NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB edition

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NVIDIA has announced yet another graphics card, the GTX 1060 3GB edition. But while it might just sound like a GTX 1060 with half the RAM, there is a bit to it than that.




The 3GB edition gets 1152 CUDA cores compared to the 1280 on the 6GB model. The texture units have also been dropped from 80 to 72 on the 3GB edition. This is due to disabling 1 out of the 10 SM units on the GP106 GPU on the 1060. This drops the floating point performance from 4.4 TFLOPS to 3.9 TFLOPS, although NVIDIA only claims around 10% of performance drop on the cheaper model.

NVIDIA GPU Specification Comparison
GTX 1070GTX 1060 6GBGTX 1060 3GBGTX 960
CUDA Cores1920128011521024
Texture Units120807264
ROPs64484832
Core Clock1506MHz1506MHz1506MHz1126MHz
Boost Clock1683MHz1709MHz1709MHz1178MHz
TFLOPs (FMA)6.5 TFLOPs4.4 TFLOPs3.9 TFLOPs2.4 TFLOPs
Memory Clock8Gbps GDDR58Gbps GDDR58Gbps GDDR57Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width256-bit192-bit192-bit128-bit
VRAM8GB6GB3GB2GB
FP641/321/321/321/32
TDP150W120W120W120W
GPUGP104GP106GP106GM204
Transistor Count7.2B4.4B4.4B2.94B
Manufacturing ProcessTSMC 16nmTSMC 16nmTSMC 16nmTSMC 28nm
Launch Date06/10/201607/19/201608/18/201601/22/2015
Launch PriceMSRP: $379
Founders $449
MSRP: $249
Founders $299
MSRP: $199$199

Looking at the big picture, the new GTX 1060 3GB materially differs from the existing 6GB GTX 1060 in two different metrics. First and foremost of course is the memory; the card ships with half as much memory, which amounts to a 6x512MB configuration. However, somewhat frustratingly, NVIDIA didn’t just stop there and has also introduced a new GPU configuration for this card, meaning that we are now looking at multiple GPU configurations being sold at retail under the GTX 1060 banner.

nvidia gtx 1060

The rest of the specifications remain identical, including the base and boost clock speeds of 1506 MHz and 1708 MHz, respectively, memory speed of 8Gbps, and memory bus width of 192-bit. Even the TDP is identical at 120W.




The 3GB edition of the GTX 1060 will be priced at $199, a whole $50 less than the standard GTX 1060. This puts it right next to the AMD RX 480 4GB, that so far enjoyed a short but well-deserved monopoly in this price segment. There isn’t going to be any Founder’s Edition card this time around and all cards will be available only through hardware partners, many of which have already started selling the card.

nvidia gtx 1060

So although the GTX 1060 nomenclature is misleading and the card loses some of the power of the full-fat 1060, we will have to see just how much slower it really is and how it stacks up against the RX 480. The 3GB VRAM is a cause for concern, however, and will cause users to run into memory bottleneck well before the GPU runs out of steam in some of the modern titles.




Competitively speaking, the GTX 1060 3GB is meant to compete against the $199 4GB Radeon RX480, the cheaper of AMD’s RX 480 lineup. The latter has been in very short supply since its launch, so at this second NVIDIA has a pretty solid grip on the $199 price point at this secnd.

At the same time however, I do have some concerns about whether a 3GB card is enough, especially looking at a year or so down the line. The 2GB GTX 960, by comparison, has shown us that buying a low capacity card can be short-sighted, as the 4GB versions have held up better in 2016’s major game releases. But to the credit of NVIDIA and their partners here, they are at least being aggressive on pricing, with the slight downgrade from the 6GB to the 3GB card shaving 20% ($50) off of the MSRP of the card.

Summer 2016 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMDPriceNVIDIA
$439GeForce GTX 1070
Radeon R9 390X$329
Radeon R9 390$299
$249GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Radeon RX 480 (8GB)$239
Radeon RX 480 (4GB)
Radeon RX 470
$199GeForce GTX 1060 3GB

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