NVIDIA Released Yet Another Budget Card — The GTX 1660

NVIDIA has released yet another budget video card, the newest member of the GTX 16xx family, the GTX 1660.  In our last review, we compared the 1660 Ti and the RTX 2060;  our conclusion was that while there isn’t a great difference in price between the two, the 1660 Ti, while lacking real-time ray tracing and tensor cores, was a good fit for the bottom end of what we would call acceptable for gaming at 1080p, while the RTX 2060 provides a decent experience at 1440p, and has all of the extra bells and whistles that comes with being part of the RTX product line.

What role, then, does the newly released GTX 1660 play? Given that the 1660 Ti has been generally shown to be a cost effective offering, we could argue that the 1660, at about 20% slower than the Ti, while having a launch price that is also approximately 20% lower than the Ti, is therefore just as cost effective, but you can hardly judge a video card simply on the ratio of FPS given to its cost – a video card that doesn’t run smoothly isn’t a great buy even if it’s cheap.

A 20% reduction in speed doesn’t necessarily mean that the 1660 won’t provide a good experience at 1080p, though you are certainly more likely to need to make sacrifices in terms of graphics quality.  That said, at only $219, a case can certainly be made for upgrading from a GTX 9-series (apart from the 980 Ti, which beats the 1660 hands-down) or older video card, especially if you’re working with a small budget.

Unfortunately, the 1660 manages to hit this lower price point by sacrificing memory bandwidth.  Unlike every other RTX 20-series or GTX 16-series card that has been released so far, NVIDIA reverted to using the much slower GDDR5 memory present on the 10-series cards, resulting in only 2/3 of the memory bandwidth of the newer GDDR6 which we thought had already become standard on this generation of video cards.  To us, this makes the 1660 more comparable to the 1060 than the 1660 Ti, with the 1060 having the same memory bandwidth but less CUDA cores, giving about 85% of the performance of the newly released GTX 1660.

For us, the $60 difference between a 1660 and the 1660 Ti isn’t enough for us to recommend the cheaper card – unless your budget really won’t allow for it.  We maintain that the 1660 Ti is the current winner in the 1080p market, and unlike the 1660 Ti and RTX 2060, the GTX 1660 doesn’t really have a discernable role in the gaming market, and wouldn’t go cheaper unless absolutely necessary, but if the GTX 1660 is the most expensive card you can afford, and you’re upgrading from a card that is a couple of generations old, you’ll probably still be happy with the performance increase.  We would be more inclined to recommend this card if it was available for below $200, as that would offer a better argument in terms of performance per dollar.

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