Review roundup: GTX 1060 impresses at its price point

Greetings, fellow gerbils. Welcome to today's episode of the 2016 Graphics Card Wars. Unless you've been living under Stonehenge, you're aware that the GeForce GTX 1060 has been released today. The card's $249 suggested price ($299 for the Founder's Edition) and its purported GTX 980-matching performance are a hard missile lock on the recently-released Radeon RX 480. Our labs have yet to be graced with the GTX 1060's presence, but we've collected some data from around the web to see what other reviewers discovered about the card.

Source: Nvidia

Here's a quick rundown of the GTX 1060's characteristics. The reference GP106 chip has 1280 stream processors clocked at 1506 MHz base and 1708 MHz boost speeds. 6GB of VRAM sit around the GP106 GPU, and the entire card has an impressively low TDP of 120W. Much like the RX 480, the reference GTX 1060 board is fed by a single 6-pin PCIe power connector.

Let's kick things off with the all-important game results. According to PC Perspective and Tom's Hardware, Nvidia's claim of GTX 980-level performance is a little exaggerated, but not completely unfounded. The GTX 1060 loses out to its Maxwell predecessor in the vast majority of games, but does manage to match it in a handful of titles. More important, though, is the comparison to the RX 480. The bottom line is roughly this: the GTX 1060 is a bit faster overall in the majority of tested games, bar a couple exceptions that have historically gone in AMD's favor. It's worth noting that the GTX 1060's lead against the RX 480 is a little higher at 1920×1080 than at 2560×1440, though.

Those following the brouhaha over DX12 and async compute (or the lack thereof) and expecting some sort of conclusion will be disappointed, too. In Ashes of the Singularity, both cards are pretty much tied. Hitman does net a win for the RX 480, but ironically enough, its lead over the green team's card is actually higher in DX11 mode. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the GTX 1060 leads the RX 480 by a healthy margin. The folks over at HardOCP tested the performance of the GTX 1060 and the RX 480 with Doom's Vulkan renderer and found that the AMD card holds a substantial advantage over Nvidia's latest, however.

What's particularly impressive about the GTX 1060 is its appetite for power. The card's load power draw appears to be 30-40W lower than the RX 480's in most sites' tests. The GTX 1060 sticks almost religiously to its 120W TDP, and tests from PC Perspective and Tom's Hardware reveal that the current split between the 6-pin plug and slot is perfectly within spec, too. Noise levels are equally impressive for a reference card: testers reported that even under load, the radial fan's noise profile is smooth and unobtrusive.

At first sight, one would be inclined to say that the GTX 1060 is the better option versus the Radeon RX 480. That conclusion may be a bit premature. The first point of contention is the $299 asking price for the Founder's Edition GTX 1060. That's roughly a 25% premium over the reference 8GB RX 480, and we're not convinced the extra performance and lower noise of the GTX 1060 FE can justify that extra $60. That jump is a significant chunk of change in the mid-range graphics card market. If you're looking at a GTX 1060, we'd advise you to go straight for the cheaper third-party versions.

The second issue is that third-party card designs of either team tend to be superior in some ways to their reference counterparts. The Radeon RX 480's noise levels might benefit from custom coolers, but the earliest we'd expect to see those cards is sometime next month. On the flip side, non-reference GTX 1060s with pushed clocks are already popping up, and the GP106 GPU appears to be particularly amenable to overclocking. A number of those GTX 1060 custom cards carry $249 and $259 price tags, too—not that big a leap over the 8GB RX 480.

Going by other sites' results, the GTX 1060 appears to offer slightly better performance in today's games and significantly better power efficiency than the 8GB Radeon RX 480, all for a bit more money. The 4GB RX 480 continues to rule at the $200 price point, however, and folks who are strongly concerned about the DirectX 12 future may find that both RX 480s are more to their taste if efficiency isn't a concern. Still, it appears Nvidia has delivered a compelling option at the $250 price point, and we'd expect a heated battle in the midrange graphics market going forward.

Comments closed
    • Pancake
    • 3 years ago

    Consumers are the winner. With supplies of the 1060 adding to the RX480 that should help keep prices in check a bit.

    No losers either. If you already have an RX480 it’ll be just as fast as it was yesterday and you can look forward to a cheaper second card if you’re contemplating Crossfire in the future.

    But you have to wonder about the future of AMD’s gross margins. The BOM to build a RX480 would be significantly higher than the 1060 – bigger chip, more memory, more complicated board, more power circuitry. Right now, everyone’s selling everything they can make so that’s great but there will come a time soon when inventory is saturated and AMD and their board manufacturers will be squeezed by the better performing, cheaper to make and lower running cost 1060. It’ll be interesting to see what NVidia do. They can definitely bleed AMD by dropping the price of the 1060 in a few months – and still make like they robbed a bank.

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      People keep saying AMD will be fine because their products work well enough, but in order to make money in the computer industry you need to make better products that are also cheaper to produce. Spend less making stuff, sell them for more money. That’s how Intel and Nvidia win. AMD makes good products but they’re slower (hence, cheaper) and more costly to produce.

        • Krogoth
        • 3 years ago

        You know why Nvidia and Intel are more successful? It has little to do with controlling cost and making superior products.

        It is because their products have far better sales due to mindshare and marketing.

          • Pancake
          • 3 years ago

          That’s certainly part of it. Who can forget P4 vs Athlon? But the rot sets in. AMD was competitively crippled by much smaller R&D budgets and ultimately couldn’t keep up the CPU race. I was hoping they could come up with something to take on Core 2 (Q6600 was my first Intel purchase) but they just couldn’t do it. Fast forward to today and look at the state of play of the CPUs from each company. Pretty sad (for AMD) if you ask me.

    • djayjp
    • 3 years ago

    The 4GB 480 for $199 has superior price/performance.

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      Yeah, the 4GB 480 is a great deal right now, especially if you can get one with 8 GB of RAM and flash the BIOS. Get those while they’re hot.

      • rudimentary_lathe
      • 3 years ago

      The way things are shaping up the RX 470 is going to blow everything out of the water in terms of price/performance. That said I’m trying to keep my expectations for the RX 470 low, as I succumbed to the “GTX 980 equivalent performance” hype around the RX 480 (which was kinda true if looking at DX12 or Vulkan).

        • DrCR
        • 3 years ago

        It’s not hype if you just keep believing. 😉

    • anotherengineer
    • 3 years ago

    “The first point of contention is the $299 asking price for the Founder’s Edition GTX 1060. That’s roughly a 25% premium over the reference 8GB RX 480, ”

    On Paper anyway. The FE is about $300 and non-FE on the egg are $310 [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814126114[/url<] , where as the 4GB RX480 4GB can be had for $200 (when/if in stock that is) So that's about a 50% increase in price over the 4GB RX480. [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007709%20601203793&IsNodeId=1&Description=rx%20480%204gb&name=Desktop%20Graphics%20Cards&Order=BESTMATCH&isdeptsrh=1[/url<]

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]On Paper anyway. The FE is about $300 and non-FE on the egg are $310 [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814126114[/url<] , where as the 4GB RX480 4GB can be had for $200 (when/if in stock that is)[/quote<] Cherry picking much? There were $249 custom cooled 1060s on newegg as of today (all sold out, but that's a function of the demand). [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133631[/url<] [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487260[/url<] [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127965[/url<] [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500402[/url<] The ASUS STRIX line you linked to has always been a halo factory overclocked card and both nvidia and AMD STRIX cards have always commanded some form of price premium.

        • Pettytheft
        • 3 years ago

        All those cards showed in stock but every single one of them was unable to be added to a checkout cart.

        • anotherengineer
        • 3 years ago

        Ok I agree, not deliberately cherry picked though, it was just the one I clicked from the TR link. And the FE and 4GB prices still stand at 50% difference.

        Well if I was going to get one it would be this one, due to the quiet cooler.
        [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127963&ignorebbr=1[/url<] [url<]https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/GTX_1060_Gaming_X/23.html[/url<] So still $300, even though there are cheaper ones. Unfortunately, this is what it looks like up here. [url<]http://www.newegg.ca/Email-Promotion/EventSaleStore/ID-956?Tpk=gtx%201060[/url<] +shipping and + 13% tax Sigh, low $ value. Still waiting to see prices on that RX 470 & GTX 1050

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Looks like it’s going to be a happy Christmas for gamers. Me, I’m sticking with my trusty graphics card given the old titles I play.

    Speaking of DX12, given how many games go for the least common denominator anyway, which would be DX11, I’d say the 1060 looks more compelling. Future proof would be nice but honestly, I think most TR folks upgrade their hardware more often than most folks anyway.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 3 years ago

    “Purported”?…really, again? So Bruno, is that tawny, ruby or vintage purported in Portugal? ;->

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      I CLAIM INNOCENCE YOUR HONOR! THAT WASN’T HERE BEFORE I HANDED IT TO EDITING!

        • PrincipalSkinner
        • 3 years ago

        ssk wants his caps back.

    • AnotherReader
    • 3 years ago

    I’ll wait for the custom RX480 cards to arrive before declaring a winner, but right now, it seems Nvidia is the winner on a performance/W basis and AMD is the winner on performance/$. AMD may even be the winner on overall performance if you look at HardOCP’s review. The claims of 10-15% higher performance by Nvidia proved to be incorrect as well.

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      Pcper is showing 10% or better performance than 480 on aggregate. It could boil down to test setup and individual game settings.

      EDIT: Guru3d and techpowerup also show similar gains. No offense to Kyle, but I generally trust their numbers more than [H].

        • AnotherReader
        • 3 years ago

        TechPowerup has the largest number of games in its benchmark suite and the gains range from [url=http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_1060/26.html<]7% at 1080p to 6% at 1440p[/url<]. Keep in mind that the only DX12 games they use are Rise of the Tomb Raider and Hitman, and they disable DX12 for Hitman. Kyle's policy of not relying on canned benchmarks, IMHO, is superior; of course, if you want to test a lot of games, it is not viable.

          • rxc6
          • 3 years ago

          I agree. I use TPU for comparisons with older cards. TR for latency and HardOCP for gameplay. I only use benchmarks to verify things are running well. I play games and Kyle provides that info.

      • rudimentary_lathe
      • 3 years ago

      My read of things is that the RX 480 wins on DX 12 and Vulkan – where games are heading – while the 1060 beats handily on DX11.

      One thing that may muddle the review picture somewhat is that apparently the vanilla RX 480 doesn’t sustain its 1266MHz boost clock due to bad cooling/poor fan profile out of the box. Some reports I’ve seen suggest it averages about 1200MHz boost. That’s a 5% difference right there, which would bridge the gap considerably. It’s fixable through Wattman for the vanilla card, and shouldn’t be an issue with partner cards. Also, apparently Polaris benefits more than most cards from a memory overclock. So a sustained stock boost clock and a solid memory overclock could bring ~10% gains, even before a core overclock (although Polaris doesn’t seem to have much headroom for core overclocking at this point).

    • NeelyCam
    • 3 years ago

    Interesting result comparing 1070 and 1060 on GTAV:

    [url<]http://www.pcper.com/files/review/2016-07-18/GTAV_1920x1080_PER.png[/url<] Why are 1060 frame times more stable?

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]Why are 1060 frame times more stable?[/quote<] I saw that as well, and my thought is that the higher frame rates get, the more individual frame times become CPU-dependent. There are some games (usually poorly optimized ones) I play that I can see stutter at 100+ fps*, because it's not GPU sync or rendering time stutter, it's poorly optimized engines stuttering the game state. Necropolis is one such. * EDIT: edited to clarify that this is at 110 observed fps on a 144 Hz G-Sync Display driven by a GTX 1070. FPS line as reported by msi afterburner is flat at 110 fps, but I'm seeing microstutters when playing Necropolis. Overwatch at 130 fps, on the other hand, is smooth as silk, even with framerate drops down to 101 fps (I know, poor me :p) **EDITS: Aaaand... I can't spell :/

        • EndlessWaves
        • 3 years ago

        I suspect that’s not really an issue with variable refresh rate screens being so cheap.

        Oh wait, this is an nVidia card.

    • Krogoth
    • 3 years ago

    I’m impressed by the headline.

      • pranav0091
      • 3 years ago

      Half life 3 confirmed

      • Mr Bill
      • 3 years ago

      Yessss, we likesss it we does.

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      Thanks for the headss-up. The headdline is now fixxed.

      • anotherengineer
      • 3 years ago

      What?!?! Seriously?!?! Impressed?!?!?

      I don’t understand the world anymore………………..

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      You’re lying. You’re never impressed.

    • torquer
    • 3 years ago

    Wonder how the 3gb version will stack up against the 4gb 480

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      It works as well as the 18GB 480 since neither that nor the 3GB 1060 exist

        • torquer
        • 3 years ago

        Its amazing how one day something doesn’t exist and the next day it gets released.

        A 3GB variant has been rumored for some time and would be an easy change from Nvidia’s perspective, not to mention a common configuration in the past. Granted the price may only drop by $20-40 but from a price/performance perspective it could make them more competitive on the lower end of this market.

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      I doubt they would release a 3 GB version. I could see a 4 GB GTX 1050 as a market competitor to the RX 470, though.

        • Prestige Worldwide
        • 3 years ago

        They are releasing a 3gb model with less CUDA cores than the 6gb model.

          • Voldenuit
          • 3 years ago

          If they’re cutting CUDA cores, a 4 GB card would be more likely, right, unless they want to chop the ROPs in half as well? Then again, I’m not sure how disconnected the ROPs are from the memory channels in Pascal.

          I agree that a hypothetical 1050 would most likely be a GP106 with *fewer* CUDA cores than a 1060. I’m guessing the ROP count would either be cut to 2/3, or they could keep the same number of ROPs and do a weird memory partition on 4 GB like was done on the 970 and 660Ti, which, despite much nerd outrage, rarely presented any real-world deficit.

      • pranav0091
      • 3 years ago

      What 3 gb version?
      I havent seen any announcements.

      <I work at Nvidia, but my comments are only personal>

        • torquer
        • 3 years ago

        Curious, did you see any announcements about a 1060 a month ago either?

        Its amusing to me what gets you all going sometimes. Speculating about a possible future product at a lower price point is now somehow verboten?

          • pranav0091
          • 3 years ago

          “the 3gb version” means (IMO), that you are referring to a known quantity – a specific card that already exists – but no such card is known.

          A better way to put it would have been “a 3gb version” – implying you wished to compare it to a hypothetical product that matched your description. But hey I’m not the one down-voting, so I have no idea why you get downvoted.

            • torquer
            • 3 years ago

            I imagined people could infer from context, but I forgot this is the internet :p

            I don’t mind the downvoting. For some reason as soon as it starts I start rooting for some kind of epic -150 downvote, especially on something so stupid and undeserving of internet furor

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      Nvidia decided to discontinued 3GiB 1060 at the last minute and is going to instead later release a binned GP106 with 3GiB marketed as “GTX 1050” for I would presume the $100-149 market to go up against AMD’s binned Polaris chips a.k.a 460 and 470.

        • torquer
        • 3 years ago

        it’d be odd to have such a gulf between a $99-149 card and a $249 card. Given the smaller fabrication its at least conceivable that it would be more cost effective to cut down GP106 rather than use a larger more expensive to produce Maxwell card to fill that price point

          • Voldenuit
          • 3 years ago

          Given economies of scale, it may be cheaper to die harvest an existing production line of GPUs than to run (and queue, and balance production relative to market demand and yields) a completely separate line for a smaller GPU.

          Smaller preexisting dies (like GP106) are not a big loss to harvest, whereas bigger dies (like GP104) may have more manufacturing defects per die, so in both cases, a business case can be made for a die-harvested line (eg 1080–> 1070, 1060–> 1050).

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This