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Last-Gen RTX 2060 Is Nvidia's Best GPU Value Right Now

GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

It's an interesting time for the best graphics cards, what with Nvidia's RTX 40-series Ada GPUs and AMD's RX 7000-series RDNA 3 GPUs both expected to launch within the next couple of months. Some might say it's a terrible time to buy a graphics card, but I sailed on that boat right before the Ampere launch and learned a valuable lesson: Predicting the future isn't an exact science. Besides, Ada and RDNA 3 will almost certainly start at the highest end of the graphics card market, which means even if cards are in stock at MSRP, they're likely far more expensive than most gamers are willing to pay.

A look at the latest Steam Hardware Survey confirms this. GTX 1650, a GPU that we didn't even particularly care for at launch, now ranks as the most popular individual GPU — tied with the GTX 1060 that keeps hanging around, over six years after it initially launched. The older 1060 6GB actually delivers superior performance in most games, though it also costs a bit more even today. But the third most popular GPU on Steam is today's topic, the GeForce RTX 2060.

Three and a half years after its debut in January 2019, the RTX 2060 is staging a comeback. Most of the other RTX 20-series GPUs have long since gone out of stock at retail, but a couple months back the RTX 2060 started showing up on EVGA's store and has since proliferated onto Newegg, Amazon, and other places. Originally priced at $349 and later officially discounted to $299 (to combat the RX 5600 XT launch), like every other GPU the RTX 2060 was nearly impossible to find at a reasonable price during most of the past two years. That has now changed, in a big way.

Right now, the GeForce RTX 2060 can be had for just $229 at Amazon (opens in new tab), Newegg (opens in new tab), or direct from EVGA. We've even seen it go for less on occasion. The card has a few limitations, specifically the 6GB of VRAM, but that's still at least equal to similar cards like the GTX 1660 Super and RX 5600 XT. Plus, you can also find the RTX 2060 12GB for $279, if you really insist on having more VRAM.

XFX Radeon RX 6600 Speedster SWFT 210

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

To be clear, we're absolutely not saying the RTX 2060 represents the best value among all graphics cards right now. That honor goes to the Radeon RX 6600, which you can find for $249 at Amazon (opens in new tab). (There must be something about that number, as old time gamers will still fondly recall Nvidia's 6600 GT.) But not everyone wants to buy an AMD GPU, and the RTX 2060 provides full support for DLSS — something you can't get in any other similarly priced GPU.

Strangely, Nvidia's newer GeForce RTX 3050 still carries a rather large price premium. It might be a reasonable alternative if it were selling at the official $249 MSRP, but the cheapest 3050 right now costs $299. What's more, outside of a few cases where we exceeded the 6GB VRAM on the 2060, the RTX 2060 delivers better performance in most games — and the 12GB variant would shore up any exceptions while still saving you money.

This is basically a microcosm of what AMD and Nvidia will be facing in the near future with their new GPUs. Performance might be higher, but there are reports of large numbers of current generation GPUs sitting on shelves and in warehouses. As GPU prices continue to drop, older GPUs might still be the better value, particularly in the midrange and budget sectors.

The RTX 3060 as a different example currently costs $369 (opens in new tab) or more, and performance lands midway between the older RTX 2070 and RTX 2070 Super. If those older GPUs were still readily available for $299 or less, paying more for the RTX 3060 wouldn't make much sense, and that's exactly what the RTX 2060 is doing to the RTX 3050 and GTX 1660 Super.

GeForce RTX 2060 Performance

We need to put things into proper perspective with some testing results. We've included the RTX 2060, RTX 3050, RTX 3060, and GTX 1660 Super from Nvidia for these charts, and from AMD we have the RX 6600, RX 6600 XT, and RX 6650 XT. The key here is that every one of those graphics cards can still be purchased, brand new, at a major online store like Amazon, B&H, Newegg, or elsewhere.

We'll look at overall value in terms of bang for the buck in a moment, but let's start with pure performance. Note that we don't have an RTX 2060 12GB, though it should never be slower than the 6GB model and the extra VRAM will definitely help at 1080p/1440p ultra settings in some games.

The GeForce RTX 2060 doesn't take the top spot in performance, but it does claim an easy win over the RTX 3050 and GTX 1660 Super. AMD's RX 6600/6650 models meanwhile offer a decent jump in standard gaming performance, though even the faster XT cards just barely place ahead of the RTX 2060 in our ray tracing tests.

This definitely isn't a card where you can simply max out all of the settings in every game, even at 1080p, and expect to get liquid smooth frame rates. 1080p medium easily clear the 60 fps mark in every standard game, however, and 1080p with high settings (give or take a few tweaks) should still look and run great.

Ray tracing performance might give potential users pause, but remember the price of just $230. You shouldn't expect an exceptional ray tracing experience with this sort of hardware, but you can at least give it a shot — and DLSS in balanced most can give a substantial boost to frame rates with a minor loss in visual fidelity.

GeForce RTX 2060 Value

Factoring in prices with performance gives a different look at things. Because not all of the GPUs support DirectX Raytracing (DXR), and because ray tracing isn't so critical that gamers absolutely must have it, we've calculated the overall performance as the geometric mean of the standard 1080p medium and ultra FPS, plus 10% of the 1080p medium DXR FPS. We then divide that number by the current retail price to get a final FPS/$ result.

Best Graphics Card Values
Graphics CardValue Rank — Price (FPS/$)Rasterization Rank, 1080p — FPSDXR Rank, 1080p Medium — FPS
Radeon RX 6600 (opens in new tab)1 — $240 (0.382)7 — 88.69 — 30.5
Radeon RX 6600 XT (opens in new tab)2 — $300 (0.356)5 — 103.27 — 36.4
Radeon RX 6650 XT (opens in new tab)3 — $314 (0.347)4 — 105.16 — 37.3
GeForce RTX 2060 (opens in new tab)4 — $230 (0.334)8 — 73.15 — 37.6
Radeon RX 6700 XT (opens in new tab)5 — $420 (0.305)2 — 123.74 — 45.9
Radeon RX 6750 XT (opens in new tab)6 — $460 (0.294)1 — 130.42 — 49.3
Intel Arc A380 (opens in new tab)7 — $140 (0.293)15 — 39.410 — 15.9
GeForce GTX 1660 Super (opens in new tab)8 — $210 (0.292)10 — 61.3
Radeon RX 6500 XT (opens in new tab)9 — $162 (0.285)14 — 45.011 — 11.2
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (opens in new tab)10 — $450 (0.275)3 — 117.01 — 65.3
Radeon RX 6400 (opens in new tab)11 — $135 (0.266)18 — 35.112 — 9.0
GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (opens in new tab)12 — $230 (0.265)11 — 60.9
GeForce GTX 1660 (opens in new tab)13 — $209 (0.263)12 — 55.0
GeForce RTX 3060 (opens in new tab)14 — $370 (0.260)6 — 91.33 — 48.7
GeForce GTX 1650 Super (opens in new tab)15 — $198 (0.242)13 — 48.0
GeForce RTX 3050 (opens in new tab)16 — $300 (0.238)9 — 67.88 — 34.8
GeForce GTX 1650 GDDR6 (opens in new tab)17 — $190 (0.213)16 — 40.4
GeForce GTX 1650 (opens in new tab)18 — $180 (0.206)17 — 37.1

The GeForce RTX 2060 doesn't claim top honors, and in fact it's not even in the top three out of the current crop of sub-$500 graphics cards. However, it does place fourth and ranks higher on the value scale than any other Nvidia GPU.

Is this a fair way of representing the data? I'll let you be the judge. Obviously, if you're already running a card that's faster than the RTX 2060, this whole conversation becomes moot. On the other hand, if you're currently using a five or six years old midrange GPU like a GTX 1060 or RX 570/580 and you're trying to figure out a decent upgrade, this should help put things in perspective.

If you're dead set on buying an Nvidia GPU rather than one of the competing AMD alternatives, the RTX 2060 almost qualifies as a budget offering and certainly rates as the best sub-$250 choice. If you value performance over price, the RTX 3060 represents a potentially better option and you get 12GB VRAM, but that's a big jump in cost for a modest improvement in performance.

For those of you who aren't dedicated to Nvidia, the other takeaway is equally clear: RX 6600 represents an excellent choice at just $250. If you're willing to spend a bit more, the RX 6600/6650 XT are also good options. Beyond that, the value proposition becomes far less compelling.

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • logainofhades
    I still have my 2060 KO Ultra, in my second rig. It's been a great little card.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    logainofhades said:
    I still have my 2060 KO Ultra, in my second rig. It's been a great little card.
    Every time I pull out the 2060 for testing purposes, I can't help but like the value proposition it offered. $300 in early 2020 was a great buy, and now it's back and lower than ever... at least until inventories clear out.
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    Yea, as soon as I can afford a new GPU, it is getting going into my nephew's rig, to replace his aging 970. Will be plenty for what they will use it for. Vanilla minecraft, and WoW.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Outside of those stuck with a G-Sync-only monitor, I can't understand why in the low to mid range, anyone would insist on getting a lesser FPS/$ by insisting on Nvidia.

    I mean, I generally favor AMD GPUs, and Nvidia's had some irritating issues for me, but I did snap up a GTX 1650 GDDR6 back when I was looking for used RX570 cards. The Nvidia card is slightly slower (edit: a hair slower on the old hierarchy chart, a hair faster on the new chart, I should probably say basically equal), but, new with a full warranty, was worth, after rebate, almost $20 extra over the used RX570 4GB cards I was finding. The lesser power consumption was definitely a bonus.

    The point is, at that moment in time, I thought the Nvidia card was offering me the best bang for my buck, so I went with it. When it's not, I go AMD.
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    Yea, I have to agree there. I have both AMD and Nvida myself. I couldn't say no to an MSRP RX 6800, when the shortages were in full swing, over a year ago. It was just a bonus that what I play was optimized for AMD.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    I'd say that in general, I've had slightly fewer issues over time with Nvidia GPUs compared to AMD GPUs. Pre-RDNA, that was far more heavily weighted in favor of Nvidia, and I had multiple Vega and Polaris boards that failed or were simply flaky. Even now, with RDNA 2, I've had two reviews samples that had stability problems. One, an RX 6750 XT, works fine... until I try to run a ray tracing game. Then it usually crashes within 60 seconds, and sometimes it can't even do that. So in this case at least one chip passed the binning process and now fails for whatever reason. I had an RX 6950 XT fail during testing as well. And while I get far more graphics cards than most people, we're not talking about dozens of samples. Six RX 6x50 cards were sent to me this year, two were bad. I can only hope it was a fluke.

    I do appreciate the potential of DLSS. If FSR 2.0 were in as many games, it might not matter quite as much, but DLSS simply looks better and works we'll in my experience. I can tell if it's on at 1080p, even in Quality mode, but at 1440p and 4K I really have to look and even then I might not guess correctly. So when I'm just playing a game like The Ascent or Spider-Man and it has DLSS, I enable it. I'd do the same for FSR 2.0, but most of the games I've actually played don't support that yet.

    Gut feeling, for me, I'd probably pay 10% more for an Nvidia card of equal performance compared to AMD. Or if you prefer, I'd give up about 10% in normal performance if that meant getting Nvidia's hardware and software and probably better DXR performance. Some people might say they're basically equal, but I can't say that's my experience. Nvidia GPUs and drivers haven't been flawless, but if I encounter some oddity during testing of a graphics card, it's usually and AMD card nine times out of ten.
    Reply
  • dk382
    EVGA has discounted their 6GB 2060 cards to around $200 on their own store a few times now. I think the KO was $205 a couple weeks ago. That's a really good deal that other cards haven't been matching. It's very much worth it if you can snatch one up at that price.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    been looking at the 6600 cards recently and am glad you're conclusion was the same as mine. does seem like the best bang for the buck on the lower end of the pricing scale.

    i managed a 3060 at msrp last year as an upgrade but a second system could use something better than the hand me down r9-380 it currently has. and the 6600 looks like the way to go. i just need to read some reviews and see if the $250 models are worth it vs the closer to $300 ones which brings the 6600xt into the conversation......
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    At near $300, just go with a 6600xt. Rarely are more expensive cards, of a particular GPU tier, are worth it. Spending a little more over the bottom of the barrel, for better cooling is ok, but when you start creeping up on the pricing of the next tier card, it's a waste of money.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    oh yah i tend to make it complicated. i like cool and quiet and am willing to pay for it. usually the middle of the pack is good enough. especially for a low power card like the 6600. mostly the quiet part is where i might have to spend a touch more as any model should cool fine. my current mini 1650 super at similar power draw is more than ample with the single fan.

    but then if i get to the next tier, then i start all over again with "but i'm back at the bottom end of the 6600xt's....."

    lol, trust me i know how silly i can get when picking something.

    i just need someone to lie to me and tell me the $250 model tested BEST and MOST QUIET. then i'll order it and pretend it's true :)
    Reply