Reviewers rave about Nvidia’s GTX 1060, but AMD’s Radeon RX 480 puts up a tough fight

With Nvidia’s new Pascal-driven GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card now hitting the streets for a starting price of $250, the reviews are rolling in. It’s packed with 1,280 CUDA cores, 6GB of GDDR5 memory, and a boost clock speed of 1.7GHz that can be overclocked to 2GHz. The card sounds rather tasty for the average PC gamer on a tight budget, promising 15-percent faster performance than similar solutions on the market. But does it really perform?

In a review provided by PC Perspective, the card appears faster than the Radeon RX 480 (8GB) based on five out of seven games used to test the card. For example, testing showed a 38-percent performance increase in Grand Theft Auto V running at 2,560 x 1,440 when using the GTX 1060 against the RX 480, but only a mere 4-percent in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt running at the same resolution.

PCPer gives the GTX 1060 a thumbs up, stating it currently provides better overall performance than AMD’s RX 480.

However, the site points out that, despite the GTA5 performance, the GTX 1060’s lead over the RX 480 starts to shrink when the resolution is set higher than 1080p. The difference in available on-board memory is not to blame (6GB on the 1060, 8GB on the RX 480), but rather the memory throughput performance. Also, the RX 480 was shown to outperform the GTX 1060 when it came to using asynchronous compute shaders in DirectX 12.

Ultimately, PCPer gives the GTX 1060 a thumbs up for mainstream gamers, stating that currently it provides better overall performance. However, which card is best suited for DirectX 12 games is an ongoing discussion.

Ars Technica’s review of the GTX 1060 shows that the card outperforms the RX 480 in Rise of the Tomb Raider at 3,840 × 2,160 resolution, scoring significantly higher in both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 modes using its base clock speed and while overclocked. Even in the 3DMark FireStrike benchmark running at a 3,840 × 2,160 resolution, Nvidia’s new card scored a 3,029, compared to the RX 480’s score of 2,674.

What’s you’ll see in both reviews is that the GTX 1060 is slightly faster than the older GTX 980, with a 6-percent advantage in Rise of the Tomb Raider, and a slightly bigger advantage in other games. Ars Technica points out that the GTX 1060 performs better at 2,560 x 1,440 than the GTX 980, leading by 7-percent in Metro Last Light and 14-percent in Hitman.  Yet, thanks to the GTX 980’s CUDA core count, it retakes the lead at 4K resolution.

GeForce_GTX_1060_header

Interestingly enough, Techspot compares the GTX 1060 with the RX 480 using Doom (2016) and shows some interesting results. Using the Ultra Quality settings and a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, the Radeon RX 480 scored an average framerate of 143 using Vulkan and an average framerate of 102 using OpenGL. Meanwhile, the GTX scored 121 FPS using Vulkan and 117 FPS using OpenGL. So, the GTX 1060 has better performance using OpenGL, but falls behind when using Vulkan.

Based on its review, Techspot believes that the RX 480 is the better product for the price. Under DirectX 11, the GTX 1060 delivered an average of 58 frames per second overall, costing $4.31 per frame. The RX 480 has an average of 52 frames per second, costing $3.84 per frame. Even when using DirectX 12 and Vulkan, the AMD card provides a better price-per-frame value, costing gamers $3.27 per frame (60FPS) compared to the GTX 1060’s $4.16 per frame (61FPS).

Finally, if you look at the review from Hexus, you’ll see that the GTX 1060 goes head to head with the RX 480, sometimes pulling ahead and sometimes falling slightly behind. Most of the reviews we’ve seen indicate this, giving AMD’s card extra props for its current position in DirectX 12 support.

Overall, consumers will have to choose a team and stick with it. Unfortunately, the GTX 1060 does not support SLI, but AMD’s RX 480 supports CrossFire setups, making the latter company’s solution a great, value-oriented choice for multi-GPU setups.

Availability

As you might expect, availability of the GTX 1060 is spotty. A number of cards are listed on Newegg, but at time of this writing only the EVGA model is not sold out. Amazon shows a similar situation, with scalpers predictably swooping in to re-sell cards at a higher price than MSRP.

Here’s a list of GTX 1060 cards that have gone live so far today:

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 Windforce @ Newegg – $250
MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Armor 6G OC @ Newegg – $270
MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming @ Newegg – $280
Asus GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo @ Newegg – $250
Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 Mini @ Newegg – $250
PNY GeForce GTX 1060 VCGGTX1060PB @ Newegg – $250
EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 06G-P4-6163-KR @ Newegg – $260
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 N1060G1GAMING-6GD @ Newegg – $290
EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 06G-P4-6161-KR @ Newegg – $250
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition @ Nvidia – $300

You’ll have to act fast if you want one of these cards soon. If the GTX 1070 and 1080 are any indicate, it may be over a month before they’re reliably available.

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