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Review: EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 SC Gaming 3GB

by Tarinder Sandhu on 5 September 2016, 16:00

Tags: EVGA, NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qac6e4

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Introduction

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 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 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
Codename
GP104
GP104
GP106
GP106
GM204
Architecture
Pascal
Pascal
Pascal
Pascal
Maxwell
Process (nm)
16
16
16
16
28
Transistors (bn)
7.2
7.2
4.4
4.4
5.2
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
Shaders
2,560
1,920
1,280
1,152
1,664
GFLOPS
8,873
6,463
4,372
3,935
3,920
Memory Size
8GB
8GB
6GB
3GB
4GB
Memory Bus
256-bit
256-bit
192-bit
192-bit
256-bit
Memory Type
GDDR5X
GDDR5
GDDR5
GDDR5
GDDR5
Memory Clock
10Gbps
8Gbps
8Gbps
8Gbps
7Gbps
Memory Bandwidth
320
256
192
192
224
Power Connector
8-pin
8-pin
6-pin
6-pin
6-pin + 6-pin
TDP (watts)
180
150
120
120
145
SLI support
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Launch MSRP*
$699 (£649)
$449 (£415)
$249 (£229)
$199 (£179)
$329 (£299)

* at today's exchange rate.

Analysis

The obvious difference, other than half the 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 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, operating at the same core and boost frequencies and memory speed, 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 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 advices and go for the biggest, baddest coolers they can find; those commonly used on the GTX 1080-class of GPUs.

So, half the memory and 10 per cent fewer cores are the key traits of the GTX 1060 3GB. Let's now see how EVGA takes Nvidia's newest GPU and runs with it.