Overclocking The Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 For Impressive Gains
When the GeForce GTX 1660 launched a last month we took a look at the variants from MSI here on the site and the Zotac Gaming model over on the YouTube channel and found them to be very competent 1080p gaming cards. When looking at the Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 I also recorded performance with a mild overclock as I was pressed for time and didn't have time to really dig in and push it to see just how much juice was left in the tank, turns out quite a bit.
The Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 comes in at the default clocks on core and memory (1785MHz Boost Core/8Gbps GDDR5) and held a typical boost clock of 1800-1850MHz depending on the game. We gave it a modest bump by +125MHz on the core and +250MHz to the memory taking the memory up to 8.5Gbps which is nice. But, after consulting with several other people who have these cards in hand to validate our final overclock and how achievable it would be we decided it was safe to roll with it. Settling in at a very nice +225MHz to the core keeping it around 2050MHz while gaming and an insane +999MHz to the memory resulting in an effective memory speed of 10Gbps on GDDR5 which is splitting the difference between it and the GeForce GTX 1660Ti GDDR6's 12Gbps. The Micro memory used on the GeForce GTX 1660 seems to be exceptionally efficient and matured well. This boosts the memory bandwidth from 192GB/s to 240GB/s.
I gamed on this card for well over a week at these settings and found zero instance of instability. I even played through the entire campaign of Anthem, I get if you cringed a bit, and a fair bit of Assassin's Creed Odyssey. So I decided to back up and record the performance metrics to see just how much extra performance you get out of this $219 card in modern titles.
We tested all the cards on our Z370 based test system with the Intel Core i9-9900k clocked to 5GHz across all cores with 16GB of DDR4 3200. We tested across DX11 and DX12 but as I'm writing this realized we didn't test any Vulkan titles, might be time to go back and add in Wolfenstein 2 into the lineup for good measure.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-9900k @ 5GHz|
|Memory||16GB G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 3200|
|Motherboard||EVGA Z370 Classified K|
|Storage||Crucial P1 1TB NVMe SSD|
|PSU||Cooler Master V1200 Platinum|
Graphics Cards Tested
|GPU||Architecture||Core Count||Clock Speed||Memory Capacity||Memory Speed|
|ZOTAC Gaming GTX 1660 Manual OC||Turing||1408||1739/1994||6GB GDDR5||10Gbps|
|ZOTAC Gaming GTX 1660||Turing||1408||1530/1785||6GB GDDR5||8Gbps|
|NVIDIA GTX 1060 FE 6GB||Pascal||1280||1506/1708||6GB GDDR5||8Gbps
|MSI RX 580 Armor 8GB||Polaris 20||2304||1366||8GB GDDR5||8Gbps
Synthetics, Thermals, and Power Draw
In the synthetic tests we see a healthy gain from the overclock, even more so in DX12 over DX11 as Time Spy garners a 15% increase in performance while Firestrike sees 12%. The interesting part is that he power draw only increased by 8% and thermals by 5%, a very worthy trade off for the performance that you net.
Gaming is where you're going to want to focus with this overclock because this is where the rubber meets the road in video card world, and the Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 lights it on fire once overclocked. The weakest performance gain comes in with Hitman 2 with only an 8% boost while Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs away with the outlier award with a 42% uplift (we found a similar jump in performance with our initial review). Taking Shadow of the Tomb Raider out of the equation we see an average boost of 14% and that's performance I would not want to leave on the table at this price range.
The Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 really shows it's value in the new card realm with a performance boost like that bringing it up and above what it already delivered on making the argument for the GeForce GTX 1660Ti a little bit harder. Of course this comes at the cost of being comfortable enough on your own to do the overclock. For this kind of performance gains I have a hard time imagining anyone would be willing to leave this off the table. The more impressive part is seeing an average of 14% improvement with only an 8% increase in power consumption and a very easily mitigated temperature rise. As of late it has been more typical of increasing power consumption by 14% and only seeing, at best, 8% performance improvements. This is a good thing to see but it really does showcase how GDDR5 has pretty much run its course at even the mid-range today.