Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition review: Ray tracing and 1440p gaming get more affordable

Ray tracing goes mainstream as prices go upstream.

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 power draw, thermals, and noise

Power draw

We test power draw by looping the F1 2018 benchmark after we’ve benchmarked everything else with a card, and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion.

power consumption Brad Chacos/IDG

The GeForce RTX 2060 draws a lot more power than the GTX 1060, and more than the GTX 1070 it replaces in the pricing stack, but quite a bit less than other GPUs that offer this level of performance. The Radeon Vega 56 and GTX 1070 Ti deliver less oomph while sucking down about 40 more watts of power than the RTX 2060 FE.

Thermals and noise

We test thermals by leaving HWInfo’s sensor monitoring tool open during the F1 2018 five-lap power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temp load Brad Chacos/IDG

The move away from a single-fan, blower-style design to a dual-axial setup that expels your GPU’s hot air back into the case has done wonders for the RTX 2060. Topping out at a mere 67 degrees Celsius after a sustained load, Nvidia’s Founders Edition is downright frigid, and by far the coolest graphics card compared here. It runs relatively quiet, too. Again: It’ll be hard for third-party custom designs to challenge the Founders Edition at the RTX 2060’s $350 MSRP.

Should you buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition?

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition offers a ton of bang for your buck, delivering outstanding 1440p performance and enough frames to satisfy high refresh rate 1080p displays, as well as the ability to tap into the Turing GPU’s RTX ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling technologies. The RTX 2060 runs cool and quiet, too, and Nvidia’s metallic, self-contained Founders Edition design remains stunning. This is a very good graphics card.

dsc00476 Brad Chacos/IDG

It’s also a much more expensive graphics card than the one it’s theoretically replacing, the $260 6GB GTX 1060, maintaining the RTX 20-series pricing trend. At $350, the GeForce RTX 2060 is better viewed as a GTX 1070 successor. Through that lens, this new graphics card is only 10 to 20 percent faster depending on the game—a bit of a bummer after more than 2.5 years of waiting. Still, while the RTX 2060 can’t quite topple the GTX 1080 or Radeon Vega 64, it trades blows with the $450 GTX 1070 Ti.

I wish the performance leap over the GTX 1070 was bigger, and I wish that this card included 8GB of onboard RAM for better future-proofing (though it’s a worthy tradeoff to upgrade to ultra-fast GDDR6 memory). We’ve also only seen ray tracing and DLSS each appear in a single game so far. Despite those quibbles, the GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition is the best 1440p or ultra-fast 1080p gaming option you can buy under $500—well under $500.

That said, you might consider the slower, more power-hungry Radeon Vega 56 if you want to pair your graphics card with an affordable variable refresh rate monitor, as AMD FreeSync displays are nowhere near as expensive as Nvidia’s luxury-priced G-Sync options. UPDATE: During Nvidia’s CES 2019 keynote, the company said GeForce graphics cards will be gaining FreeSync/Adaptive Sync support via a driver update, eradicating the Vega 56’s advantage. Buy the RTX 2060.

And speaking of monitors, most gamers use 1080p displays at 60Hz. If you’re one of them, you’re better off saving $100 or more and opting for a Radeon RX 580, RX 590, or GeForce GTX 1060 instead. They’re much slower, but still great for basic 1080p displays, though they don’t include Nvidia’s dedicated RTX hardware.

This story, "Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition review: Ray tracing and 1440p gaming get more affordable" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition delivers superb 1440p and 1080p gaming as well as real-time ray tracing in an affordable package. The design of the graphics card is stunning, too.

    Pros

    • Great 1440p and 1080p gaming performance
    • RTX hardware for ray tracing and DLSS
    • Stunning Founders Edition aesthetic design
    • Very cool under load

    Cons

    • Much more expensive than GTX 1060
    • Ray tracing and DLSS not widely available in games
    • Mild performance gains compared to similarly priced GTX 1070
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