MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming Review

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Today Nvidia is unveiling additional “Super” cards extending the Super line into their GTX models. Available today is the GTX 1660 Super and the GTX 1650 Super will be launching on November 22nd. These new cards also introduce a new price point which is lower than their predecessors and we expect some price adjustments on those models as well.

The new GTX 1660 Super features the addition of GDDR6 memory with the same CUDA core count as the original GTX 1660. The GTX 1650 Super, on the other hand, gets a significant boost to the core count from 896 to 1280 CUDA cores and an upgrade to 4 GB of GDDR6 as well.

Nvidia has sent us MSI’s GTX 1660 Super Gaming for testing today. We’ll run through some of the new features Nvidia is introducing through their GeForce Game ready drivers and see how the “improved” GTX 1660 Super compares to its siblings.

Specifications

We are able to see in the specifications table below the GTX 1660 Super uses the TU116-300 core. This sample from MSI has the “A” designation which Nvidia has binned and will allow for factory overclocks. The TU116-300 in the 1660 Super sports a total of 1408 CUDA Cores with 48 ROPs and 88 Texture units on the back end which is identical to the regular GTX 1660. As we can see, this sample from MSI has a base clock of 1530 MHz and a boost of 1785 MHz with an observed boost of 1875-1935 MHz depending on the benchmark.

Nvidia has propped up the memory with 6 GB of Micron GDDR6 on a 192-bit bus compared to 6 GB of GDDR5 for the non-super. The memory speed on the 1660 Super Gaming is 1750 MHz which yields 336 GB/s bandwidth. The Super has a slightly elevated TDP of 125 W compared to 120 W for the GTX 1660 non-super model.

Last but not least, pricing on this card will start at $229.99 which is well under the RTX 2060 at $335 and up and about $50 less than the current price of the average GTX 1660 Ti. As mentioned we should see some reorganization of the price points for Nvidia’s GTX line after launch. The $200-$300 price range is becoming much more competitive and crowded since AMD will soon be launching additional cards in this slot as well.

MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming  Specifications
Core TU116-300
CUDA Cores 1408
Tensor Cores N/A
RT Cores N/A
GPU Base Clock 1530 MHz
GPU Boost Clock 1785 MHz (1875-1935 MHz actual)
Frame Buffer 6GB GDDR6
Memory Interface 192-bit
Memory Clock  1750 MHz
Memory Bandwidth 336 GB/s
ROPs 48
Texture Units 88
Texture Fillrate (Gigatexels /sec) 157
GigaRays /sec N/A
Compute (TFlops) 10
L2 Cache Size 1408 KB
TDP (Watts) 125 W / (130 W Gaming X)
Price  MSRP $229.99

GPU-Z

Below we can see what GPU-Z says about the GPU with a shot showing the full boost while running 3DMark Time Spy.

Features

Geforce Gamers

Nvidia is adding some new software features with its GeForce drivers which coincide with the launch of the GTX 1660 Super: ReShade Filters, Improved Image Sharpening, NULL (Nvidia Ultra-Low Latency), and NVENC (Nvidia Encoder). These features can improve the visuals and performance from your Turing GPU as well as opening up some tools which enable the end-user to customize their games and stream their gameplay.

ReShade Filters

ReShade has a modding community that creates post-processing filters for popular video games. With the new GeForce drivers, users can tap into hundreds of filters and apply them easily using either freestyle or Ansel in-game overlays. Nvidia has simplified the process with its new software so users only need to add a filter once to use on multiple titles as opposed to adding the filters per title.

To add filters for ReShade just extract the filter into the “Program Files/ NVIDIA Corporation/Ansel” folder. Activate the Ansel (Alt-F2) or Freestyle (Alt-F3) overlay and here you can apply the ReShade filters and adjust to your liking.

Image Sharpening

The image sharpening filter that was initially released in Nvidia Freestyle has now been added to the NVCP (Nvidia Control Panel). This makes it easy to add image sharpening with just the click of the mouse and apply it to all your games and easily adjusted using sliders.

It also offers GPU upscaling allowing your GPU to render at a lower resolution, improving performance, and upscaling it to the native resolution.

NULL (Nvidia Ultra-Low Latency)+GSYNC

Nvidia recently released Low Latency Mode which replaced the “Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames” in the NVCP. By setting the low latency to ultra, this queues frames “just in time” for the GPU to render which reduces latency. This does have a downside of introducing artifacts and screen tearing. This can be controlled by using V-sync but that creates back pressure causing additional latency.

Pairing NULL with a G-Sync monitor and its variable refresh rate takes full advantage of the latency improvements without any side-effects such as tearing or artifacts because V-Sync is enabled. This only works with G-Sync monitors and the 441.07 and newer GeForce drivers.

NVENC Encoding

The GTX 1660 Super also ships with the same hardware-based encoder (NVENC) as the RTX models released last year. Turing’s hardware-based encoder offers improved quality and performance up to 4K60 (H.264) or 8K30 (HEVC), something that even powerful CPUs struggle with.

MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming

The Geforce GTX 1660 Super Gaming uses MSI’s improved Twin Frozr 7 thermal design which they say offers a 13% improvement in cooling over their previous generation. It’s also equipped with dual Torx 3.0 fans with specially curved blades said to accelerate airflow and increase the static pressure to push air through the heatsink. The fin array has also been improved using Airflow Control Technology to guide the air over the heat pipes and create more surface area dissipating more heat. MSI has incorporated MOSFET and memory cooling as well as using a premium thermal compound to round out their improved cooling solution.

If silence is your thing, the card supports Zero Frozr technology which eliminates fan noise by keeping them off in low load situations (under 60 °C). When running, the Torx fan blades are nearly silent even at 50% which kept the card at 55 °C under load while overclocked.

The MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming also uses a custom 4+2 phase PCB design along with a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. This provides the card a total of 200 W of available power. In this case, it is plenty as the card is 125 W and has an 8% power limit increase.

We also have RGB LEDs located above and below each fan, as well as the MSI logo, the gaming dragon and Twin Frozr 7 naming along the outside edge which would be visible in the standard orientation in a case. These can be controlled by their RGB Mystic light software as stand-alone or in conjunction with other Mystic light compatible peripherals.


Twin Frozr 7 Thermal Design

  • Airflow Control Technology: The airflow is led directly onto the heat pipes while simultaneously creating more surface area for the air to absorb more heat before leaving the heatsink.
  • Smooth Heatpipes: 6mm copper square-shaped heat pipes to maximize heat transfer
  • Concentrated Heatpipes: The copper heat pipes running through the massive array of aluminum fins are the key to spreading the heat along the full length of the heatsink. At the point where they touch the base and collect the heat, they are consolidated as close as possible for maximum effect.
  • MOSFET Cooling: A cooling plate connected directly to the heatsink keeps the power components cool.
  • Premium Thermal Compound: Unique thermal compound provides maximum conductivity.

Zero Frozr

First introduced in 2008 by MSI, ZERO FROZR technology stops the fans completely when temperatures are relatively low, eliminating all fan noise when no cooling is needed. When the heat is on during gaming, the fans will automatically start spinning again to keep your powerhouse cool.

Custom PCB

Tailored 4+2 phase PCB design using high-quality components with one 8-pin connector for higher overclocking.

RGB Mystic Light

A new beta version was distributed for review which MSI purports to improve the general user interface and ease of use in general.

Retail Packaging and Accessories

MSI’s retail packaging for the card is mostly black with NVIDIA green. The card’s make is located in the bottom right corner with MSI’s model, “Gaming”, in the bottom left and placed prominently in the middle is a picture of the card itself. The back of the package lists some specifications and features showing off the Twin Frozr 7 cooling capabilities. Opening up the box owners are greeted by the accessories envelope. Below that we’ll find the card sitting comfortably and securely inside an anti-static bag and form-fitting foam. MSI includes a driver disk, quick user’s guide, coasters, and “Lucky the Dragon” booklet for installation and MSI Afterburner directions.

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Meet the MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming 

Our first look at the card up close shows the two large Torx 3.0 fans as the biggest feature both of which have the MSI Dragon in the center. The shroud is black with angular grey accents around the fans. Above and below the fans are translucent strips for the RGB LEDs. The MSI GTX 1660 Super with its black and grey shroud and grey/gunmetal full-length backplate should easily fit in with any build theme.

A Closer Look

The 1660 Super Gaming includes the typical outputs for Turing based cards with three DisplayPorts and one HDMI output but forgoes USB-C. There is also a styled vent for letting some airflow out of the case. Power is handled by a single 8-pin PCIe power lead.

Taking the heatsink off the card exposes the custom 4+2 phase VRM using OnSemiconductor MOSFETs. The heatsink itself has three heat pipes meandering through the fin array and coming together in the nickel-plated base. The rear bank of memory is fully covered while the bottom two ICs are partially covered with thermal tape. Both sets of memory and the MOSFETs make direct contact with the heatsink for best cooling.

Below is a closeup of the power bits, Micron GDDR6, and the TU116-300-A1 DIE.

MSI GTX 1660 Super on the test bench…

MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming

Test System and Benchmark Methods

Our test system is based on the latest mainstream Intel platform, Z370, and uses the i7-8700K 6c/12t CPU. The CPU is overclocked to 4.7 GHz on all cores/threads with cache set to 4.3 GHz. The clock speeds used provides a good base to minimize any limitations the CPU may have on our titles, particularly when using the lower resolutions, and should be attainable with a good air cooler or better. The DRAM is in a 2×8 GB configuration at 3200 MHz with CL15-15-15-35-2T timings which is a middle of the road option that balances performance and cost.

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS ROG Maximus X APEX
CPU Intel i7 8700K @ 4.7 GHz / 4.3 GHz Cache
CPU Cooler EVGA CLC 240
Memory 2×8 GB G.Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL15-15-15-35
SSD Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS + Applications)
Power Supply EVGA 750 W G3
Video Card MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming (441.07 BETA drivers)

Thanks go out to EVGA for providing the CLC 240 CPU Cooler and 750 W G3 Power Supply to cool and power the system, G.Skill for the Trident Z DRAM, and Toshiba OCZ for the 480 GB TR200 SSDs storage running the OS, benchmarks, and games. With our partners helping out, we are able to build matching test systems to mitigate any differences found between using different hardware. This allows for multiple reviewers in different locations to use the same test system and compare results without additional variables.

   

Below are the tests we run with a brief description of the settings. We have made some significant changes since the last update adding a few new titles and dropping some of the older games. More details can be found in the GPU Testing Procedure article which we have updated with our latest benchmarks.

  • UL 3DMark Time Spy – Default settings
  • UL 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) – Default settings
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – DX12, “Highest” preset (will add RTX when it has been patched)
  • The Division – DX12, Ultra preset, VSync Off
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation – DX12, Crazy preset, GPU focused
  • Far Cry 5 – Ultra defaults
  • F1 2018 – Very High defaults, TAA, and x16 AF, Australia track, show FPS counter
  • World of Tanks: Encore Benchmark – Ultra defaults
  • Battlefield V  – DX12, Ultra defaults

Synthetic Benchmarks

Our first set of benchmarks hail from Underwriters Laboratories who acquired Futuremark back in 2014. Earlier in 2018, a rebrand occurred and since that time, Futuremark is now UL. The benchmarks have not changed, just the name. We chose to stick with 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy as these tests give users a good idea of performance on modern titles.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) is a DX11-based test that UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games. This benchmark runs at 1920×1080. 3DMark Time Spy is a DX12 benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs. It supports new API features such as asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, multi-threading, and runs at 2560×1440 resolution.

The MSI 1660 Super Gaming scored 7253 in 3DMark Fire Strike and 6459 in Time Spy. This puts the card less than 2% behind the 1660 Ti in both benchmarks at stock but once overclocked it jumps ahead of the Ti by over 5%. As you can see the addition of GDDR6 gives the GTX 1660 Super a real boost when compared to the original GTX 1660. We’re seeing as much as 15% in the Firestrike Extreme benchmark and 10% in Time Spy.

Gaming Benchmarks

For gaming benchmarks, we have updated our testing suite to bring more modern titles into the mix. Gone are GTA V, Crysis 3, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, which were replaced with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, World of Tanks: enCore benchmark, F1 2018, Battlefield V, and Far Cry 5. We kept The Division and Ashes of the Singularity (though we updated to AOTS: Escalation). The games should provide a good view of the overall performance of the card. Many of these are DX12 games.

Here we see the 1660 Super is able to perform very well in World of Tanks: enCore at 136 FPS stock and F1 2018 at 95 FPS barely behind the GTX 1660 Ti. Once overclocked, again we see it easily outpaces the Ti model in all benchmarks. This pattern is going to continue throughout our testing suite.

In Far Cry 5, the GTX 1660 Super hits a 93 FPS average in the built-in benchmark while reaching 70 FPS in The Division. As seen above, once this card is overclocked it’s surpassing the 1660 Ti and performing nearly on par at stock settings.

Our SoTR results show the 1660 Super Gaming averaging 82 FPS at stock and edging out the 1660 Ti in this one title. This could easily be a variation in the drivers that were used or Tomb Raider simply responds well to the faster memory. With the 1660 Super beating the RTX 2060 once overclocked really seems to point toward the drivers being the secret sauce here.

In Ashes of the Singularity, the 1660 Super Gaming continues the trend we have seen throughout and once again topping the GTX 1660 Ti once it has been overclocked.

2560×1440 and 4K UHD Results

Below are the higher resolution results starting with 2560×1440 and the gaining in popularity 3840×2160 (4K UHD). These resolutions prove to be a bit of a stretch for the cards we are testing, especially at 4K UHD.

Moving up in resolution to 2560×1440, we can see the card tops 60 FPS in the last four titles. In order to play ‘all’ titles at 60 FPS, some image quality settings will need to be lowered. Looking at the 4K UHD results, we can plainly see this isn’t a 4K UHD card (nor was it intended to be). FPS ranged from 23 to 43 average. Significant image quality reduction will need to happen here to raise the FPS to what most feel would be acceptable levels for smooth gaming.

The 1080p performance of the MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming in our titles was quite good with all results well over 60 FPS with the exception of Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. The GTX 1660 Super is more than capable of gaming at 1080p with all the eye candy turned up.

Overclocking

For overclocking, we used MSI Afterburner 4.6.2 beta 3. With a bit of testing and patience, the GTX 1660 Super Gaming was able to increase +171 on the GPU core which yielded a boost speed of 2100 MHz. The GDDR6 memory was also overclocked +601 which gave us a 1900 MHz memory speed. All overclocking was done by simply raising the power limit to its maximum. The voltage and fan speeds were left on auto which gained us better than 10% performance on average.

 

Overclocking Software

MSI’s latest version of their MSI Afterburner software is version 4.6.2 beta 3, this version includes the OC scanner and the latest features to support Turing cards.

Temperatures and Power Use

We test power consumption by running through the game benchmarks of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and F1 2018 at stock speeds and while overclocked. We monitor temperatures throughout this testing with the peak temperature being what is listed in the data below. In order to more accurately simulate real gaming conditions, the benchmarks are extended (time) to allow the card to settle.

Temperatures on this card during testing were well-controlled peaking at 65 °C while overclocked and 63°C at stock. The fans ramped up slightly after 60 °C but were inaudible using the auto setting.

Power use on this 125 W card peaked at 303 W (system) overclocked and 287 W while at stock. A quality 500 W PSU will be plenty including overclocking both CPU and GPU and still allowing for headroom and quiet operation.

Conclusion

It was surprising to see how the simple addition of faster memory, moving from GDDR5 to GDDR6, made for a significant performance increase on the GTX 1660. In most game titles at 1080p, the GTX 1660 Super gained 10 or more frames per second while at stock knocking on the door of the GTX 1660 Ti. Once overclocked, it performed better than a card that, as of today, costs $50 more. It’ll be interesting to see if the “improved” GTX 1650 Super will now have the power to handle 1080p gaming with high-quality settings. As of the day this is published, we do not have an MSRP for the GTX 1650 Super but it could be in-line for the bargain 1080p gaming card.

The MSRP for the GTX 1660 Super is $229, slotting it into a very popular range which already has some interesting options. This slot is going to be crowded soon enough as AMD has also announced the introduction of some RX 5600 graphics cards that are also intended for this price/performance range. It would have been nice to have some cards for comparison numbers but these aren’t available yet. Nvidia beat them to the punch again.

Overall Nvidia has taken a good 1080p gaming graphics card and made it even better. The simple addition of GDDR6 allows the GTX 1660 Super to fully flex the muscle it has in the Turing TU116-300 die; pushing the performance up into the GTX 1660 Ti range. It will be interesting to see how all the pricing adjustments roll out, but the $229 price tag on this card makes it a very attractive option for 1080p gaming and makes it easy to give it the Overclockers stamp of approval!

Click to find out what this means

– Shawn Jennings (Johan45)

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Discussion
  1. Looks great, very thorough, I noticed something, there must be a typo in graphs "MSI RTX 1660Ti Gaming X"?
    $ 229 is very comfortable to swallow for the performance you get!