The GTX 1060 arrives to take on the RX 480

Intro

The GeForce GTX 1060 is Nvidia’s third GPU based on 16nm Pascal architecture.  It is very similar to the GTX 1070 that we reviewed at the end of May although it is less powerful.  It is also considerably less expensive compared with the GTX 1070 which launched at $459 for the reference Founders Edition, or at $379 for entry-level partner cards.  The GTX 1060 is priced starting at $249, or at $299 for the built by Nvidia reference Founders Edition that we are testing today, and they will be available for purchase today, on July 19.  The GTX 1060 will compete directly with AMD’s RX 480 8GB which retails for $239.rx-480v1060

Instead of repeating all of the same information in our GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 launch reviews, we are going to highlight the differences between them and the GTX 1060, and then we will benchmark it against a similar but completely updated benching suite to see just how capable it is.  We are going to compare its performance with that of its rivals, the AMD RX 480 and the 290X, as well as against the GTX 980, the GTX 970 EXOC, and we will see how close it can get to the much more expensive GTX 1070.  We also want to compare it with the GPU it is replacing, a factory overclocked Maxwell ASUS Strix GTX 960 OC 2GB – which launched last January for $209 – to see if it is a worthy upgrade.

The GTX 1070 is based on the same GP104 GPU used in the GeForce GTX 1080, but the GeForce GTX 1060 is based on an all new Pascal GPU, GP106.  It supports all of the same new features that Nvidia’s Pascal architecture brings.  They all deliver high clock speeds while using relatively little power – the GeForce GTX 1060 runs over 1.5 GHz with a TDP of just 120 watts. Pascal’s 16nm manufacturing process allows the GTX 1060 GPU to perform faster than Maxwell generation GPUs giving GeForce GTX 1060 a huge performance lead over the GeForce GTX 960.

Nvidia also claims that the GTX 1060 will be on average 15 percent faster and over 75 percent more power efficient than their competitor’s RX 480, and it is said to deliver a GTX 980 level of performance.  The GTX 1060 is also supposed to be an excellent overclocker, able to reach 2GHz which we shall also test at stock voltage and fan profile today.

DSCN1513BTR received a GTX 1060 Founders Edition from Nvidia, and for the past week we have put it through its stock and even some preliminary overclocked paces with our updated 26-game PC benchmark suite.  Our testing platform is Windows 10 Home 64-bit, using an Intel Core i7-6700K at 4.00GHz which turbos to 4.4GHz for all cores as set in the ASRock Z7170 motherboard’s BIOS, and 16GB of G.SKILL DDR4 at 3200MHz. The settings and hardware are identical except for the drivers being tested.

We are also featuring our newest 2016 games, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and DOOM, and we are also including Ashes of the Singularity, Hitman, and Rise of the Tomb Raider using DX12.  We have also added Total War Warhammer’s newly released DX12 built-in beta benchmark to our regular benching suite plus Futuremark’s just released DX12 benchmark, Time Spy.  In addition, we have also managed to compare Vulkan versus OpenGL performance in DOOM.  We will compare the performance of 26 modern games at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160 resolutions with maximum settings.

Specifications and Features of the GTX 1060

Before we give you the results of our performance testing, we want to briefly cover Pascal architecture, as well as detail the specifications and features of the new GTX 1070.  Since we benchmark 26 games, we have a much larger benchmark suite than any other English-speaking tech site in the world, so we are going to concentrate on performance and we will only briefly summarize the new features of the GTX 1060.

Features of the Pascal GTX 1060

DSCN1339Pascal offers large increases in performance, memory bandwidth, and power efficiency over the current Maxwell architecture. It introduces new graphics features and technologies that confirm the PC as the ultimate platform for playing AAA games and for enjoying virtual reality.  All of the features found in the GTX 1080/1070 are also present in the GTX 1060 and we would highly recommend looking back at our GTX 1080 launch article.  However, this is a very brief summary:

Nvidia sums up Pascal’s features as being “the Perfect 10”, this being the GeForce ten series beginning with the release of the GTX 1080, and now, with the GTX 1060.

Nvidia has engineered the Pascal architecture to handle the demanding computing and gaming needs of technologies like VR. It incorporates several new technologies:

  • Next-Gen GPU Architecture. Pascal is optimized for performance per watt. The GTX 1080/1070/1060 are about 3x more power efficient than the Maxwell Architecture.
  • 16nm FinFET Process. The GTX 1080, the GTX 1070, and the GTX 1060 are designed for the 16nm FinFET process, which uses smaller, faster transistors that are packed together more densely to deliver a significant increase in performance and efficiency.
  • Advanced Memory. The GTX 1070 uses 8GB of the fastest available GDDR5 memory at 10000MHz while the GTX 1060 uses GDDR5 memory at 8000MHz. This is a big jump over the 7000MHz memory used in the Maxwell GTX 960.
  • Superb Craftsmanship. Increases in bandwidth and power efficiency allow the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1060 to run at really high clock speeds while only using 150 watts and 120 watts of power respectively. New to Pascal is asynchronous compute. And new GPU Boost 3 technology supports advanced overclocking functions.
  • Groundbreaking Gaming Technology.  New VRWorks software features let game developers bring more immersion to gaming environments. And Nvidia’s Ansel technology lets gamers share their gaming experiences and explore gaming worlds in new ways.
  • All Pascal GPUs feature an all-new SMP Engine which is located within the PolyMorph Engine. With this feature, the GPU can simultaneously map a single primitive on up to sixteen different projections from the same viewpoint. It allows Pascal GPUs to accurately match the curved projection required for VR displays, the multiple projection angles required for surround display setups, and other emerging display use cases. In extreme cases, the SMP Engine can reduce the amount of required geometry work by up to 32x!

The next generation of games will not only look better but run faster on the GeForce GTX 1080, the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1060. Nvidia has developed a number of advancements for virtual reality – reducing latency, improving image quality, and bringing a whole range of new content to Virtual Reality.

Pascal GPUs

GP104

First, take a look at the GTX 1080 block diagram which proved to be the world’s fastest GPU..Pascal GPU

The GTX 1080 GPU has all 4 Graphics Processing clusters enabled with 64 Raster Operating Units, 20 SMs of 128 Cores each totaling 2560 CUDA cores, 20 Geometry units and 160 Texture units.  It uses Micron’s 256-bit GDDR5X at 10 Gbps which makes it significantly faster than GDDR5 and its 1.61GHz GPU clock has a boost of 1.73GHz or higher.   We also easily managed better than a 1.9 GHz boost clock with complete stability and an offset of +400MHz to its GDDR5X memory (5400MHz).

As befits the slower GTX 1070, it has 3 Graphics processing clusters (one of the GTX 1080’s GPCs are disabled), and it uses 15 Streaming Multiprocessors and 1920 CUDA Cores. The GeForce GTX 1070 runs at a Boost Clock Speed of 1683MHz.  Its 120 Texture Units provide a peak texture fill rate of nearly 202 Gigatexels/sec. The memory subsystem of the GeForce GTX 1070 features a fully enabled 256bit memory interface, and ships with 8 Gbps of fast GDDR5 memory, providing up to 256 GB/sec of peak memory bandwidth, but not up to the speeds of the GTX 1080’s GDDR5X. We also managed more than a 200MHz offset to our sample of the GTX 1070’s core with the new Precision XOC and a surprising +500MHz offset to the GDDR5 memory to 4500MHz.

GP106

Now here is the new GP106 GPU which is used for the GTX 1060:gp106 block

As befits a new architecture, Pascal uses a more advanced and efficient memory compression system.  More effective memory compression means a significant savings in bandwidth which make for more efficiency and for faster video cards than Maxwell.

The GTX 1060 features 1,280 CUDA cores, 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8Gbps, and a boost clock of 1.7GHz.  The GeForce GTX 1060 comes complete with 1280 CUDA Cores and 10 SM units. The memory subsystem of GeForce GTX 1060 consists of six 32-bit memory controllers (192-bit) with 6GB of GDDR5 memory.  The base clock speed of the GeForce GTX 1060 is 1506MHz. The typical Boost Clock speed is 1708MHz. The Boost Clock speed is based on the average GeForce GTX 1060 card running a wide variety of games.

Unlike the reference RX 480 which is a poor overclocker because of its weak reference cooler and single 6-pin power connector and 150W power draw, Nvidia says the GTX 1060 can be easily overclocked to 2GHz.  We achieved that on stock voltage and fan profile and were able to overclock the memory another 700MHz!specs

Like the other two Pascal cards, the GTX 1060 includes support for NVIDIA Simultaneous Multi-Projection technology, which allows the GTX 1060 to seamlessly project a single image simultaneously to both eyes, yielding a 3x VR graphics performance improvement over Maxwell GPUs. This allows GTX 1060 users to play VR games with higher levels of detail than similarly performing Maxwell GPUs. Simultaneous Multi-Projection is being integrated into Unreal Engine and Unity, and there are more than 30 games are already in development, including Unreal Tournament, Poolnation VR, Everest VR, ObductionAdr1ft and Raw Data.

Specifications

Here are the specifications for the GTX 1070:

Untitled-7

Now let’s compare with the specifications of the GTX 1060:1060 specs

The connectors for the GTX 1060 are identical to the GTX 1080/1070’s:DSCN1350

The Founders Edition of the GTX 1070 vs. Partner custom editions

The GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition, like the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070 Founders Editions, are reference graphics card designed and built by Nvidia.  The GTX 1060 Founders Edition will sell for $249, $50 more than the base models of the GTX 1060 partner cards. The Founders Edition GTX 1060 will only be available on nvidia.com. It will not be sold by partners or available from etail or retail sites. It was crafted with premium materials and components and it is ideal for situations where air needs to be exhausted out of a case such as small form factor cases.

Custom cards designed by Nvidia’s partners will be the only ones available at etail/retail. The partners have many custom designed boards, including basic models, highly overclocked SKUs, miniature cards, and those with special fans and cooling solutions.

There will be a variety of GTX 1060 cards on newegg.com and Amazon.com including:

  • EVGA GTX 1060 Superclocked (SC) Edition: $259
  • EVGA GTX 1060 edition: $249
  • ASUS STRIX-GTX1060-6G-GAMING: $329
  • ASUS Turbo Edition: $249
  • PNY GeForce GTX 1060: $259
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X 6G: $289
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming 6G: $279
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Armor 6G OC: $259
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GT: $249
  • Gigabyte GV-N1060G1 GAMING-6GD: $289
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 AMP 6GB: $279
  • ZT-P10600A-10L ZOTAC GTX 1060 Mini 6G: $249

How does the GTX 1060 compare with the GTX 980 and with their rival, AMD’s new RX 480?

We are going to look at the performance of 26 games to compare the GTX 1060 with the GTX 980, with the GTX 970 OC and with the GTX 1070, and versus the RX 480 and the 290X  And of course, we want to see how much the GTX 1060 has progressed over the Maxwell GTX 960 by comparing it with the factory overclocked ASUS Strix GTX 960 OC.

However, before we do performance testing, let’s take a closer look at the GTX 1060.