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GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1060: Which is best for 1080p gaming?

The most popular GPU in the world challenges the Turing newcomer.

There's a new mainstream graphics card in town. The GTX 1660 Ti offers many of the same architectural advantages of Nvidia's latest cards, but doesn't include the specialised RT and Tensor cores you'll find on the company's RTX GPUs. Given the slow adoption of RTX series features like real-time ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS), giving up these technologies to hit a lower price point sounds like a winning formula.

However, at £260/$280, this new GPU still costs more than its predecessor, the GTX 1060, which launched at £240/$250 and has since dropped in price significantly - to around £170/$200. So, is it worth choosing the new model for 1080p gaming? And can either stretch to 1440p gaming?

That's what we'll answer here, as we compare these two affordable cards in terms of features, pricing and performance. We've tested each in nine separate games released over the past few years, so you'll be able to see precisely what sort of frame-rates you can expect - and with our live benchmarks, you'll be able to get an idea of any frame-time spikes too. We've also thrown in a generational bench, so you can see what sort of improvement you can expect if you're upgrading from a GTX 7-series or 9-series card. We'll also cover the few differences in features that these cards possess, plus how much you can expect to pay for each one - and where they are being sold the cheapest.

To get started, just click one of the links below to skip to the section you're interested in, or simply scroll on through to see our comparison in all its glory!

The GTX 1660 Ti we're testing is small compared to most GTX 1060 models, but size isn't everything.

GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1060: Feature comparison

Before we get stuck into the results, it's worth briefly covering the feature differences between the GTX 1660 Ti and Pascal cards like the GTX 1060. As we already mentioned, the GTX 1660 Ti doesn't include the specialised ray tracing and deep learning cores of the RTX series, so these features aren't present on the GTX 1660 Ti. However, Turing cards do 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 or can't easily be seen - for example, areas in shadow. Opting for minimal processing in these areas can boost performance by a good margin, but developers need to add support for the technology for it to work. The first title to support the tech is Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus with frame-rates rising by about 15 per cent at best. Another nice feature is the upgraded NVENC encoder on the GTX 1660 Ti, which is more CPU-efficient than its predecessor and also supports more video codecs for streaming or recording gameplay footage.

Unsurprisingly, features that debuted on the GTX 1060 persist onto the GTX 1660 Ti as well. That includes G-Sync monitors, and after a recent software update both cards can also work with FreeSync monitors. In the GeForce Experience and Nvidia Control Panel software, you'll also find options for multi-display gaming, streaming to Android devices and so on. The GTX 1660 Ti has the feature advantage then, but it's a much tighter race than it is between the GTX 1060 and RTX cards.

GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1060: Game benchmarks

Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for: we'll see exactly how these GPUs compare in some of the best recent games. We have included 1080p and 1440p results here only, as there's no expectation for 4K gaming on either card - and both are best at 1080p.

Our GTX 1660 Ti card is a one-fan PNY XLR8 model, while the GTX 1060 is a 6GB Founders Edition model. The GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 comes with a small 45MHz overclock over reference speeds, while the Nvidia card remains stock. As there is no reference card for the GTX 1660 Ti, this is a fair comparison of how the two compare out of the box, but just keep in mind that overclocked versions of both cards exist and performance can vary slightly depending on the clocks you can sustain.

Our tests were performed using a high-end rig built around a Core i7-8700K processor, overclocked to 4.7GHz on all cores to minimise the times we were CPU-bound. Other specs for our test system include 16GB of dual-channel memory running at 3400MHz, a Corsair H100i liquid AiO cooler and solid state storage for all tested games. Fairly obviously, if your system has a weaker processor, your in-game results may be slightly worse than ours; we recommend a recent Core i5, Core i7 or Ryzen 7 processor to get the most out of your PC.

Note that we've only included the two cards we're most interested in here: the GTX 1660 Ti and the GTX 1060 6GB. If you want to see more cards in the fray, you're better off looking at 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 released almost a year ago now, but here's the quick runthrough anyway: Press play on the YouTube videos below, and you'll see live frame-rate and frame-time stats for each card in the comparison. You can add or remove data points using the controls to the right of the video. There's also a bar chart below the video which shows average performance throughout the scene. You can hover over different parts of the chart to see different info and click to toggle between frame-rates and percentages. On mobile, you'll have just the bar charts, so return on a desktop if you want the full-fat Digital Foundry experience!

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

We begin with one of our most recent benchmark titles, 2018's Assassin's Creed Odyssey. The game's sprawling vistas and detailed textures can put any card through its paces, and it's clear to see the generational advantage possessed by the GTX 1660 Ti. The new card almost manages 60fps at the game's highest graphical preset, while the GTX 1060 can't reach 40fps at 1080p. At 1440p, it's the GTX 1660 Ti that manages 40fps, while the GTX 1060 is constrained to a console-quality 30fps. At 1080p, the gap between the two cards is a solid 34 per cent, rising to 41 per cent at 1440p.

AC Odyssey: Ultra High, TAA

Assassin's Creed Unity

Unity is an older Assassin's Creed title, having been released in 2014, but it remains a challenging title. We're looking at around a 35 per cent advantage for the GTX 1660 Ti once again, but this time both GPUs are able to maintain at least a 60fps average at 1080p. At 1440p, the GTX 1660 Ti is still a few settings changes away from 60fps, but the GTX 1060 has to make do with a result in the high thirties.

Assassin's Creed Unity: Ultra High, FXAA

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 is the first title where we see both cards able to meet 60fps at 1440p, which is an impressive result given the cost of the GTX 1060 6GB. The GTX 1660 Ti brings the game into high refresh rate monitor territory with a 122fps average at 1080p, while the GTX 1060 hits 87fps at the same resolution. Here, the advantage for the GTX 1660 Ti is 40 per cent at both resolutions.

Battlefield 1: Ultra, TAA

Crysis 3

Another card, another generation and another year of using Crysis in our benchmarks. This 2013 title just keeps giving, and looking at the results here it's clear that only the latest generation has truly tamed this game at 1440p. The GTX 1660 Ti is more than 30 per cent clear of its competition here, delivering more than 100fps at 1080p and in excess of 60fps at 1440p. Meanwhile, the GTX 1060 makes do with just over 60fps at 1080p and nearly 50fps at 1440p.

Crysis 3: Very High, SMAA T2X

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is one of the least challenging games in our benchmark suite, despite having been released just last year. The GTX 1060 6GB manages to exceed 60fps at 1080p, while the GTX 1660 Ti pushes its advantage to 37 per cent. At 1440p, only the new card manages to deliver a 60fps average or better.

Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA

Ghost Recon Wildlands

The ultra graphics setting in Ghost Recon Wildlands isn't intended for use by real human beings in normal gameplay; it's the kind of punishing preset that seems tailor-made to break your GPU in half even at modest resolutions. Neither of our cards manages to hit 60fps here, even at 1080p, while the 1440p results are closer to 30fps. The GTX 1660 Ti's advantage remains consistent at around 33 per cent.

Ghost Recon Wildlands: Ultra, TAA

Rise of the Tomb Raider

That 33 per cent advantage for the GTX 1660 Ti persists into Rise of the Tomb Raider, the first of two TR titles we've included in our benchmarks. We would expect even the GTX 1060 to manage at least 60fps at 1080p though, and the card duly delivers a result closer to 80fps on average while the GTX 1660 Ti closes in on 110fps. At 1440p, the GTX 1660 Ti manages nearly 70fps, while the GTX 1060 must content itself with a sub-60fps average.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Very High, SMAA

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Our second Tomb Raider title is the 2018 release, Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The benchmark is a better simulcrum of real gameplay than that of its predecessor, and unsurprisingly offers a stiffer challenge for both cards. We're looking at the biggest advantage we've seen yet for the GTX 1660 Ti here, with the new card outperforming the GTX 1060 6GB by a staggering 47 per cent at 1080p. However, this does drop to a more consistent 30 per cent at 1440p, where both cards fall below 60fps on average.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Highest, TAA

The Witcher 3

Our final title is The Witcher 3, where we take a Roach-bound jaunt through one of the biggest cities in the Northern Kingdoms. The GTX 1060 just about manages to exceed a 60fps average at 1080p, even with the punishing Nvidia Hairworks tech turned off. The GTX 1660 Ti runs away with the show though, with a 45 per cent lead at 1080p and 40 per cent advantage at 1440p.

Witcher 3: Ultra, Post-AA, No Hairworks

Generational comparison

We conclude with a look at how the GTX 1660 Ti compares to its predecessors in one of our longest-running benchmarks, Assassin's Creed Unity, at 1080p. It's impressive to see how the GTX 1660 Ti beats out the GTX 980 Ti, which launched at more than double the price four years ago and wipes the floor with the GTX 780 Ti that cost even more six years ago.

Assassin's Creed Unity: Ultra High, FXAA

GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1060: Price and availability

Having extra performance is great, but you've got to pay for it. In the case of the GTX 1660 Ti, things are pretty straightforward right now, with the cards going for dead on their RRP: £260 in the UK and $280 in the US. There are a range of configurations available, but we recommend an entry-level model as these provide the most bang for the buck. Premium GTX 1660 Ti models offer better thermals and faster clocks, but their prices start to creep very close to RTX 2060 cards which offer significantly better performance. Even at the low end, most cards come with small overclocks built in, but we recommend sticking with a brand you trust or the form factor that makes sense for your build instead of going by raw clock speeds.

How does the GTX 1060 stack up? Right now, the cheapest we've spotted the GTX 1060 for is £170 in the UK and $200 in the US. That means you're paying an extra £90 or $80, respectively. Given the around 40 per cent uptick in performance you can expect, this could well make sense - especially if you're able to sell on your old card. However, if you're building a system afresh, then it makes sense to consider how long you want your PC to last before needing another upgrade and what kind of frame-rates you expect to get. The GTX 1660 Ti will definitely provide more staying power than the GTX 1060, but the premium you pay is significant. Ultimately, the decision is yours - but we recommend the newer card for most people.

If you're still not sure, why not read our evergreen recommendations for the best graphics cards on the market? You might also find it handy to see our full GTX 1660 Ti review for more information of how the new Nvidia card stacks up against its rivals too, as well as our GTX 1660 Ti vs GTX 1070 comparison to see how the new card fares against tougher competition.

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