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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition Review

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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition Conclusion:

Once again NVIDIA hits the price and performance marks to deliver a card that gives the user looking to upgrade their system in the $250 to $300 space a significant improvement in performance from what your dollar got you just a few short months ago. The GTX 1060 had a performance target of delivering GTX 980 performance in a much lower price point. Even today, the GTX 980 is still priced in the $379 and up region. As far as performance goes, the GTX 1060 was in the ballpark in most cases. The factory overclocked GTX 980 does have a slight advantage in many of the higher resolutions, but you can tweak the eye candy just a bit to eliminate that gap without sacrificing your visual quality. If you compare the FPS performance delivered by the GTX 960 and GTX 1060, I found the GTX 960 does not compare at all in any resolution or game test. Taking your traditional three years between upgrade cycles, you can see a significant FPS boost by upgrading just your video card to the GTX 1060.

NVIDIA's Founders Edition cards are sold at a premium when you compare pricing with the cards that will be available from the AIB partners. At $299, NVIDIA has priced its premium product at the top end of the scale due to the craft made design and build specs. NVIDIA spent the money to get the voltage regulation circuits and data pathways right to better maximize performance while keeping the power budget low. The GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 Founders Edition cards were available on the open market, but for this card you will only be able to get the GTX 1060 Founders Edition at NVIDIA.com. NVIDIA's AIB partners will have the majority of the coverage for this launch with their own custom cards, including many of them with custom PCBs and massive cooling solutions. Pricing on the aftermarket cards starts at $249 and creeps all the way up to $329 for one card. The majority of the cards will be in the $259-$289 range. Not a bad price point for a full on custom build when you look at it.

As a card that is designed to overclock, the GTX 1060 Founders Edition offers up some robust overclocking capabilities that will obviously drive performance up to another level. Needless to say, every Pascal GPU I have looked at has reached a maximum clock speed range and this card is no different. More to come in our GTX 1060 Founders Edition overclocking article!

Gaining performance by adding a second card to the system has traditionally been the way to improve performance without taking the big budget hit of a higher performing video card. The GTX x60 series cards always scaled well with the addition of another card, allowing you to maximize performance for a modest outlay of cash. Unfortunately, NVIDIA made the decision to focus its multi-GPU strategy on the GP104 cards rather than keeping it available at the mid range. While not officially supported any longer, you may be able to run a multi-GPU setup in DX12 games where the game developer has enabled support for MDA or LDA Explicit modes. In these cases, multiple GeForce GTX 1060 cards may be combined together for a potential performance increase.

When looking at the noise profile and cooling performance of the GTX 1060 Founders Edition, NVIDIA went with a design that is 50% larger than the one used on the GTX 960. This increase in size helps keep the temperatures to a reasonable level on the GTX 1060 Founders Edition. When not set to 100% of the fan speed profile, the GTX 1060 is dead silent while operating. Cranking up the fan speed increases the noise level some, but not to a level that is objectionable. The one gripe I have about the cooling solution is the lack of a window over the cooling solution to maximize the efficiency. My sample did suffer from some blow by, reducing overall thermal performance somewhat.

Every time you use a Pascal-based GPU, you get all the latest goodies from the NVIDIA ecosystem. Ansel has just made its debut in several games, including The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, so that you can take and enjoy in-game images from within a 360 degree viewpoint. This is a new area that has really gained traction as of late. VR Works, Perspective Surround, VR Works Ray Traced positional audio, Simultaneous Multi Projection, and support for Vulkan are all additions to the ecosystem usable with a Pascal GPU, including the GTX 1060.

While the Founders Edition cards may still be looked at as a "reference" card, the bulk of the aftermarket is not using a reference design any longer. As such, the GTX 1060 Founders Edition is in a unique space. For its $299 price point, you get a craft made card with a world of design work to gain the performance and power efficiency needed to be a successful offering. At 1080 and 1440 resolutions, it gets the job done at a great price point. I'm interested to see just how the aftermarket shapes up.

 

Pros:

  • Craftsmanship
  • Performance 
  • Overclocking
  • VR Ready
  • Low noise
  • Turbo Boost 3.0
  • Ansel

 

Cons:

  • Founders Edition pricing
  • Loss of traditional SLI


 

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