Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 3GB review

Showing that you can’t necessarily judge a graphics card on how much I memory is soldered to its PCB, Nvidia’s cheaper GeForce GTX 1060 cards include just 3GB of memory, yet cost more money than AMD’s 4GB Radeon RX470 cards. We’ve taken a proper look at the impact of graphics memory on p50, and there are some instances where our tests go over the 3GB mark, but the underlying GPU here is so powerful that the limited amount of memory rarely has a significant impact on performance.

The memory isn’t the only difference between the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB and its 6GB bigger sibling either; the 3GB cards also have a slightly cut-down GPU, featuring 1,152 stream processors compared to the 1,280 stream processors in GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GPUs. It’s otherwise the same stock spec, though, with a 1506MHz base clock speed that boosts to up to 1708MHz, an 8GHz (effective) GDDR5 memory frequency and a 192-bit wide memory interface.

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The upshot of this cheaper card, though, is that you can now get your hands on a proper piece of Pascal silicon.

Performance

Despite having fewer stream processors and less memory than its 6GB counterpart, the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB was only slightly behind the former in our tests. Perhaps more importantly, though, it stayed ahead of the pricier AMD Radeon RX480 cards in most of our tests. A notable exception is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (an AMD Gaming Evolved title), where it failed to achieve a borderline playable frame rate at 2,560×1,440.

In almost every other test, though, the 3GB GeForce GTX 1060 storms ahead, with amazing results in Doom. It even maintained a minimum of 32fps in Fallout 4 at 2,560 x 1,440 with Ultra settings. The RX480 cards were slightly quicker in The Witcher 3 at 2,560 x 1,440, but the GTX 1060 3GB has enough headroom here to enable features such as Nvidia HairWorks, which will significantly lower performance on the AMD GPUs.

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Perhaps the only issue for the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB is its comparatively lowly memory allocation, as it struggles when the memory is really loaded. In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at Ultra settings, for example, the 3GB card only manages a borderline playable minimum frame rate of 25fps at 1080p, while the 6GB card never drops below 31fps and the 8GB Radeon RX480 goes up to 35fps.

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Where this card really impresses, though, is in power efficiency. Our test rig only peaked at 243W with the GTX 1060 3GB installed at full load, demonstrating fantastic performance per watt – even if you ignore the results from the AMD GPUs’ occasional power spikes, and take the general result, the GTX 1060 3GB still consumes less power and produces generally faster frame rates.

Conclusion

With fantastic frame rates, amazingly low power consumption and a surprisingly low price, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 3GB hits the clear sweet spot in terms of bang per buck and performance per watt. In fact, even if you swap the price in our scientific spreadsheet for the price of the overclocked MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 3GB card we tested, which is quiet and well designed, its overall score still comes out 3 per cent above the reference AMD Radeon RX480 4GB.

The only concern is whether future titles will push it to its limit in terms of memory demands, which is already demonstrated in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at Ultra settings, although it will only be an issue in very demanding games at very high settings. If that’s a worry, then the 6GB version (see p51) has you covered, the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB offers amazing performance in current games for the money.

VERDICT

Incredible performance and efficiency for the money, despite its cut-down spec. It struggles in Deus Ex at Ultra settings, but it’s a dear winner in terms of bang per buck.

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Last update was on: February 3, 2023 4:51 pm
9 Total Score
Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 3GB review

Incredible performance and efficiency for the money, despite its cut-down spec. It struggles in Deus Ex at Ultra settings, but it's a dear winner in terms of bang per buck.

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