(Interactive GTX 1060 comparison chart found below! Click on each row to find the latest price on Amazon.com)
One of the most popular cards of the year without a doubt has got to be the GTX 1060. While it is not the thousand+ dollar beast of a card to max out 4K gaming and multiple monitors… most gamers and enthusiasts don’t have one or more 4K monitors they need to max out. For a large number of us, the extra five, six, or eight hundred dollars would be wasted, when a two or three hundred card (ie the GTX 1060) would suit our needs and still have some room for future-proofing. The 1060 line is powered by the new Pascal architecture, and was released with both 3Gb and 6Gb GDDR5 memory options. Outperforming the 960 line by up to 2 times in gaming, and up to 3 times performance in VR, it’s no wonder so many people are opting for the awesome power hidden in this gem of a video card.
There are so many factors involved when you want to crown one particular variant over another for the ‘best’ example of a given lineup. For the GTX 1060, the Gigabyte Windforce OC 6Gb beats out the lineup with a number of nice features. This variant is equipped with 6Gb of 192-bit GDDR5 video memory, and comes with a factory boosted clock speed of 1797MHz. It’s priced at a modest $259.99 as of this writing, so is also a good option for those wanting an OC, 6Gb model, without a $290+ budget. The card itself is rather stylish, with a dual-fan cooling array and a black shroud featuring orange accented pin-stripes. The backplate even has a very nice looking black brushed metal look to it. All in all, this is a solid all-around GTX 1060 which will make most gamers looking to upgrade happy with their choice.
For those of us who like to push their card to the limit, and really bring out the hidden power of any new GPU that comes out, the criteria for a good, or best, video card can be a bit different. For this year, if you’re itching to really crank up a GTX 1060, and get the most out of it, you ought to look to the EVGA SC ACX 3.0 FTW GTX 1060. It comes with the wildly effective EVGA ACX 3.0 cooling system which has a number of superb features designed to keep the card running cool even under a full load and overclocked. Featuring a memory/MOSFET cooling plate, double ball bearing fans, straight copper heatpipes and fan blades with optimized curve for its’ cooling needs, it’s more forgiving than a lot of other options when the heat is on. On the software side, you get the EVGA precision XOC package, which gives incredible control with a clean, easy to use interface. Control for fan speed, CPU and memory clock speeds, voltages, as well as scanning and information display options that are hard to find elsewhere. If you eat, sleep, and breath overclocking, this is the 1060 you’re looking for.
The entirety of the GTX 1060 lineup has seen some really top-notch cooling. There are definitely some differences between them, but it really looks like there aren’t any that stand out as having anything less than ‘pretty superb’ cooling equipped. It wasn’t either, therefore, to pick a best as far as cooling went, but the MSI Gaming X model seemed to inch above the rest with the TORX 2.0 fan system. Built on the TWIN FORZR VI cooling system, the fans themselves generate 22% more air pressure when spinning. MSI even went so far as to use premium thermal grease to more effectively transfer heat from the dies to the 8mm (not 6!) copper heat pipes. All this works beautifully together, to help this card move more air, and stay that crucial tiny bit more cool than the competition.
In 2006, ASUS began it’s ‘Republic of Gamers’ (ROG) line. Now, ten years later, they continue to produce top-notch cards with unbelievable factory OC speeds. The GTX 1060 line is NO exception, and ASUS brings to the table a card with so much power that it demands recognition. It is, of course, a 6Gb variant of the GTX 1060 line, but unlike others in the series, the ASUS ROG STRIX OC Edition comes with a boosted factory clock of 1873MHz. It runs this with the Super Alloy Power II component system, using higher-quality components on the card, and creating a more efficient, and up to 50% cooler-running than previous designs, allowing more room for top-end performance under load. There is a trio of 0Db fans that keep plenty of air moving, and has copper heatpipes arranged for direct contact with the GPU, for 30% cooler operation under load.
Having the fastest rig around can be fun and exciting, but when your PC sounds like a vacuum cleaner when it’s under load, it may not seem so magical anymore. It’s important to find the right happy medium, and the noise level of a video card can be a serious factor for a lot of us. When it becomes a deciding factor, or for those aiming to put together a ‘silent’ PC, the MSI Gaming X is likely going to be where you land. It’s hard to say enough good things about the TORX 2.0 fans, or the Zero FROZR technology. The fans themselves are perfected with 22% additional air pressure, so they don’t need to spin as fast as some of the competing cooling systems. The fans themselves are only half the battle, because without a bleeding-edge heatsink and fin array, it won’t matter how much air you push. MSI uses an advanced top-quality thermal grease, and has direct-contact copper heatpipes, which gives the card an easy time getting rid of performance-stealing heat.
It’s important with ANY purchase to make sure you’ve gone through a reputable company. There’s little worse than spending your hard earned cash on something new, only to find it came defective, or develops a problem two months down the road. EVGA takes customer service to a higher level with not only a standard 3 year warranty on the EVGA FTW ACX 3.0, but they also have the fantastic ‘step up’ program. Maybe you want a 1060 now, but in two months, you decide you want to make the leap to ultra-settings 4K gaming? EVGA has you covered, and with registered devices, will allow you to upgrade to a more expensive model within 90 days of your original purchase. EVGA is so confident in the quality of their products, you can even extend the warranty to TEN full years if you want, for a very nominal fee. When the most important factor is the quality and support you get from a manufacturer, this card is the way to go, hands down.
Bang for your buck, that’s the name of the game these days. There aren’t any losers in the GTX 1060 line for value. This is one of the best line-ups in a long while as far as price-to-performance ratio goes. None the less, there still needs to be a winner for value, and the unassuming EVGA SC nails it. It comes in at a modest price of under $269 on amazon, and despite being a smaller-sized GTX 1060 variant, it packs an impressive 1835Hmz boosted clock speed, comes with the full 6Gb (not 3Gb) GDDR5 video ram, and of course the standard EVGA 3 year 24/7 support warranty. Perfect especially for those building smaller form-factor PCs, this card comes in at a TINY 6.8″ long, so those who enjoy HTPC or mocro-ATX builds (even some MicroITX!) will appreciate the demure size, without sacrificing any power (actually much faster than a lot of the stock 1060s available).
Play hard, and LOOK good doing it. There’s no shame in building something that not only rocks whatever games you wish, but also turns heads at a LAN party or gaming convention. There isn’t a single model that we crowned in this category, because MSI bundles several GTX 1060 variants in their incredibly stylish Zero FROZR fan and shrouds. The cover on this card comes with a black on red motif that screams to be noticed. The TORX 2.0 fans have more blades than traditional fans, giving it a no-nonsense look when not spun up. They also include customizable LEDs that can be set to pulse or dance in a number of configurations, or even glow in time with whatever music you’re listening to! If you want to look sharp while you kill the latest games out there, the MSI Gaming X is a solid option with some really nice perks to keep you happy about your decision.
Every day there are more and more options for gamers, VR users, and general PC enthusiasts. The GTX 060 line has proven so popular in today’s market versus it’s competition for a number of very solid reasons. First is performance. It wouldn’t be worth talking about if the card didn’t stand up to the needs of today’s users. For most of us, this includes, but isn’t limited to; getting your feet wet with VR, maxing out the settings on the latest AAA game on your HD (720/1080p) monitor, watching HD or even 4K movies in a HTPC setup. For each and every ‘most common’ need today, the GTX 1060 checks them off the list with a resounding ‘got you covered!’. Of course, it wouldn’t matter how well anything performs if no one can afford it, and this is the second reason we see so many people making a very smart choice in the 1060 instead of some other options. It’s a bargain. Once more, for emphasis, it’s a BARGAIN. The performance you get out of this card for a price point that, on sale, can be as low as $199.99 is simply incredible. This makes the GTX 1060 line something special. It’s the card most people can afford, but unlike previous years, we can afford it without having to decide what other aspect is worth sacrificing. Staying within budget, but maxing out your video settings is what we’ve all been yearning for, and now it seems, until the next big leap forward, we have it.
Popularity isn’t always dictated by numbers. Betamax, Laser Disc, HD-DVD. All were competitors that despite being superior to their counterparts in some (or all!) ways, just didn’t end up making the cut. Popularity can be the difference between what we want, and what we’re offered. Luckily, this line of cards wasn’t passed up by the general consumers, and with good reason. There is so much going for the GTX 1060 line it’s easy to see why it became a fan favorite for 2016, and looks to be in 2017 as well. Whether you need to stay in a strict budget, need a silent, or stylish card that can still handle 1080p maxed out gaming, VR, and 4K movies (or modest gaming also!), this card has you covered, and it seems to be being recognized by the customer base for their efforts!