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NVIDIA GTX 1660 vs RTX 2060 (2021): Which GPU Should You Get?

Whether you’re building a desktop PC or looking up laptops to buy, one of the most important specs you’ve got to pay attention to is what GPU (graphics processing unit) your computer will be running on. It’s easy to base your choice solely on price, but differences in price point often come with differences in performance. You’ll have to look at how it performs in benchmarks and if those results fit your intended use.

One of the biggest names in the GPU game is NVIDIA, who release the GeForce line of GPUs. Let’s take a quick look at two big releases from the past year, the GTX 1660 and the RTX 2060, and see how they stack up against each other.

GTX 1660 vs RTX 2060 Comparison Chart

ModelGTX 1660RTX 2060
 MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 192-Bit HDMI/DP 6GB GDRR5 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC...ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2060 Overclocked 6G GDDR6 HDMI DP 1.4 Gaming Graphics Card...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Release DateQ1 2019Q1 2019
Memory6GB DDR56GB DDR6
Memory Speed8Gbps12Gbps
Memory Bandwidth192GBps336GBps
TDP120w160w
CUDA Cores14081920
Core Clock1530MHz1365MHz
Boost Clock1785MHz1680MHz
GPUTU116TU106

RTX Performance

The RTX card works well even on more demanding settings, as expected.

Since it’s the more premium option, the RTX 2060 (right) comes with more CUDA cores than the GTX 1660 (left).

The most important thing that anyone looking for a good GPU (or computer, for that matter) is how well does it perform. NVIDIA has done its best to make sure that their products are distinct enough from each other and run well enough to be justifiable at their respective price points. Taking a quick look at the comparison chart above, that much is obvious just through its specifications. The comparison in average performance is no different. As expected, the RTX 2060 is able to do more than its GTX cousin. Comparisons show a stark difference when AAA games are played at Ultra settings on 1440p screens. The 2060 has an average 69fps and never dipped below 60fps for any games.

GTX Performance

The GTX card is still a solid choice, though not as powerful.

Both sides of a GTX 1660 card.

In contrast, even the better-equipped version of the 1660, the 1660Ti, couldn’t keep up with the more demanding games released within the past two years. The 2060 also handles multi-rendering better, meaning that it’s typically better at rendering higher quality textures. In general, the 1660 lags behind its RTX counterpart: the RTX 2060 is around 33% faster in high-performance situations. However, that’s only on those specific settings and using that specific resolution. Once your screen of choice downscales to HD 1080p, the 1660 can still perform extremely well on Ultra settings. Of course, the RTX still performs better at lower resolutions. While 1660-powered machines stay consistent within a good 60-70fps range, computers that use the 2060 can perform at even 100fps or higher.

If you’re looking to upgrade your existing build, it’s worth noting that a GTX 1660 still isn’t a bad pick by itself. For example, it’s a solid upgrade from the GTX 1060 GB (which is a choice that’s around 3 years older). The newer model provides a 10 to 20 percent improvement over its older counterpart. It also matches or fares even better than some AMD Radeon RX offerings like the RX 580 and RX 590. While it’s far from the best choice you have, it’s still a chip that’ll serve you well for some years before needing an upgrade again.

RTX vs GTX: What’s the Difference?

More than a mere letter change, RTX and GTX GPUs have significant architecture differences.

A GTX 1660 (left) and an ASUS ROG RTX 2060 (right) with their fans visible.

While the difference between a GTX 1660 and a RTX 2060 in performance is obvious even for a layman, the distinction in hardware under the hood that make those differences possible isn’t as easy to understand. What exactly is the difference between the two, and GTX and RTX chips in general?

It might be easier to explain if we start with the similarities. Both the GTX 16 series and RTX cards are based on NVIDIA’s Turing microarchitecture. The likeness stops there, however, since GTX units aren’t equipped with as many powerful components as an RTX card. Aside from generally having more CUDA (or “compute unified device architecture”) cores than GTX selections, RTX units also come furnished with RT cores and Tensor cores. Specifically, the RTX 2060 comes with 30 RT cores and 240 Tensor cores. These are used to improve ray tracing capabilities. The RT core accelerates ray tracing, while the Tensor cores improve the card’s ability for deep learning super sampling (DLSS).

Ray Tracing and DLSS

The RTX choice gives you a faster experience with its additional cores.

Another view of a RTX 2060 chip.

The biggest advantage the RTX 2060 has over the GTX 1660 is the inclusion of 30 RT cores and 240 Tensor cores in its architecture. These are used for improving the chip’s performance in situations that need ray tracing and DLSS. While all Turing chips support ray tracing, the RT cores serve as a way to accelerate the 2060’s performance with hardware. The RT cores come in handy when your programs have ray-traced lighting effects. These effects are usually more demanding and can’t be supported by lower-end GPUs. The software (mostly games) that require it, though, still aren’t very common, so you’ll have to see if the processes you’re eyeing require the additional RT cores to run smoothly at higher settings. Take note that it will most likely be limited to 1080p.

The Tensor cores bring additional support for deep learning super-sampling, or DLSS. Unlike ray tracing support, this feature is limited to RTX. DLSS is a method that NVIDIA-powered computers use to create images that look high-resolution without having to push the graphics card as much by relying on an algorithm trained to do so. It also can do better anti-aliasing, among others, resulting in an image that’s beautiful to look at but not as heavy on resources to render as it would normally be. Right now, though, only a limited number of games can even use DLSS: there are a few big names included like Minecraft and Wolfenstein, and other games with sizeable fanbases too.

Verdict

The GTX 1660 gives you good quality for the price you pay, while the RTX 2060 is good if you’re concerned with future-proofing your machine.

The GTX 1660 is a good choice for those looking to upgrade their existing machines. However, it is noticeably getting left behind by other 1660 models like the GTX 1660 Super or the GTX 1660 Ti due to either having more CUDA cores or faster memory than the base 1660 model. If you’re on a budget, the 1660 is still a solid pick; however, if you have a few spare bucks, go for the improved models.

If your main concern is future-proofing without breaking your bank, pick the RTX 2060. It generally performs better than the GTX chips available now. It also has the added RT and Tensor cores, which will inevitably be more useful in the coming years as developers seek to take advantage of its additional capabilities. In comparison to other RTX models, the 2060 isn’t as expensive, so it’s a good choice if you want your machine to be able to handle ray tracing well without shelling out an exorbitant amount of money.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What is better: RTX 2060 or GTX 1660?

The RTX 2060 is better than the GTX 1660 in all areas. However, the GTX 1660 is still a good choice if you are on a budget or if you are still gaming on a 1080p 60hz panel with no plans of upgrading anytime soon.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the RTX 2060 high end?

The RTX 2060 is a budget/mid-range card due to the existence of the 2070 and 2080.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the GTX 1660 Super worth it?

The SUPER version of the 1660 is better and worth it. If you can spring the extra cash for it, you should, as it performs better.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is RTX 2060 future proof?

Future-proofing when it comes to graphics cards is almost a fool’s errand. Newer and faster cards are always just around the corner. Having said that, at the time of its release, the RTX 2060 was a powerful mid-range card. The RTX 3000 series will be releasing later this year and they are better and faster than the RTX 2000 series.

Last update on 2020-12-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mauie Flores

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying, blogger and content creator passionate about writing, music, and good food.