Cooling, Noise, and Power
My last round of testing is focused on a few aspects that are card specific and allow us to look at the difference between cards with the same GPU and close clock speeds just like we have with our three different GTX 1660 Ti’s. I look at power usage which depends on how each card is overclocked, cooling performance which is overclocked and also cooler based, and then fan noise levels. My first tests were to look at power usage. To do this I ran two tests, one using 3DMark Fire Strikes in the combined test to look at a combination of game load CPU usage and GPU usage and then I test again using AIDA64’s stress test utility. In both, I used our Kill-A-Watt hooked up to the test bench to get our results so both tests show total system draw not just the GPU. So the first test the Gigabyte GTX 1660 Ti came in as the lower power draw of the three 1660 Ti which given its clock speeds this isn’t a shock. This is below the GTX 1070 and the AMD cards as well which it also outperforms. With the AIDA64 load, the difference was even more noticeable with the Gigabyte pulling 4 less than the EVGA and 7 less than the MSI.
Next, I took a look at fan performance, specifically fan noise levels. For this test, I test noise at 18 inches away from our open-air test bench so the results in a closed case would be a little lower. I test at 100% fan speed and again at 50% to look at max and medium fan noise levels and here the two fan Windforce design performed really well being the quietest card tested. In person, there was a little high pitch noise that our A weighted test might not pick up so it isn’t dead quiet but Gigabyte still did very well here. I did a third test which isn’t shown in the graphs so a bonus for those of you reading this. The Gigabyte card when full heat soaked in the AIDA64 workload was a little past the 50% fan speed result with its full load result of 37.1 decibels. The fan RPM chart does show up part of the reason the card is quiet, the two fans run at a lower speed than most cards. But you will notice the MSI is also in the same range but isn’t as quiet. I think this is related to the Windforce design which cuts down on turbulence with the two fans running in different directions.
The last tests were looking at overall cooling performance. All of the GTX 1660 Ti cards have been cool running but comparing them against each other gives us a better look at how the different cooler designs compare. Remember the EVGA has a full-length card with a massive cooler packed in, the MSI used a small cast aluminum cooler that was underwhelming, and Gigabyte went with a sheet metal cooer like the EVGA but with a horizontal design that seemed counter to the rest of the design fo the card. I used AIDA64’s stress test to load the card up and then tested twice. Once with the stock fan profile and then again at 100% fan speed. With the stock fan profile, the Gigabyte was 1 degree less than the MSI and two below the EVGA, that only shows what they have the profile set too. The 100% test when compared with the first test shows us how much room is left in the cooler design, that is where the EVGA really stood out. The Gigabyte, however, was closer to the MSI with 50 degrees here, two degrees less than the MSI but still not great. I think a lot of this comes down to the heatsinks orientation as Gigabyte did put a decent cooler in otherwise.
While doing the stock fan profile tests I also pulled out the Flir camera to take thermal images of the card. I was curious to see if the plastic backplate was insulating the card and you can see it is a little bit. There is still a warmer area near the GPU where the MSI with the same plastic backplate showed more of an insulation with no real difference across the whole back. You can see some hot air coming out at the top of the card but mostly just in the center where both fans blow together. I also noticed that the front fan has a little more heat behind it in the heatsink compared to the right fan.