Nvidia sent a ripple across the entire computer gaming world when they announced their 16-Series GPUs. And ever since they’ve become yet another viable option for gamers that want to crank up their GPU game without spending mega-bucks on top-end products.
Well, to help give you a sense of scale and an understanding of how the 16-series stacks up against the OG GTX GPUs, we’re pitting the best of each bunch against one another in some friendly ‘vs’ categories.
The GTX 1080, despite being the top of its class, has almost the exact same 16-nm Pascal architecture as its cohort. The 1080 is, however, endowed with significantly more CUDA cores than the rest of the classic GTX series, with a total of 2560. CUDA cores can be understood more or less on the same lines as CPU cores.
Stacked with 17.2 million transistors, the 1080’s pimped out Pascal architecture enables a base clock speed of 1607MHz and a boost clock of 1703MHz, and supports VR and PCI-e 3. It has an overall computational power of 9 teraflops.
Although Nvidia decided to shock some life into the GTX line with the 16-Series, they concluded that they were in fact done with Pascal architecture, and that’s fine with us. It doesn’t make sense to use outdated builds on new products, but it does mean that the 16-Series’ GTX prefix is a bit of a misnomer.
The 1660 Ti actually shares the RTX line’s 12nm Turing microarchitecture, but to keep the areas of the market they inhabit decisively split, the Ti was not gifted the infamous RT or Tensor cores.
The 1660 Ti’s TU116-400-A1 variant Turing architecture features 6.6 million transistors and offers up a total of only 1536 CUDA cores, but the Ti’s teraflop score of 11 proves that bigger isn’t always better. With eight SMs encompassing 1536 shaders and 96 texture units, the 1660 Ti’s architecture promises stunning visuals, and altogether quieter and cooler gaming.
The Ti has a negligible 1 °C wider thermal capacity, able to withstand temperatures up to 95 °C. But the magical thing about the Ti is its awesome energy efficiency. This thing is quiet and chill! The 120-watt power envelope makes it not just the most powerful in its class, but the cheapest and coolest to run.
If you’re a serial overclocker, you’ll still want to invest in a relatively decent cooling system, but for standard gaming, you can reallocate funds to a different product feature.
The 180-watt 1080 is a different, much hotter story. Idling, this card can reach temperatures of 60 °C and an average gaming session can push it to the 80 °C mark, so you’ll need to pay extra attention to cooling systems when shopping around. If you plan on having it for a while, it may even be worth forking out for some sort of liquid cooling system.
There are certainly other variables in play, but one of the reasons that the 1080 runs a lot hotter than the 1660 Ti is that it’s a much larger GPU. All in all, it measures 4.376” (H) x 10.5” (L) x 2-slot (W), so it’s quite a long boy, perhaps not suitable for those of you who are into micro setups.
At 4.37”, the 1660 Ti is essentially the exact same height as the 1080, but at 5.7”, nearly half as long with the same 2-slot width, so if form factor is an issue for you, this dinky dynamo should slink right into a busy case without a fuss.
So, we’ve run over most of the important specs at this point, and it’s time to see what these GPU giants can really do. Will the 1080 take the knee, or does it bow to no GPUsurper?
At 1080p the aptly named 1080 completely dominates, putting the Ti into a very compromising position indeed. The narrowest victories are in CSGO and Fortnight, but even these ‘small’ wins are by a 15% frame rate difference. The real fps massacre took place during Overwatch and PUBG, earning the 1080 39% and 42% victories respectively. So, yeah…we’re nearing 50% better performance from the 1080 for certain titles in 1080p.
It’s not so much of a devastating loss for the Ti at 1440p, but it tastes the edge of the 1080’s blade once again. The 1080 wins by 9.6fps, a 13% average. Both of these GPUs start to splutter a bit in 4K which is understandable as they’re practically middle-aged in GPU-years, but the 1080 maintains the 13% lead.
The 1660 Ti could have really done with some of that ray tracing and DLSS to boost its frame rates a bit, but unfortunately, one of the stipulations of the 16-Series is that none of them contain these specialized RT or Tensor cores.
Of course, the original GTX series also lacks these cores; however, Nvidia did release a driver back in 2019 that enables you to switch on ray tracing in any GTX unit. The only problem now is game support, as only a fraction of titles released are ray tracing ready.
Okay, so here’s a big contributor to the GTX 1080’s success. It features an 8GB GDDR5X memory configuration supported by a 256-bit bus interface, offering a 320GBps bandwidth. GDDR5X is the best possible memory type for older units because GDDR6 is designed for use with stacked chips only, which the original GTX series do not have.
The 1660 Ti does have this slightly advanced GDDR6 memory configuration, but it’s supported by a less impressive 192-bit bus interface and features a reduced 288GBps bandwidth. There are some functional improvements to GDDR6, incredibly low power consumption for instance, but the major difference is just that it’s compatible with the stacked chips of Ti and RTX GPUs.
The 1080 is a better GPU for gaming and with the jump in price to the 1080 being less than $20 in some cases, skipping straight to the GTX is a hard prospect to ignore. Having said that, there are plenty of reasons to ride for the Ti. It runs way cooler, and it’s much smaller than the 1080, plus the performative gap between these two GPUs shrinks as you max settings out.
The big question is if you already have the 1660 Ti, is it worth upgrading to the 1080, or should you save your money and put it towards something else in the future? Well, as impressive as the 1080 is for a Pascal piece, it offers below 30% enhanced performance to the Ti. A general rule of thumb in gaming communities and the industry as a whole is that if the prospective upgrade delivers between 30 to 50% better average performance, it’s worth it, and if it falls beneath that threshold, it’s best to hold off for something else.