AMD concluded the month of June by releasing the Radeon RX480 graphics card, which quickly shot up to the top of reviewers' recommendation lists for GPUs around the vital $200 to $250 bracket. Seemingly ahead of schedule, Nvidia is rushing out word of its anticipated response, the GeForce GTX 1060, which trickles down some of that excellent GTX 1080 and 1070 performance to the more affordable tier.
So, beside the price, what's new about the new GTX 1060? This junior Pascal card is actually pitched by Nvidia less as a relative of the top tier 1080 / 70 cards and more as a new-generation GTX 980 — same performance, only cheaper and more efficient thanks to the latest microarchitecture. That guarantees you VR-ready performance and promises much better bang for your buck, which as a combination should theoretically sate everyone's wants and needs from a new GPU. Built using a 16nm FinFET process, the GTX 1060 has 1,280 CUDA cores (half the number of the GTX 1080), a boosted clock speed of 1.7GHz, 6GB of GDDR5 memory, a 120W TDP, and five display outputs: HDMI, DVI, and a trio of DisplayPorts.
One thing that might not be immediately apparent is that the GTX 1060's PCB is much shorter than that of its senior siblings, and it's only the reference cooler that extends it to the familiar length of around 10 inches. That leaves open the potential for Nvidia's hardware partners to come up with their own, more compact cooling solutions, especially with water-cooling systems and the like.
As it stands today, Nvidia's GTX 1060 is hard to judge because, unusually for new graphics card launches, it hasn't been subject to a battery of embargoed pre-announcement reviews. That leaves us with little sense of how its raw numbers translate into gaming performance, and so we'll just have to wait a little longer to establish if this new card is indeed a worthy rival to AMD's RX 480. Nvidia plans a global release for the $249 GTX 1060 on July 19th, which is when it will also be offering a limited Founders Edition for $299 as well.