Folding@Home on Turing (NVidia GTX 1660 Super and GTX 1650 Combined Review)

Hey everyone. Sorry for the long delay (I have been working on another writing project, more on that later…). Recently I got a pair of new graphics cards based on Nvidia’s new Turing architecture. This has been advertised as being more efficient than the outgoing Pascal architecture, and is the basis of the popular RTX series Geforce cards (2060, 2070, 2080, etc). It’s time to see how well they do some charitable computing, running the now world-famous disease research distributed computing project Folding@Home.

Since those RTX cards with their ray-tracing cores (which does nothing for Folding) are so expensive, I opted to start testing with two lower-end models: the GeForce GTX 1660 Super and the GeForce GTX 1650.


These are really tiny cards, and should be perfect for some low-power consumption summertime folding. Also, today is the first time I’ve tested anything from Zotac (the 1650). The 1660 super is from EVGA.

GPU Specifications

Here’s a quick table I threw together comparing these latest Turing-based GTX 16xx series cards to the older Pascal lineup.

Turing GPU Specs

It should be immediately apparent that these are very low power cards. The GTX 1650 has a design power of only 75 watts, and doesn’t even need a supplemental PCI-Express power cable. The GTX 1660 Super also has a very low power rating at 125 Watts. Due to their small size and power requirements, these cards are good options for small form factor PCs with non-gaming oriented power supplies.

Test Setup

Testing was done in Windows 10 using Folding@Home Client version 7.5.1. The Nvidia Graphics Card driver version was 445.87. All power measurements were made at the wall (measuring total system power consumption) with my trusty P3 Kill-A-Watt Power Meter. Performance numbers in terms of Points Per Day (PPD) were estimated from the client during individual work units. This is a departure from my normal PPD metric (averaging the time-history results reported by Folding@Home’s servers), but was necessary due to the recent lack of work units caused by the surge in F@H users due to COVID-19.

Note: This will likely be the last test I do with my aging AMD FX-8320e based desktop, since the motherboard only supports PCI Express 2.0. That is not a problem for the cards tested here, but Folding@Home on very fast modern cards (such as the GTX 2080 Ti) shows a modest slowdown if the cards are limited by PCI Express 2.0 x16 (around 10%). Thus, in the next article, expect to see a new benchmark machine!

System Specs:

  • CPU: AMD FX-8320e
  • Mainboard : Gigabyte GA-880GMA-USB3
  • GPU: EVGA 1080 Ti (Reference Design)
  • Ram: 16 GB DDR3L (low voltage)
  • Power Supply: Seasonic X-650 80+ Gold
  • Drives: 1x SSD, 2 x 7200 RPM HDDs, Blu-Ray Burner
  • Fans: 1x CPU, 2 x 120 mm intake, 1 x 120 mm exhaust, 1 x 80 mm exhaust
  • OS: Win10 64 bit

Goal of the Testing

For those of you who have been following along, you know that the point of this blog is to determine not only which hardware configurations can fight the most cancer (or coronavirus), but to determine how to do the most science with the least amount of electrical power. This is important. Just because we have all these diseases (and computers to combat them with) doesn’t mean we should kill the planet by sucking down untold gigawatts of electricity.

To that end, I will be reporting the following:

Net Worth of Science Performed: Points Per Day (PPD)

System Power Consumption (Watts)

Folding Efficiency (PPD/Watt)

As a side-note, I used MSI afterburner to reduce the GPU Power Limit of the GTX 1660 Super and GTX 1650 to the minimum allowed by the driver / board vendor (in this case, 56% for the 1660 and 50% for the 1650). This is because my previous testing, plus the results of various people in the Folding@Home forums and all over, have shown that by reducing the power cap on the card, you can get an efficiency boost. Let’s see if that holds true for the Turing architecture!


The following plots show the two new Turing architecture cards relative to everything else I have tested. As can be seen, these little cards punch well above their weight class, with the GTX 1660 Super and GTX 1650 giving the 1070 Ti and 1060 a run for their money. Also, the power throttling applied to the cards did reduce raw PPD, but not by too much.

Nvidia GTX 1650 and 1660 performance

Power Draw

This is the plot where I was most impressed. In the summer, any Folding@Home I do directly competes with the air conditioning. Running big graphics cards, like the 1080 Ti, causes not only my power bill to go crazy due to my computer, but also due to the increased air conditioning required.

Thus, for people in hot climates, extra consideration should be given to the overall power consumption of your Folding@Home computer. With the GTX 1660 running in reduced power mode, I was able to get a total system power consumption of just over 150 watts while still making over 500K PPD! That’s not half bad. On the super low power end, I was able to beat the GTX 1050’s power consumption level…getting my beastly FX-8320e 8-core rig to draw 125 watts total while folding was quite a feat. The best thing was that it still made almost 300K PPD, which is well above last generations small cards.

Nvidia GTX 1650 and 1660 Power Consumption


This is my favorite part. How do these low-power Turing cards do on the efficiency scale? This is simply looking at how many PPD you can get per watt of power draw at the wall.

Nvidia GTX 1650 and 1660 Efficiency

And…wow! Just wow. For about $220 new, you can pick up a GTX 1660 Super and be just as efficient than the previous generation’s top card (GTX 1080 Ti), which still goes for $400-500 used on eBay. Sure the 1660 Super won’t be as good of a gaming card, and it  makes only about 2/3’s the PPD as the 1080 Ti, but on an energy efficiency metric it holds its own.

The GTX 1650 did pretty good as well, coming in somewhere towards the middle of the pack. It is still much more efficient than the similar market segment cards of the previous generation (GTX 1050), but it is overall hampered by not being able to return work units as quickly to the scientists, who prioritize fast work with bonus points (Quick Return Bonus).


NVIDIA’s entry-level Turing architecture graphics cards perform very well in Folding@Home, both from a performance and an efficiency standpoint. They offer significant gains relative to legacy cards, and can be a good option for a budget Folding@Home build.

Join My Team!

Interested in fighting COVID-19, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and many other diseases with your computer? Please consider downloading Folding@Home and joining Team Nuclear Wessels (54345). See my tutorial here.

Interested in Buying a GTX 1660 or GTX 1650?

Please consider supporting my blog by using one of the below Amazon affiliate search links to find your next card! It won’t cost you anything extra, but will provide me with a small part of Amazon’s profit so I can keep paying for this site.

GTX 1660 Amazon Search Affiliate Link!

GTX 1650 Amazon Search Affiliate Link!

27 responses to “Folding@Home on Turing (NVidia GTX 1660 Super and GTX 1650 Combined Review)

  1. Thanks, this is the sort of thing I’m looking for.

    I’ve got a Dell T7400, eight Xeon cores, gobs of RAM, no UEFI bios, Linux. It’s been folding away since 26-March. No GPU slot. The machine can support 2 X 225 watt GPUs in PCIe 2.0 slots. Thinking about adding one GPU for now. So we’ll have a 4-core CPU Slot, and a GPU slot, and plenty of power for my own network.

    Trying to figure out best bang for buck < $300 for 12 months.

    Seems like GTX1660/Super is going to be it — I can pay up to about $225 for it. If I could get them really cheap, I'd run two of them.

  2. I’ve got a couple questions, if anybody’s got any wisdom.

    1) My machine has PCIe 2.0 slots. Will the slower I/O overwhelm any real advantage of the “Super” version vs. the standard 1660?

    2) Does it really matter what brand of card I buy?

    • 1) I found that the 1660 Super gets the same points on PCIe 4.0 as it does on 2.0 in Windows 10. I think the slot bandwidth only comes into play with really fast cards, perhaps like the 1080 Ti or 2080 Ti, and even then it’s only something like a 10% hit.
      2) Not really, unless you plan on overclocking. The differences in a lot of the 3rd party card vendors comes down to the power handling and cooling on the board, + some minor factory overclocking. I usually go with EVGA, but I have had good luck with basically all of them (Zotac, Gigabyte, Asus, MSI, etc). Sometimes I change brands if there is a deal going on.

  3. Great, thanks. Sounds like I’ll be well-enough balanced. I paid $99 bucks for the server, and did not have folding in mind. But I figure this is a little contribution I can make instead of letting the machine idle.

  4. I’d like to build a low(wish) end pc for folding and managing several 4K realtime video streams. I’ve been folding on 3 systems (MacBook Pro, old win 10 laptop, Synology was) without gpu and want to replace the old win 10 laptop I use for the cameras.

    What do you recommend for building a system or is there a site you’d recommend?

    • Awesome! I’d start with a new, efficient processor like the AMD 3000g (dual core, with only a 35 watt TDP). 8 GB to 16 GB of whatever DDR4 ram happens to be on sale will work fine (folding is not very sensitive to system memory). I like the B450 chipset socket AM4 boards…more energy efficient than the new X570 ones and still have more features than typical budget boards. I’ve had good luck with Asus and ASRock boards lately. For the GPU, I’d say the 1660 Super, or if you can swing it the RTX 2060 super will give you lots of PPD while not sucking down too much power. I like my EVGA 1660 super quite a lot. Grab a good name brand power supply (Seasonic, Antec, Corsair, Thermaltake, BeQuiet, PC Power & Cooling, etc). Stay away from no name power supplies that might come with the case…these are usually inefficient and in my case caused damage to my computer under heavy loads. Right now, I’d say 80+ gold is a good efficiency to price sweet spot for power supply ratings. If you prefer Intel parts, I’d check out the Pentium Gold line, such as the G5400.

  5. Curious why you didn’t test any mobile systems. My Alienware 17 with a 9980HK and an RTX1080 MaxQ (990Mhz) is folding about 1.3M/day @ ~170W just folding on the GPU. I run it with all 8 cores going with Boinc (1/2[HT] for the GPU and 7/14[HT] for Boinc) and it’s about 185W.
    I’m not some save the world greenie, but I am a save money guy. I’ve thought about rigging a 300W solar panel array to run this during the day. I already run Boinc (World Community Grid and Rosetta) on a small Android phone that is 100% solar.

    • I’d test them if I had them…last laptop I tested was my old core2duo Dell Inspiron from 2008! High-end mobile systems like yours sound like a great option…they are tuned for efficiency moreso than desktops. Those are great PPD and wattage numbers. If you aren’t running Boinc, what is the total system wattage while folding? I could throw it up on one of my comparison plots…it’s going to look really good I think. How are the temps on that machine? Lots of people in the folding forums try using laptops and end up having overheating problems

      • Hey Chris, The weird thing is, the system operates cooler with Boinc running on all cores because it keeps the CPU clock throttled by like 50% to 2GHz. So the wattage is about the same as just running F@H (it bounces betrween 160- 170W) with the CPU and one core at around 4GHz. If I turn off Boinc, F@H bounces between cores as they hit 100C and stop and the system passes F@H to another core, it hits 100C, and on again. That’s hard on the CPU and probably would cause WU errors. So it’s actually easier on the CPU to just run both F@H and Boinc. I haven’t figured out how to manually clock the CPU down when just one core is at 100% to prevent the 100C tmax timeout.

        The only time I’ve gotten WU errors is when pausing, or doing other stuff on the laptop that is GPU-related.

        But I’m going to say 160W average on the Kill-A-Watt when just running F@H. I’m going to say ~1.2M PPD, but I haven’t tried 24 hours just with F@H because of the tmax issue. Honestly I don’t think running Boinc hurts the Folding performance. I have Boinc set at 87.5% of the cores, which leaves 1 (2 counting hyperthreading) dedicated for F@H.

        Alienware ships with a control center and I have it set at the “cool” setting, but it only seems to kick in when all cores are running.

        You know, in the early days of the Intel Core, there was a desktop motherboard you could use with mobile CPU’s (I think Socket M?). Like 2006. I built such a rig and was phase changing that beast with great overclocks. Back then I just ran Prime95. I’m years out of my nerdy overclocking days. But I wonder if there is similar mobile-socketed desktop motherboard today? If you could watercool this CPU in a multi-RTX SLI configuration it would be epic in terms of points per watt. I paid too much for this laptop ($4K!) to turn it into a watercooled Frankenstein, haha.

      • Gotcha. That’s an impressive laptop! Try turning off CPU Turbo mode in the bios (advanced tab I think). It should stop the silly high temps and I don’t think will affect F@h or Boinc performance much, if at all)

        Awesome tip on the mobile Mobo…I wonder, if one doesn’t exist…if we could get ahold of a laptop like yours and take the board out and mod it into a desktop case! Would set an efficiency record lol

    • Dissipating 185W out of a laptop case is pretty impressive! I think most laptops could handle maybe a quater of that. More space makes the cooling solution easier, and cheaper. But it sounds like this works for you.

      • It’s an Alienware gaming laptop, so it’s supposed to dissipate the GPU heat. Good thing I got that extra 3 year warranty! Wish there were a way to watercool laptops, haha.

    • You mention water cooling in another reply (that I cannot reply to directly, as it’s second level reply already), but did you try cheap laptop cooling pad with built-in fans? They can do wonders on thermals and would probably make your CPU throttle to much higher clocks giving you even more performance. I would also consider removing battery if it’s easily swappable (not in your case if Alienware 17 R2 is your SKU) to avoid shorting it’s lifespan by keeping it in the heat.

      • Hey, I have my laptop on a stand with no fans.I read several reviews of those fan pads, but none seemed to actually lower the CPU or GPU temps. Of course, removing heat in general is good even if CPU and CPU temps don’t change for components like the battery as you mentioned.

  6. Pingback: New Folding@Home Benchmark Machine: It’s RYZEN TIME! | Green Folding@Home

  7. My Fury X shows almost 800k PPD on Project 14417, which is very nice considering I bought it during mining craze, when RX 580s and GTX 1060s were hard to find or mightly overpriced and fixes bad aftertaste of unimpressive gaming performance.

  8. After reading your review I got a GTX 1650 for m y low budget Xeon X79 build. I am using solar power exclusively, no power line reaches my house. I use the rig for work, running docker stuff on the 20 cores. It seems this way I can comfortably work on it while lending a hand to science.

    p.s. also joined the team.

  9. Pingback: How to Make a Folding@Home Space Heater (and why would you want to?) | Green Folding@Home

  10. folding clothes

    It gets very very hot where I love in summer, so I’ve been tweaking my main computer for power efficiency to reduce heat. Glad I found this site as I run my PC with F@h right now as I’m not gaming as much on my PC.

    I found this article

    and it seems that the 1660ti is according to the tests the most power efficient followed by AMD 5700(non-xt). The 1660 super is in 3rd place on their chart. Since the ti is a bit more powerful than the super, why not give that a try if you have the funds.

    I have a titanium 80+ PSU and find that it runs MUCH cooler than my old bronze 80+. I’ve got a 5700XT running, and I stopped running it with my Ryzen 3600X. But the 5700XT seems to run nicely just by running it at half power. It is at about 90w on the GPU

    Really think this is the best option for me, and I’m not sweating in this summer heat as I don’t run my air in the house until it hits 80, I know, I’m insane. But I find that this is working out. If you are interested I can keep you posted on the 5700XT PPD. Sadly I don’t have a wall meter to test power draw, but I have a 3600X CPU and a x470 MoBo because the x570 boards are set up for PCIe 4.0 and draw extra power for no reason. Required a bios update to use the 3000 series CPU, but it was worth it.

    • Good info, thanks! The 5700XT is on my list to try this fall, and I recently picked up a 1660ti, which looks to be a bit faster than the 1660 super while using 5 watts less power. So yes, definitely interested in testing that out. It’s taking a while to get through my 3950x testing (too many core settings to test!), but I’ll be back on graphics cards soon I think.

  11. Pingback: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Folding@Home Review: Part 3: SMT (Hyperthreading) | Green Folding@Home

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s