GTX 1060 3GB vs. RX 470 4GB – And The Best Mid-Range GPU Is?
Last week we compared the GTX 1060 3GB and 6GB models to see what all the fuss was about. In the end despite most claiming the 3GB model is a lemon it stood up very well to the 1440p onslaught and rise up from the ashes as a seriously good $200 option.
As a result one of the most commonly asked questions was “which should I buy, 4GB RX 470 or 3GB GTX 1060” and a good many of you begged me to make that comparison. Not wanting to let you guys down, we got busy benchmarking over the weekend and have managed to put together a rather comprehensive comparison.
Right now both of these graphics cards are retailing for $200 US at major online retailers such as newegg. Meanwhile down under the RX 470 is slightly cheaper at $290 while the 3GB 1060 will set you back $310, so Aussies can expect to pay around 7% more for the GeForce graphics card at present.
Of course the MSRP for the 3GB 1060 is $200 US and right now it appears to be meeting that suggested retail price. The RX 470 should be $20 cheaper at $180 but for now at least it is priced to match the cut-down 1060. That said if pricing does settle for the Radeon you can expect it to cost around 10% less.
For testing we have picked 22 games to compare these two graphics cards at 1080p and 1440p. To remove any system bottlenecks our Core i7 test rig has been used, though I will be reproducing this video soon with with results from the Core i3 test system as well. As always the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers available at the time of testing, were used. Well let’s get to it shall we, there is plenty to get through…
But can it play Crysis I hear you ask, well at 1080p sure. Here the 1060 was 16% faster averaging 51 fps while the 470 was reduced to a still playable 44 fps. Moving to 1440p saw the margin grow in favor of the 1060 though neither card was particularly impressive here.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was tested using the ultra quality settings and this allowed the 1060 to deliver 16% more performance at 1080p and 15% more at 1440p.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The battle when test with The Witcher 3 is more closely contested though the 1060 still enjoys a 9% performance advantage at 1080p with 72fps. Moving to 1440p we see the same 9% margin in favor of the green team.
Star Wars Battlefront
The 1060 was also 9% faster in Star Wars Battlefront at 1080p and 10% faster at 1440p. There was also less of a margin between the average and minimum frame rate on the GeForce card when compared to the RX 470.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Tom Clancy’s The Division provides us with our first truly competitive results. The 1060 was once again faster though this time by just a 3% margin at 1080p. Moving to 1440p the 1060 was just a single frame faster on average though it did maintain a higher minimum frame rate.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight provided some mixed results. Both GPUs provided a 100 fps average at 1080p though the minimum frame rate of the RX 470 was slightly higher. Then at 1440p the 1060 is able to take control with a 5% greater average frame rate and a massive 21% advantage when comparing the minimum frame rate.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor sees the 1060 return to a double digit advantage as it was 13% faster at 1080p and 11% faster at 1440p.
We know Overwatch plays best with Nvidia hardware though these results are interesting. While the 1060 was 18% faster when comparing the average frame rate it was just 5% faster when comparing the minimum frame rate. The results at 1440p are even more extreme, the 1060 was 17% faster on average while both GPUs produced the same 60fps minimum.
Far Cry Primal
Things are pretty straightforward in Far Cry Primal, the 1060 was 15% faster at 1080p and 13% faster at 1440p.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is another game that provided straightforward results. The 1060 was 13% faster at 1080p and 11% faster at 1440p.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V played considerably better on the 1060, it was 24% faster at 1080p and 22% faster at 1440p. That is one of the strongest wins we have seen for the green team yet.
The big win in GTA5 doesn’t look as impressive now that we have moved to ARMA 3. Here the 1060 was an unbelievable 56% faster at 1080p and 1440p. Surely this has to be down to a driver issue.
The GeForce GTX 1060 3GB continues its strong run in DiRT Rally. Here i was 21% faster at 1080p and 19% faster at 1440p.
The 1060 was 19% faster in Fallout 4 at 1080p and that margin was extended slightly at 1440p to 22%.
Just Cause 3
Just Cause 3 delivered surprisingly competitive results though the minimum frame rate of the RX 470 did dip by a greater margin than that of the 1060.
Mad Max played well on both products though the 1060 did allow for 23% more performance at 1080p and 21% more at 1440p.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Okay so the last DirectX 11 title we will be looking at is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and this is a perfect example of how well AMD hardware can perform in a title tailored to their hardware. For the first time the RX 470 takes the lead providing 8% more performance at 1080p. The RX 470 was slightly faster at 1440p when comparing the average frame rate though it was quite a bit slower for the minimum.
Rise of the Tomb Raider [DX12]
The first DX12 title we have tested is Rise of the Tomb Raider and here the GTX 1060 was its usual 20% faster, 21% at 1080p in fact. The margin was reduced to 10% at 1440p however.
Doom was tested using the Vulkan API and this played considerably into AMD’s hands. Here the RX 470 was 11% faster at 1080p and 8% faster at 1440p. That said I should note that both GPUs exceeded well over 60 fps even at 1440p using the ultra quality settings with TSSAA enabled.
Ashes of the Singularity [DX12]
Ashes of the Singularity was tested using the extreme preset and here the 1060 was slightly faster, 2% at 1080p and 5% faster at 1440p.
Hitman is a title much like Mankind Divided in the sense that it is tailored for AMD hardware. As a result the RX 470 was 16% faster at 1080p and 14% faster at 1440p.
Total War Warhammer [DX12]
Wrapping things up is Total War Warhammer. Here the RX 470 was 3% faster at 1080p while the 1060 was 2% faster at 1440p.
Rise of the Tomb Raider [DX12]
Overclocked the 470 gained a further 5 fps for a 7% performance boost at 1080p. The 1060 enjoyed an 11% performance boost taking it from 92 fps to 102 fps. Whereas the 1060 was 21% faster out of the box, it is now 26% faster once overclocked.
This time the 470 gained 6% more performance through overclocking while the 1060 became 8% faster.
Far Cry Primal
The last game I am going to look at overclocking performance in is Far Cry Primal. Here the 470 gained 9% more performance while the 1060 improved by a 13% margin.
Far Cry Primal
The power consumption of the RX 470 is considerably greater than that of the 1060. Whereas the 1060 pushed total system consumption to 214 watts the RX 470 went as high as 282 watts.
We see similar margins when testing with Mankind Divided, the 1060 configuration consumed just 200 watts while the RX 470 consumed 277 watts.
Once again similar power consumption margins are seen when testing with Dirt Rally, the 1060 is certainly the more efficient GPU.
Right, if you made it this far give yourself a pat on the back and if you just skipped here using the included video index … well give yourself a pat on the back anyway. For those of you time sensitive folks that missed the meat of the video, here is the summary.
Please note I have dropped the ARMA 3 results from the overall picture as they were massively skewed in favor of the 1060 and in no way representative of what the other 21 games showed.
As you can see the 3GB 1060 was around 20% faster in games such as GTA5, Mad Max, Rise of the Tomb Raider and DiRT Rally. Performance was close in Just Cause 3, The Division, Ashes of the Singularity, Batman Arkham Knight and Total War Warhammer.
The only games to really favour the RX 470 included Deus Ex Mankind Divided, Doom using Vulkan and Hitman. Overall the 1060 was on average 9% faster, 11% if you included ARMA 3.
Overclocking pushed things further in Nvidia’s favour though the results weren’t drastic. What was drastic were the power consumption results which revealed the 1060 to be the vastly superior product in terms of efficiency. System power consumption dropped by almost 30% with the 1060 while as we just saw performance increased by almost 10% on average.
Therefore at the same asking price the 3GB GTX 1060 is the obvious choice. At their respective MSRPs both GPUs deliver a similar cost per frame so the choice becomes a little more difficult. The 1060 still remains the more efficient GPU boasting better overclocking while the RX 470 is arguable the more ”future proof” option, though I really dislike that term.
There is the argument that the RX 470 will come out on top down the track due to AMD’s apparent superior low-level API performance, though for me personally the jury is still out on that one. The RX 470 also has more VRAM though how much of an advantage that gives it over the 1060’s 3GB buffer is unknown, Nvidia after all is extremely efficient with their memory management.
If you like me don’t own a crystal ball, prefer cold hard facts rather than speculation and guesswork then the 1060 is the better option. Of course as we often find with these comparisons neither team has put forward a poor solution and both are likely to keep budget gamers more than happy.