MSI RTX 2060 Gaming Z Review
We can't think of a better time to be a consumer in the PC hardware world than right now.
If you've been part of the home gaming PC fraternity for a while then it doesn't take very long to see all the benefits there are to existing right now. We could talk about the obvious lack of beige, but let's be honest beige towers haven't been a thing for a couple of decades. But connectivity is solved with USB. No longer do we have to tweak a ton of obscure settings just to get our joysticks to work. Plug. Play. Components have come on leaps and bounds both in terms of their utility but also their consistency. It was very recently that the model you chose, the manufacturer you endorsed with your hard-earned pennies, mattered to the quality of the parts you got. Memory demanded a compatibility list and not just in a 'this'll give you the best performance' way like it is today, but in a genuine 'this wont work' way. Finally the hardware was so weedy that a few megahertz could be the difference between leaping across Deck 16 like a fragging god, or watching a slideshow and wondering why you sold your kidneys for this piece of junk.
Look at the situation now though, and boy things have moved on. You get a perfect encapsulation of this in the MSI RTX 2060 Gaming Z. This is the fourth of the RTX 2060s we've reviewed and the performance almost perfectly echoes that which we've seen up to now. All of the partner cards overclock to similar levels, and have similar frames per second, similar power draws, similar noise levels.. heck even similar price tags. Not only that but this is the fourth from the top of the nVidia hierarchy (fifth if you want to include Titan's, but we don't) and yet it is capable of giving you buttery smooth gaming in every title on the planet at 1920x1080, and even strolls along merrily at 2560x1440. Go back a couple of generations to, for example, the GTX 780Ti, and you brought the Ti if you wanted no holds barred gaming, and anything below that and you knew you had to make compromises on the resolution, or the anti-aliasing. Now you can buy a card which is an x60 model and know that unless you're trying to play Battlefield V in 4K you can throw anything at it and it just shrugs its shoulders and gets on with delivering insane image quality. All of the benefits of the Tensor cores and RT cores combining with the Turing GPU to smoke your eyeballs into dust and leave you a gibbering loon. Never has the expression eye-candy been quite so apt.
Naturally there are a few bits that are nonetheless specific to the Gaming Z. The overclocking is fantastic, the best of the bunch in fact, but the results don't fully bear this out. Not that it's bad at all, or even average, just that the average boost clock speeds we saw indicated it would comfortably sit at the top of the RTX 2060 pile and it doesn't quite manage that. Still, it's the first card we've tested since we introduced average boost clock speeds as part of our results that had a gap of less than one percent between the peak speed and the speed it could actually maintain. That speaks volumes about the quality of the now legendary Twin Frozr cooler. This might be the 7th generation of MSIs cooling god, but it is as quiet and as capable as it's ever been. In we were going to be super nit-picky then we're finding the general design of the shroud in need of a refresh, but that's largely because we see infinitely more cards per year than most people do in their entire lives and we're growing tired of angles. Not a knock at all on the MSI, and to 99% of the population not even something they'd notice.
The MSI RTX 2060 Gaming Z is another in MSIs long line of supremely capable graphics cards, bringing quiet and cool high performance gaming to the masses at the not so silly price of £389 for a flagship, because of this wins our OC3D Gamers Choice Award.