Back when NVIDIA announced RTX, there was confusion on the future of GTX, there were rumors of GTX being dead, rumors of a line of GTX 11XX cards launching, and a whole lot of guessing going on. Fast forward to mid-February, the big green machine announced the bizarrely named GTX 1660ti. Why 1660ti instead of 1160ti? We don’t know, but let’s focus on what we do know.
The GTX 1660ti is not just a cut-down RTX 2060, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. It’s actually using a new GPU chip sensibly titled the TU116 which is built from the same Turing architecture as its RTX cousins. It’s got a whopping 20% fewer CUDA cores than the RTX 2060, which initially looked like it spelled bad news for the new mid-range card, but thankfully NVIDIA has clocked this card much higher than is RTX equivalent. Also to note, this GPU unlike the TU106 within the RTX 2060, has no Tensor cores or RT Cores, which until now meant no Ray Tracing or DLSS (more on those features here).
While it was missing those core features, to begin with, the GTX 1660ti was still a great buy, what it did have in common with the RTX family was impressive. It’s now even more so since their latest announcement that GTX 10 series (1060 and higher) will have access to a cut-down version of DXR ray tracing. Given the push NVIDIA is giving to raytracing for every game engine (they’re coming to the biggest engines around, Unreal Engine 4 and Unity for example) and unlocking that support on GTX cards, these new Turing GTX cards are so close to Turing RTX that they’re a perfect mid-range alternative.
Turing GTX still uses GDDR6 video memory, it still features the excellent Turing additions of variable rate shader rendering, cache structure improvements, dedicated FP16 cores and most importantly for those of you who stream, the sweet NVENC encoding improvements, so you’ll have much better video compression when streaming, that video quality is comparable to x264 fast preset of CPU encoding. Pairing this with introduced basic level ray tracing support and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Its average performance beats out the previous generation GTX 1070 by roughly 5-8% in many cases and matching it frame for frame in others, all while costing around £240/$280 at the cheapest end of the scale, the water gets a little muddy however when looking at the premium GTX 1660ti cards, paying nearly RTX 2060 money for a GTX 1660ti makes little to no sense, models like the STRIX simply aren’t worth the buy when an RTX 2060 would offer a noteworthy performance boost along with the full-fat version fo those sweet next-generation RTX features.
Power consumption is also improved with this new GTX card, consuming less power than a GTX 1070 while offering more performance, you may notice I’ve not compared the GTX 1660ti to the card its directly replacing, the GTX 1060, the reason for this is simply because the 1660ti leaves it for dead, the performance leap is so huge that it makes more sense to put it next to the higher tier GTX 1070, for the sake of being fair to the Pascal architecture. Simply put, Turing architecture for GTX, much like RTX, is great.
To build upon this success we’ve recently seen the impressive GTX 1660 join the 1660ti with this cards performance beating its previous generation GTX1060 6GB by a respectable margin for a wonderful price point (as low as £200/$210 for some models)
The GTX 1660 is largely the same story as the GTX 1660ti, containing all the same Turing features (other than using older GDDR5 rather than GDDR6) with a similar philosophy when choosing a model of card again its worth it for the base spec models but paying for a premium edition of the card makes little to no sense, you’d get more from a basic GTX 1660ti for nearly the same price. NVIDIA has made an interesting decision by releasing these two cards to dominate the mid-range and having RTX stand strong on the mid-high range it starts to beg the question…
Where does the GTX line go from here?
I see a pattern of RTX key features being cut from GTX cards but keeping core Turing features, GTX cards are seeing comparable performance decreases, when taking the 2060 vs the 1660ti as an example, GTX cards in the stack will be roughly 10-15% less powerful than their RTX counterparts but notably cheaper, this excites me.
There are rumblings of NVIDIA releasing a GTX 1650 card lower down in the product tree next, considering the performance of the 1660 and its Ti cousin its highly likely the GTX 1650 should have performance comparable to a Founders Edition GTX 1060, in what I expect to be a 75W package, take that in for a second. This means virtually any desktop could be easily turned into a competent gaming machine for a rumored $150, that’s an incredibly interesting prospect.
The questions I have are running wild. Will NVIDIA compete with themselves? Should we expect to see a GTX 1680ti? if so will it be hitting RTX 2080 levels of gaming performance without the RTX feature set? Will NVIDIA price it as a flagship card on a reasonable budget? Will this be the last generation of GTX cards? How will AMD respond to an Nvidia saturated Mid-Range?
Sound off in the comments below with your predictions!