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Nvidia announces the GTX 1060: A $249 GTX 980 killer launching later this month

Once AMD launched the RX 480, it was inevitable that Nvidia would follow suit with its own new card. The company officially announced its GTX 1060 today, based on the GP106 die, and pushing Pascal into lower price points (at least in theory), while matching the performance of Nvidia’s GTX 980. Given that the GTX 980 launched as a $500 GPU, that’s a significant improvement in terms of performance per dollar.

The GTX 960 packs 1,280 GPU cores with a 1.5GHz core clock and 192GB/s of memory bandwidth courtesy of its 192-bit memory path. The chip’s boost clock is 1.7GHz and Nvidia’s PR release claims that the chip can “easily be overclocked to 2GHz for further performance.” TDP is just 120W, though NV is still sticking to a dual-slot cooler for this GPU. Like the RX 480, the GTX 1060 has a single six-pin connector, though the lower overall TDP should be enough to keep the card in spec.

GTX1060-Story

Nvidia is claiming that partner boards will be available from July 19 forwards from a wide variety of manufacturers, while its Founders Edition will only be available in limited edition cards sold directly from Nvidia.com. We’re still seeing very limited availability on the GTX 1080 and 1070 (the 1070 has been a bit more common of late, but the 1080 remains hard to find). GP106 is a smaller chip, which typically means stronger yields, but we’ve heard rumors that Nvidia pulled this launch in to match the RX 480. This could limit availability. SLI also isn’t supported on the GTX 1060, whereas AMD does support Crossfire on the RX 480.

Cutting multi-GPU support out from its $300 GPUs frankly doesn’t make much sense to me. A recent article from Tweaktown compared two RX 480’s in Crossfire and found that a pair of RX 480s was often capable of matching or beating a single GTX 1070 in 1440p or above. In 4K, the RX 480 is capable of besting the GTX 1080. Granted, not many people use multi-GPU configurations, but Nvidia seems to have given up points here that it didn’t need to sacrifice. Other reviewers have also noted that the RX 480’s overall Crossfire frame time stability is better than past AMD GPUs — so why would NV walk away from supporting multi-GPU on a SKU that still commands a $250 – $300 base price?

We’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out the answer — and to see whether the card is actually available on the open market. Nvidia is claiming that the GTX 1060 will be up to 15% faster than the RX 480, but if the 1060’s availability is limited, it’ll probably drive prices above the $250 – $300 MSRP that Nvidia has targeted for the base card and Founder Edition’s respectively. That, in turn, could keep the RX 480 both price and performance competitive without requiring a price cut from AMD.

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