Battle of the mainstream cards: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 shootout (Updated)

By Koh Wanzi - 17 Dec 2016


Updated on 11 October 2016: Originally published on 28th August with three contenders, we've now added in cards from Palit and Zotac for a more comprehensive survey of the available options. All findings have been updated and we've now crowned the appropriate winners.

And the winner is…

 ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060

It’s always a tricky issue picking out a custom card from among a sea of its highly similar brethren. At the end of the day, it usually comes down to details like build quality, design, overclocking edge, temperature and power consumption performance. Because the raw graphics performance on the cards is so similar, it is no longer the sole deciding factor, and the finer points matter even more.

Having said that, it’s quite clear that the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC is ahead of the competition. Its aggressive clock speeds and good thermal performance aside, it is the only one to offer nifty features like the two 4-pin FanConnect headers for hooking up your case fans to be triggered based on the graphics card's temperature. All that combines with its solid build quality, understated design, and versatile lighting options to create what may be one of the most appealing custom GeForce GTX 1060s on the market today.

Then there’s the issue of price. At S$589, it’s difficult to believe that this is a card intended to appeal to the mass market, pushing into high-end card price territory as it is. In fact, when the GeForce GTX 970 was still current, it retailed in exactly the same price bracket. To put in better perspective, a basic GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card has a local suggested retail price from S$399 and you can find many others inching towards the S$450 mark. Given these prices, the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC is nearly 50% more expensive than a basic GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. What's worse, you could actually consider a Palit GeForce GTX 1070 Dual for only S$555 - which is cheaper than the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC! Even if we were to consider it an outlier, the ASUS card is just S$100 shy of all other GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards for consideration.

We don't deny that premium features call for a premium price, but it has to be proportionate to what's in the market, its actual tangible benefit and that of other GPU tiers.

At S$589, the ASUS card is far from being a mainstream card.

How does the ASUS card's asking price stack up against the best of the best GeForce GTX 1060 graphics cards? Its price also makes the ASUS card nearly a S$100 more expensive than the S$495 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming, which appears a rather tall order given that they’re essentially the same card. Finally, the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G sits in the middle of the pack at S$529, despite having lower clock speeds than the Gigabyte (but fancier lighting options).

And we haven’t even considered the even more affordable Palit and Zotac cards, which cost S$445 and S$399 respectively. These cards aren’t perfect either, but their affordable price (and the Zotac’s compact form factor), will still make them strong choices for anyone on a tight budget.

It's also worth noting that Zotac's regular-sized option, the GeForce GTX 1060 AMP! Edition, costs just S$429, which means it would still be the cheapest of the bunch even if it replaced the Mini card in this shootout. When it comes to getting the best bang for your buck, there's no quite beating Zotac here. 

Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 Mini

Ultimately, we can’t help feel that the ASUS card is a way overpriced for the GeForce GTX 1060’s target audience. There are certain features it could dispense with – and which few would miss – in order to bring price down. For instance, the FanConnect headers and the rejigging of display connectors to include two HDMI ports instead of just one. These are great features for sure, but we’re not sure that mainstream consumers actually need, or even want them.

Furthermore, the cooler is also the same one used on the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 OC. ASUS could have used a pared down version on the 1060 and probably not have come off much worse. As we noted earlier, five direct contact heatpipes is a little overkill for the smaller GP106 die.

Ultimately, the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC is a premium card, or as premium as a card based on the GP106 chip can get. If you want one of the best 1060s, it’s a good bet. Our gripes about the price aside, there’s no doubt that the ASUS card trumps the competition in terms of performance and features - in every department you can think of. It really is the best of the bunch.

But if you’re willing to settle for a less impressive option, the Gigabyte card will do just as well, and its price tag is a lot easier to swallow. After all, the people looking to buy the GeForce GTX 1060 are likely not going to cough up high premiums and the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming is a great all-rounder for not much more than a more basic edition GeForce GTX 1060. Oh and if you dig better looks, lighting controls and a quieter card, the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G will be a good pick.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming comes out ahead because of its decent performance across the board.

All that said, we'll have to give the edge to the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming for its balanced mix of affordability, performance, and customization options. It's not the fastest, coolest, or fanciest card, but its rounded performance across the board helps it come out on top. The Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 Mini also stands out for its no-frills approach and low price, which is why we're giving it our Best Value award.

Ratings Breakdown
  Performance Features Value Overall Price (S$)
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC 8.5 8.5 6.0 8.0 $589
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 $495
MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G 8.0 8.0 7.5 8.0 $529
Palit GeForce GTX 1060 Super JetStream 7.5 8.0 8.5 8.0 $445
Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 Mini 7.0 7.5 9.0 7.5 $399


Final Ratings

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming.

Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 Mini

Click for detailed results break-down

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC.

Click for detailed results break-down

MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G

Click for detailed results break-down

Palit GeForce GTX 1060 Super JetStream

Click for detailed results break-down

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