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Wednesday, 13 March 2019


MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X Review

The MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X - Great Performance, Heavy Price Tag!

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 make it a card as we knew them before RTX came around. Thanks to MSI India we have their flagship in the range, the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X, with us on the table for review.

Priced in at $310 or ₹31,990 in India this card is as expensive as any GTX 1660 Ti gets today! Equipped with GDDR6 memory working in at 6000Mhz pushing through a 192 bit bus the GTX 1660 Ti comes with 1536 shader cores working along the TU116 GPU, this card has 25% less shader units than the RTX 2060 so expect lower performance here. On the bright side it is factory overclocked hence reaches upto 1875Mhz on the clock.

What's in the Box!? 

MSI has brought the GTX 1660 Ti 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 Ti 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 Ti 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 Ti 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 Ti 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 Ti 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 1500Mhz on the clock and 1500Mhz on the memory with boost reaching 1965Mhz courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0

For testing the MSI GTX 1660 Ti 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 Ti 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 Ti 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 130Mhz increase on the clock along with a 1000Mhz on the memory and anything more than that mostly resulted in crash, system freezes or poor results so we settled down to 1630Mhz on the clock and 2085Mhz as the boost frequency which kept us in the 2025Mhz to 2040Mhz 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

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

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 Ti Gaming X runs cooler than most other GTX 1660 Ti 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 Verdict

Nvidia finally brought out something to the table that is near perfect and fitting to be a successor of the previous 10 series. The card offers exactly what one expects from a new launch and gives a great price to performance ration which is sweetened by the fact that it does what its promises to do, offering great rasterization in-game performance. Coming to the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X in hand we have a winner in its own right without a shadow of a doubt, the card is absolutely a slayer in almost every area!
The card looks great with its all new gun metal stealth design and the new Torx 3.0 fans do their job well keeping the card cool and quiet hence sustaining higher and stable clocks. For a near $300 card we get the best 1080p performance we've seen in a while for this price where the GTX 1660 Ti offers GTX 1070 like performance at lower price and power draw. Its a great card for professional eSport players who value high refresh rates at full HD for their games and even for those who are looking for a card that can drive their games at that magical 60FPS on a 1440p display across a wide variety of titles with a minor tweak in the settings.
Overclocking wise I'm quite impressed as its easy to dial the frequencies up even with that 107% power limit and we can get even better performance without heating up the card too much so noise or ventilation isn't a factor to count in here. The only down side on the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X is its price point that makes it one of the most expensive 1660 Tis in the market and it hovers dangerously close to the RTX 2060 price tag which offers superior raw gaming performance not to mention the benefits of ray tracing no matter how broke that might be right now!
"MSI has done a superb job in crafting the GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X with cool industrial looks, efficient cooling solution and great software support which is only plagued by its high price tag. So if you want a card with subtle looks and RGB lights that offers blistering fast performance right out of the box for high refresh rate 1080p panels then the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X is the card for you!"

Pros - 

  • Solid Build Quality 
  • Subtle RGB implementation 
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Good 1440p performance
  • Runs cool and quite
  • Meant for high refresh rate 1080p panels

Cons - 

  • Price tag is on the higher side
I give it a 8/10 earning our Gold Award!

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