After the July 7 paperlaunch, we now have the GeForce GTX 1060 hard launch with reviews and retail availability. This new card is based on the GP106 GPU and is the new mainstream Pascal video card. It features 1280 CUDA cores, a 192-bit memory bus and 6GB GDDR5 memory. Pricing starts at $249 for the custom versions but there's also a $299 Founders Edition from NVIDIA.
Anyway, enough has been written about the specifications of this card over the last couple of weeks, now it's time to take a look at the performance to see if it lives up to the hype.
Our first stop is TechPowerUp, they conclude the new mid-range card from NVIDIA is twice as fast as the GTX 960 and slightly faster than a GeForce GTX 980. It's about 7 percent faster than the AMD Radeon RX 480 and in terms of energy efficiency it's far ahead of the RX 480. The site picks the GTX 1060 as a winner versus the RX 480, but how much a win will largely depend on the pricing of the custom design cards.
Soon we will be seeing custom design cards for GTX 1060 (some even today) and custom design RX 480s should be out real soon too, which could shift the balance slightly, but overall I'd say GTX 1060 comes out a winner over RX 480. All these considerations were assuming that GTX 1060 pricing will gravitate towards the Founders Edition price of $299 - just like it is happening right now with GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. Should there be actual GTX 1060 cards in the market at $249, then this will destroy any hopes of AMD, because then GTX 1060 will beat it in Performance per Dollar too, with no clear wins left for AMD to convince potential buyers.
Next is a review from HotHardware, they were impressed by the great value, the good performance, the cool and quiet operation, and the overclockability. One disadvantage is the lack of SLI support, but for most gamers this isn't really relevant.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 is a very compelling product. For under $300 it offers additional features and performance that’s in-line with much more expensive products in many scenarios. The GeForce GTX 1060 is also power friendly, quiet, and highly overclockable. Taking all of that into consideration, the GeForce GTX 1060 is easily one of the most attractive graphics cards for gamers that can’t afford higher-end, flagship offerings like the GTX 1070 or 1080.
HardOCP writes the Founders Edition is simply overpriced but notes the card makes a lot of sense at the $249 price point. The site does note that DX12 (and Vulkan) performance remains a bit of an unknown and that a larger game sample size will be needed to see how the two line up in the next-gen games.
When you look at the raw performance though, AMD Radeon RX 480 just mops up the competition with the Vulkan API in DOOM. This lead continues in Hitman under DX12. GeForce GTX 1060 does allow a great gaming experience no question about it. We were able to run at the highest settings at 1080p and nearly the highest settings at 1440p. However, AMD Radeon RX 480 just simply outperforms it under DX12.
We didn't see much difference in Rise of the Tomb Raider either in DX12 or DX11. In that game, both video cards allowed the same gameplay experience and performance. They really were neck and neck. In The Witcher 3 the GeForce GTX 1060 had a performance advantage.
And the end our brief overview, here's a review from PC Perspective. They conclude the GTX 1060 provides better overall performance for mainstream PC gamers but believe the RX 480 may end up faster in future games:
The second caveat is more complex: the argument could be made (and likely will be) that the Radeon RX 480 is faster in the “future” outlook games. Hitman (2016) and 3DMark Time Spy are both known to use asynchronous compute shaders under DX12 – one of the key areas that AMD has been promoting and targeting. In both of those benchmarks, and the DX12-based Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, the Radeon RX 480 is able to outperform the GeForce GTX 1060. It’s worth noting however, that Rise of the Tomb Raider is also using the DX12 API, and in that case the GTX 1060 is not just faster but significantly so (20% at 1080p).
NVIDIA also provided a brief overview of the custom AIB versions and the expected retail pricing of these cards. With exception of the ASUS STRIX card, most models will be cheaper than the Founders Edition.