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The eternal question: Which is better? HD 7870 vs. 660 Ti (benchmarks inside)

post #1 of 28
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EDIT: Follow-up post here: http://www.overclock.net/t/1339698/the-eternal-question-which-is-better-hd-7870-vs-660-ti-benchmarks-inside/0_30#post_19001619


I just posted this in another thread, but since only a handful of people are going to see it there, I would rather post it in the video card forum as well. So here we go.


My wife wanted a better video card for her computer, so I decided to get her an HD 7870 to replace her aging HD 4870 512mb card. Shortly after getting this for her, I fell into some birthday money. From that money, I decided that I wanted an upgrade too... only this time, I choose team green; I purchased a 660 Ti for myself. Today I'm going to compare both of these cards. They are both overclocked from the factory, so while they aren't a representation of stock products, they do give a good idea of how these cards perform against each other.



The two cards I am comparing are the Sapphire HD 7870 OC and the eVGA GTX 660 Ti FTW Signature 2. Drivers used were the Cat 12.11 Beta11 for the HD 7870 and the newly released Forceware 310.70 WHQL drivers.

HD 7870: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102983

GTX 660 Ti: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130837


For comparison, I paid $209.99 for the HD 7870 on newegg, while I paid a whopping $299.99 for the GTX 660 Ti. Granted, the 7870 was on sale and marked down about $40, but that's what it cost to get each of them at the time of purchase.

Current system specs:

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Western Digital 500GB HDD (FRAPS/recording drive)

The pics:







Now for the benchmarks. I ran both cards at stock for every test. The resolution was exactly the same on all the games (1920x1200), and the details were left unchanged so that there could be an accurate comparison. Straight off the line, I was pretty sure that the 660 Ti was going to be faster on framerates, but lets see what happened.

The games I benchmarked were Battlefield 3 (multiplayer), Crysis, Far Cry 3, and Skyrim. Each benchmark was run for 2 minutes using FRAPS, and the resulting file was put into the FRAPS bench viewer utility. From here, we can measure the framerate, smoothness and overall experience of each card playing each game.

Let's get started with Battlefield 3:

NOTE: All pictures submitted are done with the 660 Ti as the top graph, and the 7870 on the bottom. This can be proven because the time stamps on the files. The 7870 benchmarks were done first, so the time stamps on those files are earlier (by about 45 minutes or so) than the 660 Ti benchmarks.



The benchmark was done on a 64-man Caspian Border server which was full for both runs. I ran around the map, shooting and taking points as if I was playing a normal game.

You can draw your own conclusion, but both cards were set to the same detail settings (all Ultra with no MSAA), and the results were not even close. The 7870 wins this one by a landslide. The 7870 was smoother and much more enjoyable. There was a constant frame stutter exhibited by the 660 Ti while the 7870 exhibited very smooth gameplay. This REALLY surprised me, but the graphs back up exactly what I felt in game.

Before anyone goes crying foul, I have to believe that this is either a driver issue or possibly an issue with my CPU. However, the 7870 ran just fine on my Phenom II X4, and the more powerful 660 ti didn't, so I don't believe my CPU is the culprit here. Software is more than likely to blame.

BF3 Winner: HD 7870




Next, let's look at Crysis:



Everything was set to very high with no aa on for this test. I started from the beginning of mission 2 on Crysis (not Warhead). I ran down to the small outpost, ran around the building two times, ran down the road, cloaked and shot the passing humvee in the gas tank (big explosion) then ran into the forest until the end.

This one was a little tougher, but again the 7870 pulled ahead. The average framerate was exactly the same, but the 660 Ti had a lower minimum framerate. Also, you can see by the graph that the 660 ti had quite a few more frame spikes throughout the run. I also noticed several areas where the 660 ti's framerate dipped that did not occur on the 7870. This means that the 7870's framerate and gameplay experience felt more consistent, and thus more enjoyable.

This could be a CPU issue, but I doubt it. Crysis only uses 2 threads, and even then, it ran perfectly on a stock Core 2 Duo. This probably has to do with the Kepler architecture and the driver as well.

Crysis Winner: HD 7870





Next let's look at Far Cry 3:



The settings on this were very high, HDAO, and no MSAA. I started from the same point on the island and ran for 2 minutes. Unfortunately, this was a little more difficult because the baddies spawned differently during both runs, so I couldn't even get close to reproducing the runs. However, I tried to stay in the same area for both.

This time things are quite a bit closer. First, the 660 Ti did maintain an average 5 fps higher than the 7870, and that could be felt (barely) in game. It did feel like the 660 ti maintained its framerate better than the HD 7870 this time, although based on the graphs, it's sort of hard to tell. The 660 ti has more frame spikes towards the end while the HD 7870 has more towards the beginning. However, since the 660 Ti maintained a higher framerate, it did provide a smoother gameplay experience, and thus the 660 Ti takes this one.

Far Cry 3 Winner: GTX 660 Ti

Finally, lets talk about Skyrim:



Settings were maxed except for MSAA, which was set to 4x for both cards. For this test, I spawned at a quick save point near White run and ran up the road for two minutes, both runs following the same path.

I'm not sure how to approach this one. The 660 Ti most definitely had a higher framerate for this game BUT it also had a more inconsistent one. It wasn't much more inconsistent, but when you turn off vsync, it's noticeable. There were a couple of times where the 7870 exhibited some bigger stutters, but they didn't last for that long. That could even be contributed to a background task on the computer. However, you will see on the 7870's graph (lower) thant at about 50 seconds, the frame times become almost a tight line, whereas the 660 Ti is unable to achieve that at any time.

Long story short, I'm confused. My gut is telling me that the 7870 was smoother for most of it, but the 660 ti's framerate was more consistent. Needless to say, if you turn on vsync on either card, that eliminates virtually every issue period. Because of this, I'm going to call it a draw. I simply do not have a preference in this instance.

Skyrim Winner: DRAW



Conclusion: Based on these 4 games, I have to give the nod to the 7870. The performance wasn't higher, but the framerates were more consistent. This lead to the gameplay experience being smoother overall. Since BF3 is my favorite game, I choose the 7870 without a shadow of a doubt. The fact that the 7870 is far cheaper than the 660 Ti makes this an easy decision for me... I choose the HD 7870.

If anyone else has requests for games, let me know. I'm tight on cash, but I'll do the best I can here. Let me know if you guys need any clarification on these tests or would like to see something done differently. Thanks. thumb.gif
Edited by Mad Pistol - 1/8/13 at 2:24pm
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post #2 of 28
First of all thanks for the effort to put in this comparison. thumb.gif Its quite a surprise because of all the controversy generated by the TR review. your feedback of lower min fps on GTX 660 Ti is quite important. the lower ROP count is a factor. If a HD 7870 is so good its clear the HD 7950 Boost would be much faster than GTX 660 Ti , which is exactly what the majority of reviews have been saying.
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post #3 of 28
This is very much a +rep effort, so thank you very much. thumb.gif

Couple of things, though. First, how did you get rid of AMD drivers after the 7870 testing? And second, if this data was analyzed in TTR way, Skyrim would be a definitive win for the 660Ti: it is way faster comparing the 1% (or the 99th percentile in TTR talk) frame time.
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post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by specopsFI View Post

This is very much a +rep effort, so thank you very much. thumb.gif
Couple of things, though. First, how did you get rid of AMD drivers after the 7870 testing? And second, if this data was analyzed in TTR way, Skyrim would be a definitive win for the 660Ti: it is way faster comparing the 1% (or the 99th percentile in TTR talk) frame time.

I cleared the AMD drivers though uninstalling the driver and using driver sweeper to clear out the remaining files.

TTR did their testing from a technical standpoint. I'm taking a different approach and viewing this from my impressions on the gameplay experience. There were noticeable stutters on the 660 Ti during the Skyrim run, but since the framerate was so much higher, that helped to offset that. I also did a test where I set both cards to their default "adaptive vsync" like feature in Skyrim, and using that setting, both cards are very VERY smooth. The gain on 90 FPS isn't tangible compared to roughly 65 or 70 as far as gameplay is concerned. However, any sort of "stutters" detract from the experience, and the 660 Ti had about twice as many stutters on the framerate as the HD 7870 did.

Because of this, I ruled the cards to be in a tie. However, if you go strictly by the numbers, the 660 Ti is the better card on Skyrim.


EDIT: just so you know what I'm talking about, each vertical line on that graph would be representative of a frame with higher latency, which results in a stutter. The 660 Ti has many of those, while the 7870 did not.
Edited by Mad Pistol - 12/19/12 at 12:17am
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post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Pistol View Post

I cleared the AMD drivers though uninstalling the driver and using driver sweeper to clear out the remaining files.
TTR did their testing from a technical standpoint. I'm taking a different approach and viewing this from my impressions on the gameplay experience. There were noticeable stutters on the 660 Ti during the Skyrim run, but since the framerate was so much higher, that helped to offset that. I also did a test where I set both cards to their default "adaptive vsync" like feature in Skyrim, and using that setting, both cards are very VERY smooth. The gain on 90 FPS isn't tangible compared to roughly 65 or 70 as far as gameplay is concerned. However, any sort of "stutters" detract from the experience, and the 660 Ti had about twice as many stutters on the framerate as the HD 7870 did.
Because of this, I ruled the cards to be in a tie. However, if you go strictly by the numbers, the 660 Ti is the better card on Skyrim.
EDIT: just so you know what I'm talking about, each vertical line on that graph would be representative of a frame with higher latency, which results in a stutter. The 660 Ti has many of those, while the 7870 did not.

Thanks for the answers. Personally I'm comfortable with Driver Sweeper. Some may argue though, but to say it is to fault of the 660Ti stuttering would require very solid data to base that claim on. Until then, I'll give the nod to your results.

Your method of actual gameplay experience is also a solid point. TTR seems to think that the 99th percentile is the most representative number to judge GPUs by. Still, it is just one point on the curve and doesn't tell the whole story. What's interesting is that even the 99.9% percentile frame time is lower on the 660Ti and still your subjective experience is that the 660Ti was stuttering more. Now if you take the average, 1% and 0.1% numbers and your subjective experience, could it be that the most relevant number would be the delta between the average and the 0.1%? The average is the "mostly" number, the 0.1% is the worst case scenario and the delta between the two is what makes or breaks the actual gameplay experience. Just a thought, based on the fact that the 660Ti is dipping down more than the 7870 going from average to 0.1%.
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post #6 of 28
It would have been great to include overclocked results from both cards. If that sapphire is voltage unlocked then it should be able to improve quite a bit.
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post

It would have been great to include overclocked results from both cards. If that sapphire is voltage unlocked then it should be able to improve quite a bit.

Was just thinking that as I was reading through it. The 7870 is the OC GHZ edition and the 660 ti could take a pretty hefty amount of overclocking. I have my EVGA SC card clocked up an addition 25% when I'm playing as well.

Here is MY card tested at reference clock speeds (915 core / 980 memory)

This is with settings all on ultra and 2x MSAA enabled and it performs quite similarly to that of the 7870. If I dropped off the MSAA and cranked my card back up to just the SC I'm sure it would stomp previous results, even more so if I turn it back up to my normal oc.

All in all though it is a good test as it shows that both cards are somewhat equal and both can stand to get some overclocking in as well. The difference is the 7870 is usually 30%+ cheaper than the 660ti's are.
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post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post

It would have been great to include overclocked results from both cards. If that sapphire is voltage unlocked then it should be able to improve quite a bit.

I wish it was voltage unlocked so I could do that. The 660 Ti overclocks like a champ, but the 7870 can't get far at all. I can't even touch 1200mhz without artifacting in Heaven benchmark. The 660 Ti, however, boosts to over 1300mhz when overclocked.
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post #9 of 28
I knew the TTR review was more or less bull. Nvidia Fan boys may not like this news but the 7950 was and always will be better then the 660ti. It's just a higher class of GPU

Good to see a 7870 do so well, Considering that they are pretty much on par with 660ti unless you get one that can OC well. For the Price they make one hell of a good card.


OP what were the clock speed you were using?
Edited by DzillaXx - 12/19/12 at 1:42am
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post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DzillaXx View Post

I knew the TTR review was more or less bull. Nvidia Fan buys may not like this news but the 7950 was and always will be better then the 660ti. It's just a higher class of GPU
Good to see a 7870 do so well, Considering that they are pretty much on par with 660ti unless you get one that can OC well. For the Price they make one hell of a good card.
OP what were the clock speed you were using?

Stock clocks on the Sapphire HD 7870 OC were 1050 core and 1250 mem. The 660 Ti FTW Signature 2 had a stock of 1046mhz/1124mhz (boost) and memory at 1502mhz (6008mhz effective). In regards to the boost, the 660 Ti that I have regularly boosts to around 1228mhz core.

Both cards were stock (factory overclocked) for these runs.
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Creative Sound Blaster E5 DAC/AMP Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones HyperX Cloud Headset 
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Everest - Intel
(19 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i7 4790k Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 16GB (2x8) Patriot Viper 1866Mhz  
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Seagate 3TB, WD 500GB HDD, WD 640GB HD Samsung 850 EVO 512GB Samsung DVD-Burner Corsair H110 w/ Dual Aerocool DS 140mm fans 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 10 Pro Dell S2716DG (1440p, 144hz Gsync) AOC U3477 PQU (3440x1440 IPS) Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Evga SuperNOVA 750 G2 NZXT Phantom 530 Black Logitech G502 Proteus Core Corsair MM400 
AudioAudioAudio
Creative Sound Blaster E5 DAC/AMP Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones HyperX Cloud Headset 
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Overclock.net › Forums › Graphics Cards › Graphics Cards - General › The eternal question: Which is better? HD 7870 vs. 660 Ti (benchmarks inside)