As some of you may know, last week Nvidia released their more mainstream orientated graphics card, the GTX 1660, which comes in as a spin-off of its a bit stronger Ti brother, also released not so long ago. I have yet to try that one out, so this time I’m starting the other way around reviewing the GTX 1660 model, in particular the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X series.
Since it’s been a while after the GTX 1660 series launch, here I’m primarily thinking of the Ti version, and since we all basically knew everything about it even before it came out thanks to pretty accurate rumors and predictions, I won’t go too deep into the architecture about its non-Ti brother, as they have similar roots, or talk about weird Nvidia graphics cards product scheming, so I’m just going to jump into it.
This is actually MSI’s seventh generation of their popular Twin Frozr cooler design for their Gaming and Gaming X series, and I really like how they’ve gone into a different direction with this one, moved away from the red and went with the silver, gray and black color scheme, especially on the back where we now have this really lovely brushed metal back-plate, while the top plastic outer shroud received some aesthetic changes. Of course, you’ll get your set of RGB lighting, around the fans and on the side lighting up the MSI’s dragon logo, while all of it can be controlled via Mystic Light function in the Dragon Center software utility. In theory. Because I couldn’t get that Mystic Light add-on to integrate with the Dragon Center, although they say it can be done through their Live Update utility, it’s still not showing up. Soooo, until that gets fixed, I’m stuck with looking at this shiny rainbow.
MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X – top of the line-up
With the design of the card and RGB’s out of the way right from the get-go, let’s talk about stuff that’s really important. As to be expected, in combination with relatively low TDP of this card, the whole system pulled around 150-200W during gameplay, and as we all witnessed from before, very capable cooling setup of MSI’s Gaming Twin Frozr series, for this model that’s two 85 mm Torx 3.0 fans with two blade design, pretty beefy heat-sink and three nickel-plated copper heat-pipes, the GPU load temperature of MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X was barely crossing over 60°C mark in games and benchmarks, and that’s with fan speeds being mostly around 1200 RPM, which was barely audible, even with Furmark’s GPU stress testing. In idle you’ll see fans completely stop spinning, and that’s a pretty common feature nowadays and something which MSI’s Gaming and their other series have to nourish for a long time now, while the GPU temperature was just above 40°C.
As for the performance, although it has a little bit of fewer CUDA cores than the GTX 1660 Ti and slower GDDR5 instead of GDDR6 video memory, so overall less memory bandwidth, the GTX 1660 still offers plenty of gaming power. Of course, we have to have but in all of this, and that’s a butt with just one letter t, there have to be some kind compromises when we talk about a graphics card which price starts at around 220$, it doesn’t have an endless amount of performance. In its case, when I talk about high frame rate output, it’s in relation to 1080p and 1440p resolution, as it’s obvious that this particular the card and GPU’s raw performance potential, just by looking at the specifications and comparing it to the other Nvidia current gen offering, is not going to be enough for 4K gaming. Although you could do that, it wouldn’t be a smooth experience, that’s a bit too much to handle for it, it’s a 220$ graphics card after. Bottom line, as you can see by looking at the results, this card shines at 1440p and especially 1080p, and although you would think that 1080p is irrelevant, it’s actually still the number one resolution for the majority of gamers, dominating with over 60% of share, according to Steam hardware survey.
GTX 1660 overclocking for 10% higher performance
Going back to the title of this video, the GTX 1660 can deliver enough frame-rates worthy of high-refresh rate monitors, ones that are 100 Hz or even more, especially with some of the more popular games. With that in mind, 1080p and 1440p resolution are ones which are also pretty common when it comes to high refresh-rate monitor offering, sort of two sweet spots, because configurations that can pull off 4K high frame-rate high refresh rate gaming are completely on the other spectrum and unreachable for majority of users or even possible in practice. For that purpose the GTX 1660 is ideal in terms of 1080p resolution, while with the 1440p it will have a bit of struggle in reaching above 100 FPS, or even less, but it can be done in certain games and if you lower down your graphical settings and aim for the smoothest possible game-play, especially at 1080p.
Although the graphics card comes in factory overclocked out of the box, you could pull out some additional performance with choosing the OC profile in the Dragon Center utility, which bumps up the clocks a bit, but your best bet is still manual overclocking or alternatively MSI Afterburners OC Scanner. In the end I went with the manual overclock since I know I can that way get even more performance out of the card, and here I’ve managed to get around 10 to 15% performance increase with these settings shown here, GPU core clock being well above 2000 MHz, and the video memory around 15.000 MHz effectively, and like this it comes really close to it’s bigger Ti counterpart. Of course, your mileage can vary depending from card to card, silicon lottery, and cooling solution.
All in all, I really like what I’m seeing here when it comes to what this particular GPU beneath these cards cooler can offer in terms of value for your money. It tops of its main competitors, the RX 580 and RX 590, while also keeping it cooler and less power hungry. As it stands, the only dilemma that’s presented in front you is should you cash out 20 to 30$ extra to get a model like this one, with all the bells and whistles, or should you just go with the MSRP 220$ one which will basically every board partner have since there will be no reference design of GTX 1660. The other problem is that the overall offering is currently so compressed that even if you stretch your budget just a little bit more, let’s say you save up your money for a month extra, you could, for example, buy yourself a GTX 1660 Ti. Of course, this can be done indefinitely, until you save up for RTX 2080 Ti, but there’s a line to be drawn and you’re the only one who knows where that line sits based on your actual needs. That’s it for this time, I hope my MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X review helped you in your decision making process, if you have any question feel free to hit me in the comments section of my YouTube video listed above, you can contact me via my social media channels!