With every new generation of graphics cards from Nvidia, we always see one GPU in the series get a massive power bump that it becomes almost unrecognizable from its predecessors. Last go around, it was the Nvidia GTX 1070 that became a whole new beast, and now it’s the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060’s turn.
The Nvidia RTX 2060 has come a long way from being the meager, plasticky middle child of Nvidia’s GPU lineup. This new GPU has full mastered Full HD and QHD gaming, can deliver a playable 4K experience and will even let you bask in the glory of Nvidia’s ray traced future.
Yes, the card comes at a slight price bump over its predecessor, but it’s a price we’d happily pay for what is arguably Nvidia’s best graphics card.
Pricing and availability
As we expected, the new Nvidia RTX 2060 comes at a higher $349 (£329, AU$599) price than the $299 (£249, AU$499) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 it’s replacing. Thankfully, that isn’t nearly as severe a price bump as we’ve seen on the company’s higher-end GPUs.
Interestingly, the Nvidia hasn’t announced the RTX 2060 with multiple price points, like the other Turing cards. Prices will simply start at $349 (£329, AU$599), leaving third-party partners to create more affordable or expensive cards on their own whim.
Despite the higher price, this card punches well above its weight and feels more like a replacement for the $449 (£419, AU$759) Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti. It still falters behind its bigger brother, the $499 (about £380, AU$690) Nvidia RTX 2070, but puts AMD’s $399 (£379, AU$679) Radeon RX Vega 56 and $279 (£249, AU$425) XFX Radeon RX 590 Fatboy in their place.
Features and chipset
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 is quite the step up from its predecessor. Equipped with 6GB of the latest 14Gbps GDDR6 video memory and 50% more CUDA cores, you’re looking at a much more capable graphics card. Whereas the Nvidia GTX 1060 was designed for 1080p gaming and could scrape by playing some games at 1,440p, the RTX 2060 has mastered high-frame rate Full HD gaming, delivers excellent 1440p results and even playable 4K gaming hovering around 30 frames per second (fps).
This is all largely thanks to the RTX 2060 being based on a modified version of the Turing TU106 GPU used in the GeForce RTX 2070. While this technically means you’re getting a cutdown version of a high-end graphics card, most of its power still carries over and is the very reason why this new ‘mid-range’ card is so capable.
The only thing we’re not wild about is the fact that Nvidia has decided not to include an NVLink connector or any form of SLI support on the RTX 2060. This means users will have to buy a much more expensive RTX 2070 or RTX 2080 – rather than plugging in another RTX 2060 – if they want to inject some more graphical oomph into their gaming PC.
Test system specs
CPU: 3.7Ghz Intel Core i7-8700K (hexa-core, 12MB cache, up to 4.7GHz)
RAM: 32GB Vengeance LED DDR4 (3,200MHz)
Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
Power Supply: Corsiar RM850x
Storage: 512GB Samsung 960 Pro M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4)
Cooling: Thermaltake Floe Riing 360 TT Premium Edition
Case: Corsair Crystal Series 570X RGB
Operating system: Windows 10
In our synthetic benchmark tests, the Nvidia RTX 2060 not only tops its predecessor, but even higher-tier GPUs of the last generation, like the Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti. The only graphics cards to top the Nvidia RTX 2060 are the substantially more expensive Nvidia RTX 2070 and AMD Radeon RX Vega 56. Until AMD announces new graphics cards, you won’t find another mid-range graphics card more powerful than this.
All this performance also translates to great gaming experiences as well. The Nvidia RTX 2060 is more than powerful enough to keep frame rates well north of 60fps in Full HD gaming, which will be music to the ears of high-refresh-rate monitor owners. Meanwhile, it even delivers playable 4K gaming that hovers close to 30 fps in our benchmarks.
Despite having the smallest complement of RT and Tensor Cores in the Turing family thus far, the RTX 2060 can still pull off all of the Turing architecture’s new tricks including DLSS and ray-tracing. In fact, this GPU can play Battlefield V at a consistent 70-75fps with the game running at 1080p with Ultra quality settings and ray tracing.
Unfortunately, tuning up the fidelity to 2,560 x 1,440 drops the frame rate to 45-40fps if left on Ultra quality settings and ray tracing. However, 4K with all the same settings is still surprisingly somewhat playable with the frame rate hovering around 25fps.
From our testing, we can also see the new dual fan cooler works well at keeping the RTX 2060 running much more efficiently than the previous Pascal-series cards.
Although it’s disappointing that Nvidia has yet again raised the price of PC gaming with the RTX 2060, it’s hard to argue against its stunning performance. This new mid-range graphics card now demolishes 1080p gaming, fully delivers on 1440p experiences and can even play games at 4K (if you don’t mind the more pedestrian frame rate of 30 fps).
The Nvidia RTX 2060 is 50 bucks more expensive than the GPU it replaces, but we’d happily save up a little longer and get this card over the slowly disappearing GTX 1060 – as well as the GTX 1070 and GTX 1070 Ti – because of how much more capable and long-lasting it will be. This graphics card can even give users a taste of the new ray tracing future Nvidia is pushing, though, not to the uncompromising level of the company’s higher-end cards.
Users on a tighter budget may be better served by the myriad versions of the Radeon RX 590, if they’re okay with just gaming at a Full HD resolution. Otherwise, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 currently stands unchallenged as the best mid-range graphics card you can buy.
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