Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edi­tion

PC Advisor - - REVIEWS -

As the lat­est and most af­ford­able model in Nvidia’s range of ‘Pas­cal’ graph­ics pro­ces­sors, the GeForce GTX 1060 is the most ex­cit­ing new re­lease for cost-con­scious PC gamers.

Price

Nvidia’s Founders Edi­tion boards gen­er­ally cost sig­nif­i­cantly more than the third-party ver­sions that be­come avail­able soon af­ter, and the story is no dif­fer­ent here. At £275 di­rect from Nvidia, it prob­a­bly isn’t the most sen­si­ble op­tion, when there are fac­tory over­clocked mod­els avail­able for about £239, which will run faster. On the other hand, if your prime con­cern is to keep costs as low as pos­si­ble, you may find a 4GB AMD RX 480 would save you money and give you all the per­for­mance you need, es­pe­cially on a 1080p dis­play.

Fea­tures

The card comes with all the per­for­mance, power con­sump­tion and fea­ture ben­e­fits of Nvidia’s Pas­cal ar­chi­tec­ture al­beit at a more mod­est per­for­mance level. How­ever, the GTX 1060 is fast enough to run the lat­est games with de­cent qual­ity set­tings at up to 2160x1440 pix­els.

Ex­ter­nally, the card looks es­sen­tially like a slightly shorter ver­sion of the more ex­pen­sive Pas­cal cards, and where the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 pro­vide a win­dow through which the fins of the heatsink are vis­i­ble, the GTX 1060 is en­tirely en­closed in a black shroud. The Founders Edi­tion board fea­tures a sin­gle fan, which blows air over the card, to be ejected at the rear of the PC. Here, we find a trio of Dis­playPort 1.4 con­nec­tors along­side sin­gle HDMI 2.0b and Dual-Link DVI ports.

Like the other Pas­cal boards, it’s a two-slot de­sign and this model re­quires a sin­gle 6-pin PCI-Ex­press power con­nec­tor. Sadly, the GTX 1060 is miss­ing the metal back­plate found on more ex­pen­sive cards.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

Although part of the Pas­cal line-up, the GTX 1060 isn’t sim­ply a cut­down ver­sion of a higher-end card in the way that the GTX 1070 is a leaner ver­sion of the GTX 1080, both be­ing based on vari­ants of the GP104 pro­ces­sor. The GTX 1060 is based on a newly de­signed midrange pro­ces­sor, named GP106.

The new card runs with 1280 CUDA cores run­ning at a base clock speed of 1506MHz, but of­fers a boosted clock speed of 1708MHz, which is ac­tu­ally

higher than a non-over­clocked GTX 1070 will achieve. How­ever, other as­pects of the GTX 1060 ar­chi­tec­ture hold it back some­what.

The new card fea­tures 6GB of GDDR5 RAM with a 192-bit mem­ory in­ter­face width, de­liv­er­ing band­width of 192GB/s. The GTX 1070, by com­par­i­son, of­fers 8GB of the same mem­ory with a wider 256-bit in­ter­face and a band­width of 256GB/s. How­ever, when com­pared to the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of ‘Maxwell’ cards, such as the GTX 960, the GTX 1060 is a huge step for­ward in terms of both per­for­mance and fea­tures. There’s sig­nif­i­cantly more mem­ory avail­able: the GTX 960 was avail­able only in 2GB and 4GB vari­ants, and that mem­ory is also faster. It also of­fers more CUDA cores (up from 1024) and higher clock speeds (up from 1127MHz base/1178MHz boost).

The Pas­cal ar­chi­tec­ture also of­fers sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance gains over Maxwell for VR and multi-screen ap­pli­ca­tions, thanks to Si­mul­ta­ne­ous Multi-Pro­jec­tion, which boosts the card’s abil­ity to ren­der a scene from dif­fer­ent view­points si­mul­ta­ne­ously, as is re­quired in 3D ap­pli­ca­tions where a dif­fer­ent point of view is ren­dered for each eye.

There is, how­ever, one sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture miss­ing from the GTX 1060, which was present on the GTX 960. Nvidia has re­moved the SLI con­nec­tors from the new card, so it’s sim­ply not phys­i­cally pos­si­ble to team them up into multi-GPU set­ups. DirectX 12 al­lows for some multi-GPU op­er­a­tion with­out of­fi­cial SLI sup­port, but this tech­nol­ogy isn’t cur­rently per­va­sive or ef­fec­tive

enough to make it worth shelling out cash on a sec­ond GTX 1060.

The GTX 1060 will ob­vi­ously in­vite com­par­i­son with AMD’s Radeon RX480 card. Both have tech­nol­ogy de­signed at de­liv­er­ing strong VR per­for­mance from mid-range graph­ics chips, while the AMD card is avail­able for a lit­tle less than a GTX 1060 in its 8GB ver­sion and sig­nif­i­cantly less if you step down to the 4GB model.

In our tests, the GTX 1060 out­per­forms the 8GB RX480 in most tests up to 2560x1440 pix­els, with the ex­tra RAM of the AMD card help­ing it to close the gap a lit­tle at 4K, although nei­ther card is re­ally pow­er­ful enough to run con­sis­tently well at this res­o­lu­tion.

Where the RX480 has a small ad­van­tage is that, un­like the GTX 1060, it can sup­port dual-card set­ups in cross­fire mode. This rep­re­sents a cred­i­ble al­ter­na­tive per­for­mance-wise to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. It also means that if your bud­get will only stretch to a sin­gle RX 480, you can add an­other one later with rel­a­tive ease as funds be­come avail­able.

Per­for­mance

With con­sis­tently good per­for­mance at res­o­lu­tions up to 2560x1440 pix­els, the GTX 1060 is a great card for the ma­jor­ity of gamers who don’t have 4K dis­plays or multi-mon­i­tor set­ups. You’ll be able to run at those res­o­lu­tions with high or ultra qual­ity set­tings en­abled too while av­er­ag­ing 60fps or higher. For de­cent 4K gam­ing you’re go­ing to have to spend sig­nif­i­cantly more and buy a GTX 1070 or even a GTX 1080.

The Pas­cal ar­chi­tec­ture helps with VR per­for­mance, too: the GTX 1060 per­forms well in the Steam VR Readi­ness bench­mark, achiev­ing a ‘Very High’ VR rat­ing and a VR qual­ity score of 8.3, which is sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the RX 480’s score of 6.7.

It’s worth not­ing though, that the step up to a GTX 1070 would get you the max­i­mum VR qual­ity score of 11. So if VR is your bag, it may be worth con­sid­er­ing spend­ing an ex­tra £100 on the more pow­er­ful card in an­tic­i­pa­tion of more de­mand­ing fu­ture games.

Ver­dict

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edi­tion brings a new level of per­for­mance to mid-range gam­ing, with high frame rates at 2560x1440 res­o­lu­tion, strong VR per­for­mance and low power con­sump­tion, but the Founders Edi­tion is, as ever, not the best ver­sion of the card.

Paul Mon­ck­ton

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