This year at CES Nvidia introduced more than self-driving car technology. They announced their latest video card, the RTX 2060. The RTX 2060 continues to fill in the RTX lineup which started months ago with the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 launch. The RTX 2070 came in October and things have been fairly quiet from Nvidia. But the rumor mill has been teasing the RTX 2060 for a while now. The RTX 2060 is based on the same TU106 GPU as the RTX 2070, only cut down slightly from 15 SMs to 10 SMs. While we are a little late to the party, we do have the RTX 2060 Founders Edition in hand and today I’m going to check it out and see how it compares to the previous RTX cards and check out the performance of the RTX 2060 to see if this is the card you should be picking up in your tax time builds.
Product Name: Nvidia RTX 2060 Founders Edition
Review Sample Provided by: Nvidia
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
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In addition to the specifications, I also have a copy of our GPUz. This is to document the BIOS revision used during testing as well as the driver. I tested with the 417.71 driver which is a normal launch driver, not a pre-launch driver. Beyond that, you can see that the card is running at the expected clock speeds for the boost, base, and memory clocks.
Well, this is a Founders Edition card so the packaging hasn’t really changed much. In fact other than the 2060 line at the bottom this could be the same box as any of the RTX Founders Edition cards or the older 10 series cards with just the background changed. The best part about Founders Edition boxes though is they are extremely simple. You have the normal RTX branding wrapped around from the front to the back and that’s about it.
When you pull the top off you will find the card sitting comfortably in its nice foam tray that is carved out in the base of the box. Looking into the top there are foam straps that keep the card from moving around as well and keep is safe during transport. The bright green base has the “Inspired by Gamers, Built by Nvidia” motto on it. The card has a plastic wrap on it that is fully transparent so when you open the box the card isn’t hidden away. Then behind the card, there is a pullout tray. Inside it just has a quick start guide with the RTX 2060 model name on it and then a general support guide that comes with all of the RTX cards. They don’t ship it with any power or display adapters, in fact, the left part of the box where those things normally are has a panel glued in to cover it up.
Card Layout and Photos
Like the previous RTX cards, Nvidia went with the same dual axial fan design on the RTX 2060 Founders Edition card. In fact, when you first see the card there aren’t any obvious differences from the original RTX 2080 cards. You have the same black area in the middle with the model name in chrome letters. The fan design is the same and even has that same machined aluminum cap that Nvidia has used on all of their designs for a few generations now. It wasn’t until I put the RTX 2080 next to the RTX 2060 that you can see that the card is shorter. It isn’t, however, any shorter than the RTX 2070, they share the exact same cooler size and design with the exception of the model name in the middle.
Now that Founders Edition cards are using axial fans that blow down on the PCB it also means that all of that warm air now is venting into your case. On this design, you can see the ventilation on the top edge of the card and on the bottom. This does give us a chance to check out the cooling though. I love that Nvidia went as far to make sure the heatsink has a black finish to blend in. The heatsink runs the full length of the card. They do use heatpipes to pull heat from the GPU out across the long heatsink, but unlike the AIB cards, Nvidia kept the heatpipes hidden up under the heatsink close to the middle so they aren’t visible from the top or bottom. Again, all to keep that clean design. The top edge of the card does have the same Geforce RTX branding as the other RTX cards and once again it is backlit with just green lighting. I still love the new logos material though, the clear plastic looks like chrome when not lit up which matches the branding on the front between the fans. Also, I noticed our specific card has an odd bend to it, you can see it from both the top and bottom views.
As for the end of the card, the all metal fan shroud wraps around here properly and they have two mounting points to be able to secure the card to prevent GPU sag. This is also where they put the power connection, just like on the RTX 2070. Remember other than the branding on the front this cooler is basically the same. With the power facing this direction it does mean that the card needs additional space as the end, but being shorter than the RTX 2080 it should have that in most cases, tighter cases may not work. It does also mean that tighter cases as far as height goes will work better though now that the power isn’t facing up that direction. As for power, even with the lower TDP of 160 watts for the RTX 2060, they still went with the same 8-pin power connection.
You could kind of see it on the end of the card, but the backplate for the RTX 2060 Founders Edition wraps around the end and is full coverage on the back. It has the same silver finish that all of the RTX Founders Edition cards have had and I’m still not sold on this color. I preferred the black backplates from the past, mostly because most PCs have black interiors. So this card is going to stand out in a traditional case where the backplate faces up. It does have another chrome RTX 2060 logo here in the middle with groves in the backplate going around it. Then down on the end, they have all of the normal regulatory logos as well as the serial number and barcode on stickers. Stuff that would normally be on the PCB but isn’t visible with the backplate.
Again like the rest of the card on the exterior, the PCI bracket has the same configuration as the RTX 2070 Founders Edition. That means you get two DisplayPort connections and one HDMI. They traded the third DisplayPort to bring back the DVI. This is really important in this price range because a lot of people are still running older DVI monitors. Then the last connection is down in the bottom right corner, the tiny Type-C connection. This is a VirtualLink connection for future VR headsets. The idea here is that this is able to push the display connection, USB, and additional power all at the same time. The goal is to be able to in the future just plug your headset right in and not need a control box like they all need right now. The bracket itself is blacked out, which looks amazing when installed and it has an Nvidia logo printed on it as well. There is a little bit of ventilation with holes in the bottom 2/3rds of the bracket but remember the new cooler design isn’t pushing air this way very much anyhow.
When you pull that all metal shroud off as well as the cooler. Up under all of that, you will actually find a shorter PCB than the length of the card. This isn’t the first time Nvidia has gone this direction. The RTX 2070 did the same thing and they did it with the GXT 1060, GTX 960, and GTX 760 as well. With the GTX 1060, they did introduce a new twist where they ran pigtails over and moved the power connection to the end of the card. They did the same thing on the RTX 2070 and again here, only with it facing out the end, not the top. Not everyone you should this is going to love this design and it is without a doubt a potential point of failure but I don’t think it has been an issue with the 2070 yet or an issue with the GXT 1060 FE cards as well. As for the PCB layout, well you have the GPU offset to the left above the PCIe connection and to its left and above it the 6 DDR6 chips to reach the six gigs of VRAM. They run through a 192-bit interface, which is one of the big differences between the RTX 2060 and the RTX 2070, that and the RTX 2060 only uses 2/3rd of the TU106 GPU. Then over on the right, you have the VRM with the power pigtail and below that the connection for the cooler's fans and lighting.
It's been pointed out with all of the RTX cards, but they do have at least some RGB capabilities, some people have even had their cards accidentally have red or orange lighting. But the stock lighting is locked as the normal Nvidia green. While it looks good, this is still one of the big things that I think could be improved. Green doesn’t go with every build. That said it is just the GeForce RTX logo on the top edge of the card as you can see in the photo below.
Test Rig and Procedures
Our Test Rig Configuration (with affiliate links)
CPU - Intel i9-7960X
Motherboard - Asus ROG Rampage VI Apex
Memory - HyperX DDR4 Predator 3000MHz
Storage - Kingston A1000 960GB M.2 SSD
Cooling - Noctua NH-U12S
Power Supply - Corsair AX1200w
Case - Primochill Wetbench
To start off my testing I always go with a few of my preferred synthetic benchmarks. They don’t give direct translations to expected in game FPS, but they are consistent and give us a good chance to compare card to card performance. My first synthetic tests were in 3DMark where I tested using a few different benchmarks. The Fire Strike benchmark I tested at all three detail settings. At the performance setting the RTX 2060, Founders Edition came in between the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1070 Ti with it being a little closer to the Ti. But as the settings went higher in the Extreme and Ultra tests it dropped down just below the GTX 1070 This put it still ahead of the GTX 1060 and the RX590 as well.
Still, in 3DMark I then moved over to Time Spy tests, this is the DirectX 12 benchmark and it currently has two detail settings. Al of the RTX cards have performed much better in DX12 games and the RTX 2060 was no different here. In the base Time Spy benchmark, the RTX 2060 Founders Edition came in just 126 points below the RX Vega 64 and above the GTX 1080 FE. Going up to the Extreme setting it was again above the GTX 1080 FE only this time it fell between that and the overclocked 11Gbps memory GTX 1080.
My last 3DMark benchmark was the newest addition, their Port Royal benchmark. This is a Ray Tracing specific benchmark that uses Microsoft’s DirectX Raytracing or DXR. It isn’t Nvidia specific, but currently, only the RTX cards support it. But this does finally give us a good way to directly compare ray tracing performance. The order of the cards in the graph below isn’t a shock at all, but I was surprised to see the 2080 Ti pull ahead as much as it did. Beyond that Nvidia has each of its models evenly spaced apart.
My last set of synthetic benchmarks are done in the Unigine based Superposition benchmark. Here I tested using medium and extreme detail settings at 1080 and then again at 4k and 8k resolutions to take a look at ultra high resolutions. At 1080p medium the RTX 2060 FE came in right in between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1070 Ti, again being much closer to the 1070 Ti. But at 1080p extreme detail, it pulled ahead of both the 1070 Ti and the GTX 1080. At 4k and 8k it was back to running just behind the 1070 Ti due to its 6GB memory capacity vs the 8GB VRAM in the 1070 Ti.
Now for VR benchmarks, there aren’t too many tests available, but I did run the SteamVR benchmark which is basically useless now that even Nvidia’s xx60 card can reach 11, but it does still show the jump in performance compared to the GTX 1060 and RX590. Most of my focus was on VRMark where I have tested using all three benchmarks. I ran all three tests which they are all called rooms. The Orange room test is similar to SteamVR in that it isn’t very demanding so here all of the cards tested pass the 109 target FPS mark, but the RTX 2060 did perform well here. The Cyan room benchmark is my favorite because it tests today's performance in ultra-high detail. Here the RTX 2060 again passed the 109 mark by a good margin but more importantly it came in ahead of all of the 10 series GTX cards with just the higher end RTX cards competing and the Vega 64 and RX590 Crossfire being up in the same range. Then the last test was Blue Room which is future looking, this is what all of the cards are sorted by and here the RTX 2060 comes in just below the GTX 1080 11Gbps.
Now we finally get into the in game performance and that is the main reason people pick up a new video card. To test things out I ran through our new benchmark suite that tests 12 games at three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4k). I also slipped in a few variations on the same games for comparisons like DX11 to DX12, OpenGL to Vulkan, and a couple of games are just tested at their highest setting and lower but still high detail options to show the performance difference when things are turned down slightly. In total, each video card is tested 54 times and that makes for a huge mess of graphs when you put them all together. To help with that I like to start off with these overall playability graphs that take all of the results and give an easier to read the result. I have one for each of the three resolutions and each is broken up into four FPS ranges. Under 30 FPS is considered unplayable, over 30 is playable but not ideal, over 60 is the sweet spot, and then over 120 FPS is for high refresh rate monitors. This covers all of the games tested except Final Fantasy XV that we have a score rather than an FPS because they like to be different.
So how did the RTX 2060 Founders Edition perform? Well at 1080p it had three games come in over 120 FPS, 12 over 60, and just two under 30 FPS. With just two games barely falling under 30 FPS at their highest settings specifically Wildlands and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided where their lower detail settings performed better. 1440p was similar, 2 games came in over 120 FPS and 11 were in the 60+ range. Four were down under 30 FPS though. This is where that 6GB of VRAM becomes a limitation, ultra-high detail settings in a few games start to fill that up, especially as the resolution goes up. Even with that, the number of games that are playable at 1440p is still impressive. Then at 4k things really fall off the rails with just two games being smooth at 60+, 12 are playable but not smooth in the 30+ range, then three are under 30 and not really playable at all.
Before diving into all of the testing, I wanted to take a look at Final Fantasy. This wasn’t included in our FPS range results because the benchmark only provides a score, not an any average FPS results. That said at 1080p the RTX 2060 came in just below the GTX 1080 FE and the GTX 1070 Ti in all three resolutions. I also tested using DLSS vs TAA at 4k to get a look at the potential performance improvement that DLSS can provide when taking advantage of those extra Tensor cores that all of the RTX cards have.
Of course, I have all of the actual performance numbers from the rest of the games tested. It is a lot of data to take in, so you might be just as crazy as me if you are sorting through it all. But when you flip through them the one thing you will notice is the RTX 2060 Founders Edition trades places with the GTX 1070 Ti often. The 2060 FE comes in ahead of the GTX 1080 in Doom and Deus Ex but on average comes in just a touch ahead of the GTX 1070 Ti. Everything is playable to ultra smooth in the 120+ range at 1080p, 1440p is also in range but a few games just fall on their face when maxing out that 6GB VRAM and in those games you will most likely need to turn the detail down just slightly.
While most of you are looking at video cards for gaming performance, there are always a few that need them for work or hobbies or you might do both, gaming and various PC workloads that take advantage of GPU Compute. So I like to take a look at compute performance as well. My first test is using Passmark’s Performance Test 9 wherein their GPU test suite I run just the GPU Compute test. Here the RTX 2060 came in lower than the GTX 1070 which it outperformed in all of the gaming tests but also not far behind the stock clocked RTX 2070 as well.
My next test is in Cinegy where their benchmark tests rendering performance across a very high number of file formats and resolutions. The overall average is where they get their score. Now a few of their tests still don’t work with RTX cards so the RTX cards come in a little lower than they should here. It is even worse for AMD cards, there are enough Nvidia focused file formats that fail on the AMD cards that they don’t compile a score at all.
So Blender is one of the most popular compute benchmarks both for GPUs and CPUs and it is also a hugely popular 3D rendering program. Here I use the stock benchmark which tests using two tests, timed so the lower the score the better. In the past, this didn’t run with RTX cards so I have had to skip it, but I found that you can download the benchmark and then replace the blender program files inside with the latest beta build that does support RTX. I did this to finally get RTX results, hopefully soon the RTX support will reach the normal build and with that the benchmark as well. That said the RTX 2060 did amazing here, outperforming the GTX 1080 Ti, but also look at the other RTX cards now that we can see their performance as well. The 2080 Ti dominates here!
I have also added Basemark’s new GPU test into our suite where I run the same test across DX12, OpenGL, and Vulkan with Vulkan performance on all of the RTX cards being well ahead of the others.
Last but not least is the Geekbench 4 GPU Compute test done with OpenGL. With just the RTX cards tested so far the results aren’t a big surprise, but are a good reference.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
Now gaming performance (or compute performance) is the most important aspect of picking out what card you need. But that really only gets you to which GPU you need. From there you still need to pick out a card model and that is where some of our other benchmarking comes into play. Depending on your usage power, noise, and temperatures will play different roles in your decision.
So this is where I take a look at all three. My first tests take a look at power usage. For aftermarket cards, this will change depending on how they overclock the card and it also plays a role in temperatures as well. But for now, I’m just curious where the RTX 2060 stands compared to its overall performance. I test using two different situations, one I run 3DMark Fire Strike using the combined load test that puts a game like load on the CPU and GPU. Here the RTX 2060 and the rest of the test bench pulled 365 watts through the Kill-A-Watt. This was basically right there with the GTX 1070 Ti which the RTX 2060 performs right with and sometimes just above in our testing. For comparison, the much slower RX590 is another 24 watts higher. In my second test, I use AIDA64’s stress test to load the video card up without loading the rest of the system and check the wattage usage there. Again the 1070 Ti was right with the RTX 2060 with the Founders Edition pulling 259 watts here.
Next, I take a look at the fan noise levels. I test by using a decibel meter setup 18 inches away from the test system at a 45-degree angle from the fan side of the GPU. For consistency, I test at 50% and 100% fan speeds. Keep in mind this isn’t testing in game noise levels, I am only looking at how loud the fans are in general. In game, testing is inconsistent and depends on the room temperature, how demanding the game is, etc. Considering the RTX 2060 Founders Edition has the same cooler design as the RTX 2070 I wasn’t at all surprised to see that they performed similarly. Compared to the last generation of Founders Editions they were louder at full speed because of the addition of a second fan, but as you can see in the second graph the fan speeds have come down slightly.
For temperature testing, I went back to AIDA64 again to put the RTX 2060 FE under a solid load. I tested twice, once with the stock fan profile and then again with the fans cranked up to 100%. Letting the card cool down in between each test. Each test was run for 30 minutes after confirming that the temperature rise had leveled off. At stock fan speeds the RTX 2060 performed relatively well, especially when compared to the older blower style cards. I reached 65 degrees, as you can see through the aftermarket cards all still top this chart. The 100% fan speed test is just to see how much room is left for cooling performance. Here the RTX 2060 FE only reached 46 degrees showing the cooler designed for the RTX 2070 when run on the RTX 2060 has a lot of headroom. This can be used for overclocking, or it is also an indication that the fan won’t need to run as often or as fast keeping the noise down.
While doing the stock fan profile temperature testing I also got out our thermal imaging camera to take a look at how the RTX 2060 Founders Edition was looking and to look for any hot spots. On the fan side, you can see that the left side of the fans is doing a little better of a job of cooling down the heatsink behind it. This makes sense though because on the right side of the left fan it has the GPU under it. The right fan on the other hand actually is above the gap where there isn’t a PCB, I wonder if an opening in the backplate here might help with cooling in that area. Up on the top edge, you can see where a lot of the hot air is venting, especially over on the GPU side of the card. Then around on the back, the temperatures were relatively consistent with it just getting a little warmer behind the GPU but you can see that even that heat is spread out across a larger area on the thick metal backplate. The only oddity here was over by the PCI bracket where there was a warm rectangle. I thought maybe this was an infrared issue where it was more reflective (it has to be set up to the surface finish) but actually, I think it is because that section is cut into the backplate and is thinner.
Overall and Final Verdict
Well like I said at the start of this review, I am WAY late to the RTX 2060 review so a lot of this might not be a huge surprise to you guys. But I am excited to finally run the RTX 2060 Founders Edition through our tests to confirm what others have been saying. The RTX 2060 is actually a nice little step up. I have to mention it again as I have in all of our RTX FE reviews. But it looks like Nvidia has actually adjusted their product lineup a little with the RTX launch. In the past xx60 cards compare to new xx60 cards and all the way up through the product stack. But The RTX 2060 is better compared to the GTX 1070 price wise. With that in mind, it makes sense that the RTX 2060 is now competing and in a lot of situations beating the GTX 1070 Ti. It is worlds better than the GTX 1060 as well of course. All of that actually makes this an amazing 1080p card but 1440p performance wasn’t that bad as well. What I ran into was most situations if it played well at the highest detail at 1080p, 1440p also performed well. The real limitation is with the 6GB of VRAM and to a lesser extent the 192-bit memory interface. I ran into a few games that used more VRAM than that, even at 1080p with their detail turned all the way up. Performance was great as long as I avoided that situation and most games are good about warning when that comes up.
The Founders Edition shares the exact same cooler as the RTX 2070 FE which I liked. That means you get the same thick metal construction on the fan shroud and the backplate. One thing Nvidia makes sure of is that you feel like you are getting a quality part when you get their cards in your hands. The cooler performance wasn’t as good as you can expect from aftermarket cards, but it was better than the old Founders Edition cards by a good margin and because this shares the same cooler as the RTX 2070 the RTX 2060 FE actually has a lot of headroom left in it. Really my only complaint with the Founders Edition design is with them still not including RGB support with the logo up on the top edge of the card. I’m not asking to have 50 lights all over the place, but I really would like to be able to pick another color that matches my build. Even if I had to agree that I will never be as cool as Jenson is in his leather jackets to turn on the option.
Like with the other RTX cards, the RTX 2060 is still limited by the number of games available that support DLSS and RTX which really are two huge areas where the card has untapped performance available. Right now we are left to mostly compare the cards to standard games, but as the Final Fantasy XV testing I did showed, DLSS can increase performance significantly and Ray Tracing is awesome in its own right. But right now it is mostly just Battlefield V and a few demos that support it. Anthem is coming with support for both. Even better though is Nvidia gives you the option to pick from the two with a free game. I love seeing new top-level games being included for free and in this situation, it means anyone who picks up an RTX card will at least have one game right away that they can use the new features on.
The included game helps with the price, though AMD has an even bigger game bundle going on right now. But even without the free game. The RTX 2060 Founders Edition is available for $349. This is lined up with the lowest priced aftermarket cards, and they don’t have a stock vs founders edition clock speed as they did on the other RTX cards. The GTX 1070 Ti which best competes with this card isn’t available in this range. The cheapest one I can find on Newegg right now is $489. The GTX 1070 can be found for about $300, but it didn’t perform as well. So unlike all of the other RTX cards, the RTX 2060 ends up being a halfway decent value and it’s a good direction to go if you are building a medium budget build.
Live Pricing: HERE