Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (Laptop computer GPU) Assessment

Given the popularity and widespread use of the GeForce GTX 1060 in gaming laptops, the new RTX 2060 will be one of the key offerings in Nvidia's latest line of products. We recently tested the RTX 2070 Max-Q and talked for a while about how Nvidia's naming scheme for its laptop GPUs can be very misleading for potential buyers. This is still the case with the RTX 2060, but we are not going to address this issue. Just know that in this generation the RTX GPUs have the same name, but the performance is slower than that of the desktop GPUs.

The RTX 2060 GPU used in laptops uses the same TU106 GPU as the desktop card with the same core configuration. That means you get 1920 CUDA cores, 240 tensor cores and 30 RT cores. It also has the same memory configuration: 6 GB GDDR6 with 14 Gbit / s on a 192-bit bus for 336 GB / s bandwidth. It is still based on TSMC's 12nm process.

The laptop RTX 2060, however, is not nearly clocked, what the desktop card can do. The desktop card has a base clock of 1365 MHz and a boost of 1680 MHz, with GPU Boost increasing the GPU even further. The laptop variant is clocked at only 960 MHz and a boost of 1200 MHz – the boost clock is lower than the base clock of the desktop – Nvidia had to do this to lower the TDP from 160 W to 80-90 W, which is more is suitable for laptop designs.

Obviously, you won't get desktop RTX 2060 performance with the laptop variant, although both have the same name. Turing laptop GPUs are underclocked more aggressively than Pascal ever compared to desktop cards. Therefore, we do not expect the same margins or performance improvements as on the desktop. We would very much prefer this GPU to be called RTX 2060M instead, but enough of that …

We used the new Asus ROG Strix Scar II GL504GV for benchmarking the RTX 2060. A sip, but this Asus laptop is essentially a typical 15-inch gaming notebook. It's not a slim and lighter machine like the Asus Zephyrus, it's just a normal design that's 25mm thick and about 5.3lbs in weight. Since there is no Max-Q RTX 2060 model, this full GPU is best suited for these designs.

The ROG Strix Scar II is powered by the Intel Core i7-8750H with six cores, the current range for gaming laptops. The same CPU is used in our Pascal laptops and other RTX laptops that we have tested so far.

This Asus laptop is equipped with 16 GB RAM in a single-channel configuration. For testing purposes, however, we exchanged it for 32 GB in two-channel mode, in order to keep it from apple to apple in our database with other laptops. We also used the laptop's "balanced" fan mode, as we found no difference in gaming performance between this and the louder "Turbo" mode. Finally, we ran all tests at 1080p, the standard resolution for gaming laptop displays. This device has a 144 Hz panel.

Benchmarks

We'll start this with a look at Battlefield 1. It's not the latest Battlefield title, but it plays well on laptops. The RTX 2060 manages to hold its own against the GTX 1070 Max-Q and offers an average of over 100 FPS at a similar low of 1%. It's also 28% faster than the GTX 1060 6GB in this title. However, it can't quite keep up with the previous generation GTX 1070 and is 10 percent behind the older Pascal GPU.

If you've been following our desktop reporting on the RTX series, these results may seem a bit strange. On the desktop side, the RTX 2060 in this title is more than 50% faster than the GTX 1060 and more than 10% faster than the GTX 1070. On the laptop side, however, the edges are much smaller and the comparisons are very different. The new Turing GPU could can't beat the GTX 1070.

Most gamers who watch the RTX 2060 on the desktop may think that their new RTX 2060 laptop will outperform an older GTX 1070 model, which is why we think the naming is misleading. While the RTX 2060 clocks on the desktop without any problems above 1800 MHz, it is around 1450 MHz in our Asus laptop, which is why the large performance difference. Meanwhile, our laptop GTX 1070 clocks with 1800 MHz, compared to a bit more than 1900 MHz on the desktop. Pascal laptop GPUs simply clocked much closer to their desktop counterparts than these new Turing GPUs.

That doesn't mean that overall performance is poor. In Wolfenstein II, which is very cheap for the architecture of Turing, the RTX 2060 is 34% ahead of the GTX 1060, although it is still badly beaten by the GTX 1070.

Watch Dogs 2 is one of those games where a laptop's CPU tends to be more limited, although we still get a practical 25 percent performance increase in this older Ubisoft title. This is one of the few games we tested that ran the RTX 2060 under the GTX 1070 Max-Q.

With Far Cry 5, we expect a performance improvement of 25% compared to the GTX 1060. This time, however, it outperforms the GTX 1070 Max-Q by 6 percent and is only 3 percent behind the RTX 2070 Max-Q. Since the RTX 2060 constantly delivers over 60 FPS in ultra settings, this is a practical improvement over the GTX 1060.

Resident Evil 2 is one of the newer games in our test suite. With the preset for the balanced quality, which is almost identical to the preset for the maximum quality, laptops generally work very well and mostly achieve over 100 FPS.

The RTX 2060 is 35% faster than the GTX 1060, only 7% slower than the GTX 1070 and decent 11% faster than the GTX 1070 Max-Q.

Hitman 2 is a punishment title for hardware with limited CPU, but current generation laptops still offer 60 FPS at 1080p at maximum quality settings. The RTX 2060 is 23% faster than the GTX 1060 here, but other margins match those we've seen before. It is impressive that the RTX 2060 is 4% faster in this title than the RTX 2070 Max-Q.

With Dirt 4, the RTX 2060 has a 37% performance advantage over the GTX 1060, while it is still 12 percent behind the GTX 1070 and 10 percent behind the newer RTX 2070 Max-Q. Even with 8xMSAA in this 1080p game, you can have an absolutely solid experience.

It's probably time to throw an older title into the mix. How about Deus Ex: The divided humanity? This game has one of the smallest margins between the RTX 2060 and the GTX 1070, with the 2060 just 7 percent behind. It's also 8 percent faster than the GTX 1070 Max-Q and 36 percent faster than the GTX 1060 6GB.

You may also be amazed at the performance of Battlefield V. Here the new RTX 2060 is 23% faster than the GTX 1060. With 1080p and a refreshing laptop display, the RTX 2060 is very powerful and offers a great experience.

This performance comparison is rounded off by Prey. This is a game that doesn't benefit much from the faster GPU. It's only 13% faster than the GTX 1060, 7% slower than the GTX 1070 and 7% faster than the GTX 1070 Max-Q.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is one of the most difficult games to run smoothly on a laptop. We believe it's the CPU, and for some reason, Gigabyte's aero laptops are being destroyed in this title. With the default setting "Very High", you will see an average of 60 FPS at 1080p with the RTX 2060.

The last game in our comparison: Middle-earth Shadow of War has the RTX 2060 32% faster than the GTX 1060, 10% slower than the GTX 1070 and 9% behind the RTX 2070 Max-Q.

Individual matchups

We created additional performance summaries in which the GPUs compete against each other in all of the games we tested. We compared a total of 20 games on the RTX 2060 and updated the data for a number of other GPUs just for this comparison.

RTX 2060 laptop vs. GTX 1060 6GB

The big one here, though probably not the best value and price comparison we'll talk about later. The RTX 2060 is on average a good 28% faster than the GTX 1060 6 GB. This is a much larger margin than we expected after the RTX 2070 Max-Q test, which was only around 10% faster than its direct predecessor, the GTX 1070 Max-Q.

RTX 2060 laptop vs. GTX 1070 Max-Q

Speaking of GTX 1070 Max-Q: With an average of 6%, the RTX 2060 is also faster than this GPU. It's not faster in every title, but it's only in older games where it seems to be struggling. Everything that is new and the RTX 2060 drives away.

RTX 2060 laptop vs. GTX 2070 Max-Q

To our surprise, the RTX 2060 is not much slower on average than the RTX 2070 Max-Q. We speak an average of 4% slower, with some games importing faster than a higher level GPU. This could put potential RTX 2070 Max-Q buyers in a difficult position.

RTX 2060 laptop vs. GTX 1070

Where the comparison is not so cheap, the RTX 2060 is compared to the GTX 1070. The RTX 2060 is on average 11 percent slower and loses up to 20 percent in every single game with a margin of 2 percent.

And here we see the weakness of Nvidia's RTX laptop line.

On the desktop, the RTX 2060 ~ 53% faster than the GTX 1060 6 GB. But here in the laptop area it's only 28% faster. This means that it is not 10 +% faster than a GTX 1070, but 11% slower. Not a good situation for those who accidentally use desktop data to make their laptop purchase decision.

However, the comparisons make sense within a generation. The GTX 1070 is about 40% faster than a GTX 1060 for laptops, which is similar to the desktop edge. The RTX 2060 is 4% slower than the RTX 2070 Max-Q, and although we haven't tested the full RTX 2070 laptop yet, the 2060 with desktop cards is an average of 11% slower than the 2070. The edges we've seen so far so keep the whole series in line.

Bottom line

If you're looking for a direct desktop comparison with the RTX 2060 laptop GPU, it's hard to specify a specific one. So far, however, the performance seems to be between the GTX 1660 and the GTX 1060 Ti.

Let us now focus on the value and pricing of newer RTX laptops and where they are compared to previous generations. With the RTX 2060, we see a typical price for a Core i7-8750H system of around $ 1,800. For much of the life of the GTX 1060, you could find a typical laptop for $ 1,300. This corresponds to a price increase of 38% with 28% more performance.

We quote the typical prices for mid-generation GTX 1060 laptops. Nowadays, many GTX 1060 laptops are available for less than $ 1,100 as they are heading outside.

It doesn't get much better if you compare the RTX 2060 with the GTX 1070. On the desktop, the RTX 2060 was more expensive than the older GTX 1070, but this actually made sense since the RTX 2060 is a decent amount faster, a better value, and therefore a better buy in this price range. However, this is not exactly the same with laptops.

We see that RTX 2060 laptops have roughly the typical price for a GTX 1070 system: $ 1,800. But the newer GPU is actually 11% slower. For some older-generation laptops that are sold at a discount today, and are often priced at $ 1,500 or less, it's a snap to choose the Pascal option. It's hard to predict what will happen when GTX 1070 laptops leave the market, but at the moment it doesn't make sense to opt for an RTX 2060 at these prices.

This situation also questions the RTX 2070 Max-Q. The average laptop with this GPU costs ~ $ 2,400, or 33% more than RTX 2060 laptops, for almost no performance increase. In this case, of course, you pay for portability and the often nicer workmanship. To be fair, the standard GTX 1070 laptops with Pascal were for the most part considerably cheaper than slower GTX 1070 Max-Q devices.

Ultimately, we believe that RTX 2060 laptops must be priced at a maximum of $ 1,500 to be good value for money. But that's a huge price cut that seems to be a difficult question when competition isn't abundant.

Note that there are currently some RTX 2060 laptops that you can buy for $ 1,400. However, these models are equipped with a quad-core i5-8300H CPU, not the standard six-core 8750H. These seem to be a better deal, but they're not equivalent and we still wouldn't buy them through a GTX 1070 system for $ 1,500.

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