This month saw the relatively low-key released of a new 1080p focussed graphics card from Nvidia – the 1660 Super. This GPU squeezes itself into a price and performance space in between the 1660 and the 1660ti and is based upon the same Tu116 core as those GPUs. The $200-$250 range is now so close and confusing that I hope you’ll excuse me referring to these three cards as ‘vanilla’, ‘super’ and ‘ti’ for sake of clarity and brevity.
In this article I’ll discuss the merits of the GTX 1660 Super, explain where it sits in the performance hierarchy amongst the 1080p targeted GPU options, and make some recommendations as to the manufacturers offerings to look for.
The GTX 1660 Super – Nvidia muddy the waters
|Model||GPU Die||Clock Speed||Memory||Price||Fan|
|GTX 1660 Super||TU116-300||1785 MHz||6GB GDDR6||TBC||Dual or Single|
|GTX 1660||TU116-300||1785 MHz||6GB GDDR5||$220||Dual or Single|
If you check out the specification tables for the GTX 1660, 1660 Super and 1660ti you’d be excused for struggling to differentiate them. They use the same GPU die and whilst the 1660ti has a handful more streaming multiprocessors and CUDA cores the vanilla 1660 and 1660 super appear identical even down to the reference base and boost clocks – in fact Nvidia don’t even list the specs side by side on their site, and the cynic in me might suggest that’s because they appear too similar if they do.
So what exactly is Nvidia offering the consumer here? The answer lies in the RAM. Whilst it’s still 6Gb, it’s now GDDR6 with 14Gbps transfer rate – that’s a huge 75% upshift in VRAM bandwidth over both the 1660 and the 1660ti and it’s this feature that gives the super it’s edge. Benchmarks show it performing around 10% above the vanilla 1660 and just 5% behind the 1660ti. When there’s potentially a $50 saving that’s a good deal of value. It also includes the NVENC encoding core, allowing you to offload stream encoding onto the GPU for lower system impact and higher quality streams so if you regularly stream but don’t have a huge budget it’s a great option. The drawbacks are relatively few, with compact card sizing and 125W TDP meaning this GPU should fit into most existing systems.
One point to mention is that some 1660 Supers appear to ship with limited display options – often just one each of HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI. If you’re looking to hook up two HDMI or DisplayPort equipped monitors then be sure your chosen card has the sockets you need. It’s one of the few reasons you might want to opt for the (generally better equipped) 1660 Ti over the Super. All the recommendations we make below include 3 Displayport and one HDMI connector, but be sure this meets your needs.
Why has Nvidia released this GPU when it treads so firmly on the toes of the 1660ti? The answer lies in the upcoming AMD RX 5500. AMD’s new card is already with OEMs and consumer versions are expected to land towards the end of November 2019. Nvidia doesn’t want to give an ounce in the battle for the high volume mid range market. Steam surveys show 64% of people gaming at 1080p, and 1 in 6 gamers use a GTX 1060, 1660ti or 1660 so it’s clear that this is a key product for Nvidia. The 1660 Super uses their existing and established GPU core and GRRD6 memory to carve out yet another foothold in the segment. You now have a choice of three ‘1660’ GPUs within a $60 ladder, and that crowds the 5500 out and ensure that AMD have very little room to profit.
Whilst we’ll have to wait for the confirmed pricing and reputable benchmarks of the 5500, it would be wise to assume it will match the 1660 super very closely on price and performance, but it is rumoured to have both 4Gb and 8Gb options. If you’re not 100% sold on a 1660 super then hang fire a few weeks and see what AMD can produce.
The GTX 1660 Super – Performance expectations
AAA titles – a solid 60+ FPS on high at 1080p
Benchmarks show the 1660 super performing admirably at 1080p on even the most demanding titles. It’ll generate a smooth 70-100 Fps in games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus on Medium settings. Ultra settings cut this to 40-50 fps in those titles – but we’d recommend a slightly more balanced experience with most settings on ‘high’ for smooth gameplay at 60+ FPS AND gorgeous visuals. 1440p benchmarks do show the limitations of the processing power on offer, again with 40-50fps being the norm in demanding titles. Whilst it’s not terrible it’s a sign of things to come as titles place ever greater demands on a GPU. We consider that if you’re targeting 1440p gaming you need to open your wallet a little wider and look towards an RTX 2060 super or Radeon RX 5700 as a starting point.
Esports – A consistent 144hz 1080p experience.
The 1660 super is excellently placed to deliver a great e-sports experience, where consistent frame time and high frame rate trump visual bells and whistles. This GPU has no issues at all with titles such as Fortnite, Overwatch and even the new Call Of Duty, with that most demanding and recent title yielding 90-100fps on normal-high settings. Whilst we’d expect a competitive player to dial back visual quality settings to maintain high performance, the 1660 super offers excellent performance and value here. It’s a hearty recommendation for any e-sports enthusiast on a budget.
Best GTX 1660 Super Cards – My Recommendations
Best Value GTX 1660 Super Card
At the lower end of the Pricing chart, the Zotac GTX 1660 Super Twin Fan comes in at just £219/$229.Whilst it lacks a backplate and makes do with a relatively uncomplicated cooling solution (at 125W TDP it doesn’t need more) it has 2 fans for lower noise and better cooling, and importantly it’s sporting 3 DisplayPort outputs and a single HDMI. This makes it excellent for multi-monitor setups and it would be out the go-to card for productivity applications where a lick of CUDA acceleration (many Adobe Creative suite products for example) helps image manipulation nor data processing along. Whilst it’s functional looks might be out of place in a build designed for show, this card proves the value of the 1660 super by offering everything you need right at entry-level pricing and even includes an outstanding 5-year warranty.
Tied Value Offering – MSI VENTUS Gaming OC
Also competing for best value is the MSI Ventus XS OC version of the GTX 1660 Super card. This also sports 3 Displayport outputs and a single HDMI socket and adds a backplate to clean up the aesthetic of the card – important now that cases tend to be windowed and the backside of a GPU is on display. The Marketing material makes much of the fan design, but importantly the fans stop in low load situations so this should be a silent card when you’re not gaming. The backplate, marginally higher boost clock (although we’ve never seen a Turing GPU that didn’t comfortably exceed the stated boost clock automatically) and low load fan stop make this well worthy of consideration, and right now it’s just £1 more than Zotacs offering.
Best Premium GTX 1660 Super Card
MSI has 2 strong offerings for 1660 Supers and the higher end one takes our recommendation for a GPU with a bit more ‘show’. The MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming X takes the Ventus specification and adds a slightly enhanced boost clock (to 1830mhz from 1815 for the Ventus model – likely indistinguishable in actual use) and some styling and RGB elements to make a GPU worthy of display. The looks match those of the ‘MAG’ line up of MSI motherboards and it uses MSI Mystic light to sync, so if your build is leaning that way this GPU makes a great option, especially if you’d spend the price difference on RGB anyway. Whilst you can get all the performance on offer here for £30 less with the Ventus OC, the look of the component has value too and you may well find yourself drawn to this version of the GPU.
Best GTX 1660 Super Card for ITX/SFF Builds
There’s a resurgence in building truly tiny PCs and one of the advantages of a mid range card like the 1660 super is lower power consumption. Less power means less heat, and in turn, you can reduce the size of heat sinking and fans required. Whilst it looks relatively basic (ok, downright ugly) Palit’s austere single fan heatsink solution is remarkably effective, and silent when not under load. With an elevated boost clock, 3 Displayport and one HDMI port, and diminutive size, this GPU is well suited to a near-carry on sized gaming or graphics workstation PC. If you want a no-frills GPU capable of remarkable performance for it’s size, the PALIT GTX 1660 Super STORM X OC priced at £209.99 should be on your list.