A quick look at Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card

Our first taste of GP106
— 8:20 AM on July 19, 2016

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card is here. Just a couple weeks after AMD's Radeon RX 480 delivered VR-capable performance to the $200-and-up price point with a new Polaris 10 GPU, the GTX 1060 brings the benefits of Nvidia's Pascal architecture to a wider audience at $249.99 and up. We already covered a few details of this card after its launch last week, but all the wraps are off this morning. Nvidia says it's hard-launching the card today, and there doesn't appear to be any staggered availability—both partner cards and the Founders Edition card should be available now.

Source: Nvidia

You should refer to our original article for a primer on the GTX 1060 if you haven't already before reading this brief overview of the GP106 GPU and its performance. You should also check out our Pascal architecture deep-dive and our GeForce GTX 1080 review for more information about what's going on with Nvidia's latest generation of graphics cards.

The GP106 GPU
The GTX 1060 is powered by a new Pascal GPU called GP106. To make this chip, it seems Nvidia's product team fired up the world's tiniest chainsaw once more and cut the GP104 GPU in the GTX 1080 in half, save for a turn around some ROPs and memory controllers. This chip has 1280 stream processors spread across 10 Pascal SMs. It talks to 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8 GT/s across a 192-bit bus. Here's a distillation of the chip's specs in convenient tabular form for easy cross-generational reference.

width (bits)
Die size
GP106 48 80/80 1280 2 192 4400 200 16 nm
GM206 32 64/64 1024 2 128 2940 227 28 nm
Polaris 10 32 144/72 2304 4 256 5600 232 14 nm

The GP106 GPU. Source: Nvidia

That strategy gives GP106 a nice resource boost in almost every regard compared to the GM206 chip in the GTX 960, and GP106 runs quite a bit faster than even the most hopped-up GTX 960s did. The GTX 1060 boasts 1506MHz base and 1708MHz boost clocks. Nvidia says its tests show that the chip has considerable overclocking headroom, too, so we wouldn't be surprised if the partner cards going on sale today have plenty of extra oomph out of the box.

The bare GTX 1060 Founders Edition card and the GP106 GPU. Source: Nvidia

Do some simple math with Nvidia's provided specifications and you get this table of theoretical maximum results for the GTX 1060. We've included the GTX 960 and GTX 980 for comparison purposes here, as well as the Radeon RX 480.

  Peak pixel
fill rate
GeForce GTX 1060 82 137/137 4.4 3.4 192
GeForce GTX 960 38 75/75 2.4 2.5 112
GeForce GTX 980 78 156/156 5.3 5.0 224
Radeon RX 480 41 182/91 5.8 5.1 256

Compared to the Polaris 10 chip in the Radeon RX 480, the GTX 1060 might seem to come up a bit short. That Radeon has 2304 stream processors, so its theoretical performance in some measures considerably outpaces the GTX 1060. Our Beyond3D testing shows that the RX 480 doesn't always meet its theoretical maximums, however, while GeForce cards generally can—especially in pixel fill rate, where the GTX 1060 has a leg up on the RX 480. Pascal also has a powerful delta-color-compression facility that allows it to extract more effective memory bandwidth in some situations than our calculations might suggest. Our gut instinct is that the RX 480-GTX 1060 matchup is going to be a pretty close one.

Internal performance numbers and the value proposition
Sadly, we don't have a GTX 1060 in the TR labs yet for testing, so we don't have detailed performance numbers to share with you today. To offer at least some perspective on the GTX 1060's performance, however, we will share Nvidia's internal average FPS performance results for the GTX 1060 compared to the Radeon RX 480. These numbers don't deliver the kinds of detail we'd want to make a final judgment on the card's performance, but they do offer a picture of its performance potential.  Here are some DirectX 12 numbers to kick things off. Take these numbers with the usual mountain of salt. It's worth noting that Nvidia didn't test the RX 480 or the GTX 1060 with the latest drivers for either card, so these numbers may not reflect current performance with either product.

Source: Nvidia

In the popular Ashes of the Singularity benchmark, the GTX 1060 and RX 480 appear to be neck-and-neck. Rise of the Tomb Raider tends to favor Nvidia graphics cards, and its performance numbers with the GeForce GTX 1060 bear that out.

Source: Nvidia

In some of the DirectX 11 titles we like to test, the GTX 1060 seems to do well under some punishing settings. We might dial back the anti-aliasing in Crysis 3 to push frame rates up a bit, but the card seems to do OK in the other titles Nvidia demonstrated here.

Source: Nvidia

In an assortment of other titles, the GTX 1060 appears to maintain small-to-significant leads over the Radeon RX 480. Once again, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but they offer a nice preliminary picture of how the GTX 1060 will slot into the market.

At a suggested price of $249 for partner cards and $299 for the Founders Edition card available direct from Nvidia, the GTX 1060 could sell for anywhere from $10 to $60 more than the RX 480 8GB card. Those prices seem to mesh with the card's potential value proposition, depending on how much one trusts Nvidia's internal performance results. If custom cards sell for close to $249, the midrange graphics market is about to see some furious competition. We'll have to perform our own testing as soon as we can and see whether our advanced metrics bear out these initial impressions.

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Tags: Graphics