Today we will compare the cheapest RTX 2060 graphics card that you can currently buy with one of the most expensive models from MSI. Potential buyers are often asked in forums whether it is worth spending a little more to get the premium card models such as MSIs Gaming Z via the vanilla ventus. Apart from certain details, you can also transfer this comparison to other GPU series.
You can currently purchase the MSI Ventus XS for $ 350. This corresponds to the RTX 2060 basic UVP. However, there are many options priced above this level, such as MSI's Premium Gaming Z, which costs an additional $ 40, up to $ 390, which still makes it a good deal cheaper than the cheapest RTX 2070 graphics cards. This makes the Gaming Z ~ 11% more expensive, which is not outrageous and close to the limit where more money affects the value of the product.
If you plan to keep a graphics card for at least two years, is it important to spend an additional $ 40? We suspect it depends on what you get. So let's compare Ventus and Gaming Z head to head to find out.
We can tell you straight away that the price increase is not a scam. MSI and other manufacturers do not simply produce the same graphics card, but give the premium model a factory overclocking and call it a day. There are some real differences here. Of course, there are OC versions of certain models that cost an additional $ 10, for example, but we're not talking about that here.
When comparing Ventus XS and Gaming Z, we can tell you that we have two differently designed graphics cards. The Gaming Z is physically larger, but it's more than just a larger circuit board and fan cover. It also has RGB lighting, although that's not really important to us for this comparison. The card is 38% heavier thanks to a much larger cooler with a copper base plate and many other copper heat pipes.
The aluminum cooler has significantly more fins and is of better quality. We estimate that there is approximately twice as much surface area to dissipate heat. Conversely, the Ventus XS heat sink design is simple and gets a single copper heat pipe that comes in direct contact with the GPU chip because no copper base plate was used.
Both are equipped with two 85 mm fans. The Ventus fans each have 11 blades, while the Gaming Z fans have 14. This allows them to move more air at the same speed while maintaining a higher static pressure.
The board of both models has the same I / O configuration and the same 8-pin power input. However, the larger, more expensive Gaming Z model offers a 5 + 2-phase VRM, while the Ventus gets a 4 + 2-phase VRM. This should help the Gaming Z run a bit cooler and hopefully overclock, although all RTX 2060 graphics cards are pretty limited there.
The Gaming Z has a typical operating frequency of 1950 MHz and works at this frequency at 73 degrees in a 21-degree room with a fan speed of only 1700 rpm. This means that it is practically quiet. In a quiet system, you certainly cannot hear it.
The Ventus, on the other hand, worked in the same test at around 1845 and 1860 MHz and reached a peak value of only 70 ° C, although the fans worked somewhat faster at 1900 rpm, although you could not hear the graphics card again in a quiet system.
This means that the Gaming Z's GPU clock speed was instantly between 4 and 6% faster. The question is what difference this makes in the real world. To find out, we have some fast gaming benchmarks that were run on our standard Core i9-9900K GPU test bench.
First, we have F1 2018 and the largest margin you can find here is only 3%, but for the most part closer to ~ 2% or less. Given an error rate of 1-2%, there is practically no difference in performance between these two RTX 2060 cards.
And it's not just F1 2018. We see the same results when testing with Far Cry New Dawn (or even less difference).
We only see a difference of 2 fps when testing with Strange Brigade with an average of over 130 fps at 1080p.
After all, we have World War II and it's more the same. The MSI Ventus XS and Gaming Z RTX 2060 cards offer the same performance immediately.
Now let’s talk about overclocking. If we look at the Ventus first, our retail card cannot maintain an operating frequency of 2 GHz without crashing. This limited us to 1980 MHz, which corresponds to a 6% increase in inventory. At this frequency, the GPU only reached 70 degrees, but the fans turned to 2100 rpm, where they became audible.
The Gaming Z maintained 2040 MHz quite easily and turned up to 1950 rpm with fans set to car, which lowered the operating temperature of the GPU from 70 degrees to only 67 degrees.
There was no need to display more performance graphs for this, as the overclocked performance was within 1 fps and both increased by ~ 5-6% over their respective standard performance.
Also take this overclocking data as a rough guide. Every time you take part in the silicon lottery, it's possible to purchase a Ventus model that, with a little luck, can keep up with a Gaming Z when it comes to overclocking.
The debate about premium mid-range graphics cards is interesting. In terms of design, the Gaming Z is clearly the superior product. For a relatively small investment, you get a cooler of better quality, a slightly better PCB, and a little more aggressive factory overclocking.
However, this makes very little difference if it is a highly efficient 160 watt TDP graphics card that essentially overdrives itself. On paper, the Gaming Z is clocked 7% higher, but in reality the operating frequency can be almost half as high. Performance does not scale linearly with frequency, so a 7% increase in frequency often results in a 4-5% increase in performance, sometimes even less.
So you can rightly say that the Gaming Z is the better quality product, but even with a small premium of $ 40/11%, it doesn't offer you an 11% improvement: no FPS performance, no cooling performance and no operating volume . Even if you stack all of these things together, it's hard to justify spending the extra money.
So when looking for the maximum value, always stick to models that meet the EIA. Consider spending $ 10 more if you get a much better model, maybe one with three fans, but otherwise stick to the basic models. If you have extra cash to burn and the next step is something like an RTX 2070 for $ 500, you should get the premium model if it makes you a little bit more excited and proud to buy.