Nvidia has unveiled the GTX 1060, the most affordable member of its Pascal-based graphics card lineup yet. Starting at £240/€279/$250 Nvidia claims the GTX 1060 is faster than a GTX 980—a card that costs upwards of $400 (£380)—and features a power-sipping TDP of just 120W. It'll be released worldwide on July 19. While the full technical details behind the GTX 1060 aren't available just yet, Nvidia has revealed that the card is based on a new GP106 chip, rather than a binned version of the the GP104 chip used in the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. The GTX 1060 sports 1280 CUDA cores, 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8GHz (only a 6GB version will be available), and a boost clock of 1.7GHz that Nvidia claims is easily overclocked to 2GHz and beyond. Power supply is via a single 6-pin connector.
Like the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, the GTX 1060 will be available from manufacturers like Asus, Zotac, and Gigabyte, as well as directly from Nvidia in Founders Edition form at a higher £275/€319/$299 price. The extra £35 buys a dual-FET power supply, as well as a similar blower-style cooler to the more expensive Pascal cards, albeit one made out of plastic rather than metal and measuring a shorter 240mm.
As with the other Pascal cards, the smart money is on buying one of the partner editions, which will offer identical or better performance (thanks to factory overclocks) than the Founders Edition. Notably, Nvidia is promising that both the Founders Edition and partner cards will be available to buy at launch on July 19. However, given the supply issues surrounding the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 (and subsequent price jacking by unscrupulous retailers), it might be best to take that promise with a pinch of salt for now.
The GTX 1060 follows the release of AMD's RX 480 just a week ago, which offers similar performance to a GTX 970 for £180/$200. Indeed, the launch of the GTX 1060 may come as a surprise to many, particularly as Nvidia has historically waited as long as six months after the release of its high-end graphics cards before moving onto its mainstream range. Clearly, Nvidia isn't willing to cede the mainstream to AMD.
Nvidia claims the GTX 1060 is 15 percent faster and over 75 percent more power efficient than the RX 480, which, if true, would make the eight percent jump in price over the 8GB RX 480 more than worth it, so long as you could live with 6GB of VRAM. That's unlikely to present a problem for most games (VR or otherwise) for some time, particularly as the GTX 1060 won't be powerful enough for high-end 4K gaming, which typically demands more memory.
The launch of the GTX 1060 will come as something of a blow to AMD, which—while receiving largely rave reviews for the RX 480—has had a few hiccups since launch. Most notably, several publications reported that the RX 480 drew too much current from the PCIe bus. AMD has since said that the reported power draws "will not pose a risk of damage to motherboards," but is releasing an updated driver that will allow users to reduce the overall power draw of the card at the expense of some performance.