If you’re shopping for an upper mid-range card in 2021, the chances are that Nvidia’s RTX 2060 Super might catch your eye.
But there are quite a few variants of this GPU available for purchase, so which are worth getting, what is different from model to model, and are the more expensive ones even worth considering?
Read on, as we will not only provide the best RTX 2060 Super graphics cards that you can get at the moment, but we will also answer some frequently asked questions people have had regarding this subject!
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ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER MINI
Boost Clock: 1650 MHz
Connectors: 3x DP, 1x HDMI
- Compact design
- Sturdy build
- Good price
- Compact design
- Sturdy build
- Good price
Kicking off the list, we have a highly compact RTX 2060 Super model coming from Zotac, and it’s probably the smallest RTX 2060 Super that you’ll come across, making it ideal for those who want to build a more compact gaming PC.
The card looks pretty much what we’d expect from Zotac’s more affordable newer models, featuring a predominantly gray shroud with some sharp angles, a design that we’re personally not very fond of, but that will work in most builds. However, it also has a sleek metal backplate, so you can tell there was no major corner-cutting involved.
Now, the card also has solid cooling, featuring two fans and a thick heatsink, which help improve the overall cooling efficiency. However, this is one of the hottest-running RTX 2060 Super models out there, as it can go as high as 76 degrees Celsius under load, which is about the same as the Founder’s Edition variant.
However, the fans are also louder than those on the FE RTX 2060 Super, so rest assured, you won’t be buying the RTX 2060 Super because it’s cool and silent.
That said, with its temperatures, fan performance, a 1650 MHz boost clock, and a price of $399, this Zotac model is a good alternative to the Founder’s Edition RTX 2060 Super if you’re looking for a compact graphics card. Still, in virtually all other departments, it lags behind the competition.
GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER WINDFORCE OC
Boost Clock: 1680 MHz
Connectors: 3x DP, 1x HDMI
- Good performance
- MSRP pricing
- Still fairly loud
If you’re looking for an RTX 2060 Super that doesn’t go beyond the official MSRP but one-ups the reference card in regards to performance, look no further than this model coming from Gigabyte!
The Gigabyte RTX 2060 Super Windforce OC boasts the same exterior design as the original RTX 2060, featuring a predominantly black shroud that lacks the conspicuous orange highlights that were the staple of earlier Gigabyte models. As such, the card is quite neutral and will blend in well with most builds.
More importantly, the dual Windforce fans do a good job at keeping the card cool. However, it can still go over 70 degrees Celsius when under heavy load, but this is understandable considering that it can also hit higher clock speeds than the reference model. The noise generation, however, is about the same as with Zotac’s previous model.
In any case, with its solid performance and reasonable price tag, the Gigabyte RTX 2060 Super Windforce OC is definitely a better pick than either the reference model or the Zotac Mini variant, provided that you don’t really need a more compact graphics card.
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super
Boost Clock: 1695 MHz
Connectors: 3x DP, 1x HDMI
- Enhanced performance
- Very quiet and cool
- Beautiful RGB lighting
- A bit above the MSRP
Moving on, we get to a card that is a tad pricier but also adds some extras to make up for the price increase: the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super.
Aesthetics-wise, we weren’t big fans of MSI’s older designs, as we feel they overused red highlights to the point where it just made the card feel overly gaudy and cheap. However, the company did a complete 180 on this, as their newer graphics cards feature less conspicuous shades of gray.
And in the case that you want colored highlights, you can always use the cards excellent RGB lighting. But it’s not just the design that MSI nailed with this model – the performance definitely doesn’t disappoint either!
The card runs remarkably cool even when under heavy load, just over 60 degrees Celsius, which is much better than the Founder’s Edition and either of the previous two models. Not only that, but it can also hit higher clock speeds, and it is very quiet. That said, this graphics card pretty much has all the bases covered when it comes to performance.
With all of the above in mind, the MSI RTX 2060 Super is a great pick if you’re looking to get good value for your money. True, it is about $20 above the MSRP, but we feel that this isn’t too big of a sacrifice considering how good the performance, the cooling, and the RGB lighting are.
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 Super
Boost Clock: 1860 MHz
Connectors: 2x DP, 2x HDMI, 1x USB-C
- Excellent cooling
- Good overclocking performance
- Design needs a refresh
And finally, for the last entry, we have a more serious performance-oriented solution coming from Asus – the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 Super.
Unlike Zotac, Gigabyte, and MSI, Asus didn’t update their graphics card design yet, and we feel that a redesign is long overdue. With its modest shroud and somewhat basic RGB lighting (for 2021), the Strix model doesn’t feel quite as premium as MSI’s Gaming X version at first glance, even though it ultimately performs better.
Speaking of performance, that triple-fan cooler is no joke. While the noise levels and temperatures are about the same as the MSI Gaming X RTX 2060 Super, this Asus RoG Strix model offers better overclocking performance, something that is obvious from its hefty 1860 MHz default boost clock.
Of course, the added performance does come at a price, and this particular model usually goes for about $450, which is quite a bit higher than the $399 MSRP. When overclocked, this card can get you 10% more frames-per-second on average compared to the default reference settings, so whether this boost in performance is worth the extra $50 is entirely up to the user.
How To Pick The Right Card For Your Needs
Now that we have gone over our selection of the best RTX 2060 Super models available at the moment, what are some things that you need to keep in mind when choosing a graphics card?
When compatibility is concerned, one of the main factors to consider (especially when it comes to bulkier cards) is the physical size of the card. If you want to make sure that the card you’re getting can fit inside your case, the two key dimensions to keep in mind are length and width.
Some graphics cards are longer than others, be it due to a longer PCB or a longer cooler that extends past the PCB. In either case, you should always make sure that the card won’t be obstructed by the HDD/SSD rack.
As for width, some cards take up more vertical space inside the case due to having a bulkier cooler, usually due to a thicker heatsink. This can lead to two potential issues:
- They might obstruct some of the PCIe slots on the motherboard, thus preventing you from installing any additional PCIe expansion cards in those slots.
- They might be too close to the bottom of the case, and even if there is enough room to fit the card, being too close to the bottom or to a bottom-mounted power supply could inhibit the cooler’s air intake, thus leading to higher temperatures and higher noise generation.
Now, the RTX 2060 SUPER isn’t exactly a compact card, though it’s not as bulky as some high-end models either. In any case, it’s best to be on the safe side and check the dimensions of the card you’re getting, as well as the dimensions of your case i.e. the case that you plan on getting in the future.
The graphics card is where most of the heat generated by your PC comes from, and like any other component that generates a lot of heat, it needs active cooling. Modern GPU often utilize one of the three following types of cooling:
Open-air coolers are the most common, and all of the graphics cards currently listed in this article utilize them. For the most part, open-air coolers are the best solution for the majority of gaming PCs because they feature good overall heat dissipation and can benefit more from case fans. These coolers can utilize anywhere from one to three fans, but in the case of upper mid-range cards such as the RTX 2060 Super, they usually come with two or three.
As for blowers, they contrast open-air coolers in that they feature a closed heatsink and a single blower fan that blows the hot air out of the back of the card, directly out of the case. This prevents heat buildup inside the case, which makes the blower good for smaller cases with limited airflow. However, it also makes them louder and less efficient overall.
Finally, liquid cooling is the most efficient cooling method by far, which makes it ideal for overclocking. Liquid-cooled GPUs can hit higher clock speeds, all the while running at noticeably lower temperatures than their air-cooled counterparts. However, they are not necessarily quieter, as they still need a pump to cycle the liquid and fans to cool the radiator.
Moreover, since liquid coolers are often quite expensive and can easily add over $100 to the price of a graphics card, using them to cool budget and mid-range solutions is hardly cost-effective, mainly since one could invest that kind of money towards a more powerful GPU that would offer better in-game performance.
Now that we have touched upon cooling, we have to say a few words about overclocking. In case you’re not familiar with it, overclocking is the act of pushing a GPU’s clock speed beyond the default clock speed set by the manufacturer.
Now, the RTX 2060 Super is a fairly powerful GPU, so how much extra performance can you squeeze out of it through overclocking?
Well, generally speaking, an overclocked GPU can get you roughly 5-15% more frames per second compared to a card running with reference settings, but this will inevitably vary from game to game.
In the case of weaker mid-range or budget GPUs, this is a mostly-negligible boost. However, with some tweaking, you could get some extra FPS out of the card that would smooth out your gaming experience, especially if you’re struggling to maintain a stable framerate.
In any case, the kind of performance offered by all the models here is relatively similar, and the differences in temperature and noise generation are more noticeable than the difference in in-game performance, which usually ends up being only a couple of frames.
You’ve probably noticed that we talked about the card design a lot in the article. And sure enough, aesthetics are more important than ever, what with the rising popularity of translucent cases and RGB lighting. As a result, the OEMs are trying harder than ever before to make their cards visually appealing, both because of that and because a better-looking card makes for a more marketable product.
So, if you’re getting a translucent 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 most noticeably, we have color. Only a few years back, many graphics cards had specific color highlights that served as something of a manufacturer’s signature. For example, Gigabyte had orange, Zotac had yellow, and MSI had red, although the design varied from series to series.
However, most OEMs have moved away from this design approach, and for two reasons: consistency and RGB lighting.
Naturally, for it to look aesthetically pleasing, a build must have a consistent color scheme, and by painting their shrouds and backplates a specific color, OEMs made it more difficult for their cards to blend in with different setups. Now, cards mainly have black shrouds with more subtle gray or white highlights, which makes them more neutral.
Then, there’s the RGB lighting, which is a better solution on virtually every front if you want to add some color to your setup. It is flexible and allows you to easily establish and change the color scheme across different components whenever you feel like it, not to mention that it is cheaper than ever and is now quite commonplace even among the more affordable graphics cards.
Finally, there’s the backplate. Much like RGB, backplates are slowly making their way to the lower price ranges, and in 2021, it’s not uncommon to find them even in budget graphics cards such as the GTX 1650 Super.
Most can agree that backplates look great, but what purpose do they serve?
Well, the main purpose of a backplate is just that – they look cool. In practical terms, however, they do protect the PCB, preventing it from bending, and they also make it easier to get dust off the back of the card, which is always convenient.
Something that a backplate does not do, however, is 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 graphics cards with backplates won’t be hitting higher clock speeds or running any cooler than their backplate-less counterparts.
The Best RTX 2060 Super Graphics Cards For 2021
As always, it’s difficult to highlight the single best products, as there are multiple key factors to consider depending on an individual’s needs and budget constraints.
If we had to choose, we’d say that, overall, the MSI’s RTX 2060 Super is the best model currently available, seeing as it pretty much has it all: high clock speeds, low temperatures, low noise generation, RGB lighting, and it only costs slightly more than the MSRP.
However, all other models listed here have their own merits, too. As mentioned before, the Zotac card is good for smaller cases, the Gigabyte one is a better pick if you’re pinching pennies, and the Asus model is the optimal choice if you’re looking for the best performance you can get out of the RTX 2060 Super.