The time has come to review that massive Xtreme Gaming version of the GeForce GTX 1060 that I unboxed a few weeks ago. Already we have checked out the Gigabyte’s Xtreme Gaming 1070 and 1080 graphics cards, both of which were most impressive despite coming at a slight price premium.
Paying a little extra for a 1070 or 1080 graphics card that runs cool and quiet isn’t a big deal. The 1060 on the other hand could be a different story. For starters the 1060 already runs very cool and quiet thanks to its less complex design. The 1060 is also somewhat of a budget GPU priced at $250 for the 6GB model.
Perhaps the most important factor here being that it has real competition. Unlike the upper-tier Pascal cards the 1060 has to deal with the slightly cheaper RX 480. So inflating the price doesn’t exactly help improve the 1060’s position.
That being said let’s just get the ugly business out of the way now, the 1060 Xtreme costs $300. This is obviously quite a lot more than the $250 WindForce version, so what are you getting by paying 20% more? Well let’s find out…
Compared to your typical GTX 1060 the Xtreme Gaming model is huge. In fact it is virtually the same size as the much more expensive 1070 and 1080 models. Unless there’s some kind of unexpected overclocking potential waiting to be tapped, making a GTX 1060 this big doesn’t make a heap of sense.
Still it does look impressive but is there more to this graphics card than a big fan shroud and a pair of 100mm fans? Removing the cooler reveals that there is indeed something under that lid. As was the case with the 1070 and 1080 Xtreme Gaming models we find two large arrays of aluminium fins connected to a large copper base via a series of copper heatpipes.
In total the cooler weighs 707 grams which isn’t much lighter than the 791 grams cooler of the 1070 model. This is also a good big heavier than the 658 gram cooler Asus use on the 1070 Strix model. When compared to the 1070 Xtreme Gaming cooler there really isn’t much difference, which isn’t surprising given there’s roughly a 10% difference in total weight.
Without question this massive cooler won’t have any trouble keeping the GTX 1060 cool and I can’t imagine the fans will be required to spin up much, even under heavy load.
Moving to the PCB itself which has been given the same Aerospace coating of the more costly Xtreme Gaming models we find a number of upgrades. Along with the Titan X-grade chokes and capacitors we find an upgraded 6+1 power phase design which should help to lower temperatures and maximise the cards overclocking potential. Gigabyte has also upgraded to an 8-pin PCIe power connector. That said I should point out that these exact same upgrades were made to the cheaper G1 Gaming model as well.
For those of you unaware the Nvidia Founders Edition model only features a 3+1 power phase design along with a single 6-pin connector.
Something the G1 Gaming model doesn’t include are the rear mounted internal HDMI outputs for more convenient front mounted VR support. Gigabyte call this feature Xtreme VR Link. Unfortunately the VR Link bay isn’t included in the package and unlike the 1070 and 1080 models there isn’t a ‘Premium Pack’ Edition. Honestly I had hoped given the price this gear would have been included in the package.
Still you are getting that massive cooler, an impressive looking full length backplate and some fancy RGB lighting. The 16.8 million color customizable lighting is a fun novelty addition but will for some help justify the price premium.
Another area where the Xtreme Gaming ups its game is in the factory overclocking department. Out of the box the G1 Gaming operates at an 1809 MHz boost frequency, the Xtreme Gaming goes a bit further at 1847 MHz. That is still only an 8% increase over the Founders Edition model but as far as factory overclocks go that is a pretty decent one. Given how variable the boost clock frequency is with GPU Boost 3.0 it will be interesting to see how much, if any difference this extra factory overclock makes. That being said let’s jump into the benchmarks…
First up we have ARMA 3. Sadly the Xtreme Gaming doesn’t stand out as the superior 1060 here, only matching the G1 Gaming out of the box and overclocked.
Star Wars Battlefront
Hmm not much else to say here either, despite that big factory overclocked the Xtreme Gaming is just 1fps faster out of the box when compared to the G1 Gaming.
Well I am starting to detect a trend here. Out of the box the Xtreme Gaming not only matched the G1 Gaming but it was also unable to pull away from the Palit Super JetStream.
Again nothing to see here in The Division, the Xtreme Gaming isn’t able to distance itself from the more affordable 1060 graphics cards, even when overclocked.
Far Cry Primal
What do we have here? More of the same it seems, no surprises then.
Just Cause 3
Okay time to wrap this up, it is pretty evident now that slapping a massive cooler on the GTX 1060 doesn’t help improve performance or custom overclocking.
Power consumption for the Xtreme Gaming is on par with the G1 Gaming along with Palit’s Super JetStream.
Okay so finally we see our first real evidence of that massive cooler paying off. Out of the box the Xtreme Gaming never exceeded 59 degrees in our gaming stress tests making it 5 degrees cooler than the G1 Gaming model. Even overclocked the card only reached 60 degrees and ran virtually silent.
Temperatures a side there really isn’t any telling the Xtreme Gaming apart from models such as the G1 Gaming. This is a shame but given how GPU Boost 3.0 works it isn’t entirely surprising either.
The Xtreme Gaming obviously isn’t cheap at $300 but the G1 Gaming isn’t much better at $290. Those after a $250 MSRP card from Gigabyte will need to invest in the WindForce D5 6G model. Interestingly that model features the same 6+1 power phase design and 8-pin power input. As far as we can tell the only real difference is the cut down cooler, so there is every chance you will see the same frame rate performance from this model as well.
For me the GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming seems to be a graphics card design for gamers who wish they could afford the 1080, but are happy paying a premium to pretend they’ve got one.
Should Gigabyte eventually end up selling this beefy 1060 for around $270 then we can probably justify the purchase but at $300 it’s just too price given there is no extra performance to be had.