Nvidia’s 2019 Turing GPU refresh schedule continues, this time with the launch of the GTX 1660. This slimmed-down Turing variant (without DLSS or RTX / DXR ray tracing) is aimed at the all-important midrange market, with an introductory price of $ 219.
The GTX 1660 is also the first GPU from Nvidia to hit AMD’s midrange pricing bulwark. With the Vega family knocked out of any realistic comparison by Turing, AMD’s Polaris GPU is holding the line on its $ 200 GPUs. Does Team Red manage to keep its feet?
The answer is yes — mostly — but only by ignoring power consumption altogether. The gap between the two companies has become a canyon in this regard. That weighed on AMD in the reviews from Anandtech, Hot Hardware, and PCMag.
Here’s how the GTX 1660 stacks up against other cards in Nvidia’s Pascal/Turing family. It retains most of the 1660 Ti’s horsepower, but swaps more-expensive GDDR6 for mainstream GDDR5. This will save money and help Nvidia hit lower price points, but comes at a steep reduction in memory bandwidth. The flip side to this, and a definite benefit for midrange gamers, is that Nvidia has moved from 3GB RAM buffers to 6GB at this price point. We’d like to see 8GB cards moving into this space — AMD has the right idea here — but at least the 3GB cards are gone.
Overall performance for the GTX 1660 is good. Anandtech has published a chart with the absolute and performance-per-dollar improvements.
Prices on the 6GB GTX 1060 were as low as $ 209 last year, but the GPU generally sold for a bit more than that. How well Turing and Pascal compare with each other by these metrics does depend on which pricing you use for the latter. Either way, the 1660 Ti still offers the best increase in performance-per-dollar of the Turing generation, though the 1660 isn’t far behind.
Overall opinions of the card are solid, in part because the competition from AMD isn’t seen as being all that strong. The problem here is that while the RX 590 is only modestly behind the GTX 1660 — Anandtech puts it at 93 percent as fast, while Hot Hardware says 95 percent — the RX 590 also uses vastly more power at the system level. Total power consumption for a GTX 1660 system is 230-260W. System power consumption for an RX 590 is 330W – 370W. Given that Nvidia’s GTX Turing cards have done a good job of staying within their rated TDPs, this means the RX 590 literally draws almost double the power of a GTX 1660. That’s going to mean higher noise levels in many cases, not just more heat exhaust and higher power consumption.
Desktop users aren’t as concerned with power consumption as laptop and mobile users, but that doesn’t mean power consumption is irrelevant in this space. The situation isn’t a blowout against AMD, but it’s not great, either. AMD’s RX 580 is a bit better positioned in this regard. While it gives up more performance against the 1660, it hits a significantly lower price point ($ 189 versus $ 219).
PCMag writes that “Once again, Nvidia is succeeding in filling out a holistic and balanced GPU line for gamers…and the race for second place isn’t all that close.” AMD still has an argument to make for itself below $ 200, but the GTX 1660 seems to lock out the RX 590. Navi can’t come soon enough.