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The GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB is a card from NVIDIA, being one of the entry models of the GTX 1000 series, based on Pascal arquitecture. Let’s take a good look at it and see how it goes on our benchmarks.
The GeForce GTX 1060 is based on the GP 106 GPU chip, which is manufactured specifically for this model, unlinke the GeForce GTX 1070, that uses the same GP104 chip of the GTX 1080, but with some cores disabled. This chip is manufactured under 16 nm FinFET process. The GP106 brings 1,280 processing cores, in 10 SM units and 192 bits memory interface, being designed to work with 6 GiB (or 3 GiB) of GDDR5 VRAM.
We tested the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB “Founders Edition” (FE), which is the reference model offered by NVIDIA itself. The models that are not Founders Edition are custom models developed by other companies, like Gigabyte, ASUS, EVGA, etc. Curiously, the MSRP for the Founders Edition is higher than the custom models (USD 299 vs. USD 249,) even if they have officially the same characteristics: 1,506 MHz base clock, 1,708 MHz turbo clock and 6 GiB of GDDR5 memory working at 8 GHz with a 192-bit memory interface, for a memory bandwidth of 192 GiB/s. The TDP for the GTX 1060 is 120 W, and the recommended power supply is at least 400 W. Some custom models can bring, however, higher clocks (and prices.)
There is also the GeForce GTX 1060 3 GiB, which is actually a slightly different video card: not only the memory amount is cut down, but also the compute cores count: the GTX 1060 3 GiB has only 1,152 cores, and not 1,280 like the 6 GiB model.
Just like their more powerful sisters based on Pascal architecture, the GeForce GTX 1060 supports SMP (Simultaneous Multi-Projection), useful in VR applications, and the Ansel technology, which allows to capture in-game pictures with any camera position and very high resolution, including 360 degrees images.
An important detail is that the GeForce GTX 1060 does not support SLI, since NVIDIA considers it makes more sense using a high-end video card (like the GeForce GTX 1080) instead of using two GTX 1060 cards in SLI. You can, however, use the DirectX 12 video card combine feature to use two GeForce GTX 1060 card simultaneously, in games that support this technology.
The GeForce GTX 1060 FE looks a lot like the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070, using a two-slot cooler with radial fan, that blows the hot air outside the case.
Figure 1 unveils the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB Founders Edition.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 1: the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB Founders Edition

The direct competitor, in terms of price, of the GeForce GTX 1060 FE is the Radeon R9 390. We can also consider it as a competitor of the 8 GiB Radeon RX 480, but this model from AMD has an MSRP of USD 230, being, therefore, in a different price point, at least in theory.
We decided to benchmark the GeForce GTX 1060 FE 6 GiB against the Radeon R9 390 and the GeForce GTX 970, which are both at a similar price ponit. Unfortunately, we were unable to include the Radeon RX 480 in this comparison, since we had to return to AMD the sample we tested.
Please keep in mind that the included in this benchmark come with factory overclocking. The Zotac GTX 970 has a 3% overclock on the GPU and the HIS Radeon R9 390 has a 2% overclock. So, comparing other models with different clock rates can achieve different performances.
In the table below, we compare the main specs from the video cards we included in this review. Prices were researched at Newegg.com for this article, taking the lower price for video cards with the same chip.

Video card

Core clock

Turbo clock

Effective memory clock

Memory bus

Memory bandwidth

Memory

Processing cores

TDP

DirectX

Price

GeForce GTX 1060 FE

1,506 MHz

1,708 MHz

8.0 GHz

192 bits

192 GB/s

6 GiB GDDR5

1,280

120 W

12.1

USD 250

Zotac GeForce GTX 970

1,076 MHz

1,216 MHz

7.0 GHz

256 bit

224 GB/s

4 GiB GDDR5

1,664

145 W

12

USD 240

HIS Radeon R9 390

1,020 MHz


6.0 GHz

512 bit

384 GB/s

8 GiB GDDR5

2,560

275 W

12

USD 260

Now let’s take a closer look to the tested video card.
[nextpage title=”The GeForce GTX 1060″]
The GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition is 9.8 inches (249 mm) long and uses two expansion slots. It uses a centrifugal fan, which is a good choice because it blows the hot air outside the case and, at the same time, allows the using of the contiguous slot without spoiling the card refrigeration.
In Figure 2 you see the video connectors of the GeForce GTX 1060. It has three DisplayPort 1.4, one HDMI 2.0b, and one DVI-D connectors.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 2: the video connectors

In Figure 3 you see the top of the card, where lies a six-pin power connector. The logo lits in green when the computer is powered on.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 3: top view of the GTX 1060

Figure 4 shows the solder side of the GeForce GTX 1060. As you can see, there are no memory chips at this side. Besides that, it is clear that the PCB is shorter than the cooler.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 4: solder side

Figure 6 shows the cooler of the GeForce GTX 1060 FE, with the plastic cover removed. This cooler is actually a big aluminum piece with a radial fan.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 5: the GTX 1060 FE with the cover removed

In Figure 7 you see the GeForce GTX 1060 with the cooler removed. Notice that there are six memory chips, and two empty spaces for more two chips: this is because the GP106 chip is pin-to-pin compatible with the GP104, used by the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080. So, the same PCB can be used for any of those cards.
As we mentioned before, the PCB is shorter than the cooler, measuring only 6.8 inches (173 mm). Therefore, it is possible that different manufacturers offer shorter versions of the GeForce GTX 1060.
An interesting detail is that the six-pin PCI Express power connector is not actually at the PCB: it is attached to the cooler and connected do the card by wires.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 6: the GTX 1060 FE with the cooler removed

In Figure 8 you see the GP106 GPU chip, made under 16 nm technology.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 7: the GP106 GPU

Figure 9 shows one of the six memory chips present at the GeForce GTX 1060. It is a Samsung K4G80325FB-HC25 (curiously, the same chip model used at the Radeon RX 480 we tested,) with 8 Gib (1 GiB) capacity each and 4.0 GHz maximum clock (8.0 GHz effective clock). It means the memory chips are already running at their maximum speed, so there is no room to overclock them inside their parameters.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 8: memory chip

Figure 10 shows the voltage regulator circuit of the GeForce GTX 1060. It uses three phases for the GPU and one phase for the memory chips.

GeForce GTX 1060 FEFigure 9: the voltage regulator circuit

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between the tests, the only variable component was the video card being tested.
Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • NTFS
  • Desktop video resolution: 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • AMD driver version: 16.8.1
  • NVIDIA driver version: 368.81

Software Used

Error Margin
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
[nextpage title=”3DMark”]

3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. We ran three benchmarks: Time Spy, Fire Strike Ultra, and Sky Diver.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

The Time Spy benchmark measures DirectX 12 performance, running simulations at 2560 x 1440 resolution. In this test, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 18% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 12% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

Fire Strike Ultra benchmark measures DirectX 11 performance and is targeted to high-end gaming computers. It run in 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution. In this test, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 16% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 18% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

The Sky Diver benchmark is targeted to mainstream computers, running DirectX 11 simulations in Full HD (1920 x 1080). In this test, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 9% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 14% faster than the Radeon R9 390.[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance (part 1)”]

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 is one of the most popular games of the Battlefield franchise, being released in 2013. It is based on the Frostbite 3 engine, which is DirectX 11. In order to measure performance using this game, we walked our way through the first mission, measuring the number of frames per second (fps) three times using FRAPS. We ran this game at Full HD, setting overall image quality at “ultra.”
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

On Battlefield 4, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 20% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 15% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Dirt Rally

Dirt Rally is an off-road racing game released in April 2015, using Ego engine. To measure performance using this game, we ran the performance test included in the game, in Full HD resolution and image quality configured as “ultra” and MSAA 2x.
The results below are expressed in fps.
GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

In this game, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE performed similarly to the GeForce GTX 970, and was 4% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Doom

Doom is a horror/sci-fi/first person shooter game launched in may 2016, that uses the id Tech 6 engine. We tested the video card performance in this game using the OpenGL API option, with the quality option as “high”, FXAA on, and Full HD resolution, measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
Dying Light Dying Light is an open-world horror game launched in January 2015, using the Chrome Engine 6. We tested the performance at this game with all quality options as “high” and Full HD resolution, measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS. The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results. On Dying Light the GeForce GTX 960 was 6% faster than the Radeon R9 380.
On Doom the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 15% faster than the GeForce GTX 970, and had a similar performance to the Radeon R9 390.

Dying Light

Dying Light is an open-world horror game launched in January 2015, using the Chrome Engine 6. We tested the performance at this game with all quality options at the maximum and Full HD resolution, measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
Dying Light Dying Light is an open-world horror game launched in January 2015, using the Chrome Engine 6. We tested the performance at this game with all quality options as “high” and Full HD resolution, measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS. The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results. On Dying Light the GeForce GTX 960 was 6% faster than the Radeon R9 380.
On Dying Light the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 16% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 25% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is a open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015 and uses the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game (the plane portion), measuring the frame rate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V at Full HD, with image quality set as “very high” and MSAA as 2x.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

On GTA V, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 15% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 24% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Hitman

Hitman is a stealth/action game launched in march of 2015, using the Glacier 2 engine, which is compatible with DirectX 12. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its performance test, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD, DirectX 12 enabled, and with image quality set as “ultra”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

On Hitman, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 23% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 4% slower than the Radeon R9 390.

Mad Max

Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD, with image quality set as “very high”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

On Mad Max, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 15% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and the Radeon R9 390.

Rise of the Tomb Rider

Rise of the Tomb Rider is an adventure/action game launched in January of 2016, based on Foundation engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using Full HD resolution, DirectX 12 enabled, and graphics quality “high”.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark
On Rise of the Tomb Rider, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 8% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 16% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open-world RPG released in May of 2015 and based on the REDengine 3 engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we walked around at the first scene of the game, measuring the frame rate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD with image quality set to “ultra.”

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB benchmark

In this game, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB FE was 17% faster than the GeForce GTX 970 and 21% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
Just like AMD did with the launch of the Radeon RX 480, NVIDIA brings, on its new generation of video cards based on Pascal Architecture, a great advance in energetic efficiency. The GeForce GTX 1060 is a proof of that: even being based on the entry chip from Pascal series, it is faster (14% in average) than the top/mainstream model from the last generation, the GeForce GTX 970, with a smaller electrical consumption. The GeForce GTX 1060 ran cold and quiet on all tests we did. According to our benchmarks, the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB was also faster than the Radeon R9 390.
In a certain way, the GeForce GTX 1060 comes to replace the GeForce GTX 960, because on NVIDIA series, cards ending with 60 are aimed on casual players and “e-sports” users, while 70 and 80 models are targeted to enthusiasts and gamers. However, we did not compare the GTX 1060 to the GTX 960 because, besides the new model has a higher price point, the GTX 1060 is clearly way faster than the GTX 960, since it even beats the higher-end GTX 970.
All of this leads to the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB being an excellent choice for anyone looking for a mainstream video card capable of running games in Full HD with high quality and framerate.