MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X - All hail to the new 1080p king!
In context to Ray Tracing a wise man once said that, It works, but apparently the consumers didn't think like that & the lost in market share for Nvidia last year is a blatant proof of that hence proving that It just doesn't work! The RTX series cards have been a hard pill to swallow for everyone and definitely not received well by consumers who just are not ready to shell that extra dime for Ray Tracing and DLSS that the new Turing architecture from Nvidia cards offers. A hollow promise at the launch and then poorly implemented feature set in games like BF V that took away performance for a few extra reflections on the screen followed by a mostly blurry DLSS in Metro Exodus just didn't work for the paying consumers hence the need for a GTX card was needed more than ever and Nvidia finally just did that. Recently they came up with the GTX 1660 Ti 6GB graphics card that is based on the same Turing architecture and uses a 6GB of GDDR6 memory minus all the Tensor and RT cores that makes it a card as we knew them before RTX came around & performed as one would expect it to be if you go through our review on the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X.
But this card isn't enough as it still is a bit higher on the price tag and not truly a direct competition to the RX 590 from AMD simply due to its price so here we are today with the newly fresh out of the oven MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X lying on the table for review!
Priced in at $250 or ₹27,800 in India the card is a direct head on collider to the RX 590 which utilizes the same TU116 GPU at its core as the GTX 1660 Ti but with a few washed down features to bring down the cost and hopefully not the performance. At its heart it is powered by the TU116 based on the Turing architecture and has 6GB of GDDR5 memory working at 8Gb/s which also marks the first Turing card carrying a GDDR5 memory rather than the newer GDDR6. Having 1408 CUDA cores makes it 8% lesser than those in the GTX 1660 Ti, all of this has a boost clock of 1860Mhz which is way past the factory specifications.
What's in the Box!?
MSI has brought the GTX 1660 Gaming X in a simple and sleek packaging with a thin cardboard box which carries black as the main color theme. We have a large MSI logo along with the card image in the center and the product name at eh bottom left corner with a highlight on the Twin Frozr 7 cooler implementation. And of-course the familiar GeForce GTX logo is back on the bottom right corner.
At the back you'll mostly find MSI telling you as much as they can about their new cooler and the Torx 3.0 fans and how the card is fast aswell as decorated with RGB lights all over the shroud.
Inside the box we are greeted with a humble yet adequate number of accessories, we get a bunch of Luck the Dragon stickers, a user guide, a booklet on how to install the graphics card, a thank you note, a driver CD and the actual card itself.
A Closer Look
MSI has ditched their red and black color scheme with the new RTX series cards and the same goes for the GTX 1660 aswell which comes in a black and grey color scheme and looks pretty sleek for a card of its stature and price point.
The card even though is quite stealthy with its gun metal color scheme but you can still see that its original shroud design is from the previous generation only with a few minute changes here and there. It has a B2 bomber plane feel to it and the trims around the new fans have RGB strips that can be easily controlled via the MSI Mystic Lights software.
Measuring in at 247x127x46 mm this is a small card but does come with a backplate which has a brushed aluminum finish to it giving it that extra bit of premium feel that is a must for the price tag for which this card comes at. But without a doubt this backplate is one of the most elegant ones out there and I personally love it since its that portion of the card which would be visible in most chassis.
Underneath you won't see any big heat pipes protruding outside the shroud and we have only three 6mm heatpipes running in and out of the heatsink which should be adequate to cool the TU116 chip underneath especially with the new Torx 3.0 fans on top which are 90mm each and going by their impressive past record should do just fine.
For power the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X relies on a single 8-pin PCIe power connector which gives it a 225W power draw capacity on paper however Nvidia even though without any reference model out there rates the GTX 1660 at 120W and same is the case with this one too making it an immensely power efficient card. However some AIBs can by default bump this limit by 10W or so.
The IO shield on the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X has four ports namely as one HDMI 2.0a port and three DisplayPorts 1.4 that are 1.4a ready hence can support upto 8K 60Hz display. The DVI port is long gone which makes this card both slim and also leaves more room for exhaust vents which might be a part of MSI's mastering aerodynamics plan with this card.
Benchmarks and Overclocking
Installing the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X was easy and it powered up like a breeze once we booted up the system. Since this is a very short card one won't have any issues when installing it in most to any case out there which is how it should be for a mainstream card.
GPUZ reported the correct frequencies with 1530Mhz on the clock and 2001Mhz on the memory with boost reaching 1995Mhz courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0
For testing the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X graphics card our new test bench was as follows -
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X @3.9Ghz
Motherboard: Asus X370 Crosshair VI Hero
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB 3200Mhz
Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
Graphics Card: MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X
Storage: Kingston A400 256GB
Secondary Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W
Case: Cooler Master H500M
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Sleeved Cables: TweakedPC
Overclocking any Turning architecture card right now is not the easiest of affairs in terms of reaching high frequencies as Nvidia has locked the power target on these cards which is 107% in case of the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X. This greatly limits one to add more numbers to the frequency to the GPU or the memory due to deficiency of maximum power supplied. My sample isn't the best out of the lot and hence I could only manage a 140Mhz increase on the clock along with a 950Mhz on the memory and anything more than that mostly resulted in crash, system freezes or poor results so we settled down to 1670Mhz on the clock and 2476Mhz as the boost frequency which kept us in the 2100Mhz to 2145Mhz range in game courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0 at default fan curve.
3DMark Fire Strike & Time Spy
Fire Strike and Time Spy by 3D Mark is a test suit that plays a cinematic scene to determine the FPS, GPU temperature and CPU temperature scaling everything via a cumulative score. It is a great tool to benchmark your GPU since the render is mostly GPU & memory dependent.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Eidos Montréal in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It continues the narrative from the 2015 game Rise of the Tomb Raider and is the twelfth mainline entry in the Tomb Raider series.
Based off the Dynamics' proprietary Foundation engine like its predecessor SOTTR is a visual treat and heavily optimized for PC platform. We are running it at Highest graphical preset in DX12 mode benchmarked using the game's build in tool.
Far Cry New Dawn
Far Cry New Dawn uses an enhanced version of the Dunia 2 engine. Unlike its predecessor the game now uses DirectX 12 API, the development team have optimized the game extensively to take advantage of hardware capabilities. Furthermore, Far Cry New Dawn is a testament to achieving proper visual fidelity while keeping overall polygon count in check. Testing is done at Ultra preset using the build in benchmark to keep the results standardized.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a 2018 action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It is the eleventh major installment, and twentieth overall, in the Assassin's Creed series and the successor to 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins.
Using the AnvilNext 2.0 graphics engine the game though better optimized than Origin is still very taxing even on the best of systems out there. We are running the game's build in benchmark at Ultra presets.
Battlefield V is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA DICE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield V is the sixteenth installment in the Battlefield series.
Masking use of the Frostbite 3 engine the game is extremely beautiful both in terms of graphics and story-line, I've tested the game in D3D12 mode at maxed out settings on full HD resolution.
Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter video game developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. Not only is this the first game ever to implement ray tracing global illumination and DLSS simultaneously but this game can beat any modern day PC hardware to its knees and can rightfully be called the present day Crysis. We are running it at Ultra presets with Hairworks on and Tessellation set to full using the game's build in benchmarking tool.
The MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X runs cooler than most other GTX 1660 cards out there mainly due to the dense fin stack along with the two Torx 3.0 fans that are more than adequate to cool a card of this category with a 120W TDP rating hence, keeping it well off the thermal throttling mark when at stock or manually overclocked even when its inside a closed chassis such as the Cooler Master H500M and not on an open test bench. The card was allowed to run with the default fan curve & the temperature readings are taken in a strictly controlled environment with ambient temperature at 25°C.
My VerdictNvidia has hit the ball out of the park with the GTX 1660, there you go I said it! Priced in at a baseline of $199 this is exactly what everyone expected and more so wanted so desperately in times when graphics card prices seem to be going upward ever since the mining era especially when you consider the budget gamer who's looking for an upgrade or building a new system from scratch.
With that being said the card in hand today, the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X does everything that Nvidia promises for a GTX 1660 and even more thanks to all the bells and whistles that MSI has included with this card out of the box. With an overclocked core and great overclocking headroom thanks to its extremely competent cooling arrangement the MSI GTX 1660 is a beast in its own right that has clearly handled every modern AAA titles with ease on full HD resolution and can even drive through at ease in the 1440p realm with minor tweaking in the settings making it a must have for every gamer on budget.
All is nice and dandy till you look at the price tag that MSI has put on the GTX 1660 GAming X making it one of the most expensive GTX 1660 cards out there and dangerously hovers around the starting price range of the GTX 1660 Ti which obviously offers better performance even if you go for the base models.
"MSI has found itself a winner in form of the GTX 1660 Gaming X creating the perfect card for a budget gamer who wants to game at 1080p in all its glory & doesn't mind shelling a little extra for all the add-on features that the card comes with both in terms of stealthy aesthetics & beefed up performance."
- Solid Build Quality
- Subtle RGB implementation
- Overclocked out of the box
- Great 1080p performance
- Runs cool and quite
- Extremely power efficient
- Price tag is on the higher side