Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super review: Changing the game, again

They completely redefine the landscape for high-end graphics cards.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia promised something Super is coming well over a month ago, and on Tuesday, it finally delivered. Spoiler alert: The wait was worth it.

The $399 GeForce RTX 2060 Super and $499 GeForce RTX 2070 Super pack fresh graphics chips and other improvements that help propel speeds far beyond their non-Super namesakes, shoring up weaknesses found in the original RTX 2060 and effectively shifting the entire RTX 20-series product stack up a performance tier—all for at or near the same price as before.

These Ti-upgrades-by-another-name kick a whole lot of ass, and that’s with an even more powerful GeForce RTX 2080 Super variant waiting in the wings for a July 23 launch. The GeForce RTX 2060 Super and 2070 Super will launch on July 9, a week from now, in both the Nvidia Founders Edition models we’re reviewing today as well as customized versions by board makers like EVGA, Asus, and Gigabyte.

The timing’s no coincidence. AMD’s long-awaited Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT are scheduled to release on July 7 with all sorts of cutting-edge technologies, from PCIe 4.0 to an all-new “RDNA” graphics architecture to 7nm transistors. AMD showed its duo knocking off the non-Super RTX 2060 and 2070 in early teasers, and priced its cards to take on Nvidia’s entry-level ray tracing options.

Are the Super upgrades super enough to spoil Radeon’s big day? Let’s find out.

Specs, features, and price

dsc00541 Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia equipped all its Super variants with bigger, badder GPUs, and in the case of the GeForce RTX 2060 Super, a more robust memory configuration as well. The original $350 GeForce RTX 2060 will remain available, though Nvidia expects the new Super variants to replace the vanilla RTX 2070 and 2080 in the market. Our coverage of the Nvidia Super and FrameView benchmarking tool releases details how the rejiggered RTX 20-series product stack will look heading into the summer.

Before we dive into things, let’s hit you with the specs. Here’s how the GeForce RTX 2060 Super compares against the GTX 1060 and the RTX 2060 non-Super (click to enlarge):

rtx 2060 comp Nvidia

And here’s how the GeForce RTX 2070 Super compares against the GTX 1070 and the RTX 2070 non-Super (click to enlarge):

rtx 2070 comp Nvidia

Finally, here’s a deeper glance under the hood of each of the two new GPUs (click to enlarge):

rtx super specs Nvidia

Specifications for the GeForce RTX 2060 Super (left) and RTX 2070 Super (right).

Let’s start with the $399 GeForce RTX 2060 Super, which received a more substantial upgrade. Nvidia stuffed the card with an upgraded version of the TU106 GPU found in the original, bestowing it with four additional Streaming Multiprocessors that ratchet up performance in traditional gaming and real-time ray tracing tasks alike. Better yet, while the vanilla RTX 2060 came with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM and a 192-bit memory bus—an underwhelming combo for a $350 GPU—the RTX 2060 Super bumps that up to a full 8GB capacity across a broader 256-bit bus. The combination increases overall memory bandwidth to 448GB/second in the RTX 2060 Super, a 112GB/s increase over the non-Super. Yes please!

The improvements are enough to boost the GeForce RTX 2060 Super’s performance to roughly the same level as the original RTX 2070, as you’ll see in our benchmarks. That’s a heck of an upgrade for the extra $50.

dsc00543 Brad Chacos/IDG

The $499 GeForce RTX 2070 Super, on the other hand, achieves its gains by graduating to a whole new GPU family under the hood. While the original RTX 2070 rocked the TU106 processor also found in the RTX 2060, the Super upgrades to a cut-down variant of the more powerful TU104 GPU that originated in the $699 GeForce RTX 2080. Don’t let that “cut-down” fool you: Like the RTX 2060 Super, the RTX 2070 Super includes more streaming multiprocessors, CUDA cores, and dedicated ray tracing hardware than its vanilla namesake. The GeForce RTX 2070 Super doesn’t quite close the performance gap with the RTX 2080, but it comes awfully damned close—and for $200 less.

The Super variants include substantially higher base clock speeds than before, and the RTX 2070 Super gets a whopping 150MHz boost clock bump, too.

dsc00577 Brad Chacos/IDG

The extra oomph doesn’t come free, though. Both Super versions consume more power than their cousins, especially the RTX 2070 Super. While the RTX 2060 Super sticks to the same small form factor and single 8-pin power connection as the original, the RTX 2070 Super’s requirements blossomed to match the increased performance. The formerly tiny Founders Edition version has expanded to standard length, and now demands a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector on the side edge of the board, rather than a single 8-pin connector on the rear. It’s a small price to pay for the faster speeds, but still worth noting.

The move to the TU104 GPU also affects the RTX 2070 Super’s port selection. While Founders Edition cards based on TU106, including both RTX 2060 models and the original RTX 2070, include a DVI connection, the TU104-based RTX 2070 Super drops that for an extra DisplayPort, matching the RTX 2080’s configuration. (Both Supers also come with an additional pair of DisplayPorts, HDMI, and a VirtualLink USB-C connection.)

There’s another perk to the GPU upgrade: Nvidia didn’t include SLI connectors on the original RTX 2070, but added it to the GeForce RTX 2070 Super Founders Edition. (It’s still missing on the RTX 2060 Super.)

dsc00537 Brad Chacos/IDG

Peek-a-boo!

Speaking of the Founders Edition models, Nvidia stuck to the same basic all-metal, dual-axial fan design introduced with the RTX 20-series, but with one notable change: The area between the fans is shined to a mirror polish now, instead of being jet black. It’s striking, and perfect for nerdy artistic selfies, but you won’t see the shroud inside a standard PC case unless you mount your graphics card vertically.

As mentioned before, Nvidia equipped the Supers with more dedicated ray tracing hardware than before.Company representatives pushed the ray tracing angle hard in briefings with the press, citing numerous blockbuster game franchises that have announced real-time ray tracing support.

Metro Exodus is the current gold standard, with ray tracing substantially changing the look and feel of the game, but Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Battlefield V, Assetto Corsa, and Quake II RTX also support the technology. Ray tracing got a huge vote of confidence at E3 2019 as well, with Cyberpunk 2077, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2, Remedy’s Control, and Watch Dogs: Legion confirmed to include the technology. Most of those cracked our favorite games of E3 2019.

ray tracing support Nvidia

Several smaller titles also plan to bake in real-time ray tracing now that all the major game engines support it. Ray tracing is still niche, but it’s truly revolutionary and picking up speed with the arrival of hardware capable of running the ultra-intensive tasks.

While the AMD-powered next-gen Xbox Project Scarlett and PlayStation 5 will include ray tracing hardware in some form, current Radeon graphics cards do not, nor will the upcoming Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT. To press its technological advantage, Nvidia’s bundling free copies of a pair of ray-traced games—Control and Wolfenstein: Youngblood—with all RTX Super sales when these cards hit the streets later this month. Youngblood is scheduled to launch on July 26, and Control at the end of August.

Now, to answer the real question: Just how super are these? Let’s head to the test bench.

Next page: Our test system, benchmarks begin

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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