Final words and verdict
NVIDIA pulled a rabbit out of its hat to cope with the disappointing RTX sales. The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and lower SKUs (yes, they will be released) are interesting. The performance sits in that GTX 1070 / Radeon Vega 56 range with some wins and losses here and there. At a price of 279 USD that really is not a bad proposition. So that's a good thing. The problem is that we have no idea how the retail price will develop. The 279 USD models are the stripped down cheapo cooler versions. The cards like tested today can be put in the market for a tenner or two more, but really it should stop there as this card may not be more than 299 USD for a premium model IMHO. I am not bothered by the 6 GB configuration as, really, this is a Full HD / Quad HD card, and there the 6 GB is sufficient. However, there is talk about a 3 GB model, and really, just no...
When we focus in at the AIB product then MSI has a lovely offering at hand with the new GAMING X revision of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. This 6 GB card offers proper performance and is boosting to 1830 MHz right out of the box. And that gives it, say, a 3% advantage over the reference specification. NVIDIA, however, is not releasing a reference model. Neither will there be GPU distinction with A models etc. Tweaking wise there's plenty left. We do think that all cards will have that 10% OC bracket that, really, is by NVIDIA's design. Oh, and can we just say that this is an awesome looking card? The build quality is top notch in components, it shows a very clean PCB and the card has been reinforced with front and back-plates.
At 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 or something close you'll see really decent game performance; it, however, will not be a card suitable in the Ultra HD range for all modern game titles. As mentioned, the 6 GB of graphics memory is sufficient. In terms of multi-GPU setups, NVIDIA does not allow NVLINK based SLI for this series.
Well, I expressed my personal opinion on this topic in the previous paragraph already. With a dark design, the TwinFrozr 7 cooler, once powered on, just looks amazing. It sits in the Gaming line, was made a little darker to look at with new gunmetal elements, and that works for me. The RGB lighting effects are funky to see. That LED inclusion that has been done subtly and can be configured in any manner you prefer with Mystic Light software, the choice is yours. While I will always remain skeptical about back-plates (they potentially can trap heat and thus warm up the PCB) MSI does have vents there. The flip-side is that they can look better and can protect your PCB and components from damage and, well, they can look nice as they can have a certain aesthetic appeal. I have to admit, this is looking very nice but looks are always personal, of course. So in the end, on looks, you certainly get that premium feel of detailed aesthetics and quality.
Cooling & acoustic levels
The card tops out at roughly only 65 Degrees C while gaming. So that's not bad at all, the acoustics I'd rate as silent, we doubt you'll ever hear the card once mounted into a chassis. In idle the fans do not spin btw. We've heard no noticeable coil whine. But I do want to note that any graphics card at a high-enough FPS can make some coil whine.
We've been able to push a good 10% of extra perf out of the card compared to the reference card. Both traditional overclocking, as well as the OC Scanner reached roughly that level. The combination of memory, power and voltage settings will bring you a proper overclock. Once you've applied it, you get a few percent more performance. Nice to see is that we have been able to reach roughly 14.5, even 15 Gbps on the memory, and that does help.
We feel the new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti series is definitely something the industry needs. Most consumers have put RTX cards on hold due to the sales price of the range, which is very steep. The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti certainly addresses the issue of offering a more competitive product. It offers GeForce GTX 1070 performance (mostly slightly above it) at what should be a far more interesting price. NVIDIA, however, is in a split, they also have to face the reality that this is a product that performs at a product and a feature level they've been offering for a long time now. So who is going to step up from the GTX 1000 series? Well, anyone with a GTX 1050 or perhaps 1060. But for that last product group, the performance increase isn't heaps. So for the 1660 Ti series to become successful, the price needs to stay below the 299 USD domain, period.
So back to the AIB MSI then, listen, we think the new GAMING X is a terrific looking product, really it is. The baseline performance with the factory tweak is sweet as well and it did also tweak really nicely. The product is plenty fast for any day gaming up-to, say, the Quad HD monitor resolution of 2560x1440. The 6 GB of graphics memory seen over 8 GB really isn't a hindrance either as long as you stick to that (Wide) Quad HD domain. Looking at it from a competition point of view, the card positions itself in-between the two Vega cards, with its closest opponent being the Radeon Vega 56. The Raytracing and AI features like DLSS, of course, have been stripped away. The product as-is is good, the low power consumption downright terrific. The big question will remain this: what will the store prices do. At, say, 289~299 USD this card would be priced fairly and certainly comes recommended to those that are due for a long time upgrade. We've verified with MSI, the GAMING X is around $299, and the VENTUS series $279,-