Nvidia’s $250 GeForce GTX 1060 will battle AMD for mid-range supremacy

Nvidia took control of the high-end graphics card sector with the launch of its GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, a pair of Pascal cards that are each faster than a Titan X, and now it's going after the mid-range segment with its new GeForce GTX 1060.

Also based on Pascal, the GeForce GTX 1060 is a $250 card that Nvidia says is faster than a GeForce GTX 980. Underneath the hood of this mid-range gladiator is a 16nm GP106 GPU wielding 1,280 CUDA cores, down from 1,920 cores in the GTX 1070 and 2,560 in the 1080. That's also less than the 2,048 cores found on the GTX 980, but Nvidia says it can still trump the previous generation Maxwell part thanks to Pascal's architectural improvements, along with faster GPU and memory clocks.

Like the GTX 1070, the new GTX 1060 uses GDDR5 memory instead of GDDR5X, albeit 6GB of it clocked at 8Gbps. As for the GPU, it can hit a boost clockspeed of 1.7GHz, which Nvidia claims can be "easily overclocked to 2GHz" for even more performance.

The GTX 1060 uses a single 6-pin PCIe connector and has a rated TDP of just 120W. It will also have three DisplayPort 1.4 connectors, HDMI 2.0b, and DL-DVI.

That's all the hardware specs Nvidia was willing to divulge at this time, though the obvious question on everyone's mind is how will it perform compared to AMD's Radeon RX 480. You can bet we'll have an answer when we review the GTX 1060. In the meantime, Nvidia says it's newest Pascal card runs on average 15 percent faster than the RX 480 in today's top gaming titles, and is over 75 percent more power efficient.

If true, gamers looking for a mid-range card will have an interesting choice to make. The Radeon RX 480 starts at $200 for the 4GB model and $239 for the 8GB version, so it's a little bit cheaper with potentially more memory. Custom versions of the GTX 1060 will be available from the usual players—Asus, Colorful, EVGA, Gainward, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Innovision 3D, MSI, Palit, PNY, and Zotac—starting July 19. There will also be a Founder's Edition for $299, also on July 19.

Of course all of those prices are based on actual availability. As we've seen with the GTX 1080, GTX 1070, and RX 480, folks are apparently lining up in the virtual streets to buy these cards, with the result that it's very difficult to find any of them at a price close to MSRP. (Newegg does have a couple of GTX 1070 cards in stock right now at $450, though that likely won't last.) Will the GTX 1060 suddenly break the pattern and be easily available at launch? Don't hold your breath, but if you can hold off a month or two that should change.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).