A few weeks ago, NVIDIA finally unveiled the much-anticipated GTX 1660Ti after months of speculation and leaks. While this was a surprise to some and confused the hell out of everyone due to the inconsistent naming scheme, it did clear up some things. This card meant that NVIDIA was serious about offering real value for money for people who might be on a slight budget. The card fared really well against competitors at the same price level and set the bar for the future of performance on a budget.
A few weeks later, NVIDIA has come out with another non-RTX card in 2019, the GTX 1660. Like its big Ti brother, the 1660 does not support AI or Ray-Tracing operations either, hence the GTX instead of RTX in the name. It does however, come with the same kind of bang for buck philosophy that was implemented for the GTX 1660Ti. Some would argue that the Ray-Tracing and other RTX features have just not been fully baked yet and it would be better to skip the current RTX cards and wait for the 2nd Gen RTX offerings. So, is the GTX 1660 worth it or should you look somewhere else for your next build? Let’s begin.
The most important feature of any product is, arguably, the price. The NVIDIA GTX 1660 starts at the base price of $219 with different vendors charging higher for different cooler and overclocking configurations. It is worth noting that the GTX 1060 was launched at around $250 and the older GTX 960 was launched at $200. This launch seems to hit that $200 value sweet spot again. We do, however, recommend getting the versions of GTX 1660 that are closer to $200 rather than those that approach $250 because at that point, you might as well invest $20 more and get a GTX 1660Ti. The performance you gain after spending 30 dollars more on different configurations is just not worth the premium being charged.
On the AMD side of the spectrum, the closest competitor would be the Radeon RX 590 which can be found for around $220 dollars as well. Nevertheless, it still is not able to match the NVIDIA offering in terms of power efficiency or performance. AMD might have to think about cutting the price even further or introduce better game bundles with the card just to compete.
Like the GTX 1660Ti, the new GTX 1660 cards use the 12 nm TU116 core which incorporates all the improvements introduced by the Turing architecture except the RT and Tensor units. What this means is that RTX has been relegated from the specs sheet but the performance in standard games sees a big gain. If you want RTX though, you’ll need to spend more money and get an RTX 2060 or higher. The GTX 1660 uses a suppressed version of the GTX 1660Ti’s core with 1408 CUDA cores (as compared to 1660 Ti’s 1536) with slightly higher clock speeds. The memory is where these cards are separated the most. The 1660 comes with 6 GB of memory but instead of GDDR6 (used in 1660Ti), it uses GDDR5 modules operating at a lower 8 GHz. This could potentially cause memory bandwidth bottlenecks in some games but a little bit of overclocking would bring the 1660 much closer to its bigger brother, the GTX 1660Ti.
The design of GTX 1660 still manages to raise some eyebrows but it is still much better than the triple slot version of the GTX 1660 Ti. The card is just about 10.5 inches long and will fit comfortably in smaller form factor cases. Our EVGA variant is using a shorter PCB which is bundled with a massive cooler. The part that sticks out is protected by a back plate but this means that the power connector comes out of pretty much the middle of the card. The I/O is pretty standard for our EVGA variant with single outputs for DVI, HDMI and Display Port. The addition of DVI is a nice addition as people with older monitors wouldn’t need an adapter. However, from what we’ve heard, the Gigabyte version of the card doesn’t have the DVI option in it.
Starting at 1080p performance, the GTX 1660 manages to push out some good results. The 1660 managed to beat the older GTX 1660 6GB by about 13 percent while being less expensive. It was also around 35 percent faster than a GTX 950 and almost twice as fast as the GTX 1050. What this means is that if you’re still using an older GPU, there is some really good performance to be gained here. As compared to its bigger brother the GTX 1660 Ti, the GTX 1660 is about 15 percent slower which is expected. However, against the AMD offerings, the 1660 is pretty much neck and neck with the RX 590 but is much more efficient than AMD’s offering.
1440p is mostly a miss for the GTX 1660 with most games running at around 35-45 fps. Lowering the settings would improve the frame rate but it would probably be better to scale back down to 1080p. Likewise, 4k is a no go for the GTX 1660 with most games struggling to approach 30 fps in our tests. The 6 GB VRAM is an issue at 4k as many games just run out of VRAM.
The NVIDIA GTX 1660 takes the NVIDIA crown for the sweet spot of budget GPUs. This is the card for your next budget build. If you’re thinking about upgrading from a GTX 900 series or lower, getting this would be a no-brainer with the value and performance it offers. Furthermore, the GTX 1660 also manages to feel relatively modern due power efficiency of the 12 nm manufacturing process. Overall, we are pretty impressed with the value that the GTX 1660 offers to consumers. Earlier in the year, the RTX cards felt like they were a bit overpriced but with the introduction of the GTX 1660 and the 1660Ti, NVIDIA has blown the competition out of the park in terms of the value that their cards offer. The only apparent downside of this card can be the GDDR 5 modules may cause some bottlenecks but if you tone the games down to 1080p, there aren’t many others that provide such value. NVIDIA continues to raise the bar for AMD who just haven’t been able to catch up and from an overall perspective, this is the new best bang for buck king if you’re looking to game on a budget.