GTX is back, baby. After being kicked to the curb in favor of a new “RTX” brand that signifies the inclusion of dedicated RT and tensor cores that enable real-time ray tracing and AI-enhanced gaming, Nvidia’s tried-and-true mainstay returns for the release of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card. Yes, that means this $280-plus GPU lacks the cutting-edge capabilities of its bigger siblings, like the GeForce RTX 2060. But by ditching all the extra hardware, Nvidia was able to focus the GTX 1660 Ti’s efforts on just plain kicking ass in games.
And it succeeds, friends.
The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti delivers outstanding 1080p and solid 1440p gaming performance on a par with last-gen’s $380 GTX 1070, without the massive price increase witnessed in its RTX-laden cousins—it's only $20 more than what the GTX 1060 launched at. This card beats the snot out of AMD’s Radeon RX 590, even though its starting price is $10 lower. It’s a winner. Let’s take a look at the Asus ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti, a custom-cooled, heavily overclocked version of the GPU that costs $330.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti specs and features
Despite costing just $20 more than the 6GB GTX 1060, the new GTX 1660 Ti comes loaded with much more hardware under the hood—more CUDA cores, more L1 cache, more texture units, faster GPU and memory clock speeds, more transistors built using the more advanced 12nm FFN manufacturing process, you name it. Two notable features remain identical, however: a 120-watt TDP and the 6GB of onboard memory capacity, though the GTX 1660 Ti gets a massive bandwidth upgrade by moving from GDDR5 to GDDR6.
The memory isn’t the only upgraded hardware. The CUDA cores at the heart of the Turing GPU inside the GTX 1660 Ti (and its RTX brethren) received a significant overhaul that helps Nvidia’s new graphics cards outpace their “Pascal” GPU-based predecessors. Most notably, Nvidia added a new integer pipeline (INT32) alongside the floating point pipeline (FP32) traditionally used to process shading. This lets the GPU manage floating point and non-floating point instructions concurrently, rather than stalling the shading process while the GPU tackles integer tasks, which used to be the norm. The new capabilities help Shadow of the Tomb Raider run over 50 percent faster on the GTX 1660 Ti than it did on the 6GB GTX 1060, Nvidia says—a claim verified by our own performance testing.
Turing GPUs also include support for variable rate shading, a technology that allows different parts of the image to be rendered at varying fidelity levels for increased performance. It also provides a unified cache architecture that gives Turing almost three times more available L1 memory than the Pascal GPUs in the GTX 10-series, with twice as much bandwidth and lower latency. Those features help boost performance in Wolfenstein II and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, respectively, by 50 percent compared to the GTX 1060, Nvidia says.
For a much more in-depth dive into the changes in these new-look CUDA cores, check out our deep-dive into Nvidia’s Turing GPU architecture. You’ll learn a lot about the ray tracing and tensor core capabilities of RTX GPUs there, too.
Of course, as a modern GeForce card, the GTX 1660 Ti can take advantage of Nvidia’s rich software ecosystem, including features like Ansel super-screenshots, ShadowPlay video capturing, automatic game optimization via GeForce Experience, and G-Sync monitor compatibility. Nvidia GPUs can now play nice with AMD FreeSync monitors too.
Asus ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti specs and features
While the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti will hard-launch today, February 22, with multiple versions available from all the usual suspects starting at $280, the specific graphics card we reviewed is the $330 Asus ROG Strix GTX 1660, a luxurious model with a heavy overclock, a ferocious custom cooler, and extra features galore. Everything you’d expect from a ROG Strix card, in other words! Here’s a look at its spec sheet:
Out of the box, the ROG Strix is rated for a 1,860MHz boost clock, a 90MHz increase over the GTX 1660 Ti’s reference speeds. Downloading Asus’s handy GPU Tweak II overclocking software and activating the one-button OC mode ups that to 1,890MHz. But you don’t need to do that: The large, effective cooler on the ROG Strix allows the card to hover consistently between 1,935MHz and 1,950MHz in our games testing, because Nvidia’s GPU Boost algorithm automatically pushes clock speeds further as thermal headroom allows. GPU Tweak II lets tinkerers fine-tune things even further with manual overclocking controls, too.
The triple-slot Asus ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti comes with three RGB-illuminated axial fans, a beefy heatsink, a metal-braced design, and a fetching full-length backplate that mirrors the aesthetic on other modern Strix releases.
Asus is particularly proud of its Auto-Extreme automated manufacturing process. “Traditionally, soldering of through-hole and surface-mounted components needs to be performed in separate stages,” Asus’s reviewers guide explains. “Auto-Extreme Technology allows all soldering to be completed in a single pass, reducing thermal strain on components and avoiding the use of harsh cleaning chemicals. The end result is less environmental impact, lower manufacturing power consumption, and a more reliable product.”
Beyond the bulky heatsink and fan trio, the ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti packs additional features for better thermal performance. Strix GPUs include “MaxContact Technology,” a fancy way of saying that the heat spreader contacting the GPU is precision-machined to be 10X flatter than traditional designs, allowing for improved heat dissipation. The card also comes with a pair of Asus FanConnect II fan headers. Any PWM case fans connected to the headers can automatically react to the GPU’s temperature, picking up speed when temperatures rise and slowing down when your GPU is idle. In our prior experience, it’s especially effective if you use FanConnect with a front case fan pointed at the Strix.
Add it all up and the ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti’s custom cooling solution is almost frightfully effective, as you’ll see later. That effectiveness gives the graphics card some interesting versatility, which we first witnessed in the Asus ROG Strix RTX 2080: A dual-BIOS switch that lets you choose between Performance and Quiet profiles.
That’s nothing new in swankier graphics cards, but the Strix’s powerful cooler lets both profiles deliver identical performance in games, and that’s a rarity. Instead, the Performance BIOS ramps up the fans to keep temperatures consistently below 60 degrees Celsius. Performance mode runs surprisingly quietly, but the dedicated Quiet mode optimizes for acoustics and runs virtually silently. Quiet features a much less aggressive fan curve, and the fans go idle if the GPU core temperature drops below 55 degrees Celsius.
According to Asus, the Performance BIOS is 16 percent cooler than the Quiet BIOS, while Quiet is 13X quieter. Both are tremendously effective at their given goals in practical use. This is a great feature for discerning gamers.
Next to the dual-BIOS switch, you’ll find a dedicated hardware button for disabling the ROG Strix GTX 1660 Ti’s RGB lighting—a thoughtful touch. That lighting can be controlled by Asus’s Aura Sync software. The port loadout for the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti will vary from model to model, but the ROG Strix comes equipped with a pair of DisplayPorts and a pair of HDMI 2.0b connections.
While we’re reviewing Asus’s most expensive and glamorous GTX 1660 Ti offering today, the company is releasing several SKUs across its ROG Strix, Asus Dual, and Asus Phoenix brands with varying speeds and feature sets:
- ROG-STRIX-GTX1660TI-O6G-GAMING - $329.99
- ROG-STRIX-GTX1660TI-A6G-GAMING - $324.99
- ROG-STRIX-GTX1660TI-6G-GAMING - $319.99
- DUAL-GTX1660TI-O6G - $309.99
- DUAL-GTX1660TI-6G - $304.99
- PH-GTX1660TI-O6G - $284.99
- PH-GTX1660TI-6G - $279.99
Got it? Good. Let's hit the test bench.
Next page: Our test system, benchmarks begin