GeForce GTX 1060 review: Nvidia battles AMD for PC gaming's next-gen sweet spot

The first head-to-head battle in the next-generation graphics card war is here.

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SteamVR and 3DMark

Time for some synthetic benchmarks! And in most of them, the GTX 980 overshadows the newer GTX 1060.

First up: The SteamVR performance test, which serves as the only major virtual reality standard until more benchmarking tools hit the streets and testing becomes more mature. This tool’s better as a pass/fail test for determining whether your rig can handle VR, and its relative performance, than it is for making head-to-head GPU comparisons. The GeForce GTX 1060 falls firmly in the capable range, and firmly between the RX 480 and GTX 980.

steamvr

3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy

We also tested the GTX 1060 and its rivals using 3DMark’s highly respected DX11 Fire Strike synthetic benchmark, which runs at 1080p, as well as its brand-new Time Spy benchmark, which tests DirectX 12 performance at 2560x1440 resolution.

gtx 1060 fire strike
gtx 1060 time spy

The GTX 1060 once again spanks the previous-gen $200 cards, but falls shy of the standard set by the GTX 980. Of particular note, it’s essentially in a dead heat with the RX 480, which is especially interesting in the Time Spy test. Time Spy leverages DirectX 12 features like extensive multi-threading and asynchronous compute. AMD’s been beating its chest about performance gains from async compute in DirectX 12, but this test shows that the async compute improvements that Nvidia baked into its Pascal GPUs appear to be paying off at least to some extent.

PCWorld’s extensive Time Spy preview delves further into DirectX 12 performance results from a slew of Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. The benchmark lets you turn on and off async compute—which reveals some interesting results. We strongly recommend you read it for a better understanding of how Radeon and GeForce cards both old and new perform, though the GTX 1060 specifically isn’t included in the roundup.

Next page: Power and heat

At a Glance
  • Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 offers no-compromises 1080p gaming and supreme power efficiency for an affordable price.

    Pros

    • No compromises 1080p gaming performance
    • Extremely power efficient and cool
    • Can run virtual reality experiences

    Cons

    • No SLI connector
    • More expensive than AMD's Radeon RX 480, but similar performance
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