NVIDIA has crafted quite the competitor to the AMD Radeon RX 480 with its new GeForce GTX 1060, but in some areas, it falls short. The big one for me is that there's no SLI support on the GTX 1060, which makes sense. NVIDIA would begin to cannibalize the sales of its GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards if you were able to buy two GTX 1060s and throw them into SLI.
But with AMD throwing their weight behind multi-GPU support with the Radeon RX 480s, where up to four of them can be used in CrossFire, AMD has NVIDIA bent over a barrel when it comes to multi-GPU support.
If we look at the performance between the GTX 1060 and RX 480 at 1080p, the GTX 1060 wins that battle in nearly every single game we tested - apart from the DX12-capable Hitman, where AMD comes out swinging thanks to its Asynchronous Compute superpowers. NVIDIA continues to dominate the RX 480 at 1440p, but the gap gets closer in games like Thief and Tomb Raider. AMD extends a large 14% lead over NVIDIA in Hitman running in DX12 at 1440p.
4K gaming isn't something you're going to do on the GeForce GTX 1060, but if you wanted to, you could hit 60FPS with a few adjustments to in-game visual settings. The battle between the GeForce GTX 1060 and Radeon RX 480 is much closer at 4K, as we're stretching both of the graphics cards much thinner at 3840x2160. Still, 30-40FPS in today's games isn't too bad - and as I said, with some adjustments to in-game visual settings, 60FPS isn't too far away. It's too bad that the GTX 1060 doesn't have SLI support, as the RX 480s in CrossFire kick some serious ass.
NVIDIA has pretty much grabbed the GeForce GTX 980, sprinkled some Pascal spices onto it, squeezed the PCB smaller, and popped out the GeForce GTX 1060. The $299 price on the Founders Edition is not going to win most people over, and with the current price gouging on GTX 1070s and GTX 1080s, we might see the AIB partners with their custom cards priced at over $300. This is where the battle will happen - the price.
AMD hit a clear home run pricing their Radeon RX 480 at $199/$239 for the 4GB/8GB cards, respectively, and NVIDIA hasn't hit under those prices. They come within $10 of the Radeon RX 480 8GB card with the partner cards beginning at $249, but we've learned that the prices don't mean much right now as Amazon listings for the GeForce GTX 1080 can be as high as $900 right now, even though they should be under $699.
Still, NVIDIA has crafted itself a huge competitor to the Radeon RX 480 with the GeForce GTX 1060. We have stellar 1080p and 1440p performance with a TDP that should make AMD worry. The GeForce GTX 1060 is faster in most games, more power efficient, but loses in key areas like DX12 and the lack of SLI.
The overclockability of the GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition is quite awesome with my sample hitting 2.1GHz on the GPU in boost. The performance gain isn't huge, but it's free performance - and that's something you should never complain about. It will be interesting to see if the custom GeForce GTX 1060s can pass 2.1GHz, but I highly doubt that as it's something that seems to happen on the custom GTX 1070s and GTX 1080s so far - even with the additional PCIe power connectors.
Once again, NVIDIA is back with a mid-range champion with the GeForce GTX 1060, but AMD has laid claim to the mid-range market with the Radeon RX 480 in the last few weeks. I think the Rebellion is working for AMD, and I think the fight won't end soon. NVIDIA is going to continue to push AMD against the wall, but also remember that AMD has the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460 up its sleeve.
What would I recommend? NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition or AMD's reference Radeon RX 480? That's a hard decision. If it comes down to money and you simply don't have the extra $10-$60 to spend on the GTX 1060, the RX 480 is a damn good buy. It's an even better buy when you consider you can buy a $239 card right now and then later down the track you can secure yourself a second Radeon RX 480 and go CrossFire for some great multi-GPU performance gains.
No SLI support on the GeForce GTX 1060 severely cuts its upgradability, and while I understand NVIDIA's reasoning for not having SLI support on the GTX 1060, it's going to hurt when you compare apples to apples - and in this case, the GeForce GTX 1060 against the Radeon RX 480. AMD's foresight to include CrossFire support on the Radeon RX 480 is going to go a long way to winning many mid-range gamers over.
For 1080p gamers who have been using a GeForce GTX 760 (or in that type of class) will find a great upgrade in the GeForce GTX 1060. We have Simultaneous Multi-Projection support, great VR horsepower, and an efficient GPU that won't break the PSU bank. If you've been waiting to upgrade your Team Green GPU and don't have $449+ to spend on a GeForce GTX 1070, the GeForce GTX 1060 should be on your radar.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Performance (overclocking, power)||90%|
|Quality (build, design, cooling)||85%|
|General Features (display outputs, etc)||95%|
|Bundle, Packaging & Software||90%|
|Value for Money||80%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||88%|
The Bottom Line: NVIDIA crafts yet another great graphics card in the GeForce GTX 1060, with all of the benefits and features of Pascal in a 120W TDP package. But, AMD has fierce competition with the Radeon RX 480 - and right now, there's no clear winner.
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