Extra VRAM, However for Who? Nvidia RTX 2060 12GB Evaluation

Today we're taking a look at the new GeForce RTX 2060, the 12GB model that gamers were hoping would help address the GPU shortage. Well, I suspect most of you didn't have high hopes on this, and those who did have probably already lost hope.

Because since the official announcement 3 weeks ago there is basically no more stock and the few that can be found in stores are vastly overpriced even compared to the 6 GB models (!).

As of this writing, it's possible to buy a 6GB RTX 2060 from retailers like Newegg for $ 620, which is nearly 80% more than the $ 350 it sold for in 2019. We could find a single 12GB model on sale for $ 830. That's a 34% premium over existing 6GB cards, and it's a similar story in other markets we've reviewed. In short, it's impossible to find one at a reasonable price. Then of course Nvidia was clever and didn't include an MSRP for the new 12 GB variant in the official announcement, and we suspect that this was all part of their strategy.

You see, we always thought it would make sense for Nvidia and AMD to upgrade previous product lines to older nodes to alleviate supply issues, like the way Nvidia finally seems to be doing with the 12GB RTX 2060 was wrong in assuming that they would do this because they cared about the players, the customers who got them where they are today.

After all, these are companies whose main objective is to make money, maximize profits, and keep shareholders happy. Hence, it is not in their interests to flood the market with affordable previous generation products, especially if they can instead simply sell those products to miners at unimaginable margins.

Put simply, the 12 GB RTX 2060 was never intended for sale to gamers, instead Nvidia is trying to capitalize on the current situation and increase the supply to miners. The longer this takes, the less important gamers become to GPU manufacturers as their target market. But what choice do players have?

Additionally, the minute there is a crypto crash and things return to normal, gamers will trudge on top of each other to get the shiny new GeForce graphics card. Nvidia knows this and their only concern is doing business after the inevitable end of the current cryptocurrency boom.

Arguably the best way to do this is to sell as many uncompetitive gaming graphics cards to miners as possible so that by the time they eventually flood the second-hand market, they will be almost worthless. That's why the 12GB RTX 2060 is re-branding, and it's unlikely you'll ever buy one for gaming. Anyway, if by some miracle it makes sense to you, how exactly does it work? To find out, we bought a (grossly overpaid) Zotac 12GB RTX 2060, which we briefly discussed in this month's GPU price update.

Before we jump to the benchmarks, let's briefly go through the specifications of the 12 GB RTX 2060 and the test system. Unlike the original 6GB card, the 12GB version has 2176 CUDA cores, which is the same amount as the 2060 Super, which would make it a 2060 Super, but with more VRAM.

But there's more, unlike the 2060 Super, which uses a 256-bit wide memory bus, the 12GB 2060 uses the same 192-bit bus as the original 2060, reducing the memory bandwidth from 448 GB / s to just 336 GB / s is reduced, a large 25% reduction. That means the 12GB 2060 should work between the 6GB 2060 and the 2060 Super, and may be closer to either model depending on the game and quality settings used. We use our Ryzen 9 5950X GPU test system with 32 GB dual-rank dual-channel DDR4-3200 CL14 memory for testing. Let's get to the data …

Benchmarks

Starting with Assassin's Creed Valhalla at 1080p and please note that these results have been updated with the latest version of the game which has vastly improved the performance of high-end GeForce GPUs, with slight gains for the mid-range or low-end models like the RTX2060.

Here the 12GB model is no faster than the 6GB version, which is of course disappointing and both were a bit slower than the 5600 XT.

At 1440p, the situation is no different, as both 2060 models only achieve 49 fps on average, which is slower than the 5600 XT.

Next we have Cyberpunk 2077 and we are looking at very similar performance to the 6GB model. In fact, what we see at 1080p can actually be described as "identical performance" at an average of 64 fps with slightly reduced quality settings.

The numbers at 1440p won't exactly impress, and despite the larger buffer, performance remains largely unchanged from the old 6GB model.

We look at the super-similar performance of the 2060 in Death Stranding at 1080p averaging 119 fps, which makes the 12GB 2060 only 5% faster than the 6GB version.

Oddly enough, as the resolution increases, the 12GB 2060 falls closer to the 6GB version, as it seems like memory bandwidth is a bigger problem here than storage capacity.

When testing with Horizon Zero Dawn, we see that the new 12GB 2060 is positioned between the 6GB version and the 2060 Super with an average of 83 fps.

At 1440p, the margin is then reduced because the larger storage capacity is not required and instead the storage bandwidth becomes more relevant.

We're looking at an increase of up to 5% in Rainbow Six Siege at 1080p, which is about as good as it gets for the 12GB 2060 versus the 6GB board.

Increasing the resolution to 1440p reduces the margin between the 6GB and 12GB models as both have the same 336GB / s bandwidth.

Finally, we take a quick look at the results of Watch Dogs Legion and here the RTX 2060 is rather inconspicuous, no matter which version we are looking at, since the performance is the same and is well below 60 fps as it lags behind the RX 5600 XT.

The 5600 XT was also faster at 1440p and although the 12 GB 2060 was up to 9% faster than the 6 GB variant, both stayed below an average of 40 fps.

power consumption

In terms of power consumption, the 12 GB model does not differ from the 6 GB version. Both increased the overall system utilization while gaming to 358 watts, roughly the same power consumption as the faster RTX 3060.

Performance summary

It's fair to say that the 12GB version of the GeForce RTX 2060 works as expected, or maybe a little worse than expected. It's clear that the limited memory bus is stifling the GPU a bit, especially at 1440p. But before we summarize that, let's take a look at the average performance at 1080p and 1440p, as well as the thermal performance of the Zotac Gaming Twin Fan model …

Based on the 1080p results, we can see that the 2060 12GB was ~ 4% faster than the original 6GB model on average of the 12 games tested, which is nothing special. This made it the second slowest GPU in our test, or technically it was on par with the 5600 XT, a GPU that is also slow by today's standards, but certainly good enough for 1080p games.

1440p was a bit more difficult, but even here we saw an average of over 60 fps in the games we tested, which is decent. Again, the 12GB 2060 was 4% faster than the 6GB model and roughly on par with the 5600 XT.

After 30 minutes of gaming in a 21 ° C room in a closed case, the Corsair Obsidian 500D, Zotac Gaming RTX 2060 Twin Fan 12GB reached 68 ° C, which is a great result, even though the fan speed was a bit high at 2200 rpm .

The card remained relatively quiet at 43 dBA and not much louder than the case fans in our test system. This is a production model, so it works with the reference specification and saw an average core clock of 1875 MHz with a memory of 14 Gbps.

What we learned

There you have it … the super unspectacular 12 GB version of the GeForce RTX 2060. If this graphics card had made it at a lower price with a strong supply, we would be very excited about its release, but it will never have been the case being. This product has always been intended for miners.

In all fairness, gamers don't need a 12GB version of the RTX 2060. Just give us the old model for a reasonably decent price and it's happy days, as sad as that may be. And while this isn't a good situation for PC gamers or builders, it's great news for Nvidia and AMD.

In general, the 12GB 2060 are irrelevant for gamers. For us at least it was interesting to compare a similar Spec 2060 with 6GB and 12GB VRAM, and it's an interesting discussion that heated up in early 2019. At the time, many criticized the RTX 2060 for its lack of VRAM, but overall we thought it was a solid product and certainly one of the better offerings in the Turing range.

Even so, the pushback was strong, so we looked at memory usage in 37 games and found that the 2060 performed well at not only 1440p but 4K compared to the RTX 2070 to be an issue for years to come. Crystal ball stuff, but it's been 3 years since we released this review and it's fair to say the 6GB 2060 is still good for 1440p gaming.

If you enjoyed this depressing review, spread the word and share this feature so more gamers can learn why they should avoid buying the 12GB 2060 early next year.

Purchase abbreviation:
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT on Amazon
  • Intel Core i5-12600K at Amazon
  • Intel Core i7-12700K at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600X on Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X on Amazon
  • Corsair Obsidian 500D case on Amazon

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