What processor is needed for GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti: AMD Ryzen vs Intel Core

In this article, we will talk about what is often called unlocking the potential of the GPU, or, more correctly, about processor dependence in games. On our site, and in other sources, you can find a lot of reviews of processors and video cards that investigate the relative performance of various types of CPU and GPU. However, the question of which types of processors and graphics adapters are best suited to each other often remains unanswered. Meanwhile, buyers are forced to look for an answer precisely to it: having a fixed amount in their hands, they must distribute it in the optimal way between the processor and the video card, and on this topic there is an obvious lack of some ready-made and well-reasoned recipes.

It is worth recalling that during the domination of the market of four-core processors, a theory was popular with the code name “potential unlocked”, within which it was assumed that for each video card there is a certain ceiling in processor performance, above which it does not make sense to rise above games will not grow further. The explanation of this effect was based on the assumption that at some point the video card ceases to have time to display frames at the speed with which the processor prepares them for it, and at that moment you can stop chasing faster CPUs. you still won’t be able to achieve better performance.

But later, many of its adherents were convinced of the obvious fallacy of this theory. The point is that the CPU and GPU in modern games are responsible for different stages of image preparation. The central processor is engaged in processing the player’s reaction, calculating the internal logic of the game and the behavior of minor characters, as well as modeling the entire game environment and the physics of the environment. In addition, one of the most important tasks of the processor in most games is also managing data flows and passing the necessary information to the GPU. At the same time, the GPU is exclusively engaged in visualization issues. based on the data received from the central processor, it builds a picture, which then appears on the screen. Obviously, these are largely sequential stages of one process, therefore, in the end, the frame rate in any case should be influenced by the power of both the video card and the processor.

processor, needed, video

Adherents of the theory of “unlocking the potential” can argue here that in practice, at some point, gaming performance almost stops growing with increasing processor power. But, if you do not take into account some outrageous cases with the installation of ultra-high resolutions, in which the speed of the CPU is reliably masked by the lack of GPU performance, this will not be due to the fact that above a certain threshold, the processor performance becomes completely unimportant. In reality, the point is that “CPU power” is too abstract and collective concept that many associate with model numbers or the price of a chip. In fact, it is made up of a host of factors, such as the number of cores, clock speed, cache size and performance, memory controller speed, and so on. powerful processors are better than less powerful ones only in some part of these parameters, while in terms of other characteristics, no improvement may be observed when moving up the model range. As a result, some characteristics in certain processor families may become a bottleneck, which prevents them from showing higher performance in games, even though other parameters become noticeably better.

The situation with the gaming performance of representatives of the Ryzen family can serve as a good illustration for the stated thesis. Even the oldest and most expensive models of AMD processors almost always produce significantly lower frame rates than those provided by Intel’s offerings, and AMD has not yet been able to fix this shortcoming either by increasing frequencies, or increasing the number of cores, or a spacious L3 cache. Ryzen’s performance is obviously limited by some other characteristics. for example, the speed of the memory subsystem, latency of inter-core communication, or single-threaded performance. In other words, if an increase in processor power does not lead to an increase in the number of FPS in games, this just means that we have groped a bottleneck in the architecture, and have not hit a certain limit predetermined by the video card installed in the system.

Unfortunately, all the above reasoning systematically leads us to the conclusion that choosing a balanced combination of a processor and a video card is a very non-trivial task. After all, no universal tables describing the performance of combinations of all possible CPU and GPU configurations exist in nature. So far, there have been no researchers so fanatical as not to be intimidated by the huge number of options that need to be included in such a comparison. And we also do not consider ourselves to be among them. Therefore, within the framework of today’s material, we will experimentally answer only a particular question about which processors are better to choose for NVIDIA video cards of the latest generation of the mid-price category. GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. And then, if the results of such a study turn out to be in demand by our audience, we will conduct similar tests with some other common graphic cards.

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Why GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Mid-range graphics cards are one of the most popular options for use in modern gaming systems. Their performance is quite enough in order to easily run current games with maximum quality settings in standard Full HD resolution, which, according to statistics collected by the digital distribution system Steam, is chosen by two-thirds of the total number of players.

Therefore, it is not surprising that, according to the same statistics, the most popular discrete video card is still the GeForce GTX 1060. a mid-range solution from the previous generation of NVIDIA accelerators. Now Turing is replacing Pascal, and if we proceed from positioning, then it is GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti that should gradually take the place of the most common video accelerators.

It is quite natural that now the GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti are among the top three accelerators with the fastest growing market share. In the last month alone, the user base of such video cards has grown by almost 40%. In absolute terms, the share of owners of GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is still not very noticeable, but against the background of the growing number of systems with other video cards of the Turing family, there is no doubt that these GPUs will soon become the most massive choice of gamers.

It is worth noting that the positions of the GeForce RTX 2060 look somewhat better, although this card is a quarter more expensive. However, buyers are obviously willing to pay 70 more for special RT cores that allow the graphics card to hardware accelerate ray tracing algorithms.

Optimal processor for GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti: what is usually advised

The lack of detailed and detailed tests of processor dependence of popular video cards has led to the fact that buyers have formulated for themselves a number of empirical approaches to how to correlate spending on the basic components of a gaming system. The most popular rule of this kind says that the price of a video card should be related to the price of a processor as two to one, that is, in a balanced system, a video card should be about twice as expensive as a processor.

If we apply this rule to those video cards that we are going to talk about today, that is, to the GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with the manufacturer’s recommended at 349 and 279, respectively, it turns out that for them you need to look for processors that cost about 175 and 140. In the Intel price list for these amounts, the Core i5-9400 and Core i3-9300 are offered, and from AMD processors, having a similar budget, you can choose the Ryzen 5 2600 and Ryzen 5 2500X, which have become quite cheaper recently.

Almost the same recommendations are formulated in his “Computer of the Month” and our staff expert, Sergei Plotnikov. For several months in a row, the optimal assembly of 3DNews has been using the GeForce RTX 2060 video card, in the system with which it is proposed to install Ryzen 5 2600X or Core i5-9400F processors.

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In other words, almost all estimates indicate that a six-core processor is needed for mid-range video cards, but not necessarily an older one. a simpler option will do. However, there have been no convincing illustrations of how valid such assumptions are. That is why we have undertaken detailed tests of the GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti in combination with various processors from AMD and Intel. Let’s try to use a hands-on approach and figure out which processor should be considered the best choice for average gaming configurations.

Description of test systems and testing methods

To study the processor dependence of the GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, the options for graphics cards performed by NVIDIA itself (Founders Edition) and Gigabyte (GTX 1660 Ti OC) were chosen. The tests were carried out in two resolutions that are relevant for these GPUs. 1080p and 2560p. Together with the indicated video cards, we tried to check the widest range of processors for the LGA 1151v2 and Socket AM4 platforms. Therefore, for the tests, senior and junior modifications were selected within each class of CPU, which made it possible to assemble a very motley and representative company from a variety of ninth-generation Cores and second-generation Ryzen with the number of cores from two to eight, nominal frequencies from 2.9 to 4.0 GHz. and L3 cache size from 4 to 16 MB.

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CPU and GPU Needed for 4K Gaming At MAX Settings?

In the end, the list of components involved in testing turned out to be as follows:

  • Processors:
  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X (Pinnacle Ridge, 8 SMT cores, 3.7-4.3 GHz, 16 MB L3);
  • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X (Pinnacle Ridge, 6 SMT cores, 3.6-4.2 GHz, 16 MB L3);
  • AMD Ryzen 5 2500X (Pinnacle Ridge, 4 SMT cores, 3.6-4.0 GHz, 8 MB L3);
  • AMD Ryzen 3 2300X (Pinnacle Ridge, 4 cores, 3.5-4.0 GHz, 8 MB L3);
  • Intel Core i9-9900K (Coffee Lake Refresh, 8 HT cores, 3.6-5.0 GHz, 16 MB L3);
  • Intel Core i7-9700K (Coffee Lake Refresh, 8 cores, 3.6-4.9 GHz, 12 MB L3);
  • Intel Core i5-9600K (Coffee Lake Refresh, 6 cores, 3.7-4.6 GHz, 9 MB L3);
  • Intel Core i5-9400F (Coffee Lake Refresh, 6 cores, 2.9-4.1 GHz, 9 MB L3);
  • Intel Core i3-9350KF (Coffee Lake Refresh, 4 cores, 4.0-4.6 GHz, 8 MB L3);
  • Intel Core i3-8100 (Coffee Lake, 4 cores, 3.6 GHz, 6 MB L3);
  • Pentium Gold G5600 (Coffee Lake, 2 HT cores, 3.9 GHz, 4 MB L3).
  • CPU cooler: Noctua NH-U14S.
  • Motherboards:
  • ASRock X470 Taichi (Socket AM4, AMD X470);
  • ASRock Z390 Taichi (LGA1151v2, Intel Z390).
  • Memory: 2 × 8 GB DDR4-3466 SDRAM, 16-16-16-36 (G.Skill Trident Z RGB F4-3466C16D-16GTZR).
  • Video Cards:
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (TU106, 1365/14000 MHz, 6 GB GDDR6 192-bit);
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC (TU116, 1500/12000 MHz, 6 GB GDDR6 192-bit).
  • Disk subsystem: Samsung 960 PRO 1TB (MZ-V6P1T0BW).
  • PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1000W Titanium (80 Plus Titanium, 1000W).
  • All Intel processors have been tested with Multi-Core Enhancements enabled, that is, without any power consumption restrictions. We are aware that this mode is somewhat at odds with Intel specifications, but most users willy-nilly use processors this way. The fact is that all motherboard manufacturers, without exception, activate the Multi-Core Enhancements function by default, and some even hide the settings for turning it off, and no break in this trend is foreseen.

    Testing was performed on Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise (v1809) Build 17763.503 with Specter and Meltdown patches installed and using the following set of drivers:

    • AMD Chipset Driver 19.10.0429;
    • Intel Chipset Driver 10.1.1.45;
    • Intel Management Engine Interface Driver 11.7.0.1017;
    • NVIDIA GeForce 430.64 Driver.

    The following games and settings were used to test the gaming performance of the platforms:

    • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. 1920 × 1080 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra High. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra High.
    • Ashes of Singularity. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality Profile = Extreme. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality Profile = Extreme.
    • Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, MSAA = 4x, Performance Impact = Ultra, Memory Impact = Ultra. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, MSAA = 4x, Performance Impact = Ultra, Memory Impact = Ultra.
    • Far Cry New Dawn. 1920 × 1080 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On.
    • Grand Theft Auto V. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX Version = DirectX 11, FXAA = Off, MSAA = x4, NVIDIA TXAA = Off, Population Density = Maximum, Population Variety = Maximum, Distance Scaling = Maximum, Texture Quality = Very High, Shader Quality = Very High, Shadow Quality = Very High, Reflection Quality = Ultra, Reflection MSAA = x4, Water Quality = Very High, Particles Quality = Very High, Grass Quality = Ultra, Soft Shadow = Softest, Post FX = Ultra, In.Game Depth Of Field Effects = On, Anisotropic Filtering = x16, Ambient Occlusion = High, Tessellation = Very High, Long Shadows = On, High Resolution Shadows = On, High Detail Streaming While Flying = On, Extended Distance Scaling = Maximum, Extended Shadows Distance = Maximum. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX Version = DirectX 11, FXAA = Off, MSAA = x4, NVIDIA TXAA = Off, Population Density = Maximum, Population Variety = Maximum, Distance Scaling = Maximum, Texture Quality = Very High, Shader Quality = Very High. Shadow Quality = Very High, Reflection Quality = Ultra, Reflection MSAA = x4, Water Quality = Very High, Particles Quality = Very High, Grass Quality = Ultra, Soft Shadow = Softest, Post FX = Ultra, In-Game Depth Of Field Effects = On, Anisotropic Filtering = x16, Ambient Occlusion = High, Tessellation = Very High, Long Shadows = On, High Resolution Shadows = On, High Detail Streaming While Flying = On, Extended Distance Scaling = Maximum, Extended Shadows Distance = Maximum.
    • Hitman 2. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High, Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra, Shadow Resolution = High. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High, Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra, Shadow Resolution = High.
    • Kingdom Come: Deliverance. 1920 × 1080 resolution: Overall Image Quality = Ultra High. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Overall Image Quality = Ultra High.
    • Metro Exodus. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Texture Filtering = AF 16X, Motion Blur = Normal, Tesselation = Full, Advanced PhysX = Off, Hairworks = Off, Ray Trace = Off, DLSS = Off. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Texture Filtering = AF 16X, Motion Blur = Normal, Tesselation = Full, Advanced PhysX = Off, Hairworks = Off, Ray Trace = Off, DLSS = Off.
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX12, Preset = Highest, Anti-Aliasing = TAA. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX12, Preset = Highest, Anti-Aliasing = TAA.
    • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. 1920 × 1080 resolution: Graphics Preset = Ultra, Postprocessing Preset = High. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Graphics Preset = Ultra, Postprocessing Preset = High.
    • Total War: Warhammer II. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra.
    • Watch Dogs 2. Resolution 1920 × 1080: Field of View = 70 °, Pixel Density = 1.00, Graphics Quality = Ultra, Extra Details = 100%. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Field of View = 70 °, Pixel Density = 1.00, Graphics Quality = Ultra, Extra Details = 100%.
    • World War Z. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX11, Visual Quality Preset = Ultra. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX11, Visual Quality Preset = Ultra.
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    In all gaming tests, the results are the average number of frames per second, as well as the 0.01-quantile (first percentile) for the FPS values. The use of 0.01-quantile instead of the minimum FPS indicators is due to the desire to clear the results from random performance spikes that were provoked by reasons not directly related to the operation of the main components of the platform.

    We will no longer torment the reader with preliminary considerations, but immediately present the main diagram showing the processor dependence in gaming systems with GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti video cards when choosing a screen resolution of 1920 × 1080 and setting the maximum quality settings. At this resolution, both video cards under review are without any reservations capable of “pulling” the most modern games, but the frame rate will differ noticeably depending on which processor is used in the system. This is exactly the conclusion that you can come to if you look at the average FPS indicators obtained based on the results of measurements in 13 games.

    As you can see, there is nothing similar to the fact that a certain processor is enough to “uncover” a Turing mid-level processor in the results. With an increase in CPU speed, the overall performance of gaming systems always increases. Is it just the increase in FPS that owners of flagship processors receive for every ruble they spend, slightly lower than the specific increase that is observed when moving from one mid-level CPU to another, slightly more expensive.

    Thanks to this, it is easy to formulate some general recommendations: it is quite obvious that modern gaming systems should not be formed on processors like Core i3-8100 and Pentium Gold or Ryzen 5 2500X and Ryzen 3 2300X if you plan to use graphics cards of the GeForce RTX 2060 or GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. Otherwise, you will witness a situation where your system produces FPS even lower than if you chose a more expensive CPU paired with a cheaper video card. But quad-core processors of the Core i3-9350K level, due to their high clock speed, albeit with reservations, can already be considered a suitable option for a configuration with mid-range Turing graphics cards. Although, of course, it is still better to take not a four-core, but a six-core Core i5-9400 processor: it costs almost the same, while a larger number of cores will allow you to get better performance in non-gaming tasks related to processing and creating content.

    But for fans of AMD products, we have extremely unpleasant news. As follows from the results, Ryzen processors look dull in not only flagship gaming systems, but also mid-range ones. Even the older eight-core Ryzen 7 2700X does not allow you to get the same level of gaming performance that owners of systems based on older modern Core i3 or lower Core i5 systems will have. In fact, a system with a Ryzen 7 2700X and a GeForce RTX 2060 is similar in average gaming performance to a configuration based on a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card and a Core i7-9700K or even a Core i5-9600K processor. That is, hypothetically, the choice of the Intel platform instead of AMD allows you to even save on a graphics accelerator and not lose anything.

    However, all these considerations concern only the average gaming performance, while special cases can make adjustments to the conclusions drawn. So let’s take a look at a bunch of diagrams based on FPS metrics obtained in specific games.