Our test system
Our dedicated graphics card test system is built with some of the fastest complementary components available to put any potential performance bottlenecks squarely on the GPU. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the cooler and storage ourselves.
- Intel Core i7-8700K processor ($360 on Amazon)
- EVGA CLC 240 closed-loop liquid cooler ($120 on Amazon)
- Asus Maximus X Hero motherboard ($260 on Amazon)
- 64GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4/2933 ($416 for 32GB on Amazon)
- EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply ($180 on Amazon)
- Corsair Crystal 570X RGB case, with front and top panels removed and an extra rear fan installed for improved airflow ($170 on Amazon)
- 2x 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSDs ($100 on Amazon)
We’re comparing the $350 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition against last-generation’s $380 GTX 1070, $450 GTX 1070 Ti, and $600 GTX 1080 Founders Edition models, as well as this generation’s GeForce RTX 2070. Rounding things out for Team Green is EVGA’s customized, overclocked GeForce GTX 1060 SSC, to represent the RTX 2060’s predecessor. On the AMD side of things, we’re testing the $290 XFX Radeon RX 390 Fatboy, $400 Radeon Vega 56, and $500 Radeon Vega 64. (All prices listed are launch prices; these cards can be found cheaper on the street today.)
Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets, with VSync, frame rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled, and temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) enabled to push these cards to their limits. If anything differs from that, we’ll mention it. Dropping graphics settings would create higher performance results. We focused our testing on 1440p and 1080p, as those are the natural resolutions for these graphics cards.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition benchmarks
Let’s kick things off with Strange Brigade ($50 on Humble), a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It’s a technological showcase, built around the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. It uses Rebellion’s custom Azure engine. We test with async compute off.
If you look only at generation-to-generation, the RTX 2060 Founders Edition is a whopping 55 percent faster than the overclocked EVGA GTX 1060 SSC at 1440p resolution. But again, the new card costs $90 more and is priced more like a GTX 1070; it’s 12.5 percent faster than that card, and trades blows with the mighty GTX 1070 Ti and Radeon Vega 56. That’s a trend we’ll see throughout testing, though the RTX 2060 FE pulls further ahead in games that lean more heavily on async compute capabilities.
And at 1080p resolution, this card just screams.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider ($60 on Humble) concludes the reboot trilogy, and it’s utterly gorgeous, bringing graphics cards to their knees. Still, the RTX 2060 flirts with 60fps with all the visual bells and whistles enabled at 1440p, and 90fps at 1080p resolution. Square Enix optimized this game for DX12, and only recommends DX11 if you’re using older hardware or Windows 7, so we test with that. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses an enhanced version of the Foundation engine that also powered Rise of the Tomb Raider.
The RTX 2060 once again stomps the GTX 1060, and blows past the GTX 1070 by nearly 20 percent at 1440p resolution.
Far Cry 5
Finally, a DirectX 11 game! Far Cry 5 ($60 on Humble) is powered by Ubisoft’s long-established Dunia engine. It’s just as gorgeous as its predecessors, and even more fun.
Next page: Gaming benchmarks continue