EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Review 89

EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Review


Value and Conclusion

  • The EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO is currently available online for $299.
  • Very good price/performance ratio
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Idle fan stop
  • Excellent memory overclocking potential
  • RTX Raytracing and DLSS
  • Backplate included
  • Energy efficient
  • Could be quieter in gaming
  • No manual power limit adjustment possible
  • Runs into power limiter, which complicates overclocking, too
  • Memory chip cooling could be designed better
  • Fan-stop temperature too low, fans spin up periodically
  • Memory not overclocked
Fresh from this year's CES, we're reviewing the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO. EVGA's new card was announced just a week ago, fairly late in the RTX 2060 lifecycle, which launched in January 2019. The impressive thing about the RTX 2060 KO is that it is priced very competitively at just $299. This is certainly to preempt AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT launch tomorrow, which is expected at $279. "KO" is not an official NVIDIA product designation by the way, it's purely EVGA's creation, and it seems very unlikely that other board partners will use the same branding.

The GeForce RTX 2060 KO is a highly interesting design from EVGA. It uses the GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC PCB, which brings tremendous cost savings not only because no additional design work is required, but also as they can order larger quantities of the board and use it on multiple SKUs. The most unexpected change on the RTX 2060 KO is that it uses the NVIDIA TU104 graphics processor (RTX 2070S/RTX 2080) instead of the smaller TU106 other RTX 2060 designs use. It looks like NVIDIA had some spare TU104 chips lying around that couldn't handle the higher shader counts, so they harvested them in this special project. This also confirms that NVIDIA is actively designing their GPU chips to be drop-in compatible with other models—another cost advantage. Back when GTX 16 cards launched we wondered why the PCBs had pads for eight memory chips. Now we know, as NVIDIA was ready to put more powerful ASICs on these cheap PCBs to prepare for a price war with AMD.

While the rated specs of the RTX 2060 KO match those of the NVIDIA reference, we found that the card actually runs a bit faster than the Founders Edition. While both cards are rated for 1680 MHz boost, the RTX 2060 KO runs 1890 MHz on average in our game suite; the RTX 2060 FE achieves only 1865 MHz. Overall, we measured a 3% performance uplift over the RTX 2060, which makes the EVGA KO slightly faster than the AMD Radeon Vega 64 and 5% slower than the Radeon RX 5700. The RTX 2060 Super is 9% faster, and the RTX 2070 is 13% faster. The GTX 1660 Ti will now have even more challengers in the market because it's only $30 cheaper, but 18% slower. With those performance characteristics, we can recommend the RTX 2060 for 1440p gaming in all games, or 1080p if you are using a high-refresh-rate monitor.

With the cooler having its roots in the GTX 1660, most certainly for cost optimization, cooling performance is a bit worse than what we'd like to see. Temperatures are perfectly fine with 74°C, but EVGA had to compromise on noise levels. During gaming, the fans ramp up noticeable and end up emitting 40 dBA, which is higher than most other RTX 2060 models we've tested. Outside of gaming, the card is inaudible because of the fan-stop capability. However, unlike all recent graphics cards I've reviewed, EVGA picked a very low 36°C as the fan-stop limit, which means the card's fans will spin up slowly once that temperature is exceeded. Other vendors use a value between 50°C and 65°C. This has the EVGA KO fans periodically spin up and down every few minutes depending on environment temperature and case ventilation. EVGA explains that they "need to maintain under 45°C when the system is idle, so we needed to set the 0 dB mode to allow a slow ramp up to 45°C, if we set any higher the fan will ramp up much quicker and be louder during startup." What's great is that despite the low price, EVGA managed to include a metal backplate with their card, something other vendors charge you extra for.

During disassembly, I noticed that EVGA uses very thick thermals pads on the memory. That is definitely not an ideal cooling configuration, but it seems they use this arrangement to provide additional stability for the cooler, which is mounted using only four screws. This approach certainly reduces heat transfer between the memory chips and the cooler, but it's not as bad as you might think. A significant percentage of heat travels through the solder balls on the bottom of the memory chips and into the PCB, where it is picked up by the main cooler sitting right on top of the GPU. Now, that of course results in additional heat for the chip, which increases its temperatures slightly, but we still measured good GPU temperatures, so that is not an issue. Memory temperatures are higher, too, but the card was perfectly stable in all our testing and actually had very good memory overclocking potential, so cooling can't be that problematic.

Just like on all other Turing cards, power efficiency is very good, but the larger TU104 chip does draw a little bit more power than the smaller versions. Still, with around 180 W, the card has extremely reasonable power supply requirements, which is important in this segment, as upgraders don't want to spend extra money on upgrading their power supply when they change GPUs. The small cooler also seems to be the reason why EVGA doesn't allow any manual power limit increases, a capability most normal users barely use. Overclocking on our sample worked well and yielded a 7.8% real-life performance increase.

Priced at $300 (with additional rebates from time to time), the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO is an excellent choice if you are looking for more performance to drive higher resolutions. It's also the cheapest entry into the raytraced NVIDIA RTX world. While proliferation of RTX is limited today, several big titles with RTX support are coming out this year. Next-gen consoles will also have support for hardware raytracing, which will further push game developers to embrace the new technology. Still, I would say raytracing isn't the most important capability to have right now, but considering the price point, it is a solid argument for future-proofing. My biggest concern with the EVGA RTX 2060 KO is the gaming noise, which could definitely be better, and that's the only reason why I'm not giving it our Editor's Choice. At $300, the EVGA KO is also an excellent alternative to the slightly faster and more expensive Radeon RX 5700, and the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti will become even more difficult to sell at its current $270 price point. AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT releases tomorrow, starting at $279, in a similar performance range, so things will stay interesting. We've got you covered, more on AMD tomorrow.
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