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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 - 3GB
3GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
The market for graphics cards priced at £250 has been hotting up since both AMD and NVIDIA released GPUs based on their latest architectures. AMD has been more eager to pinpoint the sub-£200 market with two GPUs - the Radeon RX 480 and Radeon RX 470. Specifically, if you can find one, the Sapphire RX 480 Nitro 4GB is arguably the best card south of this all-important figure.
Whilst the performance-comparable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB is already out in the wild, the aggressive pricing of the two aforementioned Radeons puts the green team into a tight spot of sorts. It has countered by quietly enabling its cohort of partners to release the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, available for under £200.
Sensible move, right? Strip away half the memory and release a cheaper card to stave off the obvious threat from AMD. Not quite, because as you may have heard, the 3GB variant of the Pascal-based card loses more than just half its memory.
|GeForce GTX 1080||GeForce GTX 1070||GeForce GTX 1060||GeForce GTX 1060||GeForce GTX 970|
|Launch date||May 2016||May 2016||July 2016||August 2016||September 2014|
|Die Size (mm²)||314||314||200||200||398|
|Core Clock (MHz)||1,607||1,506||1,506||1,506||1,050|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||1,733||1,683||1,708||1,708||1,178|
|Power Connector||8-pin||8-pin||6-pin||6-pin||6-pin + 6-pin|
|Launch MSRP*||$699 (£649)||$449 (£415)||$249 (£229)||$199 (£179)||$329 (£299)|
The obvious difference, other than the obvious halving of memory, is the fewer shaders on this model. Note that GTX 1060 3GB drops its allocation from the 1,280 to 1,152, meaning that one of the GP106's 10 SM units has been switched off. The reasons for this are manyfold: NVIDIA may feel that simply releasing a card with 3GB of memory does little to differentiate performance from its sibling; the yields may be such that a far greater proportion of GP106 dies operate well with 1,152 cores, or it may be the case that there was no other easy way to offer a different bang-for-buck ratio.
However it is cut, the 3GB card, working at the same core, boost frequencies and memory speeds, is likely to be around five-to 10 per cent slower than the 6GB part. Of equal interest is the price, starting at $199 (£179), so matching the area currently occupied by the AMD RX 470 and RX 480 4GB cards.
As this is not a full-core part, NVIDIA is not releasing a Founders Edition - all cards are to be built by partners using whatever cooling they best deem fit for this 120W GPU. Our feeling is that GTX 1060 FE is ripe for a small card with minimal cooling, though Far Eastern partners usually ignore such advice and go for the biggest, baddest coolers they can find; those commonly used on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 class of GPUs.
So, half the memory and 10 per cent fewer cores are the key traits of the GTX 1060 3GB. The key selling point, quite literally, is the more aggressive price point, with add-in card partners already retailing various models at well below £200.
If your budget stretches to £200 and not a penny more, the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB is an excellent bet, and it is a card that will enable you to play the latest games at ultra-quality settings at the ubiquitous 1080p resolution - no console can come close to matching the power on offer here!
What's more, if manufacturers do it correctly, expect to see small, energy-efficient cards that can fit into a wide range of chassis: the EVGA, above, is a good example of how we see the GTX 1060 3GB fitting into the graphics landscape.
As always, Scan Computers is pleased to retail a wide range of GeForce GTX 1060 3GB boards.