Cheap RTX Graphics: We test which card gives you the most value for money.

Last fall, the RTX 20 series became the first new generation graphics card from Nvidia in almost two and a half years, and many were very ready to upgrade.

Cheap RTX Graphics: We test which card gives you the most value for money.
Cheap RTX Graphics: We test which card gives you the most value for money.

But as it turned out, the performance gain in regular games was not as good as in the previous shift, and Nvidia once again used the opportunity to raise the entry price sharply. The new enthusiast cards were thus unpleasantly expensive for many.

But what about "most people," the hobby player or you who are not sitting on a 4K screen and must have the best, always?

For you with Full HD or 1440p screen
Here comes Nvidia's new middle-class card RTX 2060 - the successor to the hugely popular GTX 1060. And, just like the other members of the RTX series, it also has the technology to utilize beam tracking and DLSS upscaling. These are techniques that Nvidia has spent a lot of time talking about, but which we haven't seen anything unusual in games for half a year after launch.

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But set the latter aside for a moment, because on the paper, the RTX 2060 is a new card. Performance-wise we are promised lots of gunpowder. As other RTX cards, the RTX 2060 is also built around the Turing architecture, and the GPU itself is produced with a 12 nm FinFET Nvidia process that provides even higher transistor density as well as better energy efficiency than before. Now, however, some of the space on the massive chip goes away to various dedicated "RTX" features, but games based on traditional rasterization should still see a substantial performance boost.

Among other things, thanks to smarter and more efficient CUDA cores (stream processors in the table below) as well as the new and fast GDDR6 memory operating at 14,000 MHz rather than old GDDR5s 8,000 MHz.

Reference or third-party design?
For this test, we have included two RTX 2060 cards. Nvidia's own Founders Edition, as well as the MSI Gaming Z model.

The new Nvidia reference design, with two axial fans rather than one radial fan, should mean less noise and lower temperatures than earlier. Still, it becomes interesting to see how big the difference is for a more expensive, or at least more expensive, edition like Gaming Z. Not only when it comes to performance, but also temperature and noise.

The Gaming Z model from MSI should be clocked higher out of the box than Founder Edition, i.e., at 1830 MHz rather than 1680 MHz. The fans, which stop entirely when the temperature is below 60 degrees, in turn, should be specially designed to increase airflow and the waveform cooling fins are optimized for more efficient heat transfer. Together with the ability to customize the RGB lighting that is scattered around the card, this contributes to the cost increases by about NOK 600, which in itself is not deterrent, but nevertheless something one must look critically at when we are talking about after all middle-class card.

Before we lose the test, we just have to be honest that we think Nvidia extends the term "middle-class card" quite far now. The prices start at NOK 3800 for the RTX 2060, which is over NOK 1000 more than the GTX 1060 6GB was launched for back in 2016.

That said, is it really not looking up to the rest of the market? Of course, this and much more will give you the answer to this test!

Structure and specifications are delicate issues, but it is performance and value for money that is most important when considering one graphics card over another. To make it easy to get an overview of what the new RTX 2060 cards offer in terms of today's faster and more expensive and older models, we have summarized the performance of our six different test games in one graph. All games are measured on ultra high graphics details.

It is first and foremost good news our cut graph brings. It turns out that the new RTX 2060 not only performs better than the previous generation GTX 1070 and GTX 1070 Ti but actually does battle for the GTX 1080, the card that was the very best in the GTX 10 series and cost a total of 7600 kroner at launch 2.5 years ago.

Compared to the card it replaced directly, i.e., GTX 1060 6GB, RTX 2060 provides about 59 percent better when we use the most demanding 1440p resolution. However, it is part of the story that the price for the middle-class card has increased by about NOK 1000, or 35 percent, in the new generation. Thus, the RTX 2060 is much closer to the GTX 2070 launch price, which becomes a more natural comparison candidate.

But fortunately for the RTX 2060, we see that it has reasonable control also on the cards from the previous generation as it is closer in launch price too. Compared to the GTX 1070, it is 23 percent faster, and compared to the more expensive GTX 1070 Ti (also without DLSS or beam tracking capabilities), there is still a safe margin of 11 percent.

The most impressive, however, is, as we mentioned, that the RTX 2060 is fighting for the space of the GTX 1080, which is referred to as one of the previous generation's two enthusiasts. Now it doesn't quite get up, but the distinction between them is a paltry 3 percent, and we would say that the performance for all practical tasks will be perceived as identical.

RTX 2060 Gaming Z
We have compared Nvidia's own Founders Edition with MSIS most elaborate candidate, called Gaming Z, to about 600 kroner more. Our measurements show that the latter is only 1.6 to 1.8 percent faster out of the box in Full HD and 1440p resolution, respectively.

Although the difference is small and both the GPU in the Gaming Z and the Nvidia Founders Edition card work at a maximum of 1965 MHz, we can probably put some of the blame on the Gaming Z-GPU on average to work a few dozen hertz faster. Maybe thanks to better cooling, something we'll come back to.

The performance cannot be viewed in isolation. For graphics cards, it must be seen in the context of price, and when you do, it becomes clear that the RTX 2060 cannot accurately be accused of giving little value for money.

Compared to the competitors and the rest of the cards on the market, the cheapest RTX 2060 FE card from Nvidia delivers high performance per penny. At today's price of approximately NOK 3,800, you pay an average of a five-app per FPS at 1440p resolution. To put it in context, new GTX 1080 owners, with similar performance as RTX 2060, had to spend as much as NOK 72 per FPS at the same resolution.

We also note that none of AMD's graphics cards, be they the RX 590 from the middle class, or the Vega 56 from the enthusiast class, can beat Nvidia's new mid-range card with value for money.

When it comes to MSIS Gaming Z, it costs about 16 percent more than Nvidia's Founders Edition, which can be quite OK if it provides significantly lower temperatures and less noise. From a performance perspective, however, it does not pay to go for this card even if it is a little faster. Your cost also increases by 14 percent per FPS with this card.
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