EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked Graphics CardReview

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The NVIDIA GTX 660 launched on the 13th and EarthDog was right there with a review of Galaxy’s GTX 660 GC. Today we bring you another flavor of GTX 660, EVGA’s GTX 660 Superclocked.

Specifications & Features

As its name indicates, the EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked is overclocked over the base GTX 660 specifications. It has received 66 MHz base clock and 78 MHz boost clock increases (over the reference 980 MHz and 1033 MHz, base & boost, respectively). The memory speed maintains the stock 6008 MHz effective / 1,502 MHz actual specification.

EVGA GTX 660 SC Specifications

EVGA GTX 660 SC Specifications

System requirement to run the GTX 660 is very reasonable, specifying the need for only a (strong, reputable) 450 Watt PSU. My old Corsair VX450 would run this splendidly.

Here’s GPUz with the GPU operating at stock.

EVGA GTX 660 SC GPUz

EVGA GTX 660 SC GPUz

The stock overclocks aren’t earth shattering, but they’re a nice boost over reference specs.

Packaging & Accessories

The EVGA GTX 660 SC comes in a smaller box than its big brother did, choosing to go with bubble wrap + antistatic bag for protection rather than the large clamshell-style floating-in-plastic method. This protects the card well and it had no problems installing and firing right up.

EVGA GTX 660 SC Box

EVGA GTX 660 SC Box

EVGA GTX 660 SC Box Rear

EVGA GTX 660 SC Box Rear

EVGA GTX 660 SC Packed

EVGA GTX 660 SC Packed

Bubble Wrap & Anti-Static

Bubble Wrap & Anti-Static

The accessories included are all you could need. Paying attention to the fact that users of the lower-end GTX 660 may have older PSUs, they’ve kindly included a dual MOLEX -to- 6-pin PCIe connector. Also included is a DVI-to-VGA adapter, manual, driver disc & case badge.

Accessories

Accessories

Game discs included with video cards have gone the way of the dodo (instead, if you get a game, you get a code to download it), so you can’t really expect more with the card. The necessities are what you, um, need…and those are what you get.

Meet the EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked (SC)

The GTX 660 looks almost identical to the GTX 660 Ti. It has a plastic shroud with well-fitting stickers that give the impression of brushed metal and carbon fiber. If the light hits the card just right, that carbon fiber does look very nice.

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

As mentioned, it looks very similar to the GTX 660 Ti SC and that includes both the front, back and side of the card. The last photo on the right above shows the single 6-pin power connector. NVIDIA specifies that it doesn’t even need that connector for stock operation, but with these overclocked cards, it is the partners’ option to add the 6-pin if they want.

As you can see, there is a single SLI connector for connecting two GTX 660’s in SLI. There is no tri-SLI option at this level. Heck, most were taken aback that they allowed it with the GTX 660Ti, so that isn’t a surprise at all.

EVGA GTX 660 SC Rear

EVGA GTX 660 SC Rear

One More Card Photo

One More Card Photo

So far so good with this EVGA offering, let’s take that cooler off.

Under the Hood

What have we here? Why, it looks for some reason this card has a better cooling solution than the EVGA GTX 660 Ti SC! I’m not sure why they did this, but indeed, this looks like a better solution all around. As you can see, it cools the MOSFETs and RAM as well as the GPU itself.

Cooler Removed

Cooler Removed

Cooler Contact

Cooler Contact

Removing the shroud is even more perplexing. The EVGA GTX 660 Ti SC, you’ll recall, had a pretty weak cooler, with just a copper plate mounted on an aluminum sink. It definitely did not contact the RAM and relied on a separate aluminum heatsink for the MOSFETs.

Not on the GTX 660 SC, no. This thing comes complete with a single-heatpipe GPU cooler and aluminum heatsink that contacts all of he RAM on this side of the card as well as the power section. This cooler does leave the RAM on the back side bare, but you can only expect so much on a card at this level.

Heatsink/Fan and Shroud

Heatsink/Fan and Shroud

Heatsink/Fan

Heatsink/Fan

Contact Portion of Cooler

Contact Portion of Cooler

Cooler Head-On

Cooler Head-On

As you can see it is definitely superior to the GTX 660 Ti SC’s cooling solution, which really threw me for a loop when taking this card apart. It just doesn’t compute.

Heatsink/Fan

Heatsink/Fan

Now that you’ve seen the cooler, let’s check out the card itself. One big difference from the GK104-based Kepler cards is that this reference board moves the power section to the opposite side of the card, right behind the single 6-pin PCIe connector.

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

EVGA GTX 660 SC

Speaking of power, here you see the four-phase power section for the GPU. There is one other phase at the front of the card for the memory; these four are dedicated to the GPU itself.

Power Section

Power Section

In a very interesting twist, for the GTX 660, EVGA has eschewed the normal Hynix-based GDDR5 in favor of 2 GB of Samsung memory. Samsung’s site rates this model number at up to 1750 MHz (or much lower too, depending on what you order), so there might or might not be something to look forward to.

On the right you see the brand new Kepler GK106 in the flesh.

Samsung GDDR5 Memory

Samsung GDDR5 Memory

NVIDIA GK106 GPU

NVIDIA GK106 GPU

Clothed and not, the reference GTX 660 is a good looking card at this price point. Time to install it.

Test Setup

Our test setup today is the standardized Ivy Bridge system we all use for GPU reviews. The motherboards may change, but the system is always run with the CPU at 4.0 GHz and the RAM at DDR3-1866 / 9-9-9-24.

CPU i7 3770K
MB ASUS Maximus V Extreme
RAM G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-2133
GPU EVGA GTX 660 SC
OS Windows 7 Professoinal x64

The cards we’re comparing have been tested at the same settings, but on different motherboards per the Overclockers’ Updated Video Card Testing Procedure.

Galaxy GTX 660 GC
EVGA GTX 660 Ti Superclocked
Sapphire HD 7870 Flex Edition
Powercolor PCS+ HD 7850
HIS 7950 IceQ Turbo
ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP

The competition should be interesting today. There is even another overclocked GTX 660 in the mix.

EVGA Software

EVGA’s overclocking software – PrecisionX – looks much the same as it has for previous GTX 6xx cards, with a custom GTX 660 skin for you to use as well. The biggest difference here is the lower Power Target limit of 110%, which we already touched on.

EVGA PrecisionX

EVGA PrecisionX

In addition to the Power Target, you get some voltage control to help push your overclock as far as it can go within the limited power envelope.

PrecisionX Voltage

PrecisionX Voltage

EVGA also has OC Scanner, which helps you tune your overclocks for stability.

EVGA OC Scanner & Settings

EVGA OC Scanner & Settings

As part of OC Scanner, you also have NV-z, which borrows much of its styling from GPU-z, but with added monitoring capabilities right there in the main UI rather than making you click a tab.

EVGA NV-z

EVGA NV-z

Here is OC Scanner running with NV-z monitoring.

OC Scanner Running

OC Scanner Running

It’s a solid software package that will allow you to push the GTX 660 to its limits.

Cooler Performance & Power Consumption

As this cooler is a bit more stout than the GTX 660 Ti SC’s, I expected to see at least a slight difference in temperatures and the data bears that out, beating its big brother by an average of 3.3°C.

EVGA GTX 660 SC Cooler Performance

EVGA GTX 660 SC Cooler Performance

Likewise, power consumption should come in a bit less, with the GTX 660’s reduced specifications.

EVGA GTX 660 SC Power Consumption

EVGA GTX 660 SC Power Consumption

3DMark 11 had the largest variation, showing the GTX 660 SC coming in almost thirty watts below the 660 Ti SC. Interestingly, that shows almost perfect scaling, with right at 30 W separating the GTX 670 from the GTX 660 Ti, and subsequently, the same difference separating the GTX 660 Ti and the GTX 660. Suffice to say a 450 W power supply will be plenty for machines with this GPU and an Ivy Bridge CPU, even overclocked (500 W might be safer for the latter, just to give you plenty of extra room).

Overclocking

Overclocking is somewhat limited on the core side of things because of the 10% power target limit. I asked EVGA if there were any plans to expand that range and they say it’s not possible due to the single 6-pin power connector.

With the 10% limit and the available voltage control, the GTX 660 SC reached +75 MHz on the core. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s an improvement an you can’t argue with that.

On the memory side of things, this card seriously surprised me. It managed a 250 MHz memory overclock (that’s +500 MHz in the PrecisionX software), bringing the memory from the stock 1502 MHz up to an impressive 1752 MHz!

EVGA GTX 660 SC 24/7 Overclock

EVGA GTX 660 SC 24/7 Overclock

Here you can see the settings in PrecisionX (voltage was maxed out).

EVGA GTX 660 SC 24/7 Overclock

EVGA GTX 660 SC 24/7 Overclock

Note the GPU clockspeed in the bottom right. This overclock ends up making the normal boost under load 1199 MHz. A 1200 MHz card at this price point? Sure sounds good to me.

Performance Results

On to the results! As usual, we’ll start with synthetic benchmarks and move on to games after those.  As always, our complete testing methodology and every setting used in the games can be found in the Overclockers’ Updated Video Card Testing Procedure article.

Synthetic Tests

First up, it’s no secret that 3DMark03 favors AMD cards. NVIDIA isn’t wasting their time optimizing for something this old, so don’t put too much credence in this. It’s good to show overclock scaling, SLI scaling, etc but not so good to actually compare NVIDIA & AMD architectures. What we do see is that the EVGA GTX 660 SC out-benchmarks the Galaxy GTX 660 GC due to its higher stock overclock and higher overclocked speed.

3DMark03

3DMark03

3DMark Vantage gets into recent, more relevant territory. Again, with its higher clockspeed, the EVGA GTX 660 SC comes out ahead of the Galaxy card, both stock and overclocked. It also has a healthy lead over both competing HD 78xx cards.

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

Moving forward to DirectX 11, the Galaxy card breaks the pattern a bit, beating the EVGA GTX 660 SC by a small margin at stock. When overclocked, EVGA’s card comes out ahead. The HD 78xx cards continue to lag behind.

3Dmark 11

3Dmark 11

Much like 3DMark 11, the same pecking order remains. Interestingly, in Heaven, the EVGA GTX 660 SC overclocked is knocking on the door of its GTX 660Ti-based big brother.

HWBot Heaven

HWBot Heaven

Poor AMD. They didn’t seem to fair very well at this level. At the high end they still remain competitive, but when it comes to HD 7850 vs. GTX 660 and HD 7870 vs. GTX 660 Ti, there is a clear performance gap, and it’s favoring NVIDIA.

Game Tests

Moving on to real-world testing, we’ll have a look at our gaming suite (in alphabetical order as usual). Remember, all settings can be seen here. Long story short – every benchmark is run at 1080p with all eye candy maxed out.

Aliens vs. Predator is looking good for the GTX 660. The Galaxy GTX 660 continues to take it at stock and EVGA GTX 660 comes out ahead when overclocked – but both numbers are just barely different. Here, you can see the GTX 660 actually getting very close to the GTX 660 Ti’s results. AMD does well in AvP with the HD 7870. Not so much with the HD 7850.

Aliens vs. Predator DX11 Benchmark

Aliens vs. Predator DX11 Benchmark

In the GTX 660 battle, Battlefield 3 goes to the EVGA card, beating Galaxy at stock and overclocked. The GTX 660Ti shows why it is more expensive and the HD 78xx series doesn’t do so well.

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3

Like most results, Batman: Arkham City comes in with Galaxy winning at stock and EVGA winning overclocked. I’m not sure why, but the GTX 660Ti actually loses to the GTX 660 in Batman. Way to go GTX 660! AMD’s HD 7870 remains competitive and their HD 7850 remains…not.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City

Civilization V mirrors prior results with Galaxy’s stock and EVGA’s overclocked result beating each other, respectively. The GTX 660 Ti shows it should be ahead and the HD 7870 fits where it should. Even the HD 7850 shows a little muscle here.

Civilization V

Civilization V

Our next-to-last game reverses the GTX 660 battle, with EVGA coming out ahead at stock and Galaxy moving ahead overclocked. The GTX 660 Ti is well ahead of the pack and the HD 7870 shows it can beat the GTX 660 in some games.

Dirt 3

Dirt 3

What seems to be the GTX 660 battle’s natural order has been restored in Metro – Galaxy wins at stock and EVGA wins overclocked. The GTX 660Ti gets taken out here and I can only imagine that’s due to driver improvements between the two launches. The HD 7870 actually struts its stuff when overclocked, almost beating out everything when overclocked – except the EVGA GTX 660 SC.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Sadly for AMD, the poor HD 7850 just can’t really compete with anything out today. The HD 7870 tries to keep things competitive for the most part.

In our GTX 660 battle, it seems EVGA’S GTX 660 SC has the upper hand over Galaxy’s GTX 660 GC but you need to overclock it to keep it ahead through (almost) all aspects.

Pushing the Envelope

With the 10% Power Target constraint, there isn’t much pushing the limit to do with the GTX 660 in general. Its overclock was maxed out for the most part when overclocked for 24/7 use. Vantage was run at that speed and 11 came in with a 5 MHz faster offset. Regardless, the scores aren’t bad at all. Please excuse the CPU overclock, it was especially hot the day I ran these and my CPU didn’t want to cooperate at 5 GHz for Vantage.

3DMark Vantage - 27772

3DMark Vantage – 27772

3DMark 11 - 7603

3DMark 11 – 7603

Even with my CPU not cooperating, these aren’t at all bad scores for a card at this price point.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

For a budget card, the EVGA GTX 660 SC is priced perfectly for its performance. Cheaper than the HD 7870 and slightly more expensive than the HD 7850, overall the GTX 660 line is priced perfectly for beating AMD’s offerings at the same level. Were I to venture into conjecture territory, we might see another price drop in AMD’s line to make their cards more in-line with their performance. At least I hope we do, for AMD’s sake. For the time being, NVIDIA has the card to beat at the ~$230 price range in the GTX 660 line.

Specific to this card, as you saw, the EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked comes out ahead of its AMD competition, and when both cards are overclocked, it consistently beats out the Galaxy GTX 660 GC.  The memory overclock on the EVGA offering is just insane for a card at this price point. The 10% Power Target limit is the only thing holding these GPUs back. Unfortunately with the single 6-pin PCIe connector, EVGA says the chance we’ll see an increase in that is about as close to zero as you can get. Call it 0.0000000000000000000001%. Plus, in a budget card like this, NVIDIA probably wants to convince those that need such constraints lifted to move up to the GTX 660Ti.

While EVGA’s blower-style cooler may not necessarily look as ‘ZOMG it’s powerful’ as other aftermarket offerings, this one does quite well for itself and looks good in its own way too. It has a heatpipe GPU cooler, contacts the RAM on that side of the card, and cools the VRM with the same hefty aluminum contact plate. Add to that the fact this blower-style cooler exhausts the hot air out of your case, you actually have a very effective cooling solution. Also, unlike the GTX 660Ti SC, you can call me a fan (heh) of the GTX 660 SC’s cooler.

Good cooling? Check. Efficient, power-sipping operation? Check. Solid overclocks (more so on the memory side)? Check. Let’s not forget EVGA’s excellent three year warranty. Price? Right, price! The EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked retails for $229.99 and is available at Newegg right now. Combine that reasonable price with all of the other factors and you have a budget powerhouse that is easily Overclockers Approved.

Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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Discussion
  1. I love this card. I thought because it only had 24 ROPS it would be slow but apparently not. I guess what matters is texel fill-rate.

    It's 40% faster than my GTX 460 1GB. I'm grabbin' 2 of them as soon as I can.:drool: