GeForce GTX 1660 - Overclocking, Power Consumption, And Noise
We also spent a little time overclocking the EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 XC Black and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G, to see what kind of additional performance we could wring from the cards. Before we get to our results, though, we would like to quickly re-cap Turing's new GPU Boost algorithm and cover some new overclocking related features.
Overclocking NVIDIA's Turing
Turing-based GeForce cards like this one, feature GPU Boost 4.0. Like previous-gen GeForce cards, GPU Boost scales frequencies and voltages upwards, power and temperature permitting, based on the GPU's workload at the time. Should a temperature or power limit be reached, however, GPU Boost 4.0 will only drop down to the previous boost frequency/voltage stepping -- and not the base frequency -- in an attempt to bring power and temperatures down gradually. Whereas GPU Boost 3.0 could result in a sharp drop-off down to the base frequency when constrained, GPU Boost 4.0 is more granular and should allow for higher average frequencies over time.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 XC Black Overclocking Data
As we've mentioned in our previous coverage of the Turing architecture, there are beefier VRMs on Turing-based GeForce cards versus their predecessors, which should help with extreme overclocking, though most of the cards are still power limited to prevent damage and ensure longevity. The two GeForce GTX 1660 cards we have on hand here didn't allow us to increase the power target -- the slider is maxed at the 100% mark -- though we could bump the voltage up by .1v.
With the launch of Turing, NVIDIA also tried to make the overclocking process easier by introducing a new Scanner tool and API. The NVIDIA Scanner is supposed to be a one-click overclocking tool with an intelligent testing algorithm and specialized workload designed to help users find the maximum, stable overclock on their particular cards without having to resort to trial and error. The NVIDIA Scanner will try higher and higher frequencies at a given voltage step and test for stability with a specialized workload along the way. The entire process should take around 20 minutes if it works, but when it’s done, the Scanner will have found the maximum stable overclock throughout the entire frequency and voltage curve for a given card.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC Edition Overclocking Data
As we have mentioned in the past, we have had a 0% success rate with the scanner tool across multiple test beds (and Windows installs, and driver revisions, and Precision X1 revisions), so we couldn't properly test the auto-scan feature. It simply doesn't work for us -- hopefully you all have better luck.
In lieu of using the NVIDIA Scanner, we kept things simple here, and used the frequency and voltage offsets and temperature target sliders to manually overclock our GeForce GTX 1660 cards. First, we cranked up the temperature target and voltage, then we bumped up the GPU and memory clocks until the test system was no longer stable or showed on-screen artifacts.
When all was said and done, even without the ability to increase the power target and bumping into the power limit, both cards broke the 2GHz barrier (the EVGA card hit 2085MHz, the Gigabyte card 2040MHz). While we had the cards overclocked, we re-ran a couple of tests and saw some nice performance improvements, which pushed the cards into similar territory to the GeForce GTX 1070.
Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idle and also while under a heavy gaming workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone. It's a relative measurement that gives you a decent view of how much additional power draw a graphics card is placing on a system while gaming.
We should also mention that GPU temperatures are a non-issue with either card. At idle, the GPU temps hovered in the high-30ºC - low-40ºC range. And under sustained load, even while overclocked over 2GHz, the GPU temperatures never even came close the peak target. The maximum GPU temperature we saw on the EVGA card was only 72ºC and the Gigabyte card peaked at only 69ºC. Noise output wasn't an issue either. The cards were quiet throughout our testing, despite overclocking and many hours of benchmarking. Their fans do spin up to audible levels when the cards are warmed up and under load for a while, but they are very quiet overall.