Although something like Nvidia’s RTX 3080 is seriously impressive, it’s not the right graphics card for every gamer. The GTX 16-series cards offer solid performance at a much lower price, which is great for gamers playing at 1080p or those interested in esports titles — especially now that they enjoy FSR support, too. The GTX 1660 is the best of the range, but there are multiple variants available. Between the GTX 1660 Super, GTX 1660 Ti, and GTX 1660, which should you choose?
We threw all three cards into the ring to see how they hold up. There are a lot of differences between these cards, some major and others minor. Regardless, one thing is clear: They’re not all equal.
If you want to consider other GPUs, check out our guide to the best graphics cards, whatever your budget. That might be a good idea if you’re in the market to build a computer now, too, as stock shortages have pushed many of Nvidia’s 16-series cards off the shelves.
The Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti was the first of Nvidia’s GTX 16-series — an entry-level alternative to its RTX graphics range and a replacement for its more modest GTX 10-series cards. It lacked the higher CUDA core counts, RT and Tensor cores, and expansive feature sets of the RTX cards but was based on the same Turing 12nm architecture. It debuted on February 22, 2019, and was followed shortly after on March 14 by the GTX 1660, a card with fewer CUDA cores and slower memory.
The Nvidia GTX 1660 Super launched on October 29, 2019, and was designed to sit in between the two existing 1660 cards in both price and performance.
All three cards are out of stock across retailers thanks to the ongoing GPU shortage. There are a few ways to get a card around MSRP, including EVGA’s queue system and Newegg Shuffle. Neither of these programs have options for any 1660 model, however. If you’re set on any 1660 variant, your best options are to call local retailers like Micro Center and Best Buy or pay up on the secondhand market.
EVGA’s queue system and Newegg Shuffle may not feature 1660 models, but they do feature the much more powerful RTX 30-series graphics cards. If you’re lucky, you can score an RTX 3060 through one of these programs for less than the secondhand price of a 1660, and the 3060 will perform much better.
The GTX 1660 cards aren’t hugely distinct in terms of performance, but some offer greater bang for buck than others.
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When the GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti debuted in early 2019, the obvious differences between them were the 9% disparity in CUDA cores and the considerably faster memory on the Ti. The GTX 1660 Super, on the other hand, is less of a gap-bridging GPU and more of an alternative to the 1660 Ti. It has a slightly higher TDP, a slightly higher clock speed, and faster memory. It has the same GPU and CUDA core count as the standard 1660, posting it ever-so-slightly below the 1660 Ti in terms of its raw performance, but it’s a close-run race.
In practice, this results in a graphics card lineup that is oddly stacked. The GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti are clearly defined as top and bottom of this trio of cards, but the GTX 1660 Super is barely weaker than the 1660 Ti. In some testing, we’ve seen it perform as little as 2% worse. That’s a near-insignificant difference and certainly problematic for the Ti, because there’s a near $50 difference between them, which at this price level is dramatic.
It depends on the game, though. At 1080p, especially, the 1660 Super soars ahead on its Ti and normal variants in Resident Evil 2. However, the Ti version trades places with the Super in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and the two are nearly identical in Battlefield V. The only constant between games is the normal GTX 1660. It consistently performs lower than the Super and Ti variants, even if it’s only by a small margin.
The various factory overclocked and cooled versions of each card may even things out on a pricing scale, but the GTX 1660 Super eats into the 1660 Ti’s market considerably, giving it little room to breathe.
One of the greatest differences between Nvidia’s GTX and its RTX graphics cards is that the latter features RT cores and Tensor cores for ray tracing and deep learning super sampling acceleration. The GTX graphics cards, including the 16-series, can perform ray-tracing calculations, but without high levels of general compute performance (like a 3080 Ti has, for example), it’s largely unplayable. The GTX 1660 Super isn’t any better than GTX 1070 is, which is rather poor.
DLSS (deep learning super sampling) is also off the table with these cards, as they lack the Tensor cores to support it. What they can do, though, is take advantage of other Nvidia driver-level features. All three of the GTX 1660s support Nvidia’s ultra-low-latency (NULL) technology, for faster in-game response during competitive play. They can also enjoy all the post-processing effects introduced with Nvidia’s Reshade support.
Reshade isn’t new — gamers have been enjoying its effects on AMD and Nvidia GPUs for years already, but now it’s officially supported and integrated through Nvidia’s control panel. All three of the 1660s fully support this. But due to the slight performance hit that some processing effects and filters take, the 1660 Ti should be the best equipped to handle it. We doubt the Super will be too far behind, though.
Nvidia made an intriguing move with the introduction of the GTX 1660 Super. It’s an excellent card that offers noticeably improved performance over the GTX 1660 at around the same price. That means we’re almost always going to recommend the Super over the standard 1660. But what about the Ti?
If you were to line the three 1660s up side by side, the 1660 Ti would prove to be the most capable option available, but only slightly so. If you know the ins and outs of game and computer production, you can close that slight gap pretty quickly by just running your CPU at a higher clock rate.
Ultimately, we recommend the Super to gamers, even though the Ti has a slightly higher performance output for some titles. That said, it’s tough for us to recommend any card at the moment because no retailer has any of these three cards in stock right now. It may be better to try and track down a 3060 Ti or wait for the launch of the newer 3060. (Although, we always recommend waiting for third-party benchmarks.)
At the moment, the current card series is all AMD can offer because no other card matches the price point and quality of these products. The RX 6800 and 6800 XT are impressive cards, though, so we imagine AMD will release cheaper cards based on the same architecture sometime in 2021.
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