Computing

Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti vs. RTX 2060: A Comparison of Midrange Graphics Cards

Six months after the release of Nvidia’s high-end RTX 20 Series graphics cards, such as the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, the company launched the new RTX 16 Series cards. These midrange cards are competitively priced, but what sets them apart? Why do they have different naming conventions? And is it worth bridging the price gap between them?

In this article, we’ll compare the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti to the RTX 2060 to see how these midrange powerhouses stack up against each other.

Performance

The GTX 1660 Ti is an intriguing addition to Nvidia’s graphics card lineup because it’s built on the same Turing architecture as the RTX 2060. However, it shares more similarities with the last-generation GTX 1060 than the RTX 20 Series. It lacks the RT and Tensor cores that enable ray tracing and deep learning super sampling, which are key features of the current RTX 20 Series.

Let’s take a closer look at the hardware differences:

The GTX 1660 Ti does share several specifications with the RTX 2060. Both cards have 6GB of 12Gbps GDDR6 memory and are built on a 12nm process, representing a 25% die shrink from the 16nm GTX 1060. The GTX 1660 Ti also boasts a higher clock speed, even surpassing that of the RTX 2060, and features 1,536 CUDA cores. This is a 20% increase over the GTX 1060 and a 20% drop-off from the RTX 2060.

But how does this translate into real-world performance? The GTX 1660 Ti performs favorably compared to last-generation graphics cards and is roughly equivalent to a GTX 1070 in terms of raw performance. However, the GTX 1660 Ti does fall slightly behind in some games when compared to the GTX 1070. It also outperforms AMD’s RX 590 in most tests, which seems to be Nvidia’s main target with this pricing strategy.

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On the other hand, the RTX 2060 competes more favorably with higher-end cards like the GTX 1070 Ti and AMD’s Vega 56. It is noticeably more powerful than the GTX 1660 Ti, with a performance gap ranging from 10% to 15% depending on the game.

While the RTX 2060 is a better gaming card, especially for those looking to play at 1440p, the savings offered by the GTX 1660 Ti may be worth considering, especially if you’re not interested in the visual features offered by RTX GPUs and primarily game at 1080p.

Ray Tracing and DLSS

Outside of raw power, the main selling points for Nvidia’s RTX 20 Series cards are ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS). The RTX 2060 supports these features, but the GTX 1660 Ti does not.

Rumors initially suggested that the GTX 1660 Ti may have Tensor cores, but that turned out to be false. While it lacks dedicated hardware for ray tracing and DLSS, the GTX 1660 Ti is still capable of basic ray tracing effects and low ray count, thanks to the WHQL 425.31 driver released in April 2019, which brought DirectX Raytracing (DXR) support to the GTX 10 and 16 Series GPUs. However, DLSS is not supported.

Overall, the RTX 2060 offers a more extensive feature set, particularly with DLSS, which has the potential to enhance both visual quality and performance. While ray tracing may not be fully utilized on the RTX 2060, some games may still leverage its limited RT core count effectively in the future.

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Currently, only a few games support either or both of these features, and the technology is not fully optimized or widely adopted yet.

Compatibility and Price

Both the RTX 2060 and the GTX 1660 Ti are suitable for most systems without straining power supplies or causing design issues. However, the GTX 1660 Ti is a smaller card, making it a better choice for compact systems built on the mATX or Mini-ITX form factor. You’ll only need a 450- to 500-watt PSU for either of these cards, and even 400 watts may be sufficient for the GTX 1660 Ti.

Most modern motherboards should have no problem running either card, and there won’t be any bottlenecks with PCI Express 3.0 x16 or x8, or even PCI Express 2.0 x16.

The RTX 2060 originally launched at $350, but Nvidia reduced the price to $300 in January. Third-party options are available around this newer price range, although some models can reach prices over $500. Some even come bundled with a free game.

The GTX 1660 Ti has a suggested price of $280, only $20 less than the RTX 2060. Nvidia doesn’t currently offer a “Founders Edition” model of the GTX 1660 Ti. Instead, you’ll find various third-party cards available, ranging in price from $280 to over $400, with some outliers going even higher.

RTX Offers Better Value for Money

Nvidia took a gamble with its RTX 20 Series cards, offering modest performance improvements compared to the previous 10-series Pascal cards. The focus was on introducing visual features and enhanced AI functions to justify the higher launch prices. Today, this value proposition is stronger, but there is still a limited number of games that support ray tracing or DLSS.

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Initially, we considered the GTX 1660 Ti as the best choice in terms of value for money. It is a leaner and less powerful GPU compared to its counterparts, offering similar performance to a GTX 1070 but with lower power consumption and a smaller form factor, all at a slightly reduced price. While this may not be a groundbreaking option more than two years after the launch of the Pascal generation, it still remains a viable option.

However, with the suggested price drop of the RTX 2060 to $300, only $20 more than the GTX 1660 Ti, it’s hard to deny that the RTX 2060 offers better value for money. This is especially true when considering the additional benefits of ray tracing and DLSS, even if they are only available in an entry-level form.

For those looking to upgrade from older generation cards, the GTX 1660 Ti is an excellent choice for 1080p and 1440p gaming without unnecessary bells and whistles offered by the higher-priced RTX cards. It also provides strong competition for AMD’s RX 590.

Ultimately, if you prioritize ray tracing and DLSS in your favorite PC games, the RTX 2060 is the better option. However, if these features don’t interest you, the GTX 1660 Ti is a solid upgrade.

OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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