Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

When the Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU came out back in January, we marveled at its price (nearly twice its predecessors) and respected its performance (good but nothing spectacular), and if you decided to buy it, I am so sorry. Because today the Nvidia RTX 2060 Super GPU starts shipping, and it’s so much better you’ll immediately have buyer’s remorse. Super indeed.

That buyer’s remorse will absolutely hit any sad sap who dropped $350 on the 2060, but it’s going to be just as painful for many owners of Nvidia’s more expensive 2070 and 2080 as well. On top of being more powerful, the 2060 Super and its faster sibling, the RTX 2070 Super, are positively affordable compared to the 20-series GPUs that came before them. Gamers, and even editors and animators should be excited. Nvidia’s finally made a really good ray tracing GPU you can afford.

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What are they?

The 2060 Super and 2070 Super, both of which go on sale today, are the second generation of Nvidia’s 20-series, which launched last year, and both offer significant improvements from the previous generation in terms of performance, specs, and power consumption.

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Before today, the lineup went from the $350 2060, to the $500 2070, to the $700 2080, and finally the $1,000 2080 Ti. (Throughout this post we’ll use list prices.) If you wanted ray-tracing in a reasonably affordable GPU, then those were your choices.

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Now, less than six months after Nvidia finished launching this lineup, it’s back with a new one. There’s still the $350 2060, but there’s also the $400 2060 Super, $500 2070 Super, and $700 2080 Super. The $1,000 2080 Ti remains at the top.

It’s a little confusing, right? Particularly the 2060 and 2060 Super. Those names and prices are awfully similar. But in terms of specs and performance, they couldn’t be further apart. Introduced in January of this year, the 2060 is a 6GB, 160W, 1,920 CIDA core GPU. The 2060 Super tacks on 2GB more ram for 8GB total, as well as adding more CUDA cores for 2,176 total. CUDA cores are a specific type of core unique to Nvidia GPUs, but the principle remains the same—more cores means better performance. And in this case, they also mean an increase in power consumption to 175W.

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Last generation’s 2070 was also a 175W GPU with 8GB of RAM, but it had 2,304 CUDA cores instead of 2,176. It’s been discontinued though, and Nvidia has replaced it with the 2070 Super. It has the same amount of RAM, but demands a hefty 215W for its 2,560 CUDA cores.

Both new Super-series GPUs seem to only be a relatively minor bump up in specs versus the previous generation. However, in our benchmarks, we found that both performed just as well as the much more expensive RTX 2080.

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The Benchmarks

In fact, in a few benchmarks, the 2060 Super and 2070 Super significantly surpass the 2080 in performance. We didn’t have a 2070 on hand to compare them to, but we wanted to see how the 2060 and 2070 Super compare to the previous generation of GPUs so we pitted them against the 2060, 2080, and 2080Ti. AMD’s forthcoming rivals, the Radeon 5700 and Radeon 5700XT won’t be available until next week, and its previous generation competitors, the Vega 56 and 64, are both significantly slower. I’ve added comparable numbers from AMD’s prior generation where it makes sense but excluded them from most of the benchmarks.

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All the GPUs were tested with the same Intel i9-9900K CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. They were tested on the same version of Windows 10 and using the latest drivers from Nvidia and AMD respectively.

For the most part, the performance of the new GPUs is a logical step up—pretty much exactly what you’d expect from GPUs that add a few more CUDA cores and increase the power consumption.

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The one significant outlier was Battlefield V, which saw markedly better performance both with ray tracing on and off. This despite the 2080 theoretically being the most powerful of the three GPUs.

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These GPUs are fantastically fast, but I still can’t help being a little miffed. A GPU isn’t something most people frequently upgrade because they are extremely expensive. Steam’s hardware and software survey suggests most people are still on 10-series and 9-series GPUs. Yet the 2060 was the third quickest adopted GPU in April (that number has since tapered off and in June it had dropped to sixth).

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Unless those people were paying close attention to rumors, they had no idea the 2060 Super was coming, and that for $400, it would be nearly twice as fast as the 2060 in most scenarios. If I were one of those people who’d purchased the 2060 in the last few months, I’d be wildly angry. The same goes if I’d picked up the 2070, or 2080, which were introduced last year.

Typically, Nvidia and its rival AMD wait at least a year before releasing faster GPU options, precisely avoid the kind of grumbling the 2060 Super is likely to engender. Nvidia may have accelerated its release date this time because AMD will release its first GPUs based on the 7nm Navi architecture next week. When it announced the cards at E3, AMD made a big show of how powerful and affordable the new GPUs, called Radeon 5700 and Radeon 5700XT, were compared to the 2060.

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Nvidia just wrecked AMD’s argument with the Super series. These cards are fast and affordable for what they are. If you’ve held off buying a GPU lately, few have as good a price to performance ratio as the new RTX 2060 Super. It’s not the fastest card available, but there’s no other GPU going for $400 that’s as speedy. Unless AMD pulls off something incredible with the cards it’s releasing next week, the RTX 2060 Super is the new mid-range GPU to buy. And if you bought the 2060 already, I am so sorry. Maybe you can still return it?

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README

  • The $400 RTX 2060 Super and $500 RTX 2070 Super are frequently as fast or faster than the $700 RTX 2080.
  • The 2070 Super will replace the 2070, and the 2080 Super due later this month will replace the 2080. The 2060 will now retail for $350 and the 2060 Super for $400.
  • If you can afford the extra $50, get the 2060 Super. It’s incredible for the price.

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