A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

[Review Corner] Geforce 660 Review

As anyone who possibly might care and read this blog knows, I went from being a Mac user from late 05, to  once more back to the game laden arms of the PC in early 11.  Well, when I did this I had to choose an ATI 5770 card as opposed to something beefy because I simply could not afford further.  I have added in more RAM since then and the odd goodie but the video card was my only real bottleneck.

I worked some extra days a few weeks ago so I could get a new card.  Did a little in store web browsing to check prices and info, and chose this special little guy for 250 bucks at Best Buy:

An EVGA Superclocked Geforce GTX 660.  A mixture of price and performance that is right now probably the best card for the money.  While the Ti series is a touch faster, the 660 costs a good 75 dollars less.  Now this card is ONLY sold at Best Buy.  Why?  See sites like Newegg have better prices and selection.  But Best Buy to try to save its flagging fortunes now price matches.  Well instead of selling the normal EVGA card with matching price at 220 they have one that the week I got it was on sale for 250.  What makes it worth the extra?  It is overclocked to run faster but still be stable (something you can do yourself), and it has better chips inside of it.

You see electronics chips sometimes have quality variances of chips on the line.  Some are better than others.  So the Best Buy EVGA cards got better chips, giving you somewhat better performance.

Enough to be worth 30 bucks?  Probably not but being able to drive back to the store if there was an issue, and instant gratification does have some advantages.

Installation:  This was super bloody easy really.

We open up the box and get these goodies.  (Lego Santa not included.)  A pair of simple manuals, a driver disk, a silly metal sticker plate for your PC, and 2 bags of connection wires I didn't open.  

 Of course we should probably read the requirements before buying it right?  My power supply is 650 watts so I am set.  And a Sandy Bridge motherboard (sadly the original one with the possibly defective second hard disk connector..) is gonna have a PCI Express slot.  Power connector too.

 Sadly the box back is mostly a pile of horse pucky and doesn't really TELL you anything.  But we have PhysX for pretty physics stuff in games?  Yay?

 I have to unplug all this stuff from the back of my machine, plus take a few things off the top front USB connectors of my machine, and use the "Tool Free" screws to open up the side, and put it on my sink semi precariously so I can discharge static from my personage and clean out some dust.

 I unscrew the back metal plate from the old card (top), and pushed a tab on the PCI card slot so I can take it out.  See the right tab thingie?  That's what gets locked.  This new card is obviously a bit heavier and longer but it does juuuust fit.  This is also helped because of the power plug being on the long side than the end.  Also the card looks nice and isn't this half opened thing like the 5770 is.
                                 (Push Tab here!)    
                                                                                               (Power cable goes here.)

My monitor uses the DVI-D connector so I put it there.  The covers are a nice touch.  I still feel kind of overwhelmed though.  So many new formats and terminologies while I was in Mac Land.  If I have issues I REALLY feel bad for Joe and Jane Average Consumers!

My Windows 7 Score is pretty good with the 5770.  But the hard drive is kind of pokey and Solid State drives are still too expensive for the price.

 With the normal free version of 3DMark 11 my score in it is kind of meh.  It isn't awful and the tests are generally not slide shows but they are slow and obviously so.

Neverwinter Nights 2 with first expansion in the opening room is 35 FPS before any movement or camera stuff at maximum everything for me.  (1080p)

In this cut scene where I can make a choice I am getting sub 20 FPS.  It gets even worse when the action gets heavy and I am outside and can see a whole lot.

In Dawn of War 2 the test gives me 53.82 average FPS, with 101.19 high, and 14.76 low.

I uninstall all the ATI bits and make it a standard SVGA card thing.  Do the super easy installation I mentioned above, and install the drivers but NOT all the special software for overlocking and whatnot.

The online driver update is.. quite a few versions beyond what the card shipped with.  So more updating.

Ok.  Done.  What sort of heat am I getting?

Graphics is now the maximum score Windows 7 acknowledges.  Sweet!

 3D Mark11 gives me more than DOUBLE the score with a lot smoother graphics.

 Dawn of War 2 shows things weird though.  My average is now 73.29, and a high of 149.1, but my low is 10.96.  Curious.  One would think the card would have sped up the minimum as well but perhaps the demo test is more erratic than it should be for a benchmark tool to pick the best settings to have a good experience.  Or the PhysX thing is actually causing a call that gives the demo a second or two of hard disk access to slow things down.  Still, an average of 73 FPS is super smooth.

 Neverwinter Nights 2 jumps up to 130+ FPS!  WOW.  That is a major improvement.  Major indeed!

Outside in the cut scene is now 66 FPS.  Again more than triple the performance for a card that costs roughly what the 5770 did in early 11.

 This is as slow as Mechwarrior Online gets when things are chaotic.  Normally its nearly a seamless 60 frames per second as is the limit the game imposes.  But not only does it run faster and smoother, but.. it looks better!  Textures I never noticed before, extra shine on surfaces.  More environmental things happening.

I have now had this card for 2 weeks and no trouble.  Doesn't seem to be increasing the noise of the machine or causing any troubles or instabilities.  For less than the price of a Wii U or the price of a PS Vita I made my computer much better at running cutting edge games at higher resolutions at better speeds.

I can HIGHLY recommend this card as it currently stands.  So on my Good-Ok-Bad scale it is solidly GOOD.  If you have a card with a gigabyte or less of RAM on it and are not in SLI or Crossfire mode with it (two cards of the same type linked together) you might really want to consider this card.

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