NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition
Ever since NVIDIA announced its new line of GeForce RTX graphics cards, the focus of most of the discussion around them has been with the ground-breaking implementation of real-time ray tracing, and AI rendering, at the hardware level. Architectural feats so far ahead of the curve that we’ve yet to see widespread or even enough use of either to properly form an opinion. Recent updates to EA and DICE’s Battlefield V and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV, with more on the way, give an impressive glimpse into the future. But only a glimpse.
With more titles set to implement the AI-driven rendering of DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), real-time shadows, lighting and reflection built off ray-tracing soon – this year is no doubt going to be an exciting one for the RTX family.
A family that has just received a new member, in the form of the GeForce RTX 2060. The successor to the GeForce GTX 1060 and the latest and most affordable entry in the RTX lineup. A card that not only manages to make use of the real-time ray tracing hopes of its beefier siblings, but also build on what we’ve come to expect when it comes to a new GPU. That being faster overall performance than what has come before. On that front, like with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
we reviewed late last year, the RTX 2060 is impressive. A new card that more than excels at what it has clearly set out to do – provide a next-gen like experience and leap at the sub-4K resolutions of 1080p and 1440p.
After having spent the better part of a week putting the new GeForce RTX 2060 through its paces, saying as much is an easy thing to do. Pushing games and settings to their maximum at the 1080p resolution results in performance numbers that would have been considered high-end not that long ago. With results impressively in the range of a GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, the same sentiment goes for most titles played at the 1440p resolution. In what came as a bit of a surprise. A very pleasant surprise.
Of Numbers and Heat Sinks
Although it features the same Turing architecture as the entire RTX line-up, it’s still possible to make direct comparisons to the previous GeForce GTX 10-series of GPUs outside of specific in-game performance numbers. In terms of available CUDA cores, the 1920 of the new RTX 2060 is in-line with the GeForce GTX 1070 whilst falling a little short of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. Even though you don’t really need to have a firm grasp on what a CUDA core is, this like-for-like comparison explains why the RTX 2060 represents a massive leap over the GeForce GTX 1060 – so much so that comparisons to that card don’t really warrant more than a “dude, this totally blows the 1060 away” like statement.
Here goes. Dude, the GeForce RTX 2060 totally blows the GTX 1060 away.
This means the 1070 is a much better baseline to approach the RTX 2060 with – starting with the already impressive GeForce GTX 1070 full-HD performance and grow from there. And try to figure out just what the new Turing architecture, with its RTX and Tensor cores and fast GDDR6 memory, bring to the table.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition
- Architecture (GPU): Turing
- CUDA Cores: 1920
- RTX-OPS : 37T
- Giga Rays/s: 5
- Base Clock Rate: 1365 MHz
- GPU Boost Rate: 1680 MHz
- Memory Capacity: 6GB GDDR6
- TDP: 160W
As highlighted right at the end there in the specs, the new RTX 2060 is the most power-hungry NVIDIA card to end in “60” ever made - with 160W of required electrical juice. No doubt, as with the RTX 2080 and 2070, this is the result of multiple key pieces of pieces of hardware and faster memory working in unison to deliver the new Turing architecture. Not that 160W is astronomical mind you, in fact it’s 20W less than the power requirement of the 1070 Ti. And really, something that we found interesting enough to point out.
Speaking of pointing out, the RTX 2060 continues the modern two-tone black and chrome look of the RTX line that began with the 2080 series. And as we’ve come directly from playing with the beastly 4K performer that is the RTX 2080 Ti, the new RTX 2060 is very much the younger sibling. Cuter, smaller, but with the same look and cooler than thou facial expression of its older counterpart. And possibly a better understanding of just who ‘Ariana Grande’ is. Ahem.
Lighter, more agile in appearance, the form factor and build quality of the RTX 2060 is exceptional across the board. Especially for an in-house NVIDIA card. The dual-fan and closed design also mean that for the most part it stays silent throughout use. Which is always nice.
Okay, so if you skipped all the above to reach the game performance section of the review - welcome to our review of the GeForce RTX 2060! Glad you could make it. But before we dive into the 1080p numbers, a quick word from our sponsor. And by that we mean here’s a brief rundown of the hardware setup used in testing the 2060.
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming 5
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 3200 Memory
And without further ado, here are the 1080p benchmarks for the RTX 2060. Where settings were set to their maximum or near-max levels as per the note next to each game title.
A good point of comparison here is the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
we reviewed a while back – in that the underlying hardware outside of the GPU is mostly the same. From this we can see that in most of our tests the RTX 2060 performs better than the 1070 Ti when gaming in 1080p. The numbers are not only impressive, they’re exceptional. Demanding titles offering silky smooth performance, and all without having to tweak or adjust settings outside of making sure everything’s cranked all the way up. Forza Horizon 4 alongside Battlefield V both look particularly great thanks to the HDR implementation found in either title alongside the cutting-edge rendering and visual flourishes.
"In most of our tests the RTX 2060 performs better than the 1070 Ti when gaming in 1080p. The numbers are not only impressive, they’re exceptional. ."
The massive performance gain found in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus came from the recent implementation of the RTX powered NVIDIA Adaptive Shading to the id Tech 6 engine, which saw performance at 1080p sit comfortably in the 140 frames-per-second range during a heated moment of action. And even more remarkably, somewhere in the region of 115-120 frames-per-second with the resolution bumped up to 1440p. This is something that we’ll probably end up seeing in the upcoming DOOM Eternal. Turning off the feature, we saw a noticeable dip in performance but as it was an RTX feature we decided to leave it on for benchmarking. But even with Adaptive Shading, the 4K performance of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus took a massive hit. Which points to a clear focus on 1080p and 1440p when it comes to the RTX 2060.
And on that note, here are the 1440p numbers.
Which again, highlight that even though the RTX 2060 is an exceptional 1080p full-HD card, it’s also a bit of a 1440p beast. Which was something we weren’t expecting, where an on average performance drop-off that sat somewhere in the 15-30% range meant that 60 frames-per-second gaming at the increasingly popular QHD 1440p resolution is certainly a viable choice for the RTX 2060. The only title that stumbled was the demanding Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – which on PC Ultra setting cranks up the detail well beyond the console versions with insane draw distances, fog and mist effects, and overall texture quality.
In terms of testing it’s worth noting too that even though we did check out quite a few games running in 4K, it was clear from the outset that the RTX 2060 wasn’t meant to run the most demanding titles at that resolution. Something that we kind of took for granted thanks to the 2080 Ti. Playing fewer demanding titles or even more recent fair in 4K with certain settings and features dialled down is possible with the 2060 – but far from ideal. The performance drop off is simply too great.
A Quick Word on Ray-Tracing and DLSS
With Battlefield V the only high-profile title supporting the new RTX technology for next-gen like features with its real-time ray traced reflections, it would be kind of silly to form an entire opinion based on the performance of a single game or still relatively new piece of technology. With the delayed Windows 10 update featuring DXR meaning that it’s only been available to test for about a month or so it’s something that has been improving with each new driver and patch. As it stands, with the visual settings set to Ultra and DXR reflection detail set to Ultra, we were able to get Battlefield V running in the 55-60 frames-per-second range during the most demanding scenes. Impressive stuff.
In the coming weeks Battlefield V is set to receive a DLSS update which is touted as improving that performance even further. The AI-powered rendering technique is a hard one to explain because, well, here’s the official summary.
DLSS leverages a deep neural network to extract multidimensional features of the rendered scene and intelligently combine details from multiple frames to construct a high-quality final image.
Yeah, whatever you say poindexter. Best to think of DLSS like the checkerboard-rendering or upscaling technique of the PS4 Pro but powered by the smartest supercomputer in the world. One that really should be focusing on solving issues like climate change. DLSS effectively uses AI to deliver faster performance by intelligently rendering, for the RTX 2060, a 1080p or 1440p image. It’s an exciting proposition that adds long-term value to the RTX 2060 with several other titles, including Anthem, set to get the feature soon. As well as games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus going all out with additional ray-traced shadows and lighting features. For those wanting a cheaper alternative without all the RTX and DLSS stuff, we’re happy that the RTX 2060 is as forward thinking as it is. And we can play the waiting game for little while longer.
Unlike certain other members of the new RTX line, the new GeForce RTX 2060 is an affordable, mid-range card with high-end ambition. One that still sports enough of the new stuff to be considered next-gen. No doubt as the months of 2019 roll-on the RTX 20 series of cards will grow more impressive as advanced RTX and DLSS rendering features begin to crop up. But before that happens, looking strictly at current in-game performance for titles released in the past year or so – the RTX 2060 more than delivers.
For many enthusiasts out there, when it comes to deciding what piece of hardware to spend money on, the decision often comes down to a question of value for money. And on that front, it’s almost impossible to fault the RTX 2060. Before diving into this review, we were expecting a 1080p monster. Little did we know that under those dual fans and sleek two-tone finish there was also 1440p beast lurking in the shadows.