High FPS averages and consistently low frame times don't mean much if a graphics card sounds like a tornado while churning them out. We used the Faber Acoustical SoundMeter app running on an iPhone 6S Plus to measure the noise levels of each graphics card on our test bench from a distance of 18" (45.7 cm). The noise floor in our testing environment is 31.1 dBA. We tested each card at idle using the Windows desktop and under load with our Doom test area.
At idle, only the RX 480 8GB reference card and the Radeon R9 Fury X make any noise—all of our other test subjects have semi-silent modes that allow them to turn off their fans. The Fury X card we have on hand still makes an annoying, prominent whine that's not accounted for in these graphs, though. That piercing sound spoils an otherwise excellent performance.
Under our Doom load, the GTX 1060 6GB and the MSI GTX 1070 card add barely any noise to the ambient levels of our testing environment. Given the levels of performance on tap from each card, I'm over the moon with these results. The GTX 1060 3GB card is still quiet, but its more-aggressive fan profile does lead to some slight-but-noticeable fan noise under load. The Fury X and the Maxwell cards we're working with are all about as loud, and only the R9 Fury, the RX 480 8GB, and the XFX Radeon RX 470 truly make themselves known while running all out.
At idle, the GTX 1060 cards both draw very little power, but the differences on display here aren't that drastic—there's only a 17W delta between the most- and least-power-hungry cards here at idle. Still, the GTX 1060s draw just that little bit less power than their Polaris Radeon competition.
Fire up Doom in all its glory, though, and the differences between process technologies, process generations, and architectures becomes much more evident. The GTX 1060s draw 35-44W less than the Radeon RX cards under load. Not much more to be said here.
The stubby coolers on the pair of EVGA 1060s we tested seem up to the task of keeping them within reasonable temperature ranges. Ambitious overclockers might want to spring for a GTX 1060 with a beefier cooler on board, but Mini-ITX and microATX builders should be thrilled with these cards' blend of small size, performance, low noise levels, and power efficiency.