Nvidia’s midrange graphics line up is far more robust today than it was at the start of 2019, with the release of not one, but three options for more affordable Turing graphics cards. Being spoiled for choice does have its own drawbacks though, namely that picking the right graphics card for you is much harder.
To see how these cards stack up against one another, we’ve pitted theagainst the GTX 1660 Ti and the RTX 2060, comparing their specs and features. Which will offer the most bang for buck?
Availability and pricing
All three of the cards we’re comparing are available for purchase right now and in a staggering array of options. Theis the most straightforward of the three with Nvidia’s Founders Edition acting as a firm baseline. When in stock it sells for $350, while overclocked cards or those with fancy cooling solutions can cost up to $420. That’s only $70 off of the price of some RTX 2070s.
There are no Founders Editions for theand 1660, but those cards debuted with a bewildering number of third-party alternatives. The former sells for between $280 and $330, while the latter starts at $220, with the most expensive versions priced at around $260.
There are tens of cards to choose from when it comes to both GTX Turing cards with different clock speeds, cooling options, and lighting features. Some are better value than others, but the cheapest offer the best bang for buck in terms of performance, as we’ll see below.
Nvidia has made a concerted effort to stagger its graphics card performance and the RTX 2060, GTX 1660 Ti, and 1660 occupy distinct price and performance brackets. A look at their raw specifications betrays the real world performance of these cards as much almost as benchmarks have been able to do.
|RTX 2060||GTX 1660 Ti||GTX 1660|
|Memory||6GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bus Width||192-bit||192-bit||192-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||336GBps||288 GBps||192GBps|
Based on the specifications alone we can surmise that the most powerful of the three cards is the RTX 2060, followed by the GTX 1660 Ti, with the GTX 1660 trailing in the rear. The steps from each card are a little different, however. While clock speeds are relatively comparable across all three cards (and actually a little higher on the lower-end cards), the drop in CUDA cores from the RTX 2060 to the 1660 Ti is the main differentiating factor in performance. While the 1660 does take a step down in CUDA cores too, its use of GDDR5 memory leads to a 33 percent reduction in memory bandwidth.
These differences play out like you might expect in games, although there is some variation depending on your desired quality settings and resolution. In all tests the RTX 2060 comes out well ahead of its GTX Turing counterparts, offering performance comparable to a GTX 1070 Ti, if not sometimes higher. The 1660 Ti follows up with between 15 and 25 percent lower frame rates, though it does beat important AMD competitors like the RX 590. It even poses a real challenge to the Vega 56 in some cases.
The GTX 1660 has a strong showing against a number of cards, providing a 10-20 percent improvement over the GTX 1060 6GB in most cases. It too challenges or exceeds the RX 590 and 580 in a number of games at both 1080p and 1440p, but falls behind the 1660 Ti by between 10 and 25 percent depending on the game being tested.
Ray tracing and DLSS
At this time, only the RTX 2060 supports either of these technologies. However, that is set to change in April. Nvidia announced in March that it planned to release a new driver that would enable ray tracing on last-generation Pascal graphics cards, as well as the recently debuted GTX Turing GPUs, the 1660 Ti and 1660. We wouldn’t expect stellar performance from these cards in that respect, but certain low level ray-traced lighting effects may be possible, especially if you stick to 1080p. There is no denying though, that with its RT cores, the RTX 2060 will be much better equipped to render ray traced games.
It also holds another advantage in the form of deep learning super sampling support (DLSS), which requires Tensor cores to run. Neither the GTX 1660 Ti nor the 1660 possess those, so will not be able to use DLSS. The RTX 2060 can, and that could give it a further advantage when it comes to ray tracing, although the highly limited number of supported games right now make it somewhat negligible. Furthermore, our experience of both features combined hasn’t been stellar so far.
You get what you pay for
In terms of raw performance, there’s no question which cards are the more capable. The RTX 2060 offers much better performance than the GTX 1660 Ti, which in turn is noticeably more powerful than the GTX 1660. The true question is, which offers the better value for money?
If you go for the cheapest option of each card, the RTX 2060 is the most well-rounded option of the three. It has the greatest future-proofing performance, beating out even high-end cards from just a couple of years ago like the Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti and AMD Vega 56, and it has support for ray tracing and DLSS with the dedicated hardware to make them work reasonably well.
But at this point, most people won’t care much about the viability of DLSS or ray tracing. That makes the GTX 166o Ti isn’t a bad choice either. It almost invalidates the RX 590 from AMD at the $280 price point, although we are seeing some heavily discounted RX 590s which make it an attractive alternative. The 1660 Ti is a viable upgrade option if you can’t stretch your budget to the RTX 2060, or would rather spend your money on other components.
The GTX 1660 is far harder to recommend, however. While it is certainly a better buy than a last-generation GTX 1060, competition is far more stiff from AMD at this price point. The RX 580 and RX 590 are both viable alternatives and can in some cases be cheaper, especially when you factor in AMD’s game bundles. We certainly wouldn’t suggest buying the factor overclocked versions, as the price between those and the 1660 Ti is too close to make them worth it.
Overall, the RTX 2060 is the best buy of the three. It’s still not a cheap card, but it gives much more value for money than its lower-end Turing counterparts.