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GTX 1660 Ti vs Vega 56: game benchmarks at 1080p, 1440p and 4K

The discounted mid-tier AMD GPU faces one of Nvidia's new additions.

After releasing a series of RTX graphics cards, it looked like the classic GTX line might have run its course. Then Nvidia announced the GTX 1660 Ti, a GPU that combines the architectural advancements of the RTX Turing line without the dedicated cores for machine learning and ray tracing; the 16-series moniker indicates a card somewhere between the 10-series GTX cards and 20-series RTX cards. At £259/$279, the GTX 1660 Ti offers a healthy performance bump over the GTX 1060 that should make it a stand-out performer for 1080p gaming, but the last-generation GTX 1070 already fulfils a similar niche. This established card is available in wider numbers for a similar price, so which is the better mid-range option: the GTX 1660 Ti or the GTX 1070?

On the face of it, the GTX 1660 Ti seems to have the edge. The new GPU has a higher boost clock, faster GDDR6 memory, greater memory bandwidth and revised shader models. It's also more efficient, with many models packing significant horsepower into a compact one-fan or two-fan design. It also comes with some new Turing features, such as support for variable rate shading, which could boost performance in some games. However, the GTX 1660 Ti also ships with 6GB of memory, compared to 8GB of VRAM on the GTX 1070, which could potentially make it less future-proof than its last-gen competitor.

The best way to see which card is the best overall is to put them to the test, so that's what we're going to do. We have tested both GPUs in nine recent and not-so-recent games, so you will be able to see precisely which games favour the GTX 1660 Ti and which go the other way in our benchmarks below. We'll also take a quick look at how these cards compare in terms of features, and how much you can expect to pay for each one.

Click the links below to jump to one of these parts directly, or scroll on to see it all!

GTX 1660 Ti vs Vega 56: Feature comparison

Before we get into the results, it's worth briefly covering the difference in features between the GTX 1660 Ti and the GTX 1070. As we mentioned earlier, the GTX 1660 Ti doesn't include any RT or Tensor cores, meaning the two headline features of the RTX series - real-time ray tracing (RTX) and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) - are nowhere to be found. However, Nvidia's Turing cards does include new features that don't rely on its specialist cores, and these have made the jump to the GTX 1660 Ti.

One of the most interesting is variable rate shading, a new technique which reduces detail in areas of the screen that are of less interest to the player - for example, areas in shadow. This can boost performance in games that support it, with Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus showing about a 15 per cent boost in frame-rates at its most aggressive setting. Another nice niche feature is the upgraded NVENC encoder, which widens the options available for recording or streaming games; it's also more efficient and requires less CPU utilisation.

Of course, features that debuted on GTX 10-series cards appear on both models in our comparison. That includes support for FreeSync and G-Sync variable refresh rate displays, the GeForce Experience software and options for multi-screen gaming, streaming to Shield set-top boxes or Android smartphones and so on. That means that the GTX 1660 Ti has the lead when it comes to features, but it's a far closer race than it is when comparing 10-series cards with their newfangled RTX counterparts.

GTX 1660 Ti vs Vega 56: Game benchmarks

In these results, you'll see how the GTX 1660 Ti compares to the GTX 1070 at three resolutions and in nine different games. The GTX 1660 Ti is represented by a compact PNY XLR8 card and the GTX 1070 with Nvidia's Founders Edition. It's worth noting that the XLR8 comes with a small +45MHz overclock, while the Nvidia card remains on reference specifications. With no Nvidia reference card for the GTX 1660 Ti, this is a reasonable out-of-the-box comparison of the two cards. We tested using a high-end system, including a Core i7 8700K processor overclocked to 4.7GHz on all cores to take CPU power out of the equation as much as possible. This is backed with 16GB of dual-channel memory at 3400MHz, a Corsair H100i liquid cooler and solid state storage for all tested games.

Note that we've only included the two cards we're most interested in here: the GTX 1660 Ti and the GTX 1070. If you want more context, check out our full TX 1660 Ti benchmarks page which includes comparisons with the GTX 1060, GTX 1070, RTX 2060, RX 580, RX 590 and Vega 56!

Our new benchmark system was implemented early last year, but if you haven't seen it before, here's a quick primer. Just press play on the YouTube videos below, then add or remove the video cards and resolutions you're interested in using the controls to the right of the video. You'll see how the data sources you picked handle our test scene, with real-time frame-rate and frame-time information that give a better idea of the gameplay experience than a simple average frame-rate. However, you can also scroll down a little to see a bar chart with averages if you prefer. Mouse over the chart to see more data and click to switch between fps counts and percentages. With that explanation out of the way, let's get started!

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

We begin with one of the most recent releases in this benchmark suite, Assassin's Creed Odyssey. The GTX 1660 Ti proves the better of the two cards at 1080p, likely thanks to AMD's higher CPU overhead, but things reverse as we reach higher resolutions. The two cards are near-identical at 1440p, both averaging 41fps, and the Vega 56 takes a significant 17 per cent lead at 4K. However, neither provide a brilliant experience at this resolution and graphical preset combo; we'd recommend turning down some settings to net a stable 60fps.

AC Odyssey: Ultra High, TAA

Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity may be five years old at this point, but its cutscenes and gameplay still provide a stern test to modern GPUs. We're looking at the former in this benchmark, taken from an early sequence in the game. The depth of field effect proves challenging for the AMD card, seeing frame-rates dip to less than 40fps at 1080p in the worst-case scenario, but in other segments the card averages over 120fps at 1080p. The GTX 1660 Ti delivers a nearly identical average frame-rate, but does so consistently throughout.

Assassin's Creed Unity: Ultra High, FXAA

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 has always run well on AMD hardware, being a DirectX 12 title, so it's no surprise that the Vega 56 steamrolls the GTX 1660 Ti here. The Vega 56 opens up a nine per cent lead at 1080p, growing to 14 per cent at 1440p and 19 per cent at 4K as CPU utilisation becomes less and less of a factor. Regardless, the Nvidia card remains quite playable, with average frame-rates some way north of 60fps at 1080p and 1440p.

Battlefield 1: Ultra, TAA

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 is another older title that favours raw grunt over fancy graphical tricks and optimisations, which allows the Vega 56's advantages to be best displayed. Again, both cards manage above 100fps average at 1080p and 60fps at 1440p, but the AMD card runs about 10 per cent faster throughout. 4K remains too difficult a test for either GPU, with scores round about 30fps.

Crysis 3: Very High, SMAA T2X

Far Cry 5

The Vega 56 continues its run of form in Far Cry 5, another modern title running on Ubisoft's Dunia engine - itself an offshoot of the CryEngine from the very first Far Cry title. The Vega 56's lead is substantial here, with a 15 per cent advantage at 1080p that remains relatively consistent at other resolutions as well. There's a little more frame-time variance for the AMD card, but the size of its frame-rate advantage means that this isn't a concern.

Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA

Ghost Recon Wildlands

One of the many Tom Clancy titles in video games, Ghost Recon Wildlands is a multiplayer open-world tactical shooter released in 2017. Despite being older than some of the other games on this list, Wildlands actually has the toughest built-in benchmark when ultra settings are applied. Consequently, hitting 60fps isn't possible here even at 1080p, with the Vega 56 holding about a five per cent advantage at 1080p and 1440p, stretching to a mighty 17 per cent at 4K.

Ghost Recon Wildlands: Ultra, TAA

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider's benchmark isn't actually as challenging as the full game, but it's still a useful metric to judge the relative strengths of different graphics cards. The Vega 56 leads by 11 per cent at 1080p, rising to 18 per cent at 1440p and 4K. You can see that the GTX 1660 Ti suffers some frame-time dips throughout the benchmark, particularly at higher resolutions, something avoided by the AMD card here.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Very High, SMAA

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider has one of the longest integrated benchmarks we've ever seen at almost three minutes long, with two medium-length scenes to start and then a very long panning shot to conclude. The GTX 1660 Ti gains a bit of ground here compared to Rise of the Tomb Raider, but the Vega 56 remains the overall winner by a small but significant margin - 8 per cent, 10 per cent and 17 per cent at 1080p, 1440p and 4K, respectively.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Highest, TAA

The Witcher 3

Our final title to test is The Witcher 3, a popular RPG released in 2015 - if you haven't played it yet, we'd definitely recommend giving it a go. You'll certainly be well equipped with either card in this comparison, with both GPUs managing to eclipse 80fps at 1080p and get near 60fps at 1440p. However, 4K gaming will require you to turn down some settings - and whatever you do, don't turn on Nvidia Hairworks on either card! The Vega 56's victory lap sees it take a 17 per cent lead at each of the three resolutions tested.

Witcher 3: Ultra, Post-AA, No Hairworks

GTX 1660 Ti vs Vega 56: Price and availability

The GTX 1660 Ti is a new card, while the Vega 56 is a few years old at this point - and that makes availability a little scarce for the AMD option. However, its longevity does mean that this card is often discounted, frequently being offered at just £250/$280. Meanwhile, GTX 1660 Ti cards are often available at or very near their RRP of £259/$279, with more expensive models costing around £299/$319. Given the results we've seen here, the Vega 56 could well be the better choice for out-and-out performance, particularly if you wait for a strong deal.

With that, we've come to the end of our GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1070 comparison. Be sure to check out our full GTX 1660 Ti review for more information of how the new Nvidia card stacks up against its rivals. You can also find our always-updated best graphics card recommendations, which lay out our GPU picks at a range of price points.

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