Radeon RX 580 vs. GeForce GTX 1060: Which Was the Higher Funding?

Today we took up the age-old battle between the Radeon RX 580 and the GeForce GTX 1060 again, although this battle for AMD really started with the Radeon RX 480. This GPU was released in June 2016, almost four years ago, which is crazy in GPU years and even more considering that this part is still technically for sale today and is sold in fairly large quantities.

The Radeon RX 480 was originally supposed to fight with Nvidia's upcoming Pascal-based GTX 1060, which was released just a month later. At that time, the price for the 8 GB RX 480 was $ 240 and for the GTX 1060 6 GB for $ 250. Three months after the release, we compared the two of them in 22 games and found that the GeForce GPU was 6% faster on average. We found back then that in newer titles based on modern DX12 and Vulkan APIs, the RX 480 was almost always faster. Half a dozen of the titles tested supported a modern API, and when comparing the data of these selected titles, the GTX 1060 6 GB was 5% slower on average. Over time, the Radeon RX 480 seemed to be the faster product, while the GTX 1060 was more efficient and therefore AIB models generally ran cooler and quieter.

We have repeated the same comparison several times over the years. In 2016, AMD released new drivers that demanded large increases in performance. With a total of 19 games tested, we found that the GTX 1060 6 GB was now only 1% faster on average.

A year after the launch of the RX 480, AMD updated it as the RX 580 with a slight overclocking and a price cut. To counteract this, Nvidia released a 9 Gbit / s memory version of the GTX 1060, which improved the memory bandwidth by 13% compared to the standard models with 8 Gbit / s. That sounded pretty substantial, but without increasing the core clock frequency, this change had little impact on performance.

By mid-2017, the Radeon RX 580 was 3% faster than the GTX 1060 9Gbps ​​model on a 27-game benchmark. You could say that the tables were turned, although it was fair to say that the performance was a match between the two and the final choice depended on which games you played the most. A year later, in 2018, we repeated this fight again with 25 games, many of which were new and not yet tested for this comparison. This time the GTX 1060 was on average almost 3% faster.

Then the latest update was released in 2019 with our largest selection of games to date. This time the RX 580 was around 3% faster than the GTX 1060. Perhaps most surprisingly, the RX 580 is still on sale and remains one of them. The most affordable graphics card under $ 200 on the market. Beat the newer 5500 XT and match the GTX 1650 Super. It's possible to buy an 8 GB RX 580 for just $ 160. This makes this old GPU cheaper than most of the latest offers.

Today's comparison is a great benchmark for 32 games. As usual, we'll go over the results for about a dozen of the newer titles, and then check out some head-to-head comparisons with all games in some performance charts. Our test bench consisted of a Core i9-9900K with 5 GHz and 32 GB DDR4-3400 memory. The green team represents the Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1060 6G 9 Gbit / s and for the red team the Gigabyte Aorus RX 580 XTR 8G. The latest display drivers available at the time of testing are used and all results have been updated. Let's get to the good things …

Benchmarks

First, we have Rainbow Six Siege with its new Vulkan implementation. Previously, the RX 580 with DX11 was about 15% faster than the GTX 1060. However, we are now seeing around twice the profit margin as the RX 580 was 27% faster at 1080p and 30% faster at 1440p.

Obviously, Nvidia didn't bother to optimize its drivers for Pascal GPUs using the newer API in this title.

World War Z is another title that uses Vulkan. Here the RX 580 is 23% faster at 1080p and 27% faster at 1440p, which is another big win for the red team.

Resident Evil 2 is another title that uses a low-level API. Here the RX 580 clearly outperforms the 1060 by 23% at 1080p and 24% at 1440p.

Red Dead Redemption 2 requires at least 8 GB VRAM if high quality settings are used. As a result, we see a rather poor 1% performance of the GTX 1060 due to the 6 GB buffer.

While the RX 580 was 18% faster compared to the average frame rate performance at 1080p, it was a whopping 77% faster compared to the 1% low data and, above all, did not suffer from image stuttering.

Apex Legends uses a modified version of Valve's source engine, and we had previously noticed that the RX 580 offered a great performance advantage in this title. After the performance of the last update changed in favor of Nvidia and the GTX 1060 is at least for the time being up to 12% faster.

PlayerUnknown's battlefields use Unreal Engine 4, which is optimized for Nvidia hardware. Therefore, the GTX 1060 clearly outperforms the RX 580 in this title and offers 14% more frames at 1080p and 10% more at 1440p.

Interestingly, although Fortnite also uses Unreal Engine 4, AMD was able to optimize the RX 580 for better performance. We know that AMD has been focusing on improving the performance for this very popular title for a while, and it seems that they did just that because the RX 580 was up to 12% faster at both resolutions tested.

The performance in Assassin's Creed Odyssey is neck and neck, not a real winner here.

Interestingly, Metro Exodus plays much better on the RX 580, even though it's a title sponsored by Nvidia, although it also uses the DX12 API. Here the Radeon GPU was 23% faster at 1080p and 21% faster at 1440p.

The performance in the newly released Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is very similar and this is a DirectX 11 title with the very popular Unreal Engine.

Last year when they tested the F1 2018, the RX 580 and the GTX 1060 were very close. However, DX12 is used in this latest version, F1 2019. Here the Radeon GPU offers an enormous performance advantage, which delivers 21% more frames at 1080p and 23% more at 1440p.

Performance in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is pretty even, although the RX 580 was 6% faster at 1080p and 9% faster at 1440p. Not much of a difference, though you'll notice the performance boost especially at 1440p.

Breakdown of benefits

The Radeon RX 580 looked a bit dominant in this 12-game example, but we tested many more games …

Let us see how the 580 and 1060 models stack up to 32 new and popular titles.

At 1080p, the RX 580 was 5% faster on average. If you look at the results as a whole, you have a much better chance of achieving an extra 10% or more performance with the Radeon GPU in modern titles. Many of the newly released titles where the RX 580 didn't look as good use the Unreal Engine, such as The Outer Worlds and PUBG.

Of the 32 games tested, 10 saw margins within 5%, which we would consider a draw. There were 16 games in which the RX 580 was 6% or more faster and only 6 games in which it was 6% or more slower. The RX 580 is clearly the more consistent performer in 2020.

Margins increase in favor of AMD at 1440p. Here the RX 580 was 8% faster on average, it's the biggest victory over the GTX 1060 since the beginning of this fight. The extra 2GB of VRAM appears to be coming into play now, and we've certainly seen this in titles like Red Dead Redemption 2.

Long term bets

About four years after putting together our first major benchmark comparison between these two GPUs, many of our original ideas seem to be true. We suspected the Radeon would eventually become the superior GPU due to the initially low level API performance of the RX 480. However, we did not recommend buying the RX 480 based on this guess alone, as it was impossible to know how long it would take for the superior performance of DX12 and Vulkan to pay off.

While the RX 580 has aged much better, the GTX 1060 6GB has not turned out to be a bad choice after all these years. Current owners of the GTX 1060 6 GB may still be happy with their investment. In some titles, the RX 580 delivers more than 20% more frames, but the overall performance is still good. The 6GB image storage is mostly fine, and you can easily get around this limitation.

Had you planned to keep the Radeon RX 480 going for many years, better low-level API support would have been an important consideration. However, if you upgrade every two or three years, this is probably not that important. Since the RX 480 was released and updated as the RX 580, there has been no obvious alternative in the $ 180-250 price range.

Nvidia's attempt with the GTX 1660 a year ago was welcome, but with just 15% more power, the $ 220 upgrade wasn't worth it, and AMD further reduced the retaliation prices for the RX 580.

Radeon RX 580 graphics cards currently offer good value for $ 160 to $ 180, but for the same price, we would prefer the newer GeForce GTX 1650 Super. Both GPUs are largely tuned for performance, with the GeForce gaining the upper hand over efficiency and thermal.

If you'd like to spend more than $ 200 on a new graphics card today, choose the $ 230 GeForce GTX 1660 Super that offers ~ 30% more performance, or $ 300 on a GeForce RTX 2060 with a little more than 50% more power.

Purchasing links:
  • GeForce GTX 1650 Super on Amazon
  • GeForce GTX 1660 Super on Amazon
  • GeForce RTX 2060 at Amazon
  • GeForce RTX 2060 Super on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 580 at Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 570 at Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 5700 on Amazon
  • GeForce RTX 2070 Super on Amazon

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