When it comes to RTX 3050 vs. GTX 1660 Super are both mid-range graphics cards that provide decent performance. If you’re looking to upgrade an older system, you may wonder which of these graphics cards offers the better value. What are the pros and cons of each and are there any specific features you should know about?
In this blog post, I’ll break down the details so you can decide which is best for your system. It’s a tight comparison!
RTX 3050 vs. GTX 1660 Super: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Memory (VRAM) Size
|Ray Tracing Support
RTX 3050 vs. GTX 1660 Super: What’s The Difference?
As you can see from the table above, these two graphics cards offer very similar specifications and features for about the same price. The performance is about the same too. However, there are a couple of key differences that you should know about.
RTX 3050 is a Newer Generation
For starters, the RTX 3050 is a newer graphics card than the GTX 1660 Super. It’s an entry-level graphics card for the RTX series, a new generation of graphics cards. A way for people on a budget to enjoy the benefits of the RTX generation.
Besides the updated hardware, the RTX 3050 supports several core features lacking in the GTX 1660 Super. For instance, the RTX 3050 supports hardware-level Ray Tracing and DLSS.
RTX 3050 Supports Ray Tracing
Ray Tracing is nice to have. The RTX series of graphics cards have dedicated Ray Tracing cores that dramatically increase the speed of Ray Tracing computations. The RTX 3050 has 20 Ray Tracing cores, so it can perform hardware-based Ray Tracing with minimal performance loss. The Ray Tracing capabilities of the RTX 3050 put it ahead of the GTX 1660 Super.
Technically, the GTX 1660 Super also supports Ray Tracing but it does not have dedicated Ray Tracing cores. Instead of using hardware to process Ray Tracing, the GTX 1660 Super has to use the software. As you can imagine, there is a major performance hit when enabling Ray Tracing on the GTX 1660 Super. Most people would prefer to simply disable it, in favor of a consistent frame rate.
To give you an idea, with Ray Tracing enabled, the RTX 3050 can run Metro Exodus at 1080P Ultra at an average of 60 FPS. In comparison, the GTX 1660 Super only averages around 40 FPS with the same settings.
Granted, the Ray Tracing capabilities of the RTX 3050 are not the absolute best. However, it’s still significantly better than the GTX 1660 Super.
The point goes to the RTX 3050.
RTX 3050 Supports DLSS
The RTX 3050 supports DLSS while the GTX 1660 Super does not.
The main advantage that the RTX 3050 has over the GTX 1660 Super is it supports DLSS, meaning it can squeeze out more frames in demanding video games. DLSS uses AI to upscale a low resolution and then uses post-processing to polish the image. In some games, enabling DLSS can boost the framerate by 500%.
The DLSS performance is much better on the RTX 3050.
Of course, to get the benefits of DLSS you need an RTX card and each game also needs to support the feature. Most modern games released in the past few years offer some support for DLSS. In other words, if your RTX 3050 doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for a video game, enabling DLSS may be able to bypass those requirements.
To give you an idea, the RTX 3050 can run Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080P ULTRA with an average of 40 frames a second (in the open areas). With the same settings but with DLSS enabled, the frame rate jumps to around 60 frames a second.
Unfortunately the GTX 1660 Super does not support DLSS because it doesn’t have the Tensor Cores and other hardware needed for the technology. While the benchmarks for RTX 3050 without DLSS compared to GTX 1660 Super are similar, enabling DLSS always puts the RTX 3050 ahead.
For example, the GTX 1660 Super can run the game Control at about 55 frames a second at 1080P with all the graphics maxed out and Ray Tracing disabled. The RTX 3050 also achieves a pretty similar framerate (a few frames more) with the same settings.
However, when you enable DLSS on the RTX 3050, the frame rate jumps to an average of 100 frames a second – almost twice as much as the GTX 1660 Super!
DLSS is a must-have for modern games. Granted the DLSS quality varies depending on the desired output resolution. Either way, DLSS almost always improves the performance of games with very little impact on image quality.
The RTX 3050 uses PCIe 4.0 and the GTX 1660 Super uses PCIe 3.0. Technically, PCIe 4.0 has a much higher bandwidth than PCIe 3.0, but the RTX 3050 is not powerful enough to utilize extra bandwidth.
What’s interesting here is that you can plug the RTX 3050 into a PCIe 3.0 slot (they’re backward compatible) and the performance will be about the same. The loss is about 1 to 2% performance which is a difference of a few frames per second.
In other words, an RTX 3050 in a PCIe 4.0 slot is the same as the GTX 1660 Super in a PCI 3.0 slot.
When comparing these two cards with popular video games, the performance is remarkably similar. However, the RTX 3050 usually takes the lead with a few more frames per second. It’s practically neck and neck. With DLSS enabled, the RTX 3050 can deliver much more FPS than the GTX 1660 Super.
Memory Size (VRAM)
Another key difference is the memory size. The RTX 3050 has 8 GB of GDDR6 memory and the GTX 1660 Super has 6 GB of GDDR6 memory. Memory size is important for games that have high-resolution textures and other assets. While 6 GB of VRAM is enough for most modern games, it won’t be enough to max out the graphics on upcoming video games.
Higher resolutions also require more VRAM. To give you an example, the game Control requires 9.5 GB of VRAM to run at 4K resolution. Even older games like GTA V require significant VRAM when running at 1440P or 4K. If you run games at 1440P or 4K, the extra VRAM on the RTX 3050 is worth it.
On the subject of memory, the RTX 3050 has more available, but the memory bandwidth is slower than the GTX 1660 Super.
The memory bandwidth on the RTX 3050 is 224 GB/s meanwhile the GTX 1660 Super’s is 336 GB/s. The GTX 1660 Super has a higher memory bandwidth because it uses 192-bit memory, and the RTX 3050 uses 128-bit.
In short, the RTX 3050 has total memory than the GTX 1660 Super, but the memory bandwidth is significantly lower.
The power consumption of both of these graphics cards is about the same. The RTX 3050 has a power consumption of 130 Watts. Meanwhile, the GTX 1660 Super requires 125 Watts. You can pair these cards with a 450 or 500-watt power supply without issues.
- 1 x HDMI 2.1
- 3 x DisplayPort 1.4
GTX 1660 Super
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI 2.0
- 1 x Display Port
NVIDIA set the starting price for the RTX 3050 at $249. The price for the GTX 1660 Super is supposed to be around $230. However, it’s challenging to find graphics cards for their exact listing price. The market for graphics cards fluctuates dramatically. You can expect to find both of these cards for a significant markup, often in the $300 – $400 range, depending on your location.
Thankfully, the prices have come down over the last couple of years.
RTX 3050 vs. GTX 1660 Super Must Know Facts
- The RTX 3050 is newer than the GTX 1660 Super
- RTX 3050 supports hardware Ray Tracing and DLSS. The GTX 1660 Super does not.
- The RTX 3050 has 8 GB of Memory, 2 GB more than the GTX 1660 Super.
- The GTX 1660 Super has faster memory bandwidth, 336 GB/s vs 224 GB/s.
- Both cards offer extremely similar performance but the RTX 3050 has a slight lead.
RTX 3050 vs. GTX 1660 Super: Which One is Better? Which One Should You Choose?
If you can find these cards at their market listing price, the RTX 3050 is the better choice. While it’s a close race, the RTX 3050 is newer, has more memory, and supports ray tracing and DLSS. The newer card will also have driver support for longer. Remember, these are mid-range graphics cards. If you want the most powerful RTX card, consider the RTX 4090.
The GTX 1660 Super is by no means a bad graphics card, but it’s a generation older, and it doesn’t support ray tracing or DLSS. Having said that, if you aren’t interested in those features and you just want a solid 1080P graphics card, the GTX 1660 Super is a good choice. Ultimately, it depends on the other components in your system, what games you play, and what resolution you game at.