NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Review: Reasonably Priced Ray Tracing

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GeForce RTX 2060 - Overclocking, Power Consumption, And Noise

We also spent a little time overclocking the GeForce RTX 2060, to see what kind of additional performance we could squeeze out of it with a bit of tweaking. 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.

Turing-based GeForce RTX cards, like the GeForce RTX 2060, 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. Where GPU Boost 3.0 could result in a steep 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.

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As we mentioned in our previous coverage of the Turing architecture, there are beefier VRMs on GeForce RTX 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. In addition to being able to handle higher loads than previous-gen cards though, the power circuitry on RTX cards has also been optimized to smooth-out and clean-up power delivery across the entire voltage and frequency curve. That cleaner power should improve maximum overclocks too, but NVIDIA is also trying to make the overclocking process itself much easier with a new Scanner tool and API.

The NVIDIA Scanner is 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 then 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.

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Unfortunately, the scanner was hanging on our testbed, so we couldn't properly test the auto-scan feature with our benchmarks. This is after multiple BIOS updates and clean Windows installations, multiple NVIDIA driver revisions, and many updates to Precision X1 -- there's just something about our test setup that the software just doesn't like. In lieu of using the NVIDIA Scanner, we kept things simple, and used the frequency offset and power / temperature target sliders to manually overclock the GeForce RTX 2060. First we cranked up the power target to 119% (the maximum available) and kicked up the temperature target as well. Then we bumped up the max voltage by .1v and increased the GPU and memory clocks until the test system was no longer stable.

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When all was said and done, we broke the 2GHz mark on the GPU and hit an effective memory speed just shy of 7.1GHz. While we had the card overclocked, we re-ran some tests and saw some nice performance gains. In fact, the GeForce RTX 2060 was able to overtake the GeForce GTX 1080 in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider while overclocked -- when running at stock speeds, the RTX 2060 trailed by a small margin.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet
Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a couple of final data points regarding power consumption and acoustics. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored noise output and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter.

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.

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If you look back through our benchmark results, although they trade blows a couple of time, the GeForce RTX 2060 is just slightly slower than a GeForce GTX 1080 overall. And that is exactly what the power consumption numbers show as well. Only a couple of watts separates the two cards under both idle and load conditions.

We should also mention that GPU temperatures are a non-issue on the GeForce RTX 2060. At idle, the GPU temp hovered in the mid-30 degree C range. And under sustained load, even while overclocked, the GPU temperature never hit the default peak target. The maximum GPU temperature we saw was in the high 70 degree C range. Noise wasn't a concern either. The GeForce RTX 2060 was quiet throughout our testing, despite overclocking and many hours of benchmarking. The fans do spin up to audible levels when the card is warmed up and under load, but it's not loud by any stretch.

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