Ever since Nvidia announced its new Turing architecture and subsequent RTX range of cards last year, gamers have been debating whether the upgrade is worth the spend – especially if you have a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 based graphics card. Until the launch of the RTX 2060 earlier this year, that answer would have been an unequivocal no.
In January Nvidia launched the RTX 2060, the fourth product based on its Turing architecture and the lowest specs in the RTX range. This card follows hot on the heels of the RTX 2070 and 2080 which launched late last year and didn’t meet the hype that Nvidia expected. The reality is that the RTX 2070 and 2080 were just too expensive for most gamers to justify as an upgrade. At around R12,000 for a base RTX 2070 to well over R20,000 for the RTX 2080Ti, these were more than double the price of the GTX 1070 and 1080 cards at launch.
With the launch of the RTX 2060, Nvidia finally had the opportunity to win over fans who were holding off on an upgrade. This is because these cards start at just over R7,000 and even though it’s the “entry” model in the range, its performance is well on par – and in some cases better – than its price-for-price competitor, the Geforce GTX 1070.
With that in mind, I was excited to see what the RTX 2060 could do and I was eager to pit it against my GeForce 1070Ti – a card that since launch has offered great value for money. As it so happened, the team at Asus South Africa received and graciously sent over the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB of GDDR6 memory for review.
It should be noted that the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC Edition is not a reference designed RTX 2060 graphics card. It’s Asus’s overclocked version which features a few nifty features over the standard version. It also costs a few hundred rands more but as you’ll see in this review, it’s a worthy premium over the standard version.
In terms of its physical appearance, the Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC Edition is a big graphics card, and you might actually need to get some support brackets to keep this one in place. There are three fans and a massive heat spreader that covers this card and sadly, no overly emphasised RGB lighting. Instead, only a few spots on the card will flash a colour scheme of your choice.
In terms of noise, you have a few options to configure but in all honesty, you don’t really need to tinker too much – this card runs very quietly, even under load. There are two settings you can select via its dual Bios system to enable either a quieter or cooler running card. The latter is called Quiet mode and will spin down and even stop the fans entirely when the card is not under load. Switching to Performance mode, the fans will spin constantly to ensure it stays as cool as possible.
The large heat spreader and triple fan setup rival even some high-end cards, and that’s because the Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC Edition is, as its name implies, overclocked out of the box. The Nvidia reference design for this graphics card runs at 1680MHz, and Asus has upped this to 1830MHz for this version of their card. You can further overclock this card using Asus’s handy GPU Tweak II software. I managed to get it stable at just under 2GHz but to be honest, the factory overclocked setting is more than sufficient for most gamers (but it’s fun to push your graphics card, especially when the manufacturer enables it).
Looking at where things really matter, this card’s game and benchmark performances were on point. In terms of gaming, the ray-tracing enabled features are pretty nice but we still need to see games make better use of this feature. In Battlefield V the ray-tracing looks great but it does have some impact on card performance, a penalty I can live with for now. The card ran solid with the Freesync enabled Alienware AW2518HF 25-inch 244Hz gaming monitor and if you’ve not yet experienced adaptive framerates within gaming, you’re missing out.
Looking at the synthetic benchmark, I ran tests using my test rig featuring an Intel Core i5-8600k processor with 32GB or RAM on the MSI Z370 Gaming M5 motherboard. Running 3DMark Timespy with the GeForce 1070Ti for comparison, this card delivered a score of 6533. Replacing the graphics card with the Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC Edition yielded a much better score of 7487. Considering these cards are similarly priced, that’s a very decent improvement. Not surprisingly I was also able to comfortably push the graphics capabilities of games like Battlefield V and PUBG further than I could with the GeForce 1070Ti.
From a value-for-money point of the view, the Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 is certainly up there with the best of them and for a gamer like me whose PC sits just in the mid-range department, this graphics card offers the perfect upgrade path for me to get into ray-tracing.
Nvidia finally released an RTX based graphics card for your average PC gamer. Coming in at a price point that’s nearly half of last year’s RTX cards, there's a lot to be happy about. Looking at its performance, this card is superb and offers everything you could want to play today’s latest AAA titles without too much effort. Should you sell your 1070ti or older and get one of these? Absolutely.