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Sep 13th, 2012

PR | NVIDIA Announces GeForce GTX 660 and GTX 650

Graphics Cards with NVIDIA Kepler Architecture - Overview | GeForce
“The fastest growing platform for video games today is the PC.” This rather bold statement came not from an indie developer or a stalwart supporter of the PC, like Valve, but from none other than the CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello. Console sales are not what they used to be, and PC gaming, once viewed as endangered, is seeing a resurgence. But this rise is not the revival of the same industry. It’s a new industry. Ten years ago, PC gaming meant boxed copies of first person shooters at $50 a pop. Today, “PC gaming” means free to play games, digital downloads, ad-supported titles, subscriptions, and the occasional boxed product. Even piracy, the old scourge of the industry, is now not without remedy.

This resurgence has led to a revived appetite for gaming hardware. According to the latest Steam Hardware Survey, 40% of gamers are using a DirectX 10 or older graphics card, many of which date back to the days of the GeForce 8800 GT, some six years ago. With each new high-profile DirectX 11 release we are seeing an uptick in upgrades, but despite the incredible popularity of the latest Kepler graphics cards the majority of gamers have yet to take the plunge.

You see, PC gamers love technology, but they’re also very value conscious, with most preferring to spend only $100 to $250 on a video card upgrade. NVIDIA’s Kepler line of GPUs, though undoubtedly fast, has therefore been outside the price range of most gamers.

Today, we’re unveiling two new Kepler graphics cards: the GeForce GTX 660 and the GeForce GTX 650. Starting at $229 and $109, respectively, these new cards at long last bring the exceptional performance and power efficiency of Kepler to all PC gamers of every budget.

Andrew Coonrad, Technical Marketing Guru, introduces the GeForce GTX 650 and GTX 660.

In this article we take a look at these two new graphics cards and show how they stack up to products of similar price points from prior generations. And though many reading this will be upgrading, just as many will be building brand new systems. To help with this, we’ve put together a detailed guide on how to build a great gaming rig for under $799, or a great starter rig for under $499. We hand picked each component for the best bang for the buck and even found the best e-tailer prices for your convenience. To round out the guide, we close with a section on essential gaming accessories – after all, if you are building a new gaming PC, you might as well as build something that’s going to help you play at the top of your game.

The New Kepler Product Lineup

 

 

Specifications GeForce GTX 690 GeForce GTX 680 GeForce GTX 670 GeForce GTX 660 Ti GeForce GTX 660 GeForce GTX 650
Chip 2 x GK104 GK104 GK104 GK104 GK106 GK107
CUDA Cores 3072 1536 1344 1344 960 384
Base Clock 915 MHz 1006 MHz 915 MHz 915 MHz 980 MHz 1058 MHz
Boost Clock 1019 MHz 1058 MHz 980 MHz 980 MHz 1033 MHz N/A
Memory Configuration 4 GB 2 GB 2 GB 2 GB 2 GB 1 GB
Memory Speed 6.0 Gbps 6.0 Gbps 6.0 Gbps 6.0 Gbps 6.0 Gbps 5.0 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth 384 GB/s 192 GB/s 192 GB/s 144 GB/s 144 GB/s 80 GB/s
Power Connectors 2 x 8-pin 2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 6-pin 6-pin
Outputs 2 x DL-DVI-I

1 x DL-DVI-D

Mini-DP

1 x DL-DVI-I

1 x DL-DVI-D

1 x HDMI

Mini-DP

1 x DL-DVI-I

1 x DL-DVI-D

1 x HDMI

Mini-DP

1 x DL-DVI-I

1 x DL-DVI-D

1 x HDMI

Mini-DP

1 x DL-DVI-I

1 x DL-DVI-D

1 x HDMI

Mini-DP

1 x DL-DVI-I

1 x DL-DVI-D

1 x HDMI

TDP 300 W 195 W 170 W 150 W 150 W 64 W
SLI Options Quad 3-way 3-way 3-way 2-way N/A
Price $999 $499 $399 $299 $229 $109

 

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660

The GeForce GTX 660 is a $229 mid-range GPU built around a new Kepler chip codenamed GK106 (see diagram). Designed to strike a perfect balance between performance and affordability, the new chip runs almost all games using high quality DirectX 11 settings at 1920×1080.

 

The GK104 chip is powered by 960 CUDA cores, three graphics processing clusters, 80 texture units and a 192-bit memory interface. It’s the “mid-weight” member of the Kepler family.
 

Compared to previous-generation ‘bang for the buck’ video cards, like the GeForce 8800 GT and GTX 460, the GTX 660 handles the latest titles with ease, as our performance chart below shows. Compared to the GTX 460, frame rates are up to twice as fast, and compared to the 8800 GT, frame rates are up to four times as fast, at a higher level of detail using DirectX 11 (the 8800 GT only supports DirectX 9 and 10).

 

The GeForce GTX 660 hits triple digits in the popular Diablo III, and continues to impress in other titles, too. In each, high settings were used, and 4xMSAA anti-aliasing was enabled when available. On the GTX 460 and 9800 GT, many games failed to hit a playable 30 frames per second, or were just above that mark, resulting in an unenjoyable experience. Please note that your mileage may vary given your particular hardware and software configuration.
 

As our performance chart shows, you’ll be able to enjoy all or most of the effects in any game at a fast, fluid frame rate on the GeForce GTX 660. In Borderlands 2, which is right around the corner, the GeForce GTX 660 runs at a breezy 50 frames per second at a high detail level, and with all PhysX effects enabled also. In fact, even in the most punishing game, the GTX 660 still delivers a solid 38 frames per second.

 

With PhysX enabled in Borderlands 2 the game’s action is even more exciting, as hundreds of thousands of particles and effects combine to fill the screen with debris, blood, fluid effects, and the pièce de résistance, the vortex explosion.
 

If you’re looking for an affordable upgrade that gives you the maximum amount of features and a great level of performance in any title, the GTX 660 ticks all the boxes. It runs almost all of the latest games at over 40 frames per second at 1920×1080 with high settings, and when you’re not gaming its four outputs allow you to create an extended four-screen desktop.

If your system is beyond a mere upgrade, or you’re looking to jump into PC gaming for the very first time, the GTX 660 is a great mid-range choice. And if you turn to page two, we’ll show you how to build a well-balanced GTX 660 system for less than $799.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650

The GeForce GTX 650 is NVIDIA’s entry level gaming GPU. “Entry” in this case may be a bit of a misnomer. Powered by 384 CUDA Cores and 1GB of dedicated memory, the GeForce GTX 650 plays most of today’s games at medium quality or higher at 1920×1080, meaning it packs a real punch despite its diminutive profile and $109 price tag. As way of illustration, the GeForce GTX 650 has 812 Gigaflops of graphics horsepower, which is over three times that of the Xbox 360’s Xenos GPU.

In the entry-level market we find users typically upgrade only once every three to four years, and at present most of our customers in that segment are using the GeForce 9500 GT, a four year old GPU that was designed for gaming at 1280×1024. Today, 1920×1080 is by far the most popular resolution, and as such the GeForce GTX 650 is designed to play at this resolution, bringing HD-quality gaming to the entry level.

 

We tested the GeForce GTX 650′s performance in a suite of seventeen games, spanning popular classics and new releases. High quality settings were enabled where possible, and only dialed down to medium for more intensive titles like Battlefield 3 and Borderlands 2.
 

As our chart shows, the GeForce GTX 650 performs well in popular games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and DOTA 2, rendering the action at 1920×1080 with high-to-maximum settings enabled. In World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, the GeForce GTX 650 runs at a breezy 46 frames per second at 1920×1080 with DirectX 11 and 4xMSAA enabled; the GeForce 9500 GT managed only 12 frames per second using the same settings and the DirectX 9 renderer.

In more intensive, graphical titles, like Battlefield 3, Max Payne 3 and Batman: Arkham Asylum, the GTX 650 plays at medium detail levels, in all cases delivering over 40 frames per second. In low-fi games, like League of Legends, the venerable 9500 GT failed to hit even 30 frames per second, clearly showing why it is unsuitable for modern-day, 1920×1080 gaming.


Our interactive comparison shows the massive increase in fidelity a GTX 650 enables in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
 

Despite being only 5.7 inches long, compared to the 9.5 inches of the GTX 660, the GTX 650 can output to three monitors simultaneously and still sports popular Kepler features such as Adaptive VSync and FXAA anti-aliasing. Its tiny size also makes it a great upgrade for a Home Theater PC (HTPC) or older system utilizing a smaller case. In a HTPC, the GTX 650 has ample power to output Full HD 1080p footage to your HDTV television via the mini-HDMI output, and in full stereoscopic 3D via NVIDIA’s 3D Vision, too. Adding to its appeal as a HTPC card is the fact the GTX 650 draws less than 5 Watts of power at idle, and less than 13 Watts of power when accelerating 1080p video.

Starting at $109, the GeForce GTX 650 is a great entry-level upgrade for gamers who want to keep up with today’s PC gaming. Even mainstays like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 have switched to DirectX 11, upping the level of detail and the game’s performance. Console gamers, meanwhile, are limited to last-gen graphics, upscaled from sub-720p resolutions, using lower quality textures.

Next, we show you how to pick and chose the right components to a build two super affordable PCs based on these two new graphics cards.

With the addition of the GeForce GTX 660 and GTX 650, the Kepler family has now six graphics cards spanning $109 to $999. The GTX 690, 680, and 670 are our enthusiast products, offering the highest level of performance for gamers who demand the absolute maximum from their machines. The GTX 660 Ti is on the cusp of ‘high-end’, offering a level of performance higher than that of last-generation’s flagship GPU, the GTX 580, for $100 less than the GTX 670.

The new GTX 660 we’re unveiling today is a mid-range GPU, offering a balance between performance and price, without sacrificing any of the features seen on the aforementioned cards. Today’s other new GPU, the GTX 650, is an affordable entry-level product that lets people game at 1920×1080 in the most popular online titles, and outmatches the console versions of multiplatform games with better textures and more detailed effects.