1060 vs 480

How does Nvidia’s mid-range 1060 stack up against AMD’s budget-conscious RX 480 in the benchmarks?

GTX 1060

Earlier today the embargo was lifted on reviews for Nvidia’s latest GPU, the GTX 1060. This is Nvidia’s third card based on its new Pascal architecture, and it’s also the cheapest at around $250-300 USD. Nvidia is promising GTX 980 performance with this card, which would be pretty impressive considering the 980 was king of the hill only two years ago, and cost about $550 at the time. So far the reviews and benchmarks have been good, but not fantastic, which leaves us wondering which card is the better buy: the GTX 1060, or AMD’s RX 480.

Benchmarks for the RX 480 have been trickling in for about a week now, and the general consensus is that this card represents perhaps the greatest value for budget-driven PC gamers. The 480 comes in two flavors – a 4GB version and an 8GB version – that will cost you around $200 and $240, respectively. The RX 480 seems like a better deal right off the bat considering you can pay $240 for an 8GB card compared to the 1060 which only has 6GB of video memory, and can cost up to $300 depending on where you’re shopping. But how do they compare in terms of performance? That’s where things get a little murky.

What sayeth the benchmarks?

The benchmarks aren’t conclusive either way. The GTX 1060 tends to perform anywhere from 3% to 11% better and faster than the RX 480 on most, current, DX11 games – but not always. When newer APIs such as Vulkan are utilized, AMD’s card seems to get the bigger boost in performance. The stock RX 480 runs DOOM like a beast, for example, with an average FPS of 89 (with Vulkan), compared to the founder’s edition 1060 which averaged about 73 FPS. That was with maxed out settings and a resolution of 2560×1440. Have you seen how incredible DOOM looks? My PS4 sounds like a hairdryer trying to run that game, and the fact that a $240 card from AMD is running it maxed out at 1440p is pretty incredible.

RX 480

In The Witcher 3, on the other hand, Nvidia’s card seemed to handle everything much more smoothly. It seems like the 1060 will likely offer the most noticeable performance boost in DX11 games and on older PCs. I have an older CPU that runs at about 3.1ghz, and I was told that the 1060 would likely be the better option for current-gen games. However, since I do plan on upgrading to a new motherboard and Skylake CPU in the near-future, and might even invest in an a-sync monitor, I’ll probably go with the RX 480 instead. I have a feeling that more developers will start taking advantage of Vulkan and DX12, and early benchmarks seem to indicate that AMD’s card will see better performance gains as a result.

So, what now?

That’s my take on it, but you have to do what’s right for you and your machine. If you’re wanting that immediate boost for games you’re playing right now, the 1060 will probably be the card you want. Additionally, the 1060 consumes less power and runs much cooler. Both cards should be fine for your VR rig if you’re building one, so no worries there. So how about it? Which card is right for you? Are you an AMD fan or an Nvidia junkie? Does a $50 price difference sway your decision one way or another? Let us know in the comments, and maybe you can change my mind.


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