NVidia really upped the ante with the release of their Pascal-based GPU powerhouses, the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070. These graphics cards offer premium performance at a reasonable price, more than capable of getting the best out of the latest games and virtual reality experiences.
For those wanting some of the Pascal action, but without the price tag, Nvidia have launched the GTX 1060. And it's not to be sneezed at.
For just over half the price you were paying for a GTX 980 this time last year, you are getting the same performance plus a more future-proofed 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8Gbps. 6GB of memory means being able to push the likes of GTAV and Assassin's Creed: Syndicate a little further without experiencing the huge performance drop when the GDDR5 overflows.
Physically virtually identical to its GTX 1080 big brother, the GTX 1060 Founders Edition sports the same striking premium mono-fan look. Notable omissions are the lack of the back-plate covering the underside of the PCB and no SLI capabilities.
The Founders Edition runs at a clock-rate of 1506Mhz base, which boosts to 1708MHz. With a bit of tinkering you should be able to get a bit more performance out of it, even though the cooling system in very efficient, you are going to have to work that fan- which will start to get noisy.
Energy-conscious gamers will be pleased to hear that the 1060 only needs 120W and is fed by just the one 6-pin power connecter. Compare that to the 165W and 2x 6-pin of the 980, and you can see that we have come a long way in a very short amount of time.
The Pascal architecture gives GTX 1060 owners all the extras previously over afforded to those with 1080 and 1070s, making a perfect jumping in point for VR.
The GTX 1060 has been developed with NVidia VRWorks in mind. Whilst right now that means very little, it could be very important in the future as more developers take up technology like Simultaneous Multi-Projection, giving suitably programed VR applications a x3 performance boost. The recent Pool Nation VR update utilises VRWorks' Multires shading giving the must-have VR game a massive performance boost for GTX 1060 owners. VR fans can also check out NVidia's Pascal-exclusive HTC Vive game, NVidia VR Funhouse, available free-of-charge from the Steam store.
Giving the GTX 1060 a workout with 3DMark, you start to see what sort of power you are getting for your NZ$450-NZ$500. The card gets an impressive score of 5730 on the Fire Strick Extreme test. Compare that with a score of 9629 with a GTX 1080 and 9868 with 2xGTX980 in the same i7 3820 machine.
Away from the theoretical benchmark tests the GTX 1060 copes well with all the latest games. Being realistic, you'll not be turning the graphics up to ultra, but you'll certainly get to enjoy some pretty astounding visuals.
In keeping with the impressive performance of the NVidia's Pascal GPUs, the GTX 1060 offers a significant improvement over the last generation's GTX 960. The 1060 is a serious solution, not just for the budget-conscious gamer, but for anyone keen jump on board virtual reality.
The Geforce GTX 1060 Founders Edition is only available directly from the NVidia. Branded versions of the card are now available locally from all major graphics card vendors.