NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060: The mid-range, one-card wonder (Update)
Performance, Benchmarks, and Conclusion
Performance, Benchmarks, and Conclusion
NVIDIA had stated that the GTX 1060 is supposed to run with the same prowess as their previous generation flagship GTX 980, if not better, and with better power efficiency. Because of that, we had some rather high expectations of the card.
To test out the GTX 1060, we used our testbed, which consists of the following components:
- Intel Core i7-5960X
- MSI X99S XPOWER AC (Intel X99 Chipset) motherboard
- 4x 4GB Apacer Blade DDR4-3200 RAM (auto-timings: 16-16-16-36)
- Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB PCIe SSD (OS, Benchmarks and Games)
- WD Caviar Black 6TB (Games)
- Windows 10 Professional
As for our display, we used Acer’s 28-inch XB280HK 4K display with G-SYNC. For the most part of this review, we ran all of our games on the display’s native 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution, as well as 1,440p (2,560 x 1,440) to see how much difference the performance numbers are.
If you’re wondering at this point why we don’t provide the scores for our benchmarks at Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution, the reason is this: almost each and every one of the cards on this list was designed to handle most of today’s triple A titles at 1,440p. If the card can easily handle our titles and maintain a steady framerate average at this resolution (as you’ll see in the charts below), then there’s no reason that the GTX 1060 will be unable to handle both the stress and workload of a game running on Full HD resolution.
For drivers, we ran the GTX 1060 using the provided Forceware 368.86 drivers from NVIDIA. As a means of comparison, we stacked the card up against its direct competitor, the Radeon RX 480 (obviously). Below is the full list of the cards we used:
- AMD Radeon RX 480 (Crimson 16.7.2)
- Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X 8GB (Crimson 16.7.2)
- Sapphire NITRO R9 380 4GB (Crimson 16.7.2)
- Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 4GB (Forceware 368.86)
As always, we also overclocked all the cards as hard as we could, and just like the GTX 1080 that we previously benchmarked, the GTX 1060 showed us the same overclocking potential as its bigger broher, so much so that we actually managed to push its base core clockspeed of 1,605MHz up to a 2,000MHz on the dot. That’s just a few numbers short of the magical 400MHz, and needless to say, that’s actually quite impressive.
The synthetic benchmarks that we used to test the card were:
- 3DMark (2013):
- Time Spy
- Fire Strike
- Fire Strike Extreme
- Fire Strike Ultra
- Unigine Heaven 4.0
You may notice that we’ve updated the 3DMark benchmark with the latest Time Spy benchmark. We’ve done this because the new benchmark actually allows us to test out the card with the new low overhead DirectX 12 (DX12) API, which essentially reduces the response time between the GPU and the CPU.
As before, the game titles that we used to benchmark the GTX 1060 are as listed below:
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (DX12)
- Hitman 2016 (DX12)
- Ashes of the Singularity (DX12)
- Far Cry 4
- Dragon Age: Inquisition
3DMark 2013 Fire Strike Benchmarks and Unigine Heaven 4.0
With the new Time Spy benchmark, we actually managed to see just how well the card performs when subjected to a workload under the new DX12 API. While the GTX 1060 did manage to keep its score above 4,000 points, it’s quite clear that its direct competitor still had a slight edge over it.
As with its performance on the Fire Strike benchmarks, we noticed that even despite our overclocking, the benchmarks sort of clocked out at the numbers in the charts above, with the increments gained only being minute or next to nothing. At one point, it became obvious that there was no use in pushing the card further, as we began to see diminishing returns on the card’s performance (i.e. a lower benchmark score).
As the majority of Overwatch players begin taking each other on with the game’s new Competitive Play mode, the game is still a title that allows us to see how the GTX 1060 would handle neck-snapping turns and the plethora of explosions and particles that fly around on-screen. On max settings and all framerate limiters turned off, we were looking at framerates of 133 fps on average, beating out the RX 480 and with absolutely no visible stutters throughout the game.
Also, as before, despite having turned off the game's framerates lock and G-SYNC, the monitor somehow still locked itself at 60 fps. This is likely due to some software glitch.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order may already be an old title, but the game is still a relatively demanding title, but more importantly, it’s one of the few titles that scales accordingly with GPUs and our display. Of course, at 1,440p, the GTX 1060 barely struggled to keep the framerates above the 50 fps mark.
As we described id Software's latest title back in our RX 480 review, DOOM is a no-nonsense, morbid and gruesome gorefest that requires a player to think on their feet while prancing around in this naturally fast-pace, arena-style shoot’em up. With its setting cranked up to Nightmare, the card actually beat the RX 480 with by a narrow margin of 2 fps.
Interestingly enough, id Software had updated the game to support the new Vulkan API at the time of writing, so we fired it up to see the results. To our surprise, running the GTX 1060 on the Vulkan API actually garnered less frames per second than the RX 480 did with Vulkan, with the former losing out nearly 20 fps to the latter card in some areas of the game.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Obviously, The GTX 1060 had no trouble in keeping its composure with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Even with its graphics settings maxed out on 1,440p, the card could easily maintain an average framerate of 54 fps throughout.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (DX12)
Rise of the Tomb Raider was surprisingly a no-brainer for the card. Even with all settings maxed out, the card was still able to maintain an average of 47 fps, and this was with SSAA at X2 settings.
Hitman 2016 (DX12)
The GTX 1060 surprisingly didn’t perform as well as we had hoped it would with Hitman, as it managed to maintain an average framerate of 49 fps on the DirectX 12 (DX12) settings.
Ashes of the Singularity (DX12)
Ashes of the Singularity is a title that more or less tests both the CPU and GPU in tandem, but it’s also one of the few titles that uses DX12 to run the game. Compared to the RX 480, the GTX 1060 actually made it only managed to gain an average framerate of 33.9 fps, slightly lower than what we expected.
Far Cry 4
We’ve said this before, Far Cry 4 still sits on our list as one of the most visually stunning titles in the market, which in turn means that it can also be quite resource hungry at times. On the GTX 1060, however, the card ran the game far smoother than the RX 480 at 56.2 fps.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
When it comes to stress-testing out cards, Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of those titles that certainly pushes a graphics card to its limits. With its graphics setting maxed out, The GTX 1060 only managed to maintain an average framerate of just 35.5 fps, putting it on par with the RX 480 in this benchmark.
Operating Temperatures and Power Draw (TDP)
NVIDIA said that the GTX 1060’s TDP would only be in the vicinity of 120W, which is pretty impressive. However, it’s important to note that we did overclock the card, and that meant that the card would be drawing more power.
That being said, it’s actually pretty amazing that the card only pulled a maximum of 223.7W on a full load, far lower than the near 300W that the RX 480 had pulled under the same benchmarks.
Even better is how its maximum temperature only hit a maximum of 66 degrees Celsius, compared to the RC 480’s 88 degrees Celsius.
Based on our review, we can easily say that the GeForce GTX 1060 is definitely a card that packs a lot more power than it lets on. Despite only needing a single 6-PIN power connector, we were actually able to push the card further than we thought was possible.
That being said however, we think it's a huge oversight of NVIDIA when they made the decision to NOT include an SLI bridge on the 1060. Still though, at a global RRP of US$249 (approx. RM1,249), the card is definitely worth the money if you’re only thinking of building a PC with a single GPU configuration.
So then, if you’re on a budget, but still want to do PC gaming with all the bells and whistles turned on, we genuinely do recommend this card.