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EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 Superclocked - High End Gaming at a Budget Price

Hardware Reviews By Christopher Coke on August 05, 2016

EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 Superclocked - High End Gaming at a Budget Price

EVGA’s GeForce 1060 Superclocked Edition shouldn’t be as powerful as it is. With its cut-down length and large single fan, it seems more like a kid brother to the rest of EVGA’s line of performance video cards. But what do we know about judging a book by its cover? Under the hood, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 is built to impress and is primed to bring you into the world of high-performance gaming at a fraction of the price. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade and don’t want to break the bank, the time is now, and EVGA’s $259 1060 SC is your answer.

If you’re upgrading from another gaming grade graphics card, the first thing you’re likely to notice is just how much smaller it is. Since the 1060 draws less power and generates less heat, EVGA was able to use a smaller heatsink and larger single fan to reduce the card’s length to a mere 6.8 inches, nearly 4” shorter than the typical 10.5” found with most modern graphics cards. Needless to say, this makes for a much easier installation when compared, especially if you’re case was only squeaking by with a centimeter or two before the drive bays.

Have a look at how the 1060 SC compares to an “average” gaming card:

Easy installation doesn’t mean much if your power supply can’t run it, and thankfully, the 1060 SC should be safe to run on even very modest systems. The 1060 sips power, requiring only a 400-watt power supply and a single six-pin connector, peaking at 120 watts (around one lightbulb) of draw. This is a solid 100 watts less than last generation’s 980, despite offering similar performance.

Both the savings and the performance boost are thanks to the new Pascal architecture at work in nVidia’s 1000 series of cards. These cards use a smaller 16 nanometer manufacturing process, which allows nVidia to add more transistors, and therefore more processing power, to each card. This technology is at work in the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, as well, where similar performance boosts and power savings are also found over their last-gen counterparts.

Now that we’ve established that the 1060 won’t break the bank or spike your electricity bill, let’s get to what you really care about. How does it perform?

To put it succinctly, this card is excellent and you should buy it now. The 1060 features 1280 pixel pipelines, 6GB of ultra-fast GDDR5 memory running at 8008 MHz effective on a 192-bit bus (up from 128-bits on last generation’s GTX 960). The board powers resolutions up to 7680x4320 and can simultaneously output to four separate displays using any of its three DisplayPorts, HDMI, or DVI-D port.

EVGA has tagged this version “superclocked” because it comes overclocked straight from the factory. While the reference designs from nVidia list stock core and boost speeds of 1506 MHz/1708 MHz respectively (the card “steps up” during gameplay), EVGA’s documentation pins the SC at an amped up 1607/1835 MHz. This actually turned out to be an understatement. The 1060 I received was overclocked to an impressive 2012 MHz boost out of the box with no heat or stability issues. The Superclocked version sells for $10 more than their base GAMING edition, but it’s a worthy investment to save the tweaking and testing your own overclock to achieve these speeds yourself, especially if you’re a novice.

All of this sounds good on paper, but what really matters is how the card functions in practice. I put the 1060 SC through its paces using the UniEngine Heaven and Valley benchmarks, as well as 3DMark’s Time Spy (DirectX 12) and Firestrike (DirectX 11) benchmarks. When that was done, I used FRAPS to benchmark framerates in ten major MMOs to see in practice how the 1060 would benefit the MMORPG fan. In both the benchmarks and the FPS tests, I set everything possible to max, increasing sliders to their limits and using the most system intensive anti-aliasing settings, at 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution. It should be noted, however, that the CPU being used was a i5-2500k, overclocked to 4GHz. A more recent processor is likely to achieve even better results.

During the Heaven test, the card earned a score of 1635, putting it in line with the GTX 970. Average FPS for this test was 64.9. In the Valley benchmark, the 1060 achieved a score of 2820, again putting it in line with the GTX 970. Average FPS here was 67.4. Temperature under load peaked out at 71 degrees celsius.

In 3DMark's DirectX12 Time Spy test, the card scored a 4223 graphics score (3930 overall due to a lower 2824 CPU score), with average frame rates of 27.72FPS on Graphics Test 1 and 24.07 on Graphics Test 2. On the DirectX11 Firestrike test, it earned a 13476 graphics score (6816 physics score, 4745 combined score). These scores again line up with similar systems running GTX 970 graphics cards. Peak temperature was only 70 degrees celsius in these tests.

While benchmarks seem to put it in line with the GTX 970, the card’s performance within games in unequivicolly better. Within my own testing limits, I was unable to compare against other generations of cards; however, TechPowerUp has a great run down of their results using a slower, reference 1060. Across the board, their study shows that the card actually performs within frames of the GTX 980, sometimes even surpassing it. Since EVGA’s 1060 is “superclocked”, it is safe to assume that it will achieve even more.

Here’s what we found for MMOs:

Note: Black Desert Online forces V-Sync, so a persistent average of 60FPS indicates the 1060 was being limited

As you can see, nearly every game maintained an average framerate of greater than 60 FPS with the highest possible and most taxing settings enabled in-game. Every game would have substantially higher average framerates simply by turning down anti-aliasing or using a less performance intensive mode. When entering cities, FPS did drop. Both RIFT and Guild Wars 2 lost more than 30 frames a second! Again, this would likely be improved with a newer processor or better optimization of the game itself.

I couldn’t be more pleased with EVGA’s 1060 Superclocked. It is a powerful card that chewed through whatever I threw at it, even outside the world of MMOs. It never got hotter than 71 degrees and was never audible over my standard case and CPU fans. For $259, you get more than what’s you’re promised on the box, and in my opinion, EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1060 SC is a steal.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.