MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X 6G
Nvidiaís RTX series cards have had something of a cool reception. The promise of futuristic ray tracing effects and AI functionality is all well and good, but at the end of the day, gamers vote with their wallets. The cheapest card in the RTX range, the RTX 2060, is still around $600 - a price thatís too far outside of the range of mainstream gamers. Enter the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. It removes all of the die space hogging RTX features and aims to shake up the mid-range market with its value oriented feature set and capabilities.
Up for review today we have MSIís GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X 6G. Itís a custom designed card featuring MSIís highly regarded Twin Frozr cooler. It looks every bit a premium offering, and itís a surprisingly compact one at that. It looks great with its machined back plate and RGB implementation. Itís also got a decent factory overclock.
Introducing the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Before we get to MSIís card, letís take a look at the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti in general. The Turing TU116 GPU at the heart of the GTX 1660 Ti is equipped with 1536 CUDA Cores and 24 SM units. 6GB of 12 Gbps GDDR6 memory connects over a 192-bit bus to deliver 288 GB/s of bandwidth. 8GB of RAM would have been welcome at this price point. The base clock speed is set at 1500 MHz. The official boost clock speed is 1770 MHz, though as weíll see later, the MSI Gaming X is capable of delivering much higher boost clocks when thermal and power conditions allow it.
Nvidia have done well to keep the TDP at a very respectable 120W. A single 8-pin power connector means there is easily enough headroom on tap for overclocking. Note that there isnít support for NV-Link, so gamers are limited to a single card only. The VirtualLink Type-C USB port is supported by the GPU, but its implementation is optional for the card manufacturers. As a side note, many readers will be aware that Nvidia is now supporting Adaptive Sync monitors (Aka Freesync). This is a welcome development that allows Nvidia users to enjoy variable frame rate technology without having to fork out the big bucks needed for a G-Sync display. Itís been a long time coming.
The TU116 GPU delivers many upgrades over its Pascal predecessor. The Streaming Multiprocessors have been revamped. The Turing SM is now capable of concurrent floating point and integer execution whereas Pascal FP units would idle while an INT instruction was executed. The cache subsystem has also been overhauled. The L1 and texture caches are now unified, allowing sharing of resources. Nvidiaís presentation pointed out that games coded to take advantage of the unified cache, its new variable rate shading technology, increased memory bandwidth and the extra CUDA cores can deliver up to a 50% performance improvement compared to the GTX 1060 within the same power envelope. Thatís impressive.
In a world full of YouTubers and influencers, video features are important to many users. The GTX 1660 Ti features HEVC encoding at up to 8K at 30FPS. Add this to existing support for HEVC 8, 10 and 12-bit and VP9 at 10 and 12 bit and streamers and broadcasters are set for quite some time to come.
Introducing the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X 6G
MSIís Gaming brand is well established. The Twin Frozr coolers consistently perform well with a good combination of low noise levels and temperatures. The TU116 GPU isnít a demanding one so there isnít a need for complicated PCBs and many-phase PWM designs. This means the card is compact and somewhat suitable for smaller systems, though itís too tall to be considered a SFF GPU. The MSI card maintains the same base and memory clocks of the base GTX 1660 Ti specification, however the boost clock is substantially higher at 1875 MHz, an impressive 105 MHz improvement.
It is a rather impressive looking card, we have to say. MSI has ditched its traditional red accents in favour of a neutral grey colour scheme. This prevents any clashing with the RGB lighting, and it looks great without being over the top. The colours are vibrant and accurate and can be controlled by MSIís Mystic Light app. MSI is calling this latest generation cooler the Twin Frozr 7. It introduces new fans that improve static pressure. They also improve airflow directionality towards the unusually wave curved heatsink fins. MSI claims the waved heatsink helps lower noise levels. We canít argue with that. The fans are disabled while the card is under 60c for silent idle operation.
Now isnít that a lovely looking backplate. It even feels nice to the touch, that is, if that kind of thing means anything to you! Itís not just for aesthetics, it also adds to the rigidity and can assist with cooling performance and dust protection. We found the backplate can get quite warm, so good case airflow will be important to keep the card happy and boosting to its maximum. Air-cooled systems should have decent airflow in this region, but some AIO watercoolers may not, so do consider this.
The top of the card shows the single 8-pin PCIe power connector. Itís capable of delivering 150W, which added to the 75W that can be pulled from the PCIe slot gives the MSI a 225W poer supply as a minimum. Thatís easily capable of pushing the GPU as high as itís possible to without going to extreme cooling, not to mention easily able to maximise what little OC control Nvidia allows anyway. The GeForce logo is not lit in its traditional green colour. The RGB lighting is confined to a small area around the MSI logo on the left, along with a couple of strips just above the two fans.
Here we have the display outputs. MSI have chosen not to include the USB Type-C VirtualLink. You do get three DP 1.4 ports and a HDMI 2.0b port.
MSI was kind to provide us with a picture of the PCB. It appears to be a 4+2+2 phase design. Not seen in this pic is a sub plate that cools the MOSFETs and memory chips. It adds to the premium design that MSI offers. Interestingly, there is space for further memory chips and chokes, indicating MSI can use this PCB for a more powerful variant. Perhaps weíll see GTX 1670 Ti or similar in the future? The relative simplicity of the PCB illustrates further what we weíve mentioned about the pricing of the GTX 1660 Ti. Itís not a complicated and expensive design. Weíre confident in saying that Nvidia could substantially drop the pricing of the 1660 Ti and still make a decent profit.
Page 1: Introduction and Features
Page 2: Test Setup, Benchmarks, Overclocking and Conclusions
All original content copyright James Rolfe.
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