Over the past few years, Nvidia hasn’t exactly been known for low prices or for providing good value in the low-end or the mid-range. However, things have changed recently, and Nvidia seems to be taking the competition more seriously in 2021.
Enter the GTX 1660 Super — this is a lower mid-range GPU that was released in October 2019, and it is an updated and improved version of the original GTX 1660 that launched only seven months earlier.
The “Super” in its name is justified, as it outperforms its predecessor by a significant margin and even keeps up with the more expensive GTX 1660 Ti.
So basically, the GTX 1660 Super is a great value GPU, but with so many versions of it floating around, which one should you pick?
Finding the best one would mean spending a fair amount of time cross-comparing benchmarks and user reviews, but worry not — we have done the legwork for you.
Read on for our narrowed-down selection of the best GTX 1660 Supermodels available in 2021!
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PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Super
Boost Clock: 1785 MHz
Connectors: 1x DP, 1x HDMI, 1x DVI
- Extremely compact
- Solid cooling and performance
- Can get a bit hot and loud under load
- Not much room for overclocking
- Limited ports
We start with a model from PNY, a company that is probably best known for offering budget-friendly and, often, visually mediocre graphics cards. However, the first card that we’ll be taking a closer look at here isn’t included for its affordability but its size.
Namely, this PNY GTX 1660 Super is exceptionally compact, featuring a single-fan open-air cooler with a somewhat small heatsink.
You would be hard-pressed to find a smaller GTX 1660 Supermodel at this time, so if you need the most compact card that you can get for a small form factor case or an external GPU enclosure, then this one would be the safest option.
However, as is usually the case with compact models, the cooling isn’t the best, which in turn means that the maximum performance potential isn’t the best either.
This is not to say that this PNY model uses inadequate cooling — quite the contrary, the cooling is surprisingly good considering the dimensions of the card. Still, it obviously cannot compete with larger models that use multiple fans and heftier heatsinks.
That said, this PNY GTX 1660 Super will run somewhat louder and hotter than the competition, and there’s hardly any overclocking headroom to speak of.
However, as previously mentioned, it is pretty much the smallest GTX 1660 Super currently available, so it’s excellent for cramped Mini ITX builds and eGPU cases.
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super AMP
Boost Clock: 1845 MHz
Connectors: 3x DP, 1x HDMI
- Good performance
- Sleek design with backplate
- Fans can get a bit loud
- Slightly more expensive than most models
If you’re looking for a compact card but want one that can also offer better performance, look no further than the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super AMP.
With its dual-fan Icestorm 2.0 cooler, this GTX 1660 Super can hit higher clock speeds, all the while remaining quieter and maintaining lower temperatures. On top of that, it also looks better, too, complete with a metal backplate that wraps around the side of the card and gives it a very sturdy appearance.
On the downside, the fans can get a bit loud here, too, and the card is a tad pricier than most of the other GTX 1660 Supermodels currently available. However, this is understandable, considering that it offers outstanding performance in such a compact frame.
So, if you’re looking for a card that could fit into a smaller case and one that can offer better performance than the previous PNY model, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a better option.
- Simple but effective design
- Good all-around performance
- Only one DisplayPort and one HDMI out
Moving on, we get to Asus, and the first GTX 1660 Supermodel of theirs that we’ll discuss is the GTX 1660 Super Dual EVO. The Asus’ Dual series consists of some more budget-friendly variants of GPUs, so there is usually some corner-cutting involved compared to their flashier RoG Strix series cards.
That said, this GTX 1660 Super Dual boasts a simple yet effective black shroud with minimal details, and it also comes with a backplate, which is a definite plus. As a finishing touch, Asus even threw in a single subtle LED strip on the top.
Performance-wise, the GTX 1660 Super Dual is slightly ahead of the Zotac GTX 1660 Super AMP, and it’s a bit cooler and quieter. We have no doubts in that department, but the port selection is a bit disappointing.
Namely, much like the PNY GTX 1660 Super, this one comes with one HDMI 2.0, one DisplayPort 1.4, and one Dual-Link DVI-D out. While this makes the card appealing for those who still prefer using DVI, it makes multi-monitor setups a bit troublesome.
All in all, this a card that ticks all the essential checkboxes — fast, cool, not too loud, good price, and robust design. The only downside is the port selection, but it is only really a downside if you plan on using more than two monitors, and it’s an upside if you use DVI as your primary port, as many cards are dropping those now.
Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Super
Boost Clock: 1875 MHz
Connectors: 2x DP, 2x HDMI
- Great performance with extra overclocking headroom
- Very good dual-fan cooler
- RGB lighting
- A tad more expensive than the competition
- Somewhat dated exterior design
We’ve mentioned the RoG Strix series when talking about the Dual series variant of the GTX 1660 Super, so now we’ll be taking a look at the RoG version as well – the Asus RoG Strix GTX 1660 Super!
Asus RoG products have almost become synonymous with an aggressive angular design and heavy RGB lighting, although that is not quite the case with this graphics card.
You may notice that Asus is still using the same shroud design since 2016, so it looks kind of dated compared to many other graphics cards in 2021. Granted, it’s still a practical design, especially for a mid-range GPU such as this one, but we feel the series could use a design refresh.
On the performance front, there is virtually nothing to complain about. The card is fast, quiet, and runs relatively cool, with some extra overclocking headroom. And while there are no downsides to the card itself, we should note that it is also a bit pricier than most other GTX 1660 Supermodels, but only by $10, just like the Zotac AMP card.
With all that said, there is not much to complain about with this graphics card as it performs slightly better and looks better than the Dual variant, though aesthetics are always subjective. The RoG Strix has more of that “gaming” flair while the Dual is subtler and more low-profile, and which of these two looks better will depend on your taste.
MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Gaming X
Boost Clock: 1830 MHz
Connectors: 3x DP, 1x HDMI
- Great performance
- Very quiet cooling
- Excellent design with extensive RGB
- Relatively pricey
The final model is a very close competitor to the RoG Strix, in that it is a card that both performs great and has that distinct “gaming” aura — the MSI GTX 1660 Super Gaming X.
Many will agree that MSI did an excellent job redesigning their Gaming series graphics cards, as they toned down the red highlights in favor of a more neutral black shroud and beautiful RGB lighting that can more than handle any color highlights that you might need.
But of course, it’s not all about the aesthetics of the card itself. MSI’s dual Torx 3.0 fans do a great job at keeping the card cool, all the while they are remarkably quiet to boot – definitely some of the most silent fans that you’ll find in a graphics card today. And while it has a lower factory clock than the RoG Strix model, their overclocking potential is about the same.
At the end of the day, much like with the Asus RoG Strix GTX 1660 Super, while there are no significant drawbacks to the card itself, it’s a bit pricier than the RoG Strix variant right now.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming
Boost Clock: 1830 MHz
Connectors: 1x DP, 1x HDMI, 1x DVI
- Good performance overall
- Very sleek backplate
- Only one DisplayPort and one HDMI out
Next up, we have a model from EVGA – the EVGA GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming. Design-wise, EVGA has always been a bit hit-and-miss, depending on the generation and the model of the GPU.
When it comes to the latest mid-range Turing cards, we’re not big fans of the shroud design, although we prefer this backplate to that usually seen in high-end EVGA cards, as the brushed metal texture makes for a more elegant-looking back.
As for the performance, the EVGA GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming lives up to its name, and it can offer pretty much the same kind of in-game performance as the Asus Dual version, though it is cooler and quieter, if only by a split hair.
It also has the same connectors as the Asus Dual series GTX 1660 Super, which is either a plus or a minus based on your requirements.
When it comes to the value and actual performance, there is not much difference between this model and the Asus Dual series GTX 1660 Super except for the design, as they have the same pros and cons. So, if you’re choosing between these two models, it will mainly be because of aesthetic preferences, which differ from person to person.
How To Pick The Right Card For Your Needs?
Now, there are a few things to consider when shopping for a new GPU — for example, if you’re trying to decide between several variants of one specific GPU. Here are the key factors to keep in mind!
Today, the graphics card is easily one of the bulkiest components in a PC, so it’s always a good idea to check the exact measurements of the card and the case, especially if it’s a more compact case designed with Mini ITX or Micro ATX motherboards in mind.
If you want to make sure that a graphics card will fit inside your case, the two key dimensions to keep in mind case are the length and the width of the card.
Some graphics cards are longer, either because they have a larger cooler/heatsink or because they have a larger PCB. Whatever the case, you should make sure there is enough room for the card and that it will not be obstructed by the HDD/SSD rack.
As for width, cards that have thicker heatsinks or backplates often end up taking up more vertical space inside the case, usually expressed as the number of slots that the cards will take up.
Most modern graphics cards use a dual-slot design, but some can take up even more space than that, which leads to two potential issues:
- They might obstruct some of the other PCIe slots on the motherboard, which might prevent you from adding some additional PCIe cards e.g., sound cards, capture cards, modems, etc.
- The card might be too close to the bottom of the case — or the PSU, if it’s a bottom-mounted PSU —, which would limit the airflow and thus inhibit cooling efficiency, leading to higher temperatures and more noise, as the fans would have to spin faster to keep the card running at acceptable temperatures.
Fortunately, mid-range cards such as the GTX 1660 Super usually aren’t very big, so there shouldn’t be much trouble with compatibility in this department unless you’re going for a small form factor case.
Regardless, it’s always best to play it safe and check the dimensions of your case and those of the graphics card that you want to buy.
Every PC component generates heat. And with the amount of heavy lifting that a GPU does, you can bet that this is no exception. So, much like the CPU and the PSU, a GPU needs active cooling.
Now, if you’re shopping for a graphics card in 2021, you’re likely to encounter three types of GPU coolers:
Open-air coolers are the most common by far, and each of the graphics cards listed in this article uses one. An open-air cooler features an open heatsink and uses anywhere from one to three fans to push air through it.
Naturally, more airflow equals better heat dissipation, and open-air coolers can benefit significantly from a couple of extra case-mounted fans, as they help get fresh air into the case and hot air out.
Then, there are blowers. In contrast to open-air coolers, they have a closed heatsink and use a single blower fan that blows the hot air out the back of the card and directly out of the case.
This helps prevent heat buildup, which can be great for cramped cases with limited airflow. However, blower-cooled cards often run quite hot, and a single fan can get very loud. The overall cooling efficiency is lower, too, so you can see why they aren’t as popular as open-air coolers.
Finally, there is liquid cooling, and these coolers are the absolute best when it comes to efficiency. Liquid-cooled cards will run at significantly lower temperatures, which naturally allows for some extra overclocking headroom.
However, liquid coolers are expensive. Using a liquid cooler with a budget or mid-range card would be counter-intuitive, which is why you don’t see any liquid-cooled GTX 1660 Supermodels included in the article.
For the price of a liquid cooler, you could easily upgrade from the GTX 1660 Super to an RTX 2060 or an RTX 2060 Super, both of which would offer better performance than an overclocked GTX 1660 Super and would throw in ray tracing for good measure.
So, seeing as all the models listed here feature open-air coolers, what else is there to say about those?
Well, as mentioned above, they can be cooled by one, two, or three fans, and all the models here except the PNY one feature dual-fan coolers. The main benefit of a single-fan cooler is the fact that it allows for the card to be smaller overall, which is useful for compact cases, as we have previously mentioned.
However, a smaller PCB doesn’t mean that the GPU will generate less heat, so single-fan cards tend to run hotter and louder since the fan has to spin faster to maintain low temperatures.
Meanwhile, triple-fan coolers are the exact opposite. Naturally, they take up more space and add some extra length to the card. However, having three fans allows for better cooling, extra overclocking headroom, and lower noise generation since the fans do not have to spin as fast to keep the card cool.
Finally, dual-fan coolers find a balance between size, cooling efficiency, and noise generation, and most of the cards here are cooled by dual-fan coolers, which is pretty much the norm for graphics cards in this price range.
Now that we have touched upon cooling, we have to say a few words about overclocking. As you probably know, overclocking is the act of pushing the clock speed of a GPU (or any other component) beyond the specifications set by the hardware manufacturer.
A higher clock speed means that the GPU will run faster, thus netting you more frames per second in games. But how much extra performance can you actually squeeze out of a GPU through overclocking?
Generally speaking, an overclocked GPU can get you roughly 5-15% more frames per second compared to a GPU running with reference settings, but this will inevitably vary from game to game.
That said, this could be a minor and inconsequential boost of only two or three frames in some of the more demanding AAA games. If you’re playing eSports or other less demanding titles instead, it could end up being a substantial boost that would allow you to have a more stable triple-digit framerate with a 144 Hz monitor.
All in all, any of the cards listed here will offer more or less the same kind of performance with minor variations, so going into the minutiae of the overclocking performance of each GPU listed here would simply be an example of needlessly splitting hairs.
You’ve probably noticed that we talked about the card design a lot in the article. With the popularity of translucent cases growing, it’s become more important for OEMs to make their graphics cards visually appealing, not to mention that a well-designed and quality-looking card makes for a more marketable product.
So, if you’re getting a transparent case or are building an open rig and want to make sure your setup looks good, what should you keep in mind when it comes to your future graphics card’s design?
First and foremost, there’s color. In the past, many OEMs had distinct color highlights that served as something of a signature that helped identify the manufacturer at a glance. For example, Zotac cards had bright yellow, MSI cards had a lot of vibrant red, and Gigabyte cards had orange – this varied from series to series, of course.
Recently, however, OEMs moved to a more neutral approach, generally using black as the base that is sometimes complemented by white or gray highlights.
Consistency is important to the aesthetics of a build, so if manufacturers kept popping color highlights, that would mean those colors could potentially clash with the colors of other components, hence the recent shift in design philosophy.
However, this doesn’t mean that color is “out,” far from it. Quite the contrary, more and more components now come with customizable RGB lighting, and you’ll come across it even in cheaper graphics cards these days.
So, why paint a card’s shroud or backplate a specific color when you could just throw in customizable lighting instead?
And speaking of which, there’s the backplate. A few years ago, they were usually reserved for the premium models, but in 2021, it’s not rare to find them even in budget graphics cards such as the GTX 1650 Super.
As you can conclude from the article, most of the GTX 1660 Supermodels that we’ve listed come with a backplate, so what purpose does it serve?
Well, the backplate is mostly an aesthetic addition, as it gives the card a much sleeker and more premium appearance. However, it also prevents the PCB from bending and makes it easier to get dust off the back of the card, which is convenient.
Something that a backplate does not do, however, is to help with the cooling. Despite what some OEMs might claim, tests have shown that having a metal backplate doesn’t help with heat dissipation at all, so cards with backplates won’t be hitting higher clock speeds or running any cooler than their backplate-less counterparts.
Something that differs from model to model is the number of connectors that the card comes with, and we’ve touched upon this when going over some of the cards listed in this article.
In 2021, the latest graphics cards come with two primary connectors: DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0b. So, how do these two compare?
Well, in this context, the most important things to keep in mind are the resolutions and the refresh rates.
HDMI 2.0 supports 4K in 60 Hz and 1080p in 120 Hz. Meanwhile, DisplayPort 1.4 supports 8K in 60 Hz, 4K in 120 Hz, and 1080p at 240 Hz. Both of these connectors support HDR, although when it comes to adaptive sync, HDMI only supports AMD FreeSync, whereas DisplayPort supports both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync.
Apart from HDMI and DisplayPort, there is also Dual Link DVI-D, which supports 1080p at 144 Hz and 1440p at 75 Hz. While it may be an aging interface that’s on the verge of becoming obsolete, many budget and mid-range GPUs still come with this connector, as it’s still viable for 1080 and even 1440p gaming in 2021.
That said, it’s easy to determine which connector would suit your needs better depending on your monitor’s resolution, refresh rate, and which adaptive sync technology it comes with.
So, which of the graphics cards that we’ve listed here is the best one?
This would be a tough one to answer, as requirements and preferences differ from person to person.
At the end of the day, if we had to pick one of these, we’d go with the Asus RoG Strix GTX 1660 Super, as we feel that it has all of the most important bases covered: good performance, quiet fans, low temperature, and a good (if a bit dated) design.
However, as we’ve already mentioned, performance isn’t the key factor, as all of these cards will perform more or less the same in games. Not only that, but the prices are similar, too, with some of the more advanced models adding a few extra bucks on top of the MSRP.
That said, your primary concern when picking the right GTX 1660 Super for your needs should be the size and the design of the graphics card, as you should choose the one that can fit your case and whose appearance you like.
If, however, you feel that you might want something more powerful or something a bit cheaper, we suggest checking out our full graphics card buying guide for 2021!