Final Words

As a series of mid-generation kicker cards, NVIDIA’s Super cards have certainly lived up to the task. While none of these cards bring anything new to the table in terms of performance, they all have given NVIDIA’s price-to-performance ratio a swift kick upwards, and as the latest Super card, this is the case for the GeForce GTX 1660 Super as well. The net result is that while these cards don’t radically redefine the video card landscape, the GTX 1660 Super is at least going to recalibrate the mainstream market by bringing some of NVIDIA’s best gear down to lower prices, to the benefit of system builders and upgraders alike.

From a hardware perspective, you can either look at the new GeForce GTX 1660 Super as a GTX 1660 with a much-needed upgrade to GDDR6 memory, or a GTX 1660 Ti with a couple of SMs fused off. Both would be accurate statements, and both set the correct expectations in terms of performance. The GTX 1660 Super is a very fast card for its market segment, and because it’s so similar to the GTX 1660 Ti in configuration, it’s also similar to it in performance, only trailing NVIDIA’s fastest 1660 card by a few percent.

Which perhaps isn’t remarkable in and of itself, but what the GTX 1660 Super doesn’t bring to the table in terms of new hardware, it brings to the table in terms of pricing. NVIDIA is launching this card at $229, which is $50 below where the GTX 1660 Ti launched back in February – and indeed, what it still sells for today. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, the new Super card delivers 12% better performance than NVIDIA’s $219 vanilla GTX 1660, all for a decabuck ($10) more.

As a result, at current prices the GTX 1660 Super all but makes the other GTX 1660 cards redundant; the Ti isn’t fast enough to justify the price, and the vanilla GTX 1660 isn’t cheap enough to justify the performance hit. Put another way, why have a GTX 1660 Ti at GTX 1660 Ti prices, when you could have it without the TI price premium? In this respect it’s a lot like the launch of the RTX 2070 Super over the summer; it’s not quite as fast as the card above it (RTX 2080), but for a few percent drop in performance, it’s a whole lot cheaper. Ultimately, while NVIDIA’s current 10 card product stack is a bit unwieldy, once you reach the GTX 1660 series, there’s really only one card to consider, and that’s the GTX 1660 Super.

None of this, I think, should be too surprising given what NVIDIA is announcing today in terms of specifications and pricing. They clearly intended to deliver a lower-priced GTX 1660 Ti-like card, and this is exactly what’s happened. The lingering question then is not what they’ve done, but why they’ve done it. And for the answer to that, I suspect we’re going to have to wait to see what happens with AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 series cards, which are expected to launch into retail sometime this quarter. It’s been AMD actions that have spurred NVIDIA’s other price/performance realignments this year, and it’s likely the same case here.

Performance Summary (1080p)
  Relative Performance Relative
Price
Relative
Perf-Per-Dollar
GTX 1660S vs RTX 2060 -17% -30% +24%
GTX 1660S vs GTX 1660 Ti -3% -18% +18%
GTX 1660S vs GTX 1660 +10% +5% +5%
GTX 1660S vs GTX 1060 6GB +37% -8% +49%
GTX 1660S vs GTX 960 +158% +15% +124%

Shifting gears, let’s talk about EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra. The dual-fan, dual-slot card is fairly typical of what to expect for GTX 1660 Super cards in terms of design, as dual-fan coolers have long proven themselves (and their popularity) in this market segment. And while EVGA’s card delivers on all of the performance one would expect from GTX 1660 Super – and then some thanks to a mild factory overclock – I’m ultimately left with mixed feelings about it. The hardware is solid, but the acoustic results are mediocre; the card is fairly loud for a piece of hardware that only has to dissipate 125W of heat. Not that a lot of our readers care about noise versus price or performance, but for those who do, it’s something to chew on. Personally, I’d like to see EVGA balance their fan curve a bit more so that it’s not unnecessarily aggressive, but barring that, the matter is easy enough to address at the user level with EVGA’s always-excellent PrecisionX overclocking software.

Finally, from a deep technical perspective, the launch of the GTX 1660 Super has given us an extremely interesting look at the performance differences between memory generations, and this is something we very rarely get. While GPU memory controllers typically support a couple of different types of memory, within midrange or high-end cards we virtually never see memory types mixed in this fashion; cards with older memory types are almost universally sold as lower-end parts with further neutered GPU configurations to match. So the GTX 1660 Super lets us see first-hand the performance impact of GDDR5 versus GDDR6 with fully identical GPUs.

The results then, are surprising in a sense. While I did not expect performance gains to be anywhere near the 75% increase in memory bandwidth – the vanilla GTX 1660 was never entirely memory bandwidth-bound – I am surprised that the performance gains from the switch to GDDR6 are so consistent. To be sure, the GDDR6-equipped GTX 1660 Super is anywhere between 7% and 17% faster than the GDDR5-equipped GTX 1660, but that’s a rather narrow range all things considered. Even in the worst case scenario, just adding more memory bandwidth pushed performance up by at least 7%, and yet even in the best case scenario, it added no more than 17%. There are no purely GPU-limited gaming scenarios where the extra bandwidth did nothing, and there are no memory-bound scenarios where more bandwidth led to vast performance improvements.

Some of this, I suspect, is simply because GDDR6 is such a large jump that it’s outpacing what GPUs currently need. Which is an odd thing to say for a class of products that are virtually defined by their ever-shrinking amount of bandwidth-per-FLOP, but GDDR6 will be with us over multiple GPU generations, just like GDDR5 was prior to that. So GPUs aren’t going to see the same kind of single-generation 75% jump in bandwidth again, and GPU vendors can never let their foot off of the pedal when it comes to improving GPU memory efficiency.

It’s this last point, perhaps, that is keeping the GDDR6 performance gains as consistent as they are. Despite pushing 5+ TFLOPs, the vanilla GTX 1660 isn’t incredibly burdened by GDDR5. It’s held back for sure – losing upwards of 15% of its performance just by missing out on so much memory bandwidth – but it’s not handicapped. NVIDIA has been able to get an immense amount of performance out of GDDR5 cards despite the very limited bandwidth increases over the years there, and this Super comparison helps to underscore that.

Not that the company will mind more video card bandwidth. GDDR6 may be around for years to come, but first we have 16Gbps GDDR6 on the near-term roadmaps. And by the time NVIDIA is ready with a new generation of video cards, even a small bump in memory bandwidth will go a long way towards feeding a ever wider and more powerful GPUs.

Power, Temperatures, & Noise
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  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    Thanks Ryan, and sorry, the 1660 was already "all Turing", so my question was redundant. I meant to ask about the 1650 Super. If that GPU remains unchanged, it still is a cut Turing GPU with Volta NVENC. Reply
  • timecop1818 - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    Actually 1660 (not super) already has the Turing NVDEC/NVENC, because it's the first card which can handle 8K60P decode with ~70% NVDEC utilization. On 1080/1080Ti (Pascal) this runs at around 40fps and 100% utilization.

    Reference: https://developer.nvidia.com/video-encode-decode-g...
    Reply
  • timecop1818 - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    I'm surprised nobody said "Fuck DVI" yet.
    At least about 1/3 of the AIB makers finally dumped that retardo connector.
    I bought a gigabyte? or something GTX1660 and it was finally a proper card with 3x DP and 1x HDMI.
    Reply
  • Korguz - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    considering monitors are STILL made with vga... thats what they should stop making before they drop dvi... Reply
  • Gastec - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    And monitors could still be made with VGA connectors for 50 more years to come and the U.S. Military just dumped the floppy disk from their nuclear missiles controls.
    From my of experience, both a work and in private life, this lack of knowledge and desire to upgrade is not an exception but the rule. I have a friend that just turned 30, he knows every social networking trick and settings for his smartphone but connects his laptop to a small monitor via the bundled VGA cable that came in the box. He didn't even know the monitor had a DVI port, or what that even is.
    Reply
  • MaikelSZ - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    My monitors has VGA, DVI and HDMI. To this day, all the HDMI connections that I have used on PCs and TVs have given me problems of some kind.
    An interesting problem that I have seen 3 diferent times in 3 diferente places was that in one position the cable gives image problems (small distortions) or in others even the TV loses the image for a couple of seconds every so often. If the cable was reversed, the problem disappeared.

    My graphics card has 3 DP and 1 HDMI and I use a DP-DVI converter for my monitor, I don't use the HDMI. I only use HDMI when I connect 2 monitors, one HDMI and the other using DVI
    Reply
  • grazapin - Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - link

    That sounds like a bad HDMI cable. More specifically, one end of the cable is bad and has intermittent connection problems. When you plug the bad end into the laptop it will flake out because the cable is more likely to be bumped or jiggled and the cable is likely bending to the side and pulling on the connector. When you plug the bad end into the monitor the cable is more likely to be straight so it's not putting stress on the connection and it's not get jostled after you plugged it in, and the good end is out where the jostling occurs. Replace that HDMI cable and I bet your problems go away. Reply
  • Nirman04 - Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - link

    It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the market. If a 1660 Super is only $10 more than the "vanilla" 1660 and yet performs closer to the Ti card which is $60 more than the 1660, I can't see anyone buying the1660 now, never mind the Ti. Clearly a lot will come down to the pricing from a individual manufacturers who could now cut the price of the 1660 and 1650, but it looks like there is now competition even between Nvidia cards, let alone competition with AMD. Reply
  • Larry Litmanen - Friday, November 1, 2019 - link

    To me it is wait and see, what if Stadia works.

    Why spend money on something that will not run any games in 2 years.

    My gtx 960 can run games only on lowest settings on a Dell U3415w, it basically stopped running new games around 2017.

    The card works it's just it's not powerful enough, frankly I have no desire to spend $220 on something that is useless in 2 years.
    Reply
  • dromoxen - Friday, November 8, 2019 - link

    Too fast development of new gfx cards renders the older cards redundant too soon. I have gtx960 with 4gb for futureproof *sigh* . This HAS to stop. Reply

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