Date: November 28, 2019
Author(s): Rob Williams
NVIDIA’s SUPER series of GeForce cards has reached a total of five, thanks to the recent introduction of two GTX variants. We’re taking a look at the 1660 SUPER here, with a focus on 1080p for the bulk of our testing, and up to 4K for high-FPS esports titles. Let’s see how the extra memory bandwidth is put to use!
When NVIDIA launched its Turing architecture last fall, who could have foreseen how SUPER it’d become? In the summer, we saw the original GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 get replaced with faster SUPER upgrades, while the original RTX 2060 gained a SUPER complement, rather than replacement – one that commands a fifty dollar premium.
Since then, we’ve seen NVIDIA spread the SUPER butter around even more, landing on the 1650, as well as the focus of this article, the 1660. Based on the previous SUPER models, it would’ve been safe to assume that these GTX variants would add some cores to their counts, but in actuality, that only applies to one of them: GTX 1650 SUPER.
The GTX 1660 SUPER is a bit of an oddball, because it doesn’t increase the cores, or even its peak frequencies. What’s upgraded boils down to the memory, seeing a bump from GDDR5 to GDDR6, or in other words, a bandwidth boost from 192 GB/s to 336 GB/s.
Before we dive in further, here’s NVIDIA’s full GeForce lineup, for easier comparisons:
|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 2080S||3072||1650||11.1 TFLOPS||8GB 1||496 GB/s||250W||$699|
|RTX 2070S||2560||1605||9.1 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||215W||$499|
|RTX 2060S||2176||1470||7.2 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||175W||$399|
|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 1660S||1408||1530||5.0 TFLOPS||6GB 1||336 GB/s||125W||$229|
|GTX 1660||1408||1530||5.0 TFLOPS||6GB 3||192 GB/s||120W||$219|
|GTX 1650S||1280||1530||4.4 TFLOPS||4GB 1||128 GB/s||75W||$???|
|GTX 1650||896||1485||3.0 TFLOPS||4GB 1||128 GB/s||75W||$149|
|Notes||1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2|
Architecture: GTX & TITAN = Pascal; RTX = Turing
It’s not too often we see a release like this, where only the memory has been upgraded, but it’s definitely happened before. It does make you wonder exactly how memory-dependent, or rather, memory-starved, games at the intended detail levels and resolutions will be – so this is a fun one to test. To make the move from a regular 1660 to SUPER is $10, or $229 SRP.
As with all of NVIDIA’s GeForce cards, this GTX 1660 SUPER supports the mainstay GeForce features, such as GeForce Experience, ShadowPlay, GameStream, Ansel, FreeStyle, and so on. What the card doesn’t support is the RTX technologies, as its GTX name would imply. That means that accelerated ray tracing is missing, something that’d require a step up to at least the RTX 2060 to rectify.
There’s really not too much else worth mentioning, as this is a pretty standard fare launch. Interestingly, the model we received from NVIDIA is of GIGABYTE’s, a simply named (and stock-clocked) card that is identical to the original 1660 we have, in terms of the PCB, clocks, and cooler solution. So, this really will be a good apples-to-apples test.
|Techgage Gaming GPU Test PC|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-9900KS (4.0GHz Base, 5.0GHz Turbo, 8C/16T)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING|
CPU tested with BIOS 1302 (September 20, 2019)
|Memory||G.SKILL TridentZ Royal (F4-3600C16-8GTRG) 8GB x 2|
Operates at DDR4-3600 16-16-16 (1.35V)
|AMD Graphics||AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (8GB; Adrenaline 19.11.3)|
AMD Radeon RX 5700 (8GB; Adrenaline 19.11.3)
AMD Radeon RX 590 (8GB; Adrenaline 19.11.3)
|NVIDIA Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER (8GB; GeForce 441.34)|
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB; GeForce 441.34)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 1660 Ti (6GB; GeForce 441.34)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 1660 SUPER (6GB; GeForce 441.34)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 1660 (6GB; GeForce 441.34)
|Storage||GeForce: WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB (SATA 6Gbps)|
Radeon: 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; 1909)|
All of the GPUs have been tested with current (as of the time the round of testing began) drivers, and with an up-to-date Windows 10 (1909). Our operating system is kept clean and optimized to reduce benchmark interference, ensuring accurate results. V-Sync, G-SYNC, and FreeSync are disabled at the monitor and driver level. Both Intel’s chipset driver and Management Engine (ME) are updated to the latest versions.
A total of ten games are included in our current test suite. These include Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for some super-high FPS eSports testing, as well as Far Cry 5, F1 2019, Monster Hunter: World, Metro Exodus, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Division 2, and Total War: Three Kingdoms.
We passed over Battlefield V for this round, since we had stuttery performance on the first GPU we tested (not the 1660 SUPER), so in the interest of time, we just chalked it up as a loss, and moved on. In addition to our game suite, the end of the review is augmented with some synthetic benchmarks.
Here’s the full list of games tested, and developer allegiances:
Note: You can download all of the tested setting images at once here (ZIP, 7MB).
Because our time has been dominated by all sorts of benchmarking, we’ve skipped percentile tests for this review because they add a lot of extra hands-on time to get right. That said, we have lots of results in general to share, focused around 1080p resolution. We’ve also tossed 1440p and 4K performance for CS: GO and Siege to see how the 1660 SUPER fares in high-FPS esports gaming.
Right off the bat (ahem, starting grid), we can see that the additional memory bandwidth infused into the GTX 1660 SUPER has helped this game’s performance by 8 FPS on average, with the same 8 FPS gain with the minimums. Things are looking really good for the 1660 SUPER so far, considering it’s not trailing far behind the GTX 1660 Ti, with its higher core count.
Things are going smoothly for the 1660 SUPER so far, representing a similar gain in performance in Far Cry 5 as we saw with F1 2019. The performance delta between the SUPER and Ti cards are ridiculously tight here, to the point where you may as well call them the same.
The Metro series has long been known for punishing hardware, and with our chosen Ultra detail levels, there’s not much room for the 1660 SUPER to strut its stuff, with both it and the non-SUPER 1660 hovering around the 40 FPS mark. Even the minimums are harsh (we may drop the detail level tested to High in the future).
We’ve returned to normalcy, which in this case is the 1660 SUPER pulling a fair bit ahead of the non-SUPER, about 10 FPS. While only ahead by 5 FPS, this is one of the higher peak deltas we’ve seen from that card so far, but given the $50 price difference between the two cards, one of them is looking really SUPER at the moment.
The 1660 SUPER continues to leap a good distance ahead of the original 1660, and in this case completely matches the performance of the Ti. It’s an odd result, and one that stuck after retesting both cards right after one another. We wouldn’t be surprised if a retest on another day would give us better scaling.
There’s some nice scaling going on between the three 1660s here, but the 1660 SUPER is the definite best bang-for-the-buck of the group. The Radeon RX 590 deserves a shout-out, as well, since it keeps up to the bottom 1660, but costs a bit less, found right now for around $190~200.
We’ve come to an interesting result: one where the Ti and SUPER 1660s perform the exact same. We retested both, and came up with the same results. So… you can’t buy a SUPER and expect it to benefit you in this game too much, despite it being fairly graphically intensive.
At 1080p, our CPU (9900KS) becomes a bottleneck really quickly, despite its 5GHz speed. AMD manages to eke a few extra frames over NVIDIA, while the SUPER steps over the Ti. We then see the same thing happen at 1440p, and surprisingly, even 4K. It’s beginning to look like this extra memory bandwidth will act as a bit a boon to esports gamers, but before we jump to conclusions, here’s another take:
With CS: GO, the 1660 SUPER placed ahead of the technically quicker 1660 Ti, offering clear proof that the faster memory is being put to good use. In Siege, the SUPER doesn’t fare quite as well, but still does manage to surpass the Ti at 1080p. At the other resolutions, the SUPER still places a comfortable distance ahead of the original 1660.
3DMark sure does have some interesting impressions sometimes. Despite the fact that the RX 590 sat at the bottom of twenty-one out of twenty-three charts, it somehow managed to place higher than that in both of the Fire Strike tests. Things shake up in the DirectX 12 test, reflecting expected scaling, at least up to the 2060 SUPER, since our real-world testing dictates that the 5700 XT leads most often.
In VRMark, the 1660 SUPER doesn’t manage to overtake the Ti, but it sure does come close. More importantly, it keeps ahead of the 1660, especially with the Cyan test. Unfortunately, the target frame rate for the Blue test is 110 (it’s 90 for Cyan), so all of these GPUs are still off the mark.
Superposition helps us wrap up our results, giving us similar scaling as seen throughout the testing. The 1660 SUPER overall places close to the Ti, and seems to justify its $10 premium over the GTX 1660 quite well.
To gauge power draw and heat, we keep the PC sitting on a desk, next to the monitor, with the door of the chassis on. A Kill-a-Watt is used to monitor power draw direct from the tower, so the results below reflect overall system power, not wattage for the GPU, specifically. The room temperature is kept as close to 23°C as possible for this testing.
For gathering temperature data, we use GPU-Z’s logging feature, as well as a 10x loop of 3DMark’s Time Spy Extreme test to push the GPU hard. We stay away from “power virus” applications that won’t generate a realistic stress. For power monitoring, a separate boot is used to establish an idle and a rough max load, based on watching the Kill-a-Watt through a Far Cry 5 timedemo run.
Compared to the original GTX 1660, the 1660 SUPER draws a lot more power at full load – about 40W. At the same time, it matches itself with the Ti’s power consumption, though that card will come out the victor most often. As for temperatures, the 1660 SUPER ran 5°C warmer at both idle and load, versus the original 1660 (with identical PCB/cooler).
The GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER is an interesting card, but also a slightly confusing one, since it doesn’t tack on more cores – just more memory bandwidth. As we saw throughout all of our testing, the 1660 SUPER consistently kept ahead of the original GTX 1660, sometimes to a great margin, of around 10~14%. That’s gained at the expense of a price tag that’s about 5% higher.
Currently, at Amazon, the original GTX 1660 can be had for as low as $200, whereas the GTX 1660 SUPER seems to currently bottom out at the current SRP of $229. The least-expensive GTX 1660 Ti we found is priced at $260, so as it stands right now, there is a ~$30 separation on either side of the 1660 SUPER.
Against the original 1660, the SUPER variant seems to us to be a no-brainer upgrade. The memory sees a massive boost to its bandwidth, and in every single case we’ve seen, it delivers a boost beyond its 5% price premium. The smallest gain we saw was with Metro Exodus, but that’s still 10%, and could have been more impressive if we were not using Ultra detail settings.
In many cases, the SUPER proved to be about 13~14% faster on average. Of course, as the power and temperature tests above highlight, the faster card also sips power quicker, and runs a bit hotter (not that it matters much in this case, since it’s still well within safe limits.)
At this point, it’d be hard to recommend the 1660 Ti, as its performance gain isn’t as impressive with its price premium as the 1660 SUPER’s gain is with its own. The card still definitely has some merit, but if you are to go that route over the 1660 SUPER, you may want to ask yourself if an extra splurging is in order, to opt for the faster and RTX-enabled 2060 instead.
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