It’s no secret that we at n3rdabl3 are beyond excited about NVIDIA’s RTX features so when given a chance to review a shiny new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition we jumped at it.
Our review will cover benchmarks, thermal testing, power consumption and a subjective take on the looks of the card. Our testing methodology is straightforward, we benchmark a mix of popular and demanding games, along with a reliable synthetic benchmark test for two cards and compare results. We’re running the NVIDIA RTX 2060 against last generations GTX 1070, the reason we selected the GTX 1070 is simple, this is a test in the price bracket of the GPU market. When the GTX 1070 released it was the same price as what 2060 is selling for currently.
Before we discuss performance testing I’m going to take a minute to discuss the card itself, we received the NVIDIA Founders edition of the card and I’ve got to say, its significantly better than the previous design used for the 10 series cards, our 1070 is also a Founder Edition and its a night and day difference, switching from a blower style cooler to a dual-fan setup is a hugely welcome change in every way.
It’s noticeably quieter than the blower style coolers of last gen, it’s also in my opinion much nicer looking, more bonus points include that it has a more convenient location for the PCI-E 8pin power connector which is on the back of the card rather than the traditional location of on the side. The open fan design makes it’s much easier to clean, not something I’d usually consider a big deal but having tried to clean a Founders Edition card from the previous generation I’m now a big fan of coolers being easy to clean.
All of this considered, it sounds great, but do the temps reflect this positive change? I’m delighted to say it’s proving itself very worthwhile, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition temps are great, in my Mini-ITX rig with an overclocked i7 I never saw the tempts above 75 degrees, often hanging around the 71-72 mark, a huge change from the 79-82 degrees my GTX 1070 FE usually caps itself off at.
Opting for a blower style cooler on a card like this would massively handicap it in many ways so good job NVIDIA, you’ve made Founders Edition a much more viable option when selecting which model of GPU to buy. Considering that the 2060 is around 2% more powerful than pascal’s GTX 1080 its TDP is impressive, the 2060 comes in at 160W vs the 1080’s 180W rating. Not a huge change, but I’ll give a nod to NVIDIA’s efficiency when creating such a feature-packed new card, in a new lineup, with a beefier cooler and still shrinking TDP.
So, the card’s design is great, its efficiency is impressive so now let’s discuss its performance. For our tests we compared this card to the GTX 1070 FE, its closest RRP rival, our system was a mini-ITX PC with a core i7 4790k clocked at 4.8GHz, 16GB of DDR3 2100 MHz on an MSI Z97 Gaming AC motherboard, we tested our GPUs at stock clocks, the only changes made to it were being done by GPU Boost, no manual overclocking took place in these benchmarks, we ran the cards through a series of popular and demanding games and benchmarks.
For each game we ran through 30 minutes of gameplay in a variety of environments playing the same section which keeps games without built-in benchmarks as representative as possible between runs, we took 0.1% lows, 1% lows and Avg. FPS, taking max FPS in our tests was futile as max FPS is never maintained, however, we did measure lows as this can demonstrate how frame drops and heavy scenes can tank performance. Each test was conducted in both 1440p and 1080p with maxed out settings to really push the two cards to their limits.
So, how about some benchmark results:
The Witcher 3:
In The Witcher 3, with the ‘cursed’ hairworks turned all the way up to ultra, along with every other setting, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition did better than I could ever imagine, at 1080p it was hitting frame rates around 70-90FPS with its overall average landing on 83FPS. This title is still demanding even today, the GTX 1070 did respectably, keeping above that 60fps target almost at all times but the RTX 2060 took the crown over NVIDIA’s previous £300-£400 GPU.
I’m already impressed. Smashing the resolution slider to 1440p and we see the RTX newcomer break the 60fps average mark. Throughout play, I never really saw the FPS counter below 59, with the exception of the occasional dip when environments loaded a particularly hectic area while sprinting on horseback. I thought I was happy with my GTX 1070, but after this experience, I’m not so sure anymore. The graph below holds the cold hard stats demonstrating how the RTX 2060 stacked up against the GTX 1070.
Well, this is where things become interesting, as stated before, the testing methods used here were based on pushing the cards to their limits, maxing out everything and seeing how they kept up and I can tell you now, I’d only game on one of these two graphics cards we tested today in this setting and its not the GTX 1070 which suffered. Greatly.
See, we tested with the shiny new ray tracing features cranked as high as it goes and it looked stunning.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition played this game smoothly for the most part with dips occasionally happening when really crazy stuff was going on, large bodies of water, windows, and other reflective surfaces had a bit of an impact but not in a majorly noticeable way, testing the RTX card first had me setup thinking that the GTX 1070 might do okay with these settings… it didn’t.
I’m not sure what was more of a horror scene, the Nazi’s surrounding me from all sides or the fact that my 1070 sounded more like the bombers in game, I’m so thankful for the new Founders Edition coolers on the RTX cards because not only was my 1070 loud, it was hot. Above 80 degrees hot. Trying to play this was a wound upon me, killing enemies became a slideshow of death, aiming between the frame changes.
I’m sure the 1070 would fare incredibly well had the DXR not been on ultra, I can imagine it would have been hovering closer to 45-60 if it was set to off or low, rather than 20-30FPS ultra yielded me. Switching back the RTX card was a relief when I wanted to re-run my testing just to make sure it wasn’t my PC that was struggling, just the 1070. Below is a graph, charting out the usual stats and clearly demonstrating just how much of a different RT cores make when dealing with DXR.
Everyone is playing Apex these days, its a solid shooter with excellent graphics and a well-optimized game all-round. I managed to get some very impressive results out of both GPU’s I tested but more so from the RTX card, in 1080p I was exceeding 110 fps at near enough all times when playing. At 1440p the game was still running at a very respectable 70-90FPS, the average landed in the middle at dead on 80fps.
I found that the 1070 also performed very well in this title, usually trailing the RTX card by around 10-15 FPS and remaining above 65 at a majority of the time, still the RTX card pulled ahead by a noticeable margin, but less noticeable as in previous title which speaks for how well optimised this game is.
Finally I had to give these two cards a synthetic test, so I chose the highly demanding Unigine Superposition benchmark, I knew that the RTX card would be pulling ahead in this test but the question was by how much, the answer was that it pulls ahead by around 600 points which is fairly significant, I also had a crack at overclocking both the 1070 to see if I could close the gap on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition, and an OC on the RTX 2060 itself to see how much headroom there was to gain from this founders edition card, the answer? Not much, unless you want to touch voltage, which is not something I want to do with a review unit,
I managed a modest overclock of 75mhz on the core and 100mhz on the memory, not exactly breaking any records but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the cooler handled the extra juice, we still didn’t hit 80 degrees but pushing these values any further would result in the usual artifacts and crashing.
Well, I banged on about how excited we were for RTX features enough for the kind folks at NVIDIA to send us an RTX 2060 and using this GPU has been an absolute delight to play with and review. This entry-level card is already plenty powerful, it feels absolutely worth your time, if you can’t already tell: I’m a huge fan of this card, going back to my GTX 1070 feels almost like I’m punishing myself.
NVIDIA’s new Founder’s Editions are also absolutely worth the money, they’re a huge improvement over the last time they released a line of founders edition cards and I hope they continue to invest in the design of the coolers for their Founder’s Editions like they have this generation, its a night and day difference. I’m almost inclined to say the RTX 2060 is the best value GPU in the £290-350 range on the market right now.
Considering the bigger brother NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 starts around £430, nearly £100 more expensive, for a smaller increase in framerate than you’d imagine. I’d love to test out the card sitting atop the product stack because the entry level has blown me away. I’m incredibly excited to see RTX cards become the norm as DXR lighting and reflection effects become more and more popular with game developers in the near future.
While this might be only the first generation of RTX cards and teething pains along with slow adoption is to be expected in this new field of technology, I’d say as an entry level card to this new frontier, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition has definitely started off on the right foot and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Do we recommend this graphics card? Absolutely.