Six months on from the unveiling of Nvidia’s high-end RTX graphics cards like the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, Nvidia has a few cards priced competitively enough to be called mid-range. But what are the differences between them? Why are their naming conventions different? Is the price gap between them worth bridging?
To find out, we pitted the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti versus the RTX 2060 in a battle of the mid-range powerhouses.
The GTX 1660 Ti is an intriguing new addition to Nvidia’s graphics card line up because it is built on the same Turing architecture as the RTX 2060, but in many ways it has much more in common with the last-generation GTX 1060 that it (sort of) takes its name from. Not only does it sport the GTX moniker, but it lacks the RT and Tensor cores for ray tracing and deep learning super sampling, which have been hallmarks of the RTX generation of GPUs.
|RTX 2060||GTX 1660 Ti||GTX 1060|
|Memory||6GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bus With||192-bit||192-bit||192-bit|
It does share a number of specifications with the RTX 2060 though. Its memory is the same 6GB of 12Gbps GDDR6 and it too is built on a 12nm process, representing a 25 percent die shrink over the 16nm GTX 1060. It also has a bumped clock speed (even higher than the RTX 2060) and features 1,536 CUDA cores. That’s a convenient 20 percent increase over the GTX 1060 and a 20 percent drop-off from the RTX 2060.
But how does this equate to real world performance? Early reviews are now in, and the 1660 Ti looks like it fits quite comfortably into Nvidia’s line up as you might expect considering its price point. It performs favorably compared to last-generation graphics cards, equating to roughly a GTX 1070 in terms of raw performance, although the last-generation card does pull slightly ahead in some games. It’s also able to beat out AMD’s RX 590 in most tests, which appears to be the main target of Nvidia’s pricing on the new card.
Considering the RTX 2060 tends to compete more favorably with higher-end cards like the GTX 1070 Ti and the AMD Vega 56, it should be no surprise that is noticeably more powerful than the GTX 1660 Ti. It differs from game to game, but in general there is a 10 and 15 percent gap in performance.
While that is significant enough to make the RTX 2060 a better gaming card — especially if you’re looking to play at 1440p — for those at 1080p, the savings made by opting for a GTX 1660 Ti may be worth it, especially if you aren’t interested in some of the visual features offered by RTX GPUs.
Ray tracing and DLSS
Outside of raw power, the two main selling points for Nvidia’s RTX-generation of Turing graphics cards was, and still are, ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS). Much like in our comparison of the AMD Radeon VII and Nvidia’s RTX 2080, there is a stark difference between the two cards we’re comparing here: One supports both of these features and the other supports neither.
While there were early rumors that the GTX 1660 Ti may have Tensor cores on board, now that it’s launched, we can categorically say that it does not. That means that neither RTX-powered ray tracing nor DLSS are possible with any GTX graphics cards. That’s a big factor in why the GTX 1660 Ti has a smaller GPU and why it’s noticeably cheaper.
Does this matter when it comes to picking one card over the other? It depends. The RTX 2060 definitively offers more in terms of an expanded feature set. DLSS in particular holds potential to increase the visual quality of a scene and its performance. Ray tracing is arguably wasted on a card at the level of the RTX 2060, but it is at least possible and some games may leverage its limited number of RT cores to decent effect in the future.
At this time, though, there are few games that support either or both features and those that do, don’t take great advantage of the technology or deliver an experience that is arguably poorer for their support.
Compatibility and price
Neither the RTX 2060 or the GTX 1660 Ti are monstrous graphics cards that will stress your power supply or the interior design of your PC. The 1660 Ti is a much smaller card, however, so would be a better pick for most compact systems built on the mATX or Mini-ITX form-factor. You wouldn’t need anything more than a 450-watt or 500-watt PSU in your system for either of these cards. 400 watts may even be sufficient for the 1660 Ti.
Most modern motherboards should have no problem running either of these cards, and you won’t run into any bottlenecks with PCIexpress 3.0 x16 or x8, nor PCIexpress 2.0 x16.
The RTX 2060 debuted with a price of $350, and although there are some third-party options now available, they trend upwards in price rather than down. Today, you can buy an RTX 2060 for between $350 and $400, often with a free game.
The GTX 1660 Ti is available in an impressively wide array of models, though none come in under the launch price. You can find GTX 1660 Tis of various types for between $280 and $320.
GTX still holds the bang for buck crown
Nvidia made a big gamble with its RTX Turing cards. The offer was modest performance improvements over 10-series Pascal cards, with large justifying the launch price hike by doubling down on visual features and enhanced AI function. At this time, with the limited number of available games, it’s hard to recommend any of them unless you have deep pockets. The RTX 2060 offers the greatest bang for buck of any RTX card at its more modest price point, but the GTX 1660 Ti is the better value card.
The newer, leaner, and weaker GPU, is by no means a record breaker in its class. It’s a GTX 1070 with a lower power draw and a smaller form factor, at a slightly reduced price point. That’s not exactly a major sell from Nvidia more than two years on from the launch of the Pascal generation. But for those looking to upgrade from a card that’s a few generations old, the GTX 1660 Ti makes for a great 1080p and 1440p gaming card without many of the — at this point — rather unnecessary bells and whistles championed by the overpriced RTX generation.
It is also a much more favorable competitor for AMD’s RX 590 and is the true successor to the GTX 1060 Nvidia fans have been waiting for. If Nvidia could kept the price a bit lower, it would be a must-buy.
- Nvidia’s next midrange card might be a GTX 1660 Ti, rumors suggest
- Nvidia’s 1660 Ti could bring Turing power to laptops without ray tracing
- At $219, Nvidia’s GTX 1660 makes midrange graphics cards affordable
- Nvidia launches the RTX 2060, lowering the price of ray tracing to $349
- Nvidia’s 11 series of midrange gaming cards may debut next month