Kicking off CES 2019 with a surprisingly announcement-packed keynote session, NVIDIA this evening has announced the next member of the GeForce RTX video card family: the GeForce RTX 2060. The newest and now cheapest member of the RTX 20 series continues the cascade of Turing-architecture product releases towards cheaper and higher volume market segments. Designed to offer performance around the outgoing GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, the new card will hit the streets next week on January 15th, with prices starting at $349.

We don’t yet have top-to-bottom specifications for the card, but based on the information NVIDIA has released thus far, it looks like the GeForce RTX 2060 is based on a cut-down version of the TU106 GPU that’s already being used in the GeForce RTX 2070. This is notable because until now, NVIDIA has used a different GPU for each RTX card – TU102/2080TI, TU104/2080, TU106/2070 – making this the first such card in the family. It’s also a bit of a shift from the status quo for GeForce xx60 parts in general, which have traditionally always featured their own GPU, with NVIDIA going smaller to reduce costs.

NVIDIA GeForce Specification Comparison
  RTX 2060 Founders Edition GTX 1060 6GB GTX 1070 RTX 2070
CUDA Cores 1920 1280 1920 2304
ROPs 48? 48 64 64
Core Clock 1365MHz 1506MHz 1506MHz 1410MHz
Boost Clock 1680MHz 1709MHz 1683MHz 1620MHz
FE: 1710MHz
Memory Clock 14Gbps GDDR6 8Gbps GDDR5 8Gbps GDDR5 14Gbps GDDR6
Memory Bus Width 192-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Single Precision Perf. 6.5 TFLOPS 4.4 TFLOPs 6.5 TFLOPS 7.5 TFLOPs
"RTX-OPS" 37T N/A N/A 45T
SLI Support No No Yes No
TDP 160W 120W 150W 175W
FE: 185W
GPU TU106? GP106 GP104 TU106
Architecture Turing Pascal Pascal Turing
Manufacturing Process TSMC 12nm "FFN" TSMC 16nm TSMC 16nm TSMC 12nm "FFN"
Launch Date 1/15/2019 7/19/2016 6/10/2016 10/17/2018
Launch Price $349 MSRP: $249
FE: $299
MSRP: $379
FE: $449
MSRP: $499
FE: $599

In any case, let’s dive into the numbers. The GeForce RTX 2060 sports 1920 CUDA cores, meaning we’re looking at a 30 SM configuration, versus RTX 2070’s 36 SMs. As the core architecture of Turing is designed to scale with the number of SMs, this means that all of the core compute features are being scaled down similarly, so the 17% drop in SMs means a 17% drop in the RT Core count, a 17% drop in the tensor core count, a 17% drop in the texture unit count, a 17% drop in L0/L1 caches, etc.

Unsurprisingly, clockspeeds are going to be very close to NVIDIA’s other TU106 card, RTX 2070. The base clockspeed is down a bit to 1365MHz, but the boost clock is up a bit to 1680MHz. So on the whole, RTX 2060 is poised to deliver around 87% of the RTX 2070’s compute/RT/texture performance, which is an uncharacteristically small gap between a xx70 card and an xx60 card. In other words, the RTX 2060 is in a good position to punch above its weight in compute/shading performance.

However TU106 has taken a bigger trim on the backend, and in workloads that aren’t pure compute, the drop will be a bit harder. The card is shipping with just 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM, as opposed to 8GB on its bigger brother. The result of this is that NVIDIA is not populating 2 of TU106’s 8 memory controllers, resulting in a 192-bit memory bus and meaning that with the use of 14Gbps GDDR6, RTX 2060 only offers 75% of the memory bandwidth of the RTX 2070. Or to put this in numbers, the RTX 2060 will offer 336GB/sec of bandwidth to the RTX 2070’s 448GB/sec.

And since the memory controllers, ROPs, and L2 cache are all tied together very closely in NVIDIA’s architecture, this means that ROP throughput and the amount of L2 cache are also being shaved by 25%. So for graphics workloads the practical performance drop is going to be greater than the 13% mark for compute throughput, but also generally less than the 25% mark for ROP/memory throughput.

I also have some specific concerns here about the inclusion of just 6GB of VRAM – especially in an era where game consoles are shipping with 8 to 12GB of shared RAM – but this is something we can look at later with the eventual review.

Moving on, NVIDIA is rating the RTX 2060 for a TDP of 160W. This is down from the RTX 2070, but only slightly, as those cards are rated for 175W. Cut-down GPUs have limited options for reducing their power consumption, so it’s not unusual to see a card like this rated to draw almost as much power as its full-fledged counterpart.

Past that, looking at NVIDIA’s specifications there are no feature differences between the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070. The latter for example already lacked SLI support, so there’s nothing to take away here. Other than being slower and cheaper than its bigger sibling, the RTX 2060 offers all the features we’ve come to expect from the Turing architecture family.

In terms of card design, next week’s launch is going to be a simultaneous reference and custom card release. NVIDIA will be releasing a Founder’s Edition card with their usual stylings – and in the pictures NVIDIA has released, it looks exactly like the RTX 2070 – while board partners have already worked with the TU106 GPU for a few months now thanks to RTX 2070, and have used the time to gain the experience needed to design their own boards. Like the custom RTX 2070 boards that have since launched, expect these cards to run the gamut from petite, mITX-sized cards with a single fan to large, tri-fan monsters.

Hardware aside, while NVIDIA is calling this an xx60 class card, the price tag and general power requirements for the RTX 2060 make it feel like it’s out of place. The xx60 series has traditionally been NVIDIA’s mainstream cards; and up until the launch of the GTX 1060 6GB, these were typically around $200. GTX 1060 6GB went to the high end of this scale at $249 for custom cards (and a whopping $299 for the Founders Edition), however the $349 RTX 2060 is now well outside of the mainstream sweet spot for pricing. With 3 other GeForce cards above it, it may not be high-end, but it’s definition an enthusiast card.

This also means that performance comparisons to the GTX 1060 feel similarly out of place. With 1920 CUDA cores the RTX 2060 is going to be significantly faster than the GTX 1060, but it also costs $100 more and draws 30W more power. So if anything, this feels like the new GTX 1070 (original MSRP $379) than it does the new GTX 1060. We’ll have to see what real-world performance is like when we get to review the new card, but thus far it looks like NVIDIA is going to be keeping their general price/performance curve for the RTX 20 series, meaning that in terms of performance in current games, the card is only going to be a mild improvement over the GeForce GTX 10 series card it replaces at this price tier.

Though even if the performance improvement is mild, it will significantly alter the competitive landscape. If NVIDIA’s GTX 1070 Ti-like performance claims are valid, then it’s going to undermine AMD’s Vega 56/64 cards, and the company will need to respond if they want to keep holding a piece of this market.

All told then, the value proposition argument for the RTX 2060 looks to be very similar to the rest of the RTX 20 series: NVIDIA is betting consumers will be willing to pay a premium for the Turing architecture’s next-generation features – mainly ray tracing acceleration and the various applications of the tensor cores. Which is why NVIDIA needs to continue to promote these features, bring developers on board, and sell the image quality improvements in general. Still, even NVIDIA seems to realize that this isn’t going to be easy, which is why they’re also launching a new GeForce game bundle program that will include the new RTX 2060, where buyers can get a free copy of either Battlefield V or Anthem.

The GeForce RTX 2060 will be hitting retail shelves next week on January 15th, with prices starting at $349. And we intend to take a look at this new card very soon, so please stay tuned.

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  • Manch - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    Bumps the 60 series up by 100$...about <30$<? than an >= performing 1070/ti. Not an actual 60 series replacement. Not much of a value add. I question the 6 vs 8GB, and the RTX portion seems pointless.

    Still Ill wait for numbers.
  • sgeocla - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    They don't really want to sell them. They just want to get rid of the 1060 mining cards that have been piling up. And also have and answer to AMD if they announce Navi.

    This is why availability is initially limited to OEM systems. Since they launched the 2080(ti) and the 2070 already and it's not on 7nm they have enough defective dies for the ABI launches, but they deliberately choose not launch them until old inventory is cleared.
  • rtho782 - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    Table error: 1070 has a 256bit memory bus.
  • uefi - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    I was expecting 399 so 349 is still a great price point as it also comes with a free rtx title. Along with the gsync certified monitors, nvidia is really out to right midrange gaming value for the masses.
  • SaturnusDK - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    A cent over $250 is not midrange gaming by any stretch of the imagination. So no, Nvidia has basically killed off it's brand as viable the average gamer. Virtually no performance increase over the equally priced 1070 means the 2060 is no longer a midrange card.
  • Yojimbo - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    The 1070 is only equally prices because it's EOL. It was more expensive before. So even if you don't like RTX and you would have bought a 1070 before, then the 2060 is still a better option now.

    As far as what is midrange and what is not, that's up to the market to decide, not one person's declaration. Keep in mind that the 970 launched at $330 and dominated the market.

    In any case, I think the 20 series will see price cuts sooner than NVIDIA cards usually do because of a fall in RAM prices and the fact that NVIDIA wants to price the cards high so as to not push down the prices of their glut of 1060s and 1050s. But it also has to be kept in mind that RTX features are a big part of the 20 series. They take up a lot of die space and took up a lot of R&D cost. If one isn't interested in RTX then of course one is not going to see very much value in the series.
  • close - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    Doesn't change the fact that $350 is not midrange by any stretch of the (Nvidia shill's) imagination. Whether X is a better choice than Y also does not change this. Also dominating the market with a specific model does not suddenly make it midrange. It makes it middle of Nvidia's range, not midrange.
  • notashill - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    The 1070's MSRP was $379 when it launched 2 and a half years ago.
  • Byte - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    Historically, if you bought a card, say $350-$400, wait 2 years, you save up another $350-$400, you get a really nice upgrade. 670 -> 970 -> 1070 were nice. What do we get today? Spend $350-$400 get a 1070 wait 2 years, save up another $350-$400 you get 2GB less RAM. Thanks nvidia.
  • webdoctors - Monday, January 7, 2019 - link

    I think at launch, the 1070TI was $449, this is the same perf for $349. So there's definitely some savings, and you get more features. Maybe the name could be changed, or get a new name for the cards in the 200-300 range.

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