The NVIDIA GTX 1060 is a mid-range graphics card based on the Pascal architecture. The card offers connections for DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.
The GTX 1060 chip features 3 gigabytes of VRAM, a reference clockspeed of 1544 MHz, a 192-bit memory bandwidth bus, full support for DirectX 12.0 and a maximum TDP (Thermal Design Point) of 120W.
It's important to note that the 3GB version of the GTX 1060 features less CUDA cores (1,152 versus 1,280) and less texture mapping units (72 compared to 80), which is why both versions of the GTX 1060 are their own options. The pros/cons for the 6 GB version can be found here. A complete overview of the best GTX 1060 cards can be found here.
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Pro Excellent 1080p performance, suitable for 1440p
The GTX 1060 (3 GB) performs extremely well in 1080 (Full HD) gaming situations, often providing a very playable framerate with maximum fidelity settings. For example, the average FPS in Rise of The Tomb Raider (maximum settings) is a very smooth 70 frames per second and the card scores 52 average frames per second in Hitman. The 3 GB GTX 1060 also does well in Tom Clancy's The Division, where it achieves a result of 58 average frames per second with maximum detail.
Gaming in 1440p is also a possibility with the horse power the GTX 1060 3 GB provides. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman and The Division - all with maximum settings, the card is able to achieve average framerates of 46, 37 and 41, respectively. Performance can further be improved by toning down the details a bit.
When comparing the GTX 1060 3 GB to its bigger 6 GB version with 10% more CUDA cores, a performance decrease is noticeable. In the same benchmarks, the larger 6 GB version has an advantage of 8 FPS in Rise of The Tomb Raider, 13 FPS in Hitman and 4 FPS in The Division, all measured in 1080p.
Pro Consumes little power for its performance
Power consumption levels of the GTX 1060 are very good. While the power consumption is somewhat higher than the previous-generation GTX 960 in some gaming circumstances - the new 1060 is the fastest graphics card on the market with a limited maximum consumption of 120 watts. In an idle situation, the GTX 1060 only uses about 9 watts of power - almost half of the amount a RX 480 requires at 16 watts. When looking at intensive full load scenario's such as a Furmark test, the maximum power consumption measured for the GTX 1060 is around 122 watts - a whopping 44 watts less than AMD's RX 480.
The power consumption difference between the GTX 1060 3GB and 6GB is negligible, although the 3GB-version surprisingly consumes around 4 watts more power under load.
Pro Offers exclusive features such as Ansel and Simultaneous multi-projection
The GTX 1060 and other Pascal-based GPU's from NVIDIA offer a couple of exclusive features that aren't available on previous-generation graphics cards or current GPU's made by AMD.
Taking advantage of the new GPU architecture, NVIDIA has introduced a feature called simultaneous multi-projection. It allows developers of games and applications to improve performance when rendering multiple viewports of the same image. This is particularly useful when using a multi-monitor setup or in virtual reality where two images are required, one for each eye. Simultaneous multi-projection allows up to 16 different viewpoints and only requires calculating the geometry of a scene once. In compatible games, users of multi-screen setups can calibrate this experience so that distortion no longer occurs. Virtual reality games can use SMP to improve performance, although developers will specifically need to implement this feature in their games.
Ansel is another feature that is exclusive to NVIDIA's Pascal-based graphics cards. Ansel can be described as a very extensive 'photomode', where you can capture massive in-game screenshots of several gigapixels or capture images in 360 degrees. The player is also able to use filters, adjust camera positions, take HDR-images and share them via the built-in software.
Pro Can handle overclocks well
By overclocking your graphics card, you increase the clock speeds of the chip and memory to gain even more performance. The GTX 1060 handles overclocks well, relatively high boosts of over 200 MHz for both the GPU and memory clock speeds aren't uncommon without the use of special cooling solutions. In this case, an overclock of 229 MHz on the GPU and 380 MHz on the memory result in a 14% better performance in Battlefield 3, in 1440p resolution.
Con Less ideal for use with high-quality texture settings, not futureproof
Three gigabytes of video memory suffices for most gaming situations in 1080p, but the 3GB version of the GTX 1060 might hit limitations when using high-quality texture packs or when using high-resolution texture options (such as gaming in 4K). Multisample anti-aliasing is also quite memory intensive and is less ideal for use with this version of the GTX 1060. Although the lower memory might not form a major issue nowadays, future titles will require more and more video memory in order to run decently.
Con Lacks support for SLI
The GTX 1060 does not offer support for SLI - short for Scalable Link Interface - which allows users to install multiple identical graphics cards in order to gain performance. In other words, you can't connect two or more GTX 1060's and run a dual- or multiple-GPU solution which is very remarkable for mid-range graphics cards.
Con Disappointing performance improvements when using Vulkan
Vulkan is a graphical API that allows developers to communicate better with the GPU, which in theory should result to performance improvements compared to the more standard DirectX 12 or OpenGL API's. The GTX 1060 doesn't do particularly better in Vulkan however, and the difference with the standard OpenGL is very minimal.
Doom is one of the first (and only) titles with support for Vulkan and serves as a good benchmark for OpenGL vs Vulkan performance. Using Ultra settings and a 1080p resolution, the GTX 1060 3 GB is able to achieve an average framerate of 103 FPS and 65 FPS when tested in 1440p. When using Vulkan, performance improvements are not substantial with 109 FPS (+5,5%) and 71 FPS (+8,5%).
AMD's new Polaris-architecture graphics cards are significantly better optimized for Vulkan compared to the GTX 1060 and other NVIDIA Pascal-based GPU's. For example, the AMD Radeon RX 480 performs significantly better in Vulkan, with 1080p results of 85 FPS for OpenGL and 111 FPS in Vulkan, a 30.59% increase.