PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Review

The PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is capable of running Apex Legends at 120fps in Full HD, this Nvidia graphics card is the new budget king.
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Verdict

The PNY GTX 1660 Ti offers unrivalled value for Full HD gaming. If you’re not interested in ray tracing or 4K, this is the graphics card to go for.

Pros

  • Fantastic value Full HD performance
  • Intelligent shading improves efficiency for modern games
  • Small enough for mini-ITX cases

Cons

  • Limited overclocking potential

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £259.99
  • Turing architecture
  • 1536 CUDA Cores
  • 1500MHz base clock speeds
  • 1770MHz boosted clock speeds
  • 6GB GDDR6 VRAM

What is the PNY GTX 1660 Ti?

The PNY GTX 1660 Ti is a new a mid-range graphics card capable of running all the latest video games in Full HD at a budget price. With no Founders Edition models being released for the GTX 1660 Ti, I’ve got my hands on a third-party version by PNY instead.

Despite having GTX affixed to its name, the 1660 Ti doesn’t use the Pascal architecture found in Nvidia’s 10-Series cards such as the GTX 1060 or GTX 1070. Instead, the GTX 1660 Ti uses Nvidia’s new Turing architecture known as “TU116”.

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

Despite its tiny size, the GTX 1660 Ti gives one hell of a powerhouse performance

There’s no fancy features here like what you’d find with RTX graphics cards like ray tracing cores or Tensor processors – but Nvidia says that ray tracing will actually be coming to the 1660 Ti and other cards, by way of a driver that’s due to arrive in April. 

The absence of any Tensor AI cores means that there definetly won’t be any support for DLSS, though. 

In the meantime, the GTX 1660 Ti sees Nvidia perfect balance betweetrying to strike a balance between performance, power and cost. Nvidia hasn’t just crammed the card with more powerful components though. There are some fancy tricks at work behind the scenes here, with new Turing shader innovations contributing towards a more efficient performance.

Nvidia claims this new-found efficiency results in such a performance boost that the GTX 1660 Ti boasts speeds 1.5 times faster than the GTX 1060 6GB. If true, GTX 1660 Ti may well be the best graphics card option for budget buyers with a Full HD setup.

Related: Best Graphics Cards 2019

PNY GTX 1660 Ti – Specs and technology

The table below shows how the spec sheet of the GTX 1660 Ti, and how it compares to the GTX 1060 6GB, the GTX 1070 and RTX 2060. I chose these Nvidia cards because they sit the closest to the GTX 1660 Ti in terms of performance and specs. These are all mid-range options, so if you’re looking for a graphics card for your HD setup, these are the cards to consider.

GTX 1660 Ti GTX 1060 6GB GTX 1070 RTX 2060
Architecture Turing Pascal Pascal Turing
CUDA Cores 1536 1280 1920 1920
Base clock speed 1500 MHz 1506 MHz 1506 MHz 1365 MHz
Boosted clock speed 1770 MHz 1708 MHz 1683 MHz 1680 MHz
VRAM 6GB GDDR6 6GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth 288.1 Gbps 192.1 Gbps 256 Gbps 336 Gbps
TDP 120w 120w 150w 160w

The most significant difference in the spec sheet between the GTX 1660 Ti and the GTX 1060 (the card it’s replacing) is the leap to the new TU116 Turing architecture. This new architecture allows the GTX 1660 Ti more capacity, more configurable caches and improved bandwidth. In fact, the memory bandwidth has had a whopping 50% increase since the GTX 1060. This is thanks to partly to the GDDR6 VRAM upgrade which wouldn’t have been possible without ditching the Pascal architecture in favour of Turing.  

Another benefit of the move from Pascal to Turing includes a 1.5x increase of instructions made per clock. This is another major factor that has contributed towards the GTX 1660 Ti’s boost in efficiency, resulting in higher frame rates than what the GTX 1060 is capable.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Note these are Nvidia’s own results, which we cannot confirm

There’s also been more CUDA Cores introduced, taking the total from 1280 to 1536. This is a sizeable increase, although still a fair way off the 1920 figure the GTX 1070 and RTX 2060 boast. However, Nvidia hasn’t simply just checked in a few extra CUDA Cores to up the performance. The CUDA Cores here have also been updated in order to utilise new shading techniques, which ultimately give the GTX 1660 Ti a rocket-boosted performance that it has no right to offer.

The new shading technology here is called Variable Rate Shading (VRS for short). It’s all about efficiency, hunting down ways of lessening the GPU workload but without impacting visual quality.

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

The Turing architecture has given the GTX 1660 Ti a boost in many regards

One of these algorithms is known as Motion Adaptive Shading, which adjusts the shading rate according to the amount of motion present on a particular area of the screen. Nvidia gave the example of the visual quality of street signs and the road’s lane markings as you whizz past them at a blistering pace in racing game. There’s little need to shade such objects with high detail, so Motion Adaptive Shading prevents the GPU from wasting energy on it. Nvidia claims these alterations aren’t visible to the human eye, so you get a performance boost without any real consequences.

The second algorithm is Content Adaptive Shading. This determines the shading rate according to the “spatial and colour coherence across frames”. This is just fancy lingo to suggest any object or scenery that remains consistent, like a wall or the sky, won’t need as intensive shading as a moving vehicle or bullet-spitting gun. Again, by alleviating the workload of the GPU, Content Adaptive Shading contributes towards a more efficient performance without impacting the visual quality to the extent that the human eye can notice.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Note these are Nvidia’s own results, which we cannot confirm

This is all very smart, and I can’t commend Nvidia enough for finding such an innovative method of boosting performance without (supposedly) impacting visual quality to a degree the human eye can detect.

However, there is a major sticking point. Only select games can take advantage of these intelligent shading techniques with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus the first to support Turing’s Adaptive Shading. But with Nvidia claiming the GTX 1660 Ti sees up to a 1.5x faster performance than the GTX 1060 when running Wolfenstein II with Adaptive Shading activated, this technology sure does look promising.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Note these are Nvidia’s own results, which we cannot confirm

Nvidia has made several other tweaks to the Turing architecture that have resulted in the GTX 1660 Ti taking advantage of advanced features in modern video games. Rather bizarrely, this means you’ll actually see a bigger hike in performance compared to the GTX 1060 for titles released recently opposed to a number of years ago.

This means the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty Black Ops 4 will benefit in a bigger performance boost than the likes of Fallout 4. The fantastic thing about this is that the performance gulf between the GTX 1660 Ti and its Pascal siblings will only widen further as more AAA games release.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Note these are Nvidia’s own results, which we cannot confirm

The final neat GTX 1660 Ti trick will no doubt please Twitch streamers. Featuring an advanced NVENC encoder, this graphics card is capable of 4K streaming. What’s more, users will be able to stream and broadcast from one system simultaneously, so you won’t need to faff around with more than one computer to show the world your incredible Apex Legend kill.

Related: Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti review

PNY GTX 1660 Ti – Design and connectors

The PNY version of the GTX 1660 Ti is cute little thing. It’s so compact that it will fit in a micro atx case, which should be a huge boon for those gaming in restricted space. This does mean there’s only a fan present to keep things cool, as opposed to the dual-system fans found in Founders Edition 10-Series cards, but I never saw the temperature pass 69°C during all the strenuous benchmarking, so overheating is unlikely to be an issue.

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

All the required ports are here to hook the GTX 1660 Ti up to a monitor

Meanwhile, the GTX 1660 Ti needs an eight-pin PCle power connector to get things up and running. The PNY edition reviewed here also has all the required ports for display output including DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.

With Nvidia cards now supporting FreeSync monitors, there’s suddenly much more options out there to get a display that won’t suffer the wrath of screen tearing. This means the benefit of buying an AMD graphics card solely so you can buy a better value monitor is no longer valid.

Related: Best Gaming Monitors 2019

PNY GTX 1660 Ti – Performance and benchmarks

The PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti showcases seriously impressive performance. Touted as the go-to GPU for Full HD gaming, I’ve found it powerful enough to run AAA games that weren’t released in the last couple of years in Quad HD. 4K looks to be out of the question, but that’s expected for a card at this bargain price.

I’ve also benchmarked the GTX 1060 (Founders Edition), GTX 1070 (MSI) and RTX 2070 (Founders Edition) so you can get a feel of how the GTX 1660 Ti compares to Nvidia’s current offering. Scroll down for the results.

Testing methodology

Before I get to the results, you’ll probably want to know what setup I was using. I’ve detailed the components in the Trusted Reviews office rig so you know exactly what hardware was used:

*Editor’s note: I haven’t included the AMD Vega cards, the RX590 and RX580, because I don’t currently have samples to hand. I will update this review once I get them back in.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

I made sure to benchmark Shadow of the Tomb Raider as it fits the bill as a modern game that boasts many advanced technical shading features. Nvidia claims the GTX 1660 Ti will benefit from these features significantly more than any graphics card with Pascal architecture. Judging from the benchmark results, Nvidia’s claim looks pretty solid.

Sporting an average of 75fps in Full HD in Shadow of the Tomb Raider with all graphic presets set to ‘Highest’, the GTX 1660 Ti boasts a 32% performance increase. This frame rate average is equal to the output of the GTX 1070 too, despite that graphics card generally being £100 more expensive. Even more shocking, the GTX 1660 Ti’s HD result surpassed the performance of the RTX 2060 that’s supremely impressive.

The Quad HD result of 53fps is respectable too, and certainly playable if you fancy making the most of your Quad HD monitor. Meanwhile, the 27fps result for 4K is too low for a stable performance, but this graphics card was never intended for such a high resolution.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

Ghost Recon Wildlands is another modern AAA video game I decided to challenge the GTX 1660 Ti with. However, unlike Shadow of the Tomb Raider, it’s absent from Nvidia’s recommended games for benchmarking and so doesn’t look to be optimised for Nvidia’s hardware. Despite this, the GTX 1660 Ti still scored outstanding results.

Again, with all three resolutions the GTX 1660 Ti looks to have almost identical average frame rates as the GTX 1070. Even better, it was never far behind the RTX 2080 results, with 5fps being the biggest difference.

The GTX 1660 Ti absolutely floored the GTX 1060, with the former showing a 25% advantage in Full HD performance. Sure, it still couldn’t meet that cherished 60fps standard, but that’s a big ask considering how much of a leech Wildlands is on the GPU.

Dirt Rally

PNY GTX 1660 Ti
With a 98fps performance in Full HD, the GTX 1660 Ti can only boast a 10% improvement over the GTX 1060. This is the smallest increase in the test so far, which backs up the idea the GTX 1660 Ti works more efficiently with modern titles. That said, with such high frame rates the small difference doesn’t really matter – the GTX 1660 Ti will still run Dirt Rally supremely well.

With all this talk about the GTX 1660 Ti being optimised for modern AAA games, you might be concerned it won’t be so fantastic with slightly older games. For this reason, I included Dirt Rally in the benchmarks to find out whether this was the case.

Once again, the 1660 Ti was close on the heels of both the GTX 1070 and RTX 2060. In fact, the difference in performance is so minimal that the only justified reason I could see anyone opting for the RTX 2060 over the 1660 Ti would be for ray tracing and DLSS, which few games currently support.

Apex Legends

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

Nvidia is making a big deal out of the GTX 1660 Ti’s performance with popular battle royale titles, going as far to say that its new graphics card can run Fortnite, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds and Apex Legends at 120fps in Full HD. I decided to put this to the test.

Note that because Apex legends doesn’t have an in-game benchmark system I had to get the results from an overlay frame rate counter, so these average frame rates are unlikely to be pin-point accurate.

The results I did find were very impressive though. Meeting Nvidia’s 120fps claim in Full HD, the GTX 1660 Ti brags a jaw-dropping 60% improvement over the GTX 1060. The GTX 1660 Ti even surpassed the GTX 1070 here with a 37% advantage. Only the RTX 2060 boasted superior frame rates in all the tests, and even then it was by slim margins.

As long as you’re not looking to play in 4K, I can confidently say the best value graphics card available if you’re looking to spend most of your time playing the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends. At such a budget price, you’re getting an absolutely amazing performance here.

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

I also used 3DMark’s Fire Strike Ultra to benchmark the GTX 1660 Ti. This is a synthetic testing suite that spits out a score to reflect the performance power of the GPU. Interestingly, the 3373 score only narrowly beat the GTX 1060, and was quite a distance behind both the GTX 1070 and RTX 2060. This doesn’t match up with the results of the in-game benchmark results, but the reason for this could be that Fire Strike Ultra doesn’t utilise the intelligent shading techniques the GTX 1660 Ti makes use of to maximise efficiency.

This innovative technology and Turing architecture does seem to require more power however, as I recorded a 200.5 watt peak power draw during the benchmark test. This was higher than both the GTX 1060 and GTX 1070. Still, it’s not significant enough to worry about too much, as long as you’ve a decent PSU.

Peak temperature also seemed a little high at 63°C compared to the other graphics cards in the test. Is it high enough to be concerning? Not at all. In fact, the GPU temperature seemed to stay stable on matter how hard I pushed it, so you’ve got to try extremely hard if you want this thing to burst into flames.  

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

Related: Best Gaming PC 2019

PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – Overclocking

The GTX 1660 Ti offers an okay overclocking performance as I was able to achieve a 130MHz overclock. Time was limited, so I’m sure full time overclockers will be able to push it even harder, but the system always seemed to crash when I approached a 150MHz overclock. Sadly, this only resulted in a 4fps improvement, so it hardly seems worth the effort. This isn’t too surprising, as Turing graphics cards have never shown excellent overclocking capabilities.

I found it even more difficult to overclock the GDDR6 VRAM, mustering just a 100MHz overclock. It seems that Nvidia has already squeezed every drop of performance power out of this card, so overclockers are likely going to be disappointed.

Why buy the PNY GTX 1660 Ti?

The PNY GTX 1660 Ti is my new favourite budget graphics card for HD gaming. Despite costing just £260, this GPU offers a far superior performance than the GTX 1060, and pushes both the GTX 1070 and RTX 2060 hard for frame rates.

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

Thge PNY GTX 1660 Ti struggles at overclocking, but that’s not a big deal since it’s capable of a whopper performance already

The new Turing architecture and shading techniques are an absolute marvel here, helping to maximise performance for modern video games. And with future games expected to be supported even more efficiently in the future, the GTX 1660 Ti is only going to get better.

Battle royale fans should take note more than anyone. Offering a 120fps Full HD performance for Fortnite, PUBG and Apex Legends, you couldn’t hope for a smoother experience. And even if you don’t play these online brawlers, the GTX 1660 Ti is still the best value graphics card you can currently buy, as long you’re not fussed about ray tracing and 4K.

Verdict

The PNY GTX 1660 Ti offers unrivalled value for Full HD gaming. If you’re not interested in ray tracing or 4K, this is the graphics card to go for

Score