MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Gaming X Review 15

MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Gaming X Review

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Introduction

MSI Logo

NVIDIA today released the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER, a mid-range graphics card positioned between the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti, which were released earlier this year. The addition of the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER is necessitated by changes across the competitive landscape, specifically AMD's announcement of the Radeon RX 5500 series, with which the competitiveness of the original GTX 1660 could buckle. The GTX 1660 SUPER is hence being launched at US$229, just $10 more than what the GTX 1660 commanded at launch and $50 cheaper than the GTX 1660 Ti.



The GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER has the same exact CUDA core count as the GTX 1660, at 1,408, and is based on the same 12 nm "TU116" silicon. The GPU clock speeds are unchanged, too, with 1530 MHz core and 1785 MHz GPU Boost. The SUPER-charging of this SKU begins with its memory subsystem. The GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER gets 6 GB of GDDR6 memory clocked at 14 Gbps, which is faster than even the 12 Gbps GDDR6 memory found on the GTX 1660 Ti and on par with that of the much pricier RTX 2060 in terms of memory bandwidth—336 GB/s, a massive 75 percent increase over the GTX 1660. With it, NVIDIA hopes to shore up performance by up to 20 percent without touching the CUDA core count and stepping on the toes of the GTX 1660 Ti.

The GeForce GTX 16-series exists to cater to the bulk of the sub-$300 market with solid FPS rates for games at 1080p, including the e-sports crowd. NVIDIA RTX hardware isn't available in this segment as the GPU would be too slow for real-time ray-tracing due to its size. DirectX Raytracing through software is available on all Turing cards, including the GeForce GTX 16, but at lower performance than what the "RTX" cards offer. The GTX 1660 also receives other architectural improvements, such as "Turing" CUDA cores, which offer concurrent integer and floating point execution, adaptive shading, and a unified cache.

In this review, we take a close look at the MSI GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER Gaming X, the company's most premium product based on this GPU. The card ships with the Twin Frozr VII cooling solution, which combines a dense aluminium fin-stack heatsink with a pair of fans that turn off when the GPU is idling, and a metal backplate. Thanks to a factory overclock to 1830 MHz rated boost (up from NVIDIA's 1785 MHz reference), the card should provide some additional performance out of the box. MSI is pricing this card at $260, a $30 premium over the $230 MSRP for this SKU.

GeForce GTX 1660 Super Market Segment Analysis
 PriceShader
Units
ROPsCore
Clock
Boost
Clock
Memory
Clock
GPUTransistorsMemory
RX 570$130 2048321168 MHz1244 MHz1750 MHzEllesmere5700M4 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RX 580$180 2304321257 MHz1340 MHz2000 MHzEllesmere5700M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
GTX 1060 3 GB$1701152481506 MHz1708 MHz2002 MHzGP1064400M3 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
GTX 1060$2101280481506 MHz1708 MHz2002 MHzGP1064400M6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
RX 590$1952304321469 MHz1545 MHz2000 MHzPolaris 305700M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
GTX 1660$220 1408481530 MHz1785 MHz2000 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
GTX 1070$3001920641506 MHz1683 MHz2002 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RX Vega 56$3003584641156 MHz1471 MHz800 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1660 Super$2301408481530 MHz1785 MHz1750 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
MSI GTX 1660
Super Gaming X
$2601408481530 MHz1830 MHz1750 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1660 Ti$2751536481500 MHz1770 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1070 Ti$4502432641607 MHz1683 MHz2000 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RTX 2060$3401920481365 MHz1680 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 5700$3302304641465 MHz1625 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit

New GeForce Software Features

Alongside the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER, NVIDIA is releasing the GeForce Software Branch 441 WHQL drivers, which introduce three big feature additions to Turing (GTX 16-series and RTX 20-series). These include updates to the NVIDIA Ultra-Low Latency (NULL) input latency enhancement, ReShade implementation in FreeStyle, and improved Image Sharpening.


NULL (NVIDIA Ultra-Low Latency) is an input latency enhancement that seeks to reduce the time it takes for your input to register as an action in your game. With the GeForce 441 drivers, NVIDIA is introducing NVIDIA G-SYNC support to NULL, which means you benefit from the anti-tearing and smooth motion characteristics of G-SYNC while retaining the advantages of low input latency.


NVIDIA's own input latency testing shows that V-Sync On + G-SYNC + NULL (green bar) now offers comparable input latency to a scenario where V-SYNC, NULL, and G-SYNC are all disabled (dark green bar). The latter gives you the best latency, but leaves you with screen tearing.

Conventional V-Sync without NULL or G-SYNC is the worst scenario as the machine faces the highest input latency. NVIDIA's changes now let you have G-SYNC at the same low-input latencies as V-Sync off, "nullifying" G-SYNC's impact on input latency.


ReShade is an extremely popular 3D graphics post-processing software that lets you dramatically alter or improve a 3D scene or an image by running the final output through custom shaders called filters (similar to the "filters" in your phone's camera). ReShade enjoys a vast community of users with custom filters. NVIDIA Freestyle achieves pretty much the same thing (shader replacement and post-processing), and so, NVIDIA introduced support for ReShade filters not just to Freestyle, but also Ansel, the in-game still-art tool.


Custom shaders can be used to cheat in competitive games, which has the new support come with some restrictions. Competitive games will let you use the 14 original Freestyle filters and over 30 official ReShade filters, but no custom filters. For non-competitive games (think AAA games with a focus on SP), you can additionally choose from a broader selection of official ReShade filters (over 70 of them) and use custom ReShade filters. Ansel is far less restricted because it has little to do with competitive gaming. You can use any custom ReShade filter and the 16 original Ansel filters on games that support the Ansel SDK: 70+ official ReShade filters.


NVIDIA made improvements to its Image Sharpening feature that lets you restore some detail in your images and play with settings such as resolution scale or texture quality to vastly improve your frame rates. With the R441 drivers, NVIDIA reduced the performance cost of Image Sharpening. It's also supported on DirectX 9, DirectX 11, and DirectX 12. Support for DirectX 11 is significant as it's still a very popular 3D graphics API many modern games use, and AMD's competing Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS) still doesn't support DirectX 11 at the time of this writing. NVIDIA also added Image Sharpening toggles to their Control Panel, so you can toggle the feature globally or game-specifically without needing GeForce Experience.

Packaging and Contents

Package Front
Package Back




You will receive:
  • Graphics card
  • Documentation

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back
Graphics Card Front Angled

The MSI GTX 1660 SUPER Gaming X features an upscale-looking design that's a class above. Premium bits of metal and plastic are used on both sides.

Graphics Card Dimensions

Dimensions of the card are 24.5 cm x 13.0 cm.

Graphics Card Height
Graphics Card Back Angled

Installation requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include three standard DisplayPort 1.4a and an HDMI 2.0b.

NVIDIA has updated their display engine with the Turing microarchitecture, which now supports DisplayPort 1.4a with support for VESA's nearly lossless Display Stream Compression (DSC). Combined, this enables support for 8K@30Hz with a single cable or 8K@60Hz when DSC is turned on. For context, DisplayPort 1.4a is the latest version of the standard that was published in April, 2018.

At CES 2019, NVIDIA announced that all their graphics cards will now support VESA Adaptive Sync (aka FreeSync). While only a small number of FreeSync monitors have been fully qualified with G-SYNC, users can enable the feature in NVIDIA's control panel regardless of whether the monitor is certified or not.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

The board uses an 8-pin power connector. This input configuration is specified for up to 225 watts of power draw.

Multi-GPU Area

The GeForce GTX 1660 Super does not support SLI.

Disassembly

Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

The MSI Twin Frozr VII cooler used with this card features a dense aluminium fin stack to which heat is pulled through a nickel-plated copper base plate and spread across the fin stack by three heat pipes that are bent in an "S" shape for two passes through the fin-stack, each. The heatsink is ventilated by a pair of 90 mm fans.


Once the main heatsink is removed, a black baseplate becomes visible; it provides cooling for the VRM circuitry and memory chips.


The backplate is made out of metal and protects the card against damage during installation and handling.

On the next page, we dive deep into the PCB layout and VRM configuration.
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