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Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Golden Sample
Gainward has a habit of surprising its users with models that have a Golden Sample suffix. These cards have always offered a lot of fun, and plenty of margin regarding performances and overclocking. Besides that, they worked “by default” on what GPU manufacturers set as referent values. I will always remember the GeForce 4 Ti4200 Golden Sample and GeForce 7600GS I owned in the past. Is the Golden Sample sticker a symbol of overclocking, or is it there just “to be found”? All that’s left is to check it out thoroughly in the rest of the article.
Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Golden Sample review
As we’ve gotten used to it, Gainward packed
The cooler covers the graphic card completely, and it’s characterized by a plastic shell. Even though metal is a better choice when it comes to aesthetics, I have nothing against matte plastic that can look pretty good. Still, Gainward decided to make certain surfaces “glossy”, and that’s not a finish you can be proud of, since it’s hard to maintain. You will have dust problems, and scratches will appear on their own.
The cooler definitely draws attention to itself, since the fins of the fan have a very interesting shape. The big number of curvatures is here, and when combined with so many “paddles”, I have to say that it promises a lot regarding acoustic performances. Similar fans are on Sapphire’s models, and as you know, in this range, their products are brilliant. If the fan looks a little bit big, there’s a reason for that. Even though it has a diameter of 90 mm, the length of the board is only 180 mm long, and that gives out the impression of an over-sized fan.
GeForce GTX 660 Rating
By breaking the card down, I discovered some interesting things. The plastic casing fits in very easily, and all you need to do to take it apart is to unscrew four little screws. The rest is independent, with the exception of the cable that supplies power to the fan. I like this concept, since you can easily clean it from dust in just a few simple moves. Definitely a plus in my eyes.
Underneath, you will find an aluminum cooling profile, characterized with dense ribs. The mass and the dimensions of it aren’t big, and for better performances, Gainward added two copper heatpipe’s, and a copper base. Keeping in mind that this is a GK106 chip that was made in the advanced 28-nanometer manufacturing process, and that its efficiency is on a high level, a higher complexity of the cooling system wouldn’t have a point.
The power unit is being cooled via a special miniature profile made out of aluminum. As the fan is pretty big, I’m sure that the air current made by it is also affecting the surface of this little cooler. In any case, the cooling is pretty well designed, and the only thing I miss here are memory chips that aren’t covered with a cooling profile. ASUS, and many other manufacturers practice this, and it’s not a good thing.
The power unit is digital and it’s made with 4phases, which is more than enough for the GK106, since it’s not so demanding, energy-wise. Besides, Gigabyte utilized the same thing with its WindForce 2X model, while ASUS went with the 6phase for its TOP model. In any case, Gainward is in the class of other manufacturers. As far as memory is concerned, they used GDDR5 chips, signed by Samsung. The overall capacity is 2 GB, and certain chips were soldered on both sides, so the 192bit main part can get a “rounded” capacity.
As the GeForce GTX 660 cards are declared by NVIDIA on a TDP of 140W, an additional 6pin molex was necessary for adequate power supply.
Regarding the video output, this graphic card is great. We have two DVI ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort with full dimensions. This configuration seems like the most practical one, since you won’t need any converters, regardless of the connection type your monitor uses.
As far as working frequencies are concerned, I have to admit that Gainward disappointed me a little. Even though it’s a member of the Golden Sample series, the factory overclock isn’t much. Actually, out of all the models I tested, Gainward has the lowest frequencies. The GPU was accelerated from a referent 980 MHz to 1006 MHz, and I’m talking about a nominal frequency here. Besides that, the memory only got a mild boost from 1502 MHz to 1527 MHz. This is interpreted as a 100 MHz higher frequency, since we’re talking about GDDR5 chips. All in all, the Golden Sample wasn’t accelerated aggressively, and I have to say that I am disappointed.
GAINWARD NVIDIA GTX 460 Golden Sample Vs. GTX 660 Golden Sample
3d Mark, Unigine Heaven 3.0
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500k @ 4500 MHz
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77 (Intel PZ77)
RAM: 2 x 4 GB AMD Memory Entertainment Edition DDR3 1600 MHz
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1 TB
Graphics Display Adapter: Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Golden Sample
Power supply: CoolerMaster GX series 750W
Work impressions and conclusion
Gainward did the cooling job very well. The cooler, even though it’s compact, controls the temperature very well with an extremely low level of generated noise. First and fore most, in real conditions, in a room temperature on my open platform, the card was very silent. The fan has a well design, and as such, it’s very quiet in the automatic work more. Also, I got the impression that Gainward optimizes this mechanism in a great way. With 70 degrees Celsius, the fan speeds up to 45% of its maximum speed. This way, it doesn’t let the temperature rise, while still maintaining the low level of noise. You can hear the card if you have an open platform, but if your casing is isolated, you won’t even know it’s there.
As far as the overclock goes, with the automatic profile for controlling the number of rpm’s, I got to 1061 MHz for the GPU, and an effective 6768 MHz for the memory. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed, since I expected more from the Golden Sample model in terms of flexibility. To achieve this score, I ran the power up for 0.05V and I maximized the power limit to 109%. Unfortunately, I hit a brick wall relatively easy, and even though the max. temperature didn’t jump significantly, I got the feeling of a card in a very bad mood. Keeping that in mind, I believe that relatively early stoppage wasn’t a consequence of anything Gainward did, rather a “lucky” influence that made me have a low overclock margin.
The results with these frequencies are about 10%, as you can see from the charts pictured below. Still, even an additional 3-4 frames can make a big difference with high resolutions. It’s these 3-4 frames that determine whether the frame rate in the game can be described as playable or not.
Even though the Golden Sample obviously isn’t what it used to be, the DirectCU II Top from ASUS, or the Hawk and Power Edition from MSI are ahead of them, and they leave the impressions of much more advanced products. Still, this doesn’t imply that I’m disappointed with Gainward’s new model. You should keep in mind that this is one of the cheapest GTX 660 models. When you realize that, you have no choice but to turn the other cheek, and admit that this is a product with a good balance between the price and what it offers. Simply put, a five percent increase in performances aren’t worth it if you pay a 20% higher price.
+ Quiet and efficient cooler
- Only one fan
- Poor overclock possibilities
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