Final Words

We’re now four GPUs into the NVIDIA Turing architecture product stack, and while NVIDIA’s latest processor has pitched us a bit of a curve ball in terms of feature support, by and large NVIDIA is holding to a pretty consistent pattern with regards to product performance, positioning, and pricing. Which is to say that the company has a very specific product stack in mind for this generation, and thus far they’ve been delivering on it with the kind of clockwork efficiency that NVIDIA has come to be known for.

With the launch of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and the TU116 GPU underpinning it, we’re finally seeing NVIDIA shift gears a bit in how they’re building their cards. Whereas the four RTX 20 series cards are all loosely collected under the umbrella of “premium features for a premium price”, the GTX 1660 Ti goes in the other direction, dropping NVIDIA’s shiny RTX suite of effects for a product that is leaner and cheaper to produce. As a result, the new card offers a bigger improvement on a price/performance basis (in current games) than any of the other Turing cards, and with a sub-$300 price tag, is likely to be more warmly received than the other cards.

Looking at the numbers, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti delivers around 37% more performance than the GTX 1060 6GB at 1440p, and a very similar 36% gain at 1080p. So consistent with the other Turing cards, this is not quite a major generational leap in performance; and to be fair to NVIDIA they aren’t really claiming otherwise. Instead, NVIDIA is mostly looking to sell this card to current GTX 960 and R9 380 users; people who skipped the Pascal generation and are still on 28nm parts. In which case, the GTX 1660 Ti offers well over 2x the performance of these cards, with performance frequently ending up neck-and-neck with what was the GTX 1070.

Meanwhile, taking a look at power efficiency, it’s interesting to note that for the GTX 1660 Ti NVIDIA has been able to hold the line on power consumption: performance has gone up versus the GTX 1060 6GB, but card power consumption hasn’t. Thanks to this, the GTX 1660 Ti is not just 36% faster, it’s 36% percent more efficient as well. The other Turing cards have seen their own efficiency gains as well, but with their TDPs all drifting up, this is the largest (and purest) efficiency gain we’ve seen to date, and probably the best metric thus far for evaluating Turing’s power efficiency against Pascal’s.

The end result of these improvements in performance and power efficiency is that NVIDIA has once again put together a very solid Turing-based video card. And while its performance gains don’t make the likes of the GTX 1060 6GB and Radeon RX 590 obsolete overnight, it’s a clear case of out with the old and in with the new for the mainstream video card market. The GTX 1060 is well on its way out, and meanwhile AMD is going to have to significantly reposition the $279 RX 590. The GTX 1660 Ti cleanly beats it in performance and power efficiency, delivering 25% better performance for a bit over half the power consumption.

If anything, having cleared its immediate competitors with superior technology, the only real challenge NVIDIA will face is convincing consumers to pay $279 for a xx60 class card, and which performs like a $379 card from two years ago. In this respect the GTX 1660 Ti is a much better value proposition than the RTX 2060 above it, but it’s also more expensive than the GTX 1060 6GB it replaces, so it runs the risk of drifting out of the mainstream market entirely. Thankfully pricing here is a lot more grounded than the RTX 20 series cards, but the mainstream market is admittedly more price sensitive to begin with.

This also means that AMD remains a wildcard factor; they have the option of playing the value spoiler with cheap RX 590 cards, and I’m curious to see how serious they really are about bringing the RX Vega 56 in to compete with NVIDIA’s newest card. Our testing shows that RX Vega 56 is still around 5% faster on average, so AMD could still play a new version of the RX 590 gambit (fight on performance and price, damn the power consumption).

Perhaps the most surprising part about any of this is that despite the fact that the GTX 1660 Ti very notably omits NVIDIA’s RTX functionality, I’m not convinced RTX alone is going to sway any buyers one way or another. Since the RTX 2060 is both a faster and more expensive card, I quickly tabled the performance and price increases for all of the Turing cards launched thus far.

GeForce: Turing versus Pascal
  List Price
(Turing)
Relative Performance Relative
Price
Relative
Perf-Per-Dollar
RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti $999 +32% +42% -7%
RTX 2080 vs GTX 1080 $699 +35% +40% -4%
RTX 2070 vs GTX 1070 $499 +35% +32% +2%
RTX 2060 vs GTX 1060 6GB $349 +59% +40% +14%
GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1060 6GB $279 +36% +12% +21%

The long and short of matters is that with the cheapest RTX card costing an additional $80, there’s a much stronger rationale to act based on pricing than feature sets. In fact considering just how amazingly consistent the performance gains are on a generation-by-generation basis, there’s ample evidence that NVIDIA has always planned it this way. Earlier I mentioned that NVIDIA acts with clockwork efficiency, and with nearly ever Turing card improving over its predecessor by roughly 35% (save the RTX 2060 with no direct predecessor), it’s amazing just how consistent NVIDIA’s product positioning is here. If the next GTX 16 series card isn’t also 35% faster than its predecessor, then I’m going to be amazed.

In any case, this makes a potentially complex situation for card buyers pretty simple: buy the card you can afford – or at least, the card with the performance you’re after – and don’t worry about whether it’s RTX or GTX. And while it’s unfortunate that NVIDIA didn’t include their RTX functionality top-to-bottom in the Turing family, there’s also a good argument to be had that the high-performance cost means that it wouldn’t make sense on a mainstream card anyhow. At least, not for this generation.

Last, but not least, we have the matter of EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black GAMING. As this is launch without reference cards, we’re going to see NVIDIA’s board partners hit the ground running with their custom cards. And in true EVGA tradition, their XC Black GAMING is a solid example of what to expect for a $279 baseline GTX 1660 Ti card.

Since this isn’t a factory overclocked card, I’m a bit surprised that EVGA bothered to ship it with an increased 130W TDP. But I’m also glad they did, as the fact that it only improves performance by around 1% versus the same card at 120W is a very clear indicator that the GTX 1660 Ti is not meaningfully TDP limited. Overclocking will be another matter of course, but at stock this means that NVIDIA hasn’t had to significantly clamp down on power consumption to hit their power targets.

As for EVGA’s card design, I have to admit a triple-slot cooler is an odd choice for a 130W card – a standard double-wide card would have been more than sufficient for that kind of TDP – but in a market that’s going to be full of single and dual fan cards it definitely stands out from the crowd; and quite literally so, in the case of NVIDIA’s own promotional photos. Meanwhile I’m not sure there’s much to be said about EVGA’s software that we haven’t said a dozen times before: in EVGA Precision remains some of the best overclocking software on the market. And with such a beefy cooler on this card, it’s certainly begging to be overclocked.

Power, Temperature, and Noise
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  • Fallen Kell - Friday, February 22, 2019 - link

    I don't have any such hopes for Navi. The reason is that AMD is still competing for the console and part of that is maintaining backwards compatibility for the next generation of consoles with the current gen. This means keeping all the GCN architecture so that graphics optimizations coded into the existing games will still work correctly on the new consoles without the need for any work. Reply
  • GreenReaper - Friday, February 22, 2019 - link

    Uh... I don't think that follows. Yes, it will be a bonus if older games work well on newer consoles without too much effort; but with the length of a console refresh cycle, one would expect a raw performance improvement sufficient to overcome most issues. But it's not as if when GCN took over from VLIW, older games stopped working; architecture change is hidden behind the APIs. Reply
  • Korguz - Friday, February 22, 2019 - link

    Fallen Kell
    " The reason is that AMD is still competing for the console and part of that is maintaining backwards compatibility for the next generation of consoles with the current gen. "
    prove it... show us some links that state this
    Reply
  • Korguz - Friday, February 22, 2019 - link

    CiccioB
    " GCN was dead at its launch time"
    prove it.. links showing this, maybe .....
    Reply
  • CiccioB - Saturday, February 23, 2019 - link

    Aahahah.. prove it.
    9 years of discounted sell are not enough to show you that GCN simply started as half a generation old architecture to end as a generation obsolete one?
    Yes, you may recall the only peak glory in GCN life, that is Hawaii, which was so discounted that made nvidia drop the price of their 780Ti. After that move AMD just brought up a fail after the other, starting with Fiji and it's monster BOM cost just to reach the much cheaper GM200 based cards and following with Polaris (yes, the once labeled "next AMD generation is going to dominate") and then again with Vega and Vega VII is not different.

    What have you not understood that AMD has to use whatever technology available to get a performance near that of a 2080? What do you think will be the improvements nvidia will achieve once they will move to 7nm (or 7nm+)?

    Today AMD is incapable to get to nvidia performances and they also lack their modern features. GCN at 7nm can be as fast a a 1080Ti that is 3 years older. Despite the AMD card still uses more power, which still shows how inefficient GCN architecture is.

    That's why I hope Navi is a real improvement, or we will be left with nvidia monopoly as at 7nm it will really have more than generation of advantage, seen it will be much more efficient and still having new features that AMD will then add only in 3 or 4 years from now.
    Reply
  • Korguz - Saturday, February 23, 2019 - link

    links to what you stated ??? sounds a little like just your opinion, with no links....

    considering that AMD doesnt have the deep pockets that Nvidia has, or the part that amd has to find the funds to R&D BOTH gpus, AND gpus, while nvida can put all the funds that can into R&D, it seems to me that AMD has done ok for that that have had to to work with over the years, with Zen doing well in the CPU space, they might start to have a little more funds to put back into their products, and while i havent read much about Navi, i am also hopeful that it may give nvidia some competition, as we sure do need it...
    Reply
  • CiccioB - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    It seems you lack the basic intelligence to understand the facts that can be seen by anyone else.
    You just have hopes that are based on "your opinion", not facts.
    "they might start to have a little more funds to put back into their products". Well, last quarter with Zen selling like never before they managed to have a 28 millions net income.
    Yes, you read right. 28. Nvidia with all its problems got more than 500. Yes, you read right. About 20 times more.
    The facts are 2 (this are numbers based on facts, not opinion, and you can create interpretations on facts, not your hopes of the future):
    - AMD is selling Ryzen CPU at a discount like GPUs and boths have a 0.2% net margin
    - The margins they have on CPU can't compensate the looses they have in the GPU market, and seen that they manage to make some money with console only when there are some spike of requests, I am asking you when and from what AMD will get new funds to pay something.
    You see, it's not that really "a hope" believing that AMD is loosing money for every Vega they sell seen the cost of the BOM with respect to the costs of the competition. Negating this is a "hope it is not real", not a sensible way to ask for "facts".

    You have to know at least basic facts before coming here to ask for links on basic things that everyone that knows this market already knows.
    If you want to start looking less idiot than you do by asking constantly for "proves and links", just start reading quarter results and see what are the effects of the long period strategies both companies have achieved.

    Then, if you have a minimum of technical competence (which I doubt) look at what AMD does with its mm^2 and Watts and what nvidia does.
    Then come again to ask for "links" where I can tell you that AMD architecture is one generation behind (and will be probably left once nvidia will pass to 7nm.. unless Navi is not GCN).

    Do you have other intelligent questions to pose?
    Reply
  • Korguz - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    right now.. your facts.. are also just your opinion, i would like to see where you get your facts, so i can see the same, thats why i asked for links...
    again.. AMD is fighting 2 fronts, CPUs AND gpus.. Nvida.. GPU ONLY, im not refuting your " facts " about how much each is earning...its obvious... but.. common sense says.. if one company has " 20 times " more income then the other.. then they are able to put more back into the business, then the other... that is why, for the NHL at least, they have have salary caps, to level the playing field so some teams, cant " buy " their way to winning... thats just common sense...
    " AMD is selling Ryzen CPU at a discount like GPUs and boths have a 0.2% net margin "
    and where did you read this.. again.. post a link so we can see the same info... where did you read how much it costs AMD to make losing money on each Vega GPU ?? again.. post links so we can see the SAME info you are...
    " You have to know at least basic facts before coming here to ask for links on basic things that everyone that knows this market already knows. " and some would like to see where you get these " facts " that you keep talking about... thats basic knowledge.

    " if you have a minimum of technical competence " actually.. i have quite a bit of technical competence, i build my own comps, even work on my own car when i am able to. " look at what AMD does with its mm^2 and Watts and what nvidia does. " that just shows nvidia's architecture is just more efficient, and needs less power for that it does...

    lastly.. i have been civil and polite to you in my posts.. resorting to name calling and insults, does not prove your points, or make your supposed " facts " and more real. quite frankly.. resorting to name calling and insults, just shows how immature and childish you are.. that is a fact
    Reply
  • CiccioB - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    where did you read how much it costs AMD to make losing money on each Vega GPU ??

    Did you read last (and understood) AMD latest quarter results?
    Have you seen the total cost of production and the relative net income?
    Have you an idea of how the margin is calculated (yes, it takes into account the production costs that are reported in the quarter results)?
    Have you understood half of what I have written when based on facts that AMD just made $28 of NET income last quarter there are 2 possible ways of seeing the cause of those pitiful numbers? One is that AMD is discounting every product (GPU and CPU) to a ridiculous margin, the other that Zen is sold at a profit while GPUs are not? Or you may try to hypnotize the third view, that they are selling Zen at a loss and GPU with a big margin. Anything is good, but at leas one of these is true. Take the one you prefer and then try to think which one requires less artificial hypothesis to be true (someone once said that the best solution is most often the most simple one).
    that just shows nvidia's architecture is just more efficient, and needs less power for that it does

    That demonstrates that nvidia architecture is simply one generation head, as what changes from a generation to the other is usually the performance you can get from a certain die are which sucks a certain amount of energy and just is the reason because a x80 level card today costs >$1000. If you can get the same 1080Ti performance (and so I'm not considering the new features nvidia has added to Turing) by using a complete new PP node, more current and HBM just 3 years later, then you may arrive at the conclusion that something is not working correctly on what you have created.

    So my statement that GCN was dead at launch (when a 7970 was on par with a GTX680 which was smaller and uses much less energy) just finds it perfect demonstration in Vega 20 where GCN is simply 3 years back with a BOM costing at least twice that of the 1080Ti (and still using more energy).

    Now, if you can't understand the minimum basic facts and your hope is that their interpretation using a completely genuine and coherent thesis is wrong and requires "fact and links", than it is no my problem.
    Continue to hope that what I wrote is totally rubbish and that you are the one with the right answer to this particular situation. However what I said is completely coherent with t e facts that we have been witnessing from GCN launch up to now.
    Reply
  • Korguz - Friday, March 01, 2019 - link

    " Have you seen the total cost of production and the relative net income? "
    no.. thats is why i asked you to post where you got this from, so i can see the same info, what part do YOU not understand ?
    " based on facts that AMD just made $28 of NET income last quarter" because you continue to refuse to even mention where you get these supposed facts from, i think your facts, are false.
    " One is that AMD is discounting every product (GPU and CPU) to a ridiculous margin"
    and WHERE have you read this??? has any one else read this, and can verify it?? i sure dont remember reading anything about this, any where

    what does being hypnotized have to do with anything ?? do you even know what hypnotize means ?
    just in case, this is what it means :
    to put in the hypnotic state.
    to influence, control, or direct completely, as by personal charm, words, or domination: The speaker hypnotized the audience with his powerful personality.

    again.. resorting to being insulting means you are just immature and childish....

    look.. you either post links, or mention where you are getting your facts and info from, so i can also see the SAME facts and info with out having to spend hours looking.. so i can make the the same conclusions, or, admit, you CANT post where you get your facts and info from, because, they are just your opinion, and nothing else.. but i guess asking a child to mention where they get their facts and info from, so one can then see the same facts and info, is just to much to ask...
    Reply

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