Overclocking, Power and Temps, AIB Cards, and Final Thoughts
A Quick Look at Overclocking
While not every partner card will offer the same level of overclocking headroom, I found both of our sample cards to offer very good potential in this area. Right off the bat I decided to test the memory as its rate was considerably lower than we saw with the RTX 2060, and I wondered if it was going to be possible to boost this up to that level. It turns out that boosting the memory from 6000 MHz (12 Gbps data rate) to 7000 MHz (14 Gbps) was stable with both cards, and I could be wrong but the 12 Gbps rate feels like an artificial limit for product segmentation reasons – though actual performance will vary depending on the memory in use.
As I moved on to clock speeds I found that both cards would accept up to a +135 MHz core offset, but actual performance was higher in benchmarks for the MSI card thanks to its 107% power limit, with the EVGA card limited to the default 100%. Still, our stout little EVGA card still offered boost clocks in benchmarks in the 1985 – 2010 MHz range, and that was with the 1000 MHz memory overclock.
The MSI card fared better of course thanks to the higher power limit, and with that set to the max 107%, core set to +135, and memory at +1000, sustained boost clocks were 2040-2100 MHz (depending on load/duration).
I looked at some in-game benchmark results with this overclock on the MSI card as well:
These results show some appreciable gains in all cases (with an odd win over the RTX 2060 in the Tomb Raider benchmark), and in general even this quick overclocking experiment with no voltage adjustment and a max 107% power limit with this MSI card was impressive. I think we'll see a TU116 GPU match the RTX 2060 with some slightly higher clocks, and that's from a card that starts at $100 less. Nice!
Power and Temperatures
The GTX 1660 Ti has a stock TDP of 120W, though this can be configured by the AIB as we saw with the 130W MSI card tested. In testing we recorded total system power draw under load of 209W with the MSI GAMING X and 208W with the EVGA BLACK GAMING, and during overclocking test the MSI card reached 221W total system draw. Our test platform consumes roughly 75W at load, placing these results inline with expectations (remember that when analyzing total system draw from the wall one must factor in the efficiency of the PSU, which in this case is 80 Plus Gold rated).
Temperatures were excellent with both MSI and EVGA cards, with loads only reaching 60 – 65 C (room ~16 C) in testing with the default settings/fan profiles. When overclocking the 1660 Ti temperatures are likely not going to be the deciding factor, and I would not be surprised to see smaller coolers on some cards since this is not a particularly hot GPU.
The Value Proposition
The previous Turing card, RTX 2060, launched last month at $349 providing a level of performance neatly in the middle of last year’s GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 – and essentially tied with the GTX 1070 Ti (which launched at $449 14 months ago). And while 1070 Ti performance for $100 less a little over a year later is arguably a good value, there is perhaps a feeling of inevitability for such gains from generation to generation. It is also pretty clear that that the RTX 2060 has been seen as the successor to the GTX 1060 6GB, which launched at $249 ($299 for the Founders Edition) way back in July 2016. And while the RTX 2060 offers performance nearly double that of the GTX 1060 6B across the board, it hasn’t been seen as that exciting of a product, fairly or unfairly, due to the $349 price and questions about viability of RTX features at this performance level.
Let’s be honest: this is really just about price. The GTX 1060 isn’t the #1 GPU on the Steam hardware survey every month because of raw performance. We would all be gaming with the highest performing GPU available if they all cost exactly the same amount. Gamers vote with their wallets, and the price/performance of the 1060 was hard to beat, with cards ranging from $199-$249 depending on memory configuration, and excellent performance for 1080p gaming. In other words, the GTX 1060 has been the mainstream 1080p gaming GPU for some time now, with apologies to Radeon fans as the RX 480 and now RX 580 offer great performance (and more memory) for a compelling price as well. The RX 590 is another story, and Radeon prices need to drop to make that card competitive with this new GTX 1660 Ti.
Jumping back to the present and the launch of the GTX 1660 Ti: this is a card which comes close to replacing the GTX 1060 6GB with regard to pricing at its $279 list, and brings the latest Turing architecture as well. Granted there are no RTX features, but that is not important in this GTX vs. GTX argument. $279 might be seen as the inflation-adjusted price for such a card after nearly two years, but that sort of talk will not win me any friends in the lovely world of internet comments. While we see some impressive increases of up to ~50% with the GTX 1660 Ti compared to the GTX 1060 6GB depending on the benchmark, are these performance gains enough of a boost over the 1060 to justify a $279 price nearly two years later? That will undoubtedly be part of the discussion with this card, since this segment is all about price/performance.
Regardless, it seems pretty clear that NVIDIA is offering great performance and some legitimate overclocking potential with this first TU116 product, and the market will have to decide if the $279 price is worth it. Just as with the RTX 2060 review i will take the unpopular stance of saying that the price is fair for this level of performance, and while that isn’t as exciting as big gains at a lower price would be, it’s still arguably the case.
Our Sample AIB Cards: Reviewed
After spending some time with our two partner cards we can offer a quick overview of our findings with the MSI and EVGA cards here.
- 1875 MHz Boost Clock
- $309.99 (Amazon.com)
Features include a custom PCB design with enhanced power delivery, MSI's 7th generation Twin Frozr thermal design featuring their Torx Fan 3.0 fans with "Zero Frozr" (which stops the fans when the card is not under load), and also offers a solid backplate and RGB lighting effects. This lightly-overclocked card gives us a look at what AIB partners will be able do with the TU116, and it offers great performance with its slightly higher 130W TDP, 1875 MHz boost clock, and Twin Frozr 7 cooler. Good overclocking potential with this card as well, though the 107% power limit will restrict more aggressive OC efforts. Still, for a premium of $30 this offers a nice mix of features and added performance, and stacks up quite well against the outgoing GTX 1070 cards.
- 1770 MHz Boost Clock
- $279.99 (Amazon.com)
One of EVGA's triple-slot (technically 2.75 slot) short-length card designs which the company says "give you more front-to-back space without sacrificing cooling performance or acoustic noise ", this card runs very cool and quiet and offers solid stock performance at the base $279 price. Not meant to heavily OC, there is some overclocking potential here nonetheless, but the XC BLACK GAMING version we tested is not going to go as far with its max 100% power limit (other versions with higher power limits will also be offered).
While a single-fan design the card really does run very quietly with its fluid dynamic bearing fan, and the large cooler design, which is easily one of the thickest we've seen on a graphics card, helps it stays cool even under extended load. However it is this 3-slot design which presents an odd requirement for a shorter card like this, which would typically be thought of as small form-factor (i.e. mini-ITX) option; you would need a mITX enclosure with three expansion slots to install this. I was on the fence about this, and it may end up being a deciding factor in some cases (pun intended).
The GTX 1660 Ti is a logical product, positioned appropriately in the market based on performance. But logic isn’t sexy (apologies to Mr. Spock), and while I think the GTX 1660 Ti is a solid graphics option it isn’t as exciting as it could have been if priced at or below the GTX 1060 6GB.