Date: March 14, 2019
Author(s): Rob Williams
It’s hard to believe how fast these GeForce Turings are coming out at this point. This year has so far welcomed the RTX 2060 and GTX 1660 Ti, and now, the GTX 1660 has popped up. Like its Ti bigger brother, the non-Ti retains a 6GB framebuffer, and proves itself to be a strong competitor against higher priced opponents.
NVIDIA has been pretty aggressive with its GPU launches this year. Fall 2018 saw the release of the first three GeForce Turings, branded as RTX cards, with the RTX 2060 releasing alongside CES this January. Since then, we’ve seen the first non-RTX Turing, GTX 1660 Ti, a card that struck us as being a great deal, and a definite thorn in AMD’s side.
NVIDIA apparently didn’t think it was enough to counter the Radeon RX 590 with an equal-priced competitor that performs a lot better. Now, we have the GTX 1660, a $219 USD GPU that again considers the RX 590 its main competitor. Despite the drop from $279 to $219, the 1660 retains the 6GB framebuffer.
Aside from the basics, like core counts, the GTX 1660 differs from the 1660 Ti because it sticks to GDDR5, rather than the newer GDDR6. The change results in a card with lower overall memory bandwidth, an effective drop from 288 GB/s to 192 GB/s.
This review comes at a time when we’re working on many other things, and as it’s being written, we’ve already missed embargo, so let’s hop on board the express train to get to some conclusions quicker.
|NVIDIA’s GeForce Gaming GPU Lineup|
|Cores||Base MHz||Peak FP32||Memory||Bandwidth||TDP||SRP|
|TITAN RTX||4608||1770||16.3 TFLOPS||24GB 1||672 GB/s||280W||$1,199|
|RTX 2080 Ti||4352||1350||13.4 TFLOPS||11GB 1||616 GB/s||250W||$999|
|RTX 2080||2944||1515||10.0 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||215W||$699|
|RTX 2070||2304||1410||7.4 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||175W||$499|
|RTX 2060||1920||1680||6.4 TFLOPS||6GB 1||336 GB/s||160W||$349|
|GTX 1660 Ti||1536||1500||5.5 TFLOPS||6GB 1||288 GB/s||120W||$279|
|GTX 1660||1408||1530||5 TFLOPS||6GB 4||192 GB/s||120W||$219|
|TITAN Xp||3840||1480||12.1 TFLOPS||12GB 2||548 GB/s||250W||$1,199|
|GTX 1080 Ti||3584||1480||11.3 TFLOPS||11GB 2||484 GB/s||250W||$699|
|GTX 1080||2560||1607||8.8 TFLOPS||8GB 2||320 GB/s||180W||$499|
|GTX 1070 Ti||2432||1607||8.1 TFLOPS||8GB 3||256 GB/s||180W||$449|
|GTX 1070||1920||1506||6.4 TFLOPS||8GB 3||256 GB/s||150W||$379|
|GTX 1060||1280||1700||4.3 TFLOPS||6GB 3||192 GB/s||120W||$299|
|GTX 1050 Ti||768||1392||2.1 TFLOPS||4GB 3||112 GB/s||75W||$139|
|GTX 1050||640||1455||1.8 TFLOPS||2GB 3||112 GB/s||75W||$109|
|Notes||1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2|
Architecture: GTX & TITAN = Pascal; RTX = Turing
Like the 1660 Ti, NVIDIA didn’t sample the 1660 to reviewers. Instead, its poor partners had to scramble to figure out who cards could be sent out to. GIGABYTE was kind enough to fulfill our request, so a big thanks goes out to our friends there.
Admittedly, we had expected to have a lot more time than we did with the 1660, though it wasn’t as bad as the “less than 24 hours” we had with the 1660 Ti. Usually when that happens, it means market availability might not be so hot out-of-the-gate, but fortunately, availability seems “OK” for the time-being. We see many models at Newegg, but… nothing seems to be available Amazon’s US site yet.
The memory bandwidth might be lower, but the GTX 1660 is an incredibly attractive card in comparison to the Ti, which costs $60 more. The Ti has 9% more cores, with NVIDIA itself saying it’s about 10% faster, based on the FP32 TFLOPS spec.
NVIDIA says that the GTX 1660 is an ideal card for those running a similarly targeted GPU from a few generations ago – eg: GTX 960 or 970. But, looking at the table above, it’s even a notable upgrade over the GTX 1060, by about 1.2 TFLOPS. In reality, the performance gains are likely to be even higher than that boost implies, thanks to Turing’s general optimizations (concurrent FP/INT helps at times). Both GPUs are included in the benchmark results, so we can soon put these assumptions to the test.
|Techgage Gaming GPU Test PC|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-9900K (3.6GHz Base, 5.0GHz Turbo, 8C/16T)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING|
CPU tested with BIOS 0602 (October 19, 2018)
|Memory||G.SKILL TridentZ (F4-3400C16-8GSXW) 8GB x 2|
Operates at DDR4-3400 16-16-16 (1.35V)
|AMD Graphics||AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 (8GB; Radeon 18.12.3)|
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 (8GB; Radeon 18.12.3)
AMD Radeon RX 590 (8GB; Radeon 18.12.3)
AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB; Radeon 18.12.3) *
AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB; Radeon 18.12.3) *
AMD Radeon RX 550 (2GB; Radeon 18.12.3) *
|NVIDIA Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11GB; GeForce 417.35)|
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB; GeForce 417.35)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 (8GB; GeForce 417.35)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB; GeForce 417.35)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB; GeForce 418.91)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 (6GB; GeForce 419.35)
NVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; GeForce 417.35) *
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (11GB; GeForce 417.35)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB; GeForce 417.35) *
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti (8GB; GeForce 417.35) *
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB; GeForce 417.35)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB; GeForce 417.35)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB; GeForce 417.35) *
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB; GeForce 417.35) *
|Storage||Kingston SSDNow V310 960GB (SATA 6Gbps)|
|Power Supply||Corsair RM650x (650W)|
|Chassis||NZXT S340 Elite Mid-tower|
|Cooling||Corsair Hydro H100i V2 AIO Liquid Cooler (240mm)|
|Et cetera||Windows 10 Pro (64-bit; build 17763)|
|Notes||* Synthetic tests only.|
A total of eight games are included in our current test suite. Recent additions include Battlefield V, Forza Horizon 4, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Beyond these eight titles, UL’s 3DMark and VRMark, as well as Unigine’s Superposition, are used for some quick and dirty tests that you may be able to run at home.
Here’s the full list of tested synthetic benchmarks, games, and developer allegiances:
For our apples-to-apples testing, the graphics settings seen above apply to every one of our tested resolutions so as to deliver easily comparable results. In most cases, each configuration is tested twice, with more runs added if the initial results make the extra testing necessary (which isn’t required too often). Note that VSync is disabled at the driver level to prevent games from enabling it without us noticing.
Battlefield V kicks things off with results close to equal between the RX 590 and GTX 1660. The Radeon card managed to score an extra two frames on the minimum at 1440p, but that’s not enough to set the cards apart. The 1660 Ti, meanwhile, performs better than we even expected against the 1660. The last-gen GTX 1070 remains safe against the 1660.
AMD’s Radeon RX 590 strikes hard in Deus Ex, placing comfortably ahead of NVIDIA’s new GTX 1660. That’s fair enough since the RX 590 retails for more, but if that card were to drop to GTX 1660 levels, the competition would be fierce. Once again, the 1660 beats out the last-gen GTX 1060, though not to as notable a degree as we saw with BF V.
We’re starting to see the RX 590 and GTX 1660 flip-flop quite a bit. The Radeon came ahead in Deus Ex, but NVIDIA redeemed itself in F1 2018, keeping a fair bit ahead of both the 590 and GTX 1060. The 1660 Ti continues to separate itself enough from the 1660 to warrant its price difference.
Wrapping up our first page of tests, the RX 590 and GTX 1660 are once again neck and neck in Far Cry 5, with both delivering suitable enough performance at both resolutions. If the 55~57 FPS at 1440p isn’t satisfactory enough, there are myriad options that can be dropped to make a notable difference, quickly.
The Forza series is one that Radeon has excelled at delivering top-rate frame rates for in recent years, but Horizon 4 seems to be a little different. Here, the RX 590 falls a fair bit behind the GTX 1660, which results in “well behind” the Ti version of the 1660.
Ultimately, all cards deliver good performance here, but it won’t be hard to boost the FPS by another 10 FPS or so by adjusting one of the many graphics options available within the game. At 1080p, the game runs great on every single one of these cards.
At 1080p, even the old-as-dirt GTX 1060 (I’m kidding!) powers MHW at 60 FPS at high detail. For the same frame rate at 1440p, the 1660 Ti would be the better choice. Overall, this is one title where there RX 590 and 1660 perform about the same.
SotTR is a title that highlights well how today’s mid-range GPUs fare a bit better than the last-gen models. The 1660 in this game really leaps ahead of the GTX 1060. At 1440p, the going really gets tough, forcing you to go with a higher-end GPU, or a mid-range one like the 1660, and then tweak a setting or two to break through 60 FPS average, and increase the minimum.
Rounding out our real-world performance, the GTX 1660 places ahead of the more expensive RX 590, so it’s easy to draw a conclusion here. This is one game where the Ti version of the card will really bump performance, with that card able to hit 60 FPS at 1440p. That’s not to say the 50 FPS at 1440p for the non-Ti is by any stretch “poor”. For the card’s intended resolution of 1080p, there is a lot of breathing room.
The DirectX 11-driven Fire Strike test gives us some odd results, such as the RX 590 placing a good distance ahead of the GTX 1660, despite failing to topple that card in more than one of our eight real-world gaming tests. Oddly, the 4K version of this test even had the 1660 Ti fall behind the RX 590.
Meanwhile, the Time Spy test gives its own odd scaling, or at least interesting scaling. The kind of scaling that puts the RTX 2080 Ti well ahead of the RTX 2080. The final chart actually scales more to our expectations, based on what we saw in our gaming tests.
In the lighter Cyan test, both the RX 590 and GTX 1660 perform the same. The heavier Blue test separates them both a bit, but of course represents very unplayable performance for both of them. Blue is very forward-looking, so only the top flight cards will qualify as playable.
NVIDIA again exhibits a strength in this test, likely thanks to Turing’s ability to use concurrent FP/INT operations, something that helps put the RTX 2080 8 FPS ahead of the last-gen TITAN Xp.
Finishing up, we see even more domination by the RTX 2080 Ti, with great scaling seen at 4K, but even better scaling seen at 1080p. As for the GTX 1660, it scales in these charts similar to what we saw from many of our real-world gaming tests – just ahead of the RX 590, and well ahead of GTX 1060.
To test for power consumption, a Kill-A-Watt that the PC itself is plugged into is used for monitoring a Far Cry 5 4K benchmark run. Admittedly, we don’t have the best methods for power testing, and would love to improve them in the future, but for now, we use what we have, and that’s our eyeballs. Over the course of the one-minute benchmark, a rough average is pulled.
Yet again, the scaling seen here matches what our assumptions would be. The GTX 1660 sits comfortably behind the 1660 Ti (which is pre-overclocked, for the record). The 1660 is faster than the GTX 1060, and that comes at the modest expense of increased power. Though “modest” might not be modest enough of a word in context, since the RX 590 draws a very notable 111W more than the GTX 1660.
We’ve been juggling a bunch of workstation-related benchmarking recently, and not to mention updating some of our tests, so we didn’t dedicate as much time as we would have liked to this card. Funny enough, NVIDIA’s upcoming GTC is one of the reasons we’re scrambling, so if we can say one thing for sure: NVIDIA is keeping us busy lately.
Fortunately, the GTX 1660 is not a difficult product to draw up a conclusion on. The facts are easily seen in the performance results. In most cases, the GTX 1660 equals the RX 590, and in other tests, the strengths swap. Overall, though, NVIDIA’s new card came out ahead. That’s especially true if you care about power consumption. Some variation in power isn’t really notable, but it’s hard to ignore a 111W disadvantage for the RX 590. Assuming 10 cent KWh rates, and two hours of gaming each day, you’d be paying $72 more in power each year over the GTX 1660, on a product that costs under $300.
Obviously, things don’t look hot for Radeon here, but the company remains confident in its offerings. The RX 590 isn’t a bad card; it’s just not able to secure itself ahead of the GTX 1660 in the performance game. To AMD’s benefit, the company currently has a great deal going on right now to award two games to anyone who purchases an RX 590. The three games these two can be chosen from are Resident Evil 2, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, and Devil May Cry 5.
You actually have to feel bad for AMD right now, because NVIDIA is going for its throat. The RX 590 was a solid deal when it released. We recommended it without reservation. Then the 1660 Ti came out, and it became the clear winner. And now, we have the non-Ti card, which manages to at least match the RX 590’s performance, but for $60 less (SRP). It’s worthy to note that the RX 590 has 2GB more VRAM, but we’d argue that most people are not going to be limited by 6GB with this card’s intended resolution of 1080p.
AMD arguably used to own the mid-range market with its Polaris cards, but with RTX fully launched, NVIDIA saw now as a great time to let Turing prove to the rest of the world what it’s made of. The GTX 1660 is a lot of GPU for $219, both for high-quality 1080p gaming, and light 1440p gaming.
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