Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the new mainstream champion

IT has indeed been a long wait for the avid PC gamer - the wait for a new generation of graphics cards using new GPU architectures. It has also been a long wait for replacements for the 'mainstream' GPUs like the Nvidia GeForce 970 and AMD Radeon R9 380. The wait is finally over now with the release of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060.

Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the new mainstream champion
 

We received the Founders Edition of the graphics card which can be bought only from Nvidia's website. The company's partners like MSI and Asus are certain to bring out their own special editions in the near future with higher clock speeds.
 
Nvidia expects the graphics cards from its partners to be priced in the RM1,000 range, the sweet spot for OEMs and mainstream PC gamers.
 
Architecture and Design
 
According to Nvidia, the GeForce GTX 1060 has been crafted for speed and optimised for performance per watt. Like its senior siblings, the GeForce 1070 and GeForce 1080, the 1060 is manufactured using a 16nm process. Its top power consumption is capped at 120 watts.
 

Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the new mainstream champion
 

Although using the same 'Pascal' architecture as the 1070 and 1080, the GTX 1060 uses a completely new chip, the GP106.  The GTX 1060 features 1,280 CUDA cores and 6GB of GDDR5 memory.  The core chip clock speed is 1506MHz and the memory clock speed in the Founders Edition is 8GHz. The memory is linked to the GPU via a 192-bit interface which provides a maximum memory bandwidth of 192GB/sec.
 
Like all Pascal graphics cards, the GTX 1060 includes support for Nvidia's Simultaneous Multi-Projection technology. Useful for VR, this allows the GTX 1060 to project a single image simultaneously to both eyes. According to Nvidia, this yields a 3x VR graphics performance improvement over previous generation of GPUs.
 
If you wish to get a basic understanding of this technology, watch this video below.
 

 
The GTX 1060 also supports Nvidia's Ansel technology. With Ansel, users can compose the gameplay shots they want, pointing the camera in any direction, from any vantage point within a gaming world. It can then capture a 360-degree stereo image for viewing with a VR headset or Google Cardboard.
 
For a better understanding, watch this video.
 

 
As you would expect, there are no games yet in the market which supports this technology. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be available soon supporting this technology. Many more are sure to follow this year.
 
The GeForce GTX 1060 Founder’s Edition has a faceted die-cast aluminium body. Although it consumes only 120 watts, it is still a dual slot graphics card. But it requires only a single 6-pin power connector in addition to the power from the PCI Express slot.
 
Performance
 
In its marketing literature, Nvidia compares the new GTX 1060 with its previous generation GTX 960 GPU. It makes sense as both GPUs are aimed at the same pricing tier. For our testing comparison, we used the GTX 970 which is priced higher than the GTX 960, but cheaper than the new GTX 1060.
 
In DirectX 11 tests using 3DMark 11 and Unigine benchmarks, despite being cheaper, the GTX 1060 ended up about 10 to 15 percent faster than the older GTX 970. Interestingly, we could not see the same performance increase in our OpenGL test using Maxon's Cinebench. The GTX 1060 actually ended up slightly slower. One suspects that the GPU's OpenGL performance will improve with newer driver versions.
 
All our testing was done at Full HD (1080p) resolution. This is also the resolution for most monitors these days. But if you wish to play your games at 4K, a single GTX 1060 is not sufficient for attaining playable frame rates. You might want to consider upgrading to its much more expensive sibling, the GTX 1080 or a SLI solution using two GTX 1060 cards.
 
The GTX 1060 is also whisper quiet. Even with the GPU at full load, we could hardly hear it outside the PC case. There can be no doubt about it - the GTX 1060 is the new mainstream champion. It offers excellent gaming performance at 1080p while lowering the price barrier.
 
Rating: 5 out of 5

 
Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the new mainstream champion
Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the new mainstream champion

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