The OC war
The midrange grudge rematch continues with AMD’s Radeon RX 580 and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 OC.
It’s been a little more than a year since AMD and NVIDIA launched their respective GPUs for the midrange market. Back then, AMD’s Radeon RX 480 lost out by a sizable margin to NVIDIA’s own GeForce GTX 1060, and even then, it was still a pretty close fight between these two.
Fast forward to today, and the grudge match is still ongoing, but this time, it’s in the form of the Radeon RX 580 for team red, and the GeForce GTX 1060 OC for team green. So, with a whole year (plus or minus a few months) worth of experience, we’ll be taking a look at both cards in the form of the Sapphire NITRO+ RX 580 OC and the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X+.
Lean, green, midrange fighting machine
While we would’ve preferred to have tested the cards with their corresponding reference coolers, NVIDIA accommodated us with MSI’s own iteration of the GeForce GTX 1060 OC, the GTX 1060 Gaming X+. Like all of its cards that have been decorated with Gaming X cooling shroud and Twin Frozr VI cooling solutions, the GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X+’s overall aesthetics and physical design does not stray away from the original design.
The card even has a backplate attached to it, lending yet another elegant plus point to this PC component. Ports-wise, you get one HDMI ports, three DisplayPorts, and a dual-link DVI port. It’s nice that MSI had added in a DVI port, but frankly, it’s a bit redundant, especially since people who are considering this card wouldn’t necessarily be playing at resolutions lower than WQHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) to begin with.
But the takeaway highlight of this card is the additional overclocking of the memory that NVIDIA has implemented with this variant of the GTX 1060.
Now, we know what you’re thinking in terms of the memory being overclocked, but it isn’t. The GTX 1060 Gaming X+ still has the same 6GB of GDDR5 RAM, spread out across the same 192-bit memory bus. What was overclocked, though, was the card’s memory speed: The original iteration of the GTX 1060 had its memory clock speed set at 8Gbps (8,000MHz), but with all OC versions of the GTX 1060, that number has been bumped up to 9Gbps (9,000MHz).
In the case of this GTX 1060 Gaming X+, the memory clock speed is automatically rated at 9,126MHz (slightly higher than the stated memory clock speed) out of the box, while its core clock speed is set at 1,809MHz. To power the card through completely, only a single 8-pin PCIe power connector is required.
On another note, the overall design of the GTX 1060 Gaming X+ is relatively pleasing to the eye, thanks to the Twin Frozr VI cooler shroud design and the overall slim design of its cooling solutions.
“The takeaway highlight of this card is the additional overclocking of the memory that NVIDIA has implemented with this variant of the GTX 1060.”
It’s an open secret that the Radeon RX 480 was not without its own set of problems. The card, while still capable of pulling its weight, suffered from problems that included overvolting to overclocking issues.
AMD has managed to address those issues in the year since then, and the end result was the new Polaris Refresh GPU and the Radeon RX 580. In the case of this Lab Exam, we received Sapphire’s NITRO+ RX 580 OC.
Specification-wise, the NITRO+ RX 580 OC that we have comes with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, with its GPU core aggressively overclocked to 1,411MHz. Beyond that, however, the card still retains the same 8Gbps memory clock speed, as well as the same 256-bit memory bus. Also, the card is fitted with 2,304 stream processors. To power it all, the card requires significantly more power than its NVIDIA counterpart, which is why it has an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe connectors built into it.
Aesthetically speaking, the NITRO+ RX 580 OC’s cooler shroud looks exactly the same as all Sapphire cards under the NITRO+ line, albeit with a slight design tweak to the cooling solution’s heatsinks. Compared to the other cards, the NITRO+ RX 580 is also slightly longer and has more prominent heatpipes than a typical NITRO+ Radeon card usually comes with.
“Compared to the other cards, the NITRO+ RX 580 is also slightly longer and has more prominent heatpipes than a typical NITRO+ Radeon card usually comes with.”
Going head to head
To benchmark these two cards, we used the following components to test them: • AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
• Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5
• Corsair LPX 16GB (2x 8GB)
• Noctua NH-U12S SE-UM4 Cooler
• Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB
• WD Caviar Black 6TB
• Corsair RM1000 PSU1 Our benchmarking programs also included the following:
• Futuremark 3DMark 2013
• Unigine Superposition
• Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
• Dragon Age: Inquisition
• Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Typically, we would overclock both cards to their limits when benchmarking. In the case of these cards, we simply ran them as is, right out of the box, and with good reason.
Compared to NVIDIA’s GeForce cards, AMD’s Radeon GPUs are sadly not as overclockable as its counterparts. By contrast, the most we managed to get out of the NITRO+ RX 580 OC was an additional 40MHz, while we actually managed to push the GTX 1060 Gaming X+ nearly 100MHz on top of its original boost clock speed. This would’ve put the GTX 1060 Gaming X+ at an unfair advantage over the NITRO+ RX 580 OC.
As these cards are aimed at those seeking a midrange card that’s capable at gaming on Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) and WQHD (2,560 x 1,440) resolutions, we ran our realworld benchmarks in these two resolutions.
In our synthetic benchmark phase, it’s quite obvious that both cards are going head to head, especially in 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Time Spy tests. But when it came to Unigine’s new Superposition test, there was no argument that the GTX 1060 Gaming X+ was the undisputed champion of the benchmark, both within the OpenGL and DirectX API categories.
But that story takes a turn when we began testing the cards in real-world applications (e.g. our selection of games). Ultimately, it was the NITRO+ RX 580 OC that dominated the majority of games, and in both display resolutions. In fact, the only title that the GTX 1060 Gaming X+ came out the victor was in Tom Clancy’s Ghost
Recon Wildlands, but that being said, the game itself was designed to work more efficiently with NVIDIA’s GeForce cards.
The MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X+ wins hands down in the aesthetics department.
Yes, the card does have RGB, as does the Sapphire NITRO+ RX 580 OC.
The NITRO+ RX 580 OC features a minimalist design.