Great performance; quiet and cool; rock-bottom price.
Gigabyte’s GTX 660 is similar to MSI’s board in that it’s overclocked and has a cooler with a silly name—Windforce. The board is clocked at the same base and boost clock speeds as the MSI card, too, running at 1,033MHz and 1,098MHz, respectively. The cooler features four copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and two large 10cm fans breathing down on the whole shebang. Even though the board sports a smallish 7.5-inch PCB, the cooling apparatus is so large that it’s 2-inches longer than the PCB and extends the length of the card to 9.5 inches. With a cooler this large you expect it to perform quite well, and it does. It kept the card absolutely silent even when the board was being tortured in the Lab, and allowed it to run at a moderately cool 63 C under full load.
Gigabyte’s OC Edition offers additional clock speeds and cooling at no extra charge.
The board’s benchmark performance was good enough for it to edge out the MSI card in most tests, but by a margin that’s insignificant. Since both cards are clocked the same and spec’d the same, this level of parity is not surprising. On the software front, the included OC Guru II app is easy to use for monitoring the card’s vitals and overclocking, but the charts it provides showing change over time are hard to read due to teeny text. There’s also a “bundle” in the box but we are putting it in quotes because it’s so meager—a single Molex-to-PCIe adapter.
The biggest surprise with the Gigabyte card is its MSRP is $230—exactly the same price as a bone-stock GTX 660, so it’s like the extra overclocking and cooling are free. Since it offers roughly the same software, cooling, performance, and bundle as the MSI card, the price advantage is all we need to give the nod to Gigabyte in this round.