GeForce GTX 1660 Ti - Overclocking, Power Consumption, And Noise
We also spent a little time overclocking the EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black, to see what kind of additional performance we could wring from the card. Before we get to our results, though, we should 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.
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 being power limited to prevent damage and ensure their longevity. The EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black in particular didn't even allow us to increase the power target -- the slider is maxed at the 100% mark.
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.
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, and used the frequency offset and temperature target sliders to manually overclock the EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black. First we cranked up the temperature target, 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 (or voltage) and bumping into the power limit, our card hit a stable 2.1GHz GPU overclock with a 12.3Gbps memory data rate. While overclocked, we re-ran a couple of tests and saw performance increases of 4.3 - 6.6%.
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 on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black. At idle, the GPU temp hovered in the low-30 degree C range. And under sustained load, even while overclocked to 2.1GHz, the GPU temperature never even came close the peak target. The maximum GPU temperature we saw was only 65ºC. Noise output wasn't an issue either. The EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black was quiet throughout our testing, despite overclocking and many hours of benchmarking. The fan does spin up to audible levels when the card is warmed up and under load for a while, but it's not loud by any stretch.