MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS 6 GB Review 27

MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS 6 GB Review

(27 User Comments) »

Value and Conclusion

  • According to MSI, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS will retail for $279.
  • Faster than GTX 1070, nearly matches RX Vega 56
  • Reasonably priced, comes at MSRP
  • Extremely energy efficient
  • Quiet
  • Compact form factor
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Backplate included
  • VESA Adaptive-Sync, HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4, 8K support
  • No idle-fan stop
  • Could be quieter
  • No support for RTX & DLSS
  • No game bundle
  • Power limit can't be increased
  • Memory not overclocked
  • Backplate is made out of plastic
GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is NVIDIA's answer for the highly competitive sub-$300 segment. The card is based on the all-new TU116 graphics processor, which has been specifically designed to meet the demands of that market, which is mostly "price". Unlike other Turing GPUs, TU116 does not feature acceleration for RTX real-time raytracing or DLSS because the specialized hardware consumes a significant portion of the die area on other Turing GPUs, which increases manufacturing cost significantly. NVIDIA did keep the other improvements of Turing though, like GDDR6 memory, larger caches, concurrent execution of float and integer operations, and adaptive/variable rate shading.

As a result, when averaged over all our gaming benchmarks at 1080p, we see the GTX 1660 Ti beat the Pascal-based GTX 1070 and roughly match AMD's RX Vega 56, which is pretty impressive for a mid-range card. While we don't have a GTX 1660 Ti reference design, we expect this card to perform very closely to one because it is clocked only marginally higher than reference. Compared to the RTX 2060, which is NVIDIA's next-fastest SKU, the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS is 13% behind. Compared to the GTX 1060 6 GB, which the GTX 1660 Ti replaces, the performance uplift is 40%, although at a higher price point. AMD just released the RX 590, on a 12 nanometer process no less, to address the growing requirements of the mid-range segment, and the GTX 1660 Ti makes short shrift of that, offering 30% more performance. With those performance results, the GTX 1660 Ti is a great choice for gamers running maximum details with a Full HD monitor. If you are willing to dial down detail settings a bit, it should be able to reach 60 FPS at 1440p in most titles, too.

MSI's thermal solution is fairly simple to keep cost down, yet it achieves good temperatures of 68 °C, which seems a little bit too ambitious to me because the fan, while not noisy, could definitely be quieter if MSI had allowed for slightly higher temperatures (like Zotac did). The card is also missing the highly popular idle-fan-off feature which turns off the fans completely during idle, Internet browsing, or light gaming. With the fans running in idle, the card is noticeable in a quiet case—lower fan speed for idle would have helped here, too. Unlike other vendors targeting the $279 MSRP, MSI does include a backplate with their card, which not only improves looks but also helps protect the card against damage. The backplate is made from plastic though, which some might dismiss as low quality. I actually like the idea of at least having a plastic backplate, which costs much less than a metal backplate. The thermal implications are negligible, especially on a card in this performance class.

Compared to Pascal, Turing improved power efficiency once more, and the GTX 1660 Ti is no exception. MSI's Ventus runs at the NVIDIA default power limit of 120 W with no additional manual increases allowed. While this costs a little bit of performance (1% I'd say), it lets the card achieve efficiency levels that were unimaginable a few years ago. Compared to the rest of NVIDIA's Turing lineup, we see around 20% (!!) higher performance per watt. Against AMD's Radeon RX 590, which was just recently released and uses a 12 nm production process too, the Ventus is 2.5x more power-efficient; that's 250%!

Manual overclocking worked well, gaining around 10% in real-life performance, most of which is due to the enormous overclock these GDDR6 memory chips can take—we went from 1500 MHz to 1900 MHz. GPU overclocking ended up around 40 MHz lower than on other GTX 1660 Ti cards we tested today. The reason for that isn't that the GPU can't take it—it will reach 2040 MHz just fine. The problem here is that when you overclock, power draw goes above the 120 W board power limit, so the card will throttle the GPU clock to stay within that power limit, losing around 40 MHz in performance; a few percent of untapped OC performance, it is not a big deal.

The lack of ray-tracing and DLSS on the GTX 1660 Ti seems like a big deal at first, especially considering how much NVIDIA is pushing those technologies. While both are extremely promising, they are not the most important things to have right now, especially when every dollar matters. While I have no doubt that RTX support will be growing vastly, only a few titles support it at this time, so I don't think anyone could be blamed for skipping the tech for now and waiting for it to mature more. Looking at silicon economics, including RTX/DLSS would have either driven die size (= cost) so high that reaching the targeted sub-$300 price point wouldn't be possible anymore, or the number of shader cores would have had to be reduced, which would have resulted in no performance improvement over AMD—NVIDIA went the other route. "RTX" is a great vehicle for NVIDIA to sell a feature that is more than just "higher FPS". Specifically, the 1660 Ti targets people who are comfortable with 1080p 60 FPS and even playing at lower details if their GPU is affordable. If, however, they feel they are missing out on visuals, something DX12 couldn't achieve, they might be willing to spend more and go for the RTX 2060, for example. The next step for NVIDIA is transitioning to the 7 nm production process, which increases density and should allow smaller GPUs to have RTX, too. I also wouldn't be surprised to see NVIDIA haters on the forums who had previously dismissed RTX as "useless" now ask "wut no RTX?"

Priced at $279, the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS comes at NVIDIA MSRP pricing, which is great as it makes the card much more competitive against other offerings, whether from AMD or NVIDIA (Pascal). The GTX 1660 Ti does compete with RX 590, which it beats with ease: 30% faster, a fraction of the power consumption, similar fan noise. The RTX 2060 starts at $350, is 15% faster, and offers NVIDIA's RTX features like ray-tracing and DLSS, making it a definite option if you can save up more money and are looking to play at 1440p. Strong competition has come in the past few days from AMD Vega 56, which has seen its price dropped to $330 (€269 including VAT in some European countries). This of course makes a compelling argument for people looking for price/performance, but Vega 56 runs much hotter and noisier than the GTX 1660 Ti. Looking at the board designs, I have no doubt that prices for the GTX 1660 Ti can go down much further, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it at or below $250 soon, at which point it would spark the upgrade-itch for many users, especially those with older cards, like the GeForce 900 series.
Editor's Choice
Next Page »(27 User Comments)