bit of factory over-clock, then the GTX 660 Ti 2GB is certainly a stronger choice than current OC'd or boosted 7950 3GB at lower resolutions such as 1,920 x 1,080. At higher and multi-monitor resolutions though it's clear the GTX 660 Ti 2GB's 192-bit memory interface isn't sufficient, at least in single-card setups.
As is always the case though, pricing is critical, particularly as there are versions of the GTX 670 2GB available for as little as £290.
In this regard, MSI's GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Power Edition is a little over the ideal price of £250, instead selling for , £260, helping to justify its factory overclock, very quiet custom cooler and extra OC headroom. It might be a large card, and 20W more energy hungry at load than the Zotac amp! Edition, but its a great deal faster the HD 7870 2GB priced below it, and faster in most cases than the HD 7950 3GBs selling for £20 more.
The Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB amp! Editon is a little more expensive at £270 and only £20 cheaper than the GTX 670 2GB linked above. It's shorter PCB and lower power consumption help of course, but unless you're using a SFF case, we'd still opt for the MSI.
So, should you buy a GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB? It's certainly not as clear cut as Nvidia might have hoped. It's certainly faster than a stock 7870 2GB and 7950 3GB in the majority of our tests and competitive even with the as-yet-unreleased 7950 3GB with Boost, but we can't help but feel that at £260-£270, the extra £20-30 to make the jump to a GTX 670 2GB is easily worth it for peace of mind, particularly if you think you might move to a higher resoltuion display in the near future.
The GTX 660 Ti 2GB is still a strong card, but with board partners adding overclocks and custom coolers, pricing is straying closer to the £300 mark of the GTX 670 2GB than the £200 everyone is happier to spend their money at. It's a still a solid card though, but whether its price remains too high for your budget is something you'll need to decide yourself.