A few weeks ago we took a look at the old Radeon RX 580 to see how it performs in today's games at 1080p and 1440p. It was great to see this mid-range GPU from 2017 blend in surprisingly well as it didn't take much to get very playable performance.
The big problem with GPUs today is of course price and availability. Months ago we started recommending the RX 580 as an alternative to spending over $ 1,000 on a new and highly scaled Ampere or RDNA2 product. The Radeon RX 580 was available for about $ 300 on eBay, and while that's roughly double what you would have paid for a new one a year ago, times are very different.
Unfortunately, a $ 300 Radeon RX 580 8GB is now a dream with most selling between $ 400 and $ 500. Alternatively, for just under $ 300, you can still get 4GB versions of the RX 580 that deliver the same performance as the 8GB model, provided you don't exceed VRAM capacity and can do so by tuning if necessary avoid down texture quality, to name a setting.
Another good alternative at a similar price is the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB. These graphics cards are currently being sold in the second-hand market for ~ $ 300. You get a little more VRAM than an affordable RX 580, and the performance should be similar. We thought it made sense to rethink the GTX 1060 6GB as we did with the Radeon. Here we see how this oldie plays current generation games.
We have tested the GTX 1060 multiple times over the years, so we assume you all know what it has to do with this GeForce model. We'll skip the specifications or dive into the history of this product. We're looking at it from a "make-do" situation … is it a potentially good buy in 2021 while you wait for current generation GPUs to decline from their ridiculous margins over MSRP?
To answer that question, like the Radeon RX 580, this is not a head-to-head benchmark comparison as we are simply interested in seeing how the GTX 1060 6GB competes with a range of new or popular low to medium games and high quality settings.
We tested 17 games at 1080p and 1440p with these three quality presets. Our test stand was equipped with a cool Ryzen 9 5950X that uses 32 GB DDR4-3200 CL14 memory, so the results will be completely GPU-limited. Let's get into that …
We'll start with a look at the performance in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. This AMD-sponsored title tends to do better with Radeon GPUs, although the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB still does very well and can deliver a decent experience with the medium quality settings at 1080p with an average of 59 fps.
If that's not enough, the lowest preset allows 70 fps and that's not much slower than the 75 fps the RX 580 produced.
For 1440p gaming, you'll likely want to use the lowest quality preset, and even then, you won't be treated to a 60fps experience. Still, I think the performance is quite good considering the age of this GPU.
Older GPUs remain very usable for most esports games, so competitive titles like Rainbow Six Siege. Although the GTX 1060 is much slower than the RX 580 here, you can still enjoy a high refresh rate at 1080p with the high-quality preset.
Even at 1440p, you'll see over 60 fps anytime, and it's possible to push over 100 fps with the lowest quality preset. For these games, a used GTX 1060 offers a lot of value.
Biomutant is a new game that is visually impressive even with the lower quality settings. The performance of the GTX 1060 6GB was excellent, equaling or exceeding the RX 580. Even with the high quality preset, you can get 60 fps at 1080p and then go way beyond that with the medium and low quality presets.
At 1440p, you'll still have a 60 fps-like experience with the low quality preset. So that's a great result considering how good the game looks.
Outriders is another new game that we wanted to test out. Here, too, the GTX 1060 is very close to the RX 580. The game looks great on the medium quality settings and at 1080p you'll see a little over 60 fps or over 40 fps at 1440p.
The game runs silky smooth with the low quality preset and still looks surprisingly good. Overall, playing Outriders on the GTX 1060 6GB was a pleasant experience.
Moving on to Horizon Zero Dawn, we're looking at very similar performance between the GTX 1060 and the RX 580. This meant that the 1060 was able to deliver very playable performance at 1080p with the second highest preset, referred to as preferred quality.
But this is another game that looks great even on a slightly lower setting, and I've found that the graphics are still superb with the "original" quality preset. This enabled 71 fps at 1080p and 49 fps at 1440p.
The GTX 1060 isn't quite as punchy as the RX 580 in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, although they are comparable to the medium quality preset. The 1060 drops a bit at the low and lowest settings, but still we're talking an average of 75 fps at 1080p at the lower and 88 fps at the lowest, so overall a good experience.
Doom Eternal is an exceptionally well-optimized game, and as such, these older mainstream GPUs work a treat. The GTX 1060 is overall slower than the RX 580, but still manages over 100 fps at 1080p with the nightmare settings.
Then at 1440p it averaged 88 fps with the low preset and 77 fps with the high, but couldn't use the nightmare settings without optimizing texture quality due to the more limited 6GB VRAM buffer.
The RX 580 and GTX 1060 deliver comparable performance in Death Stranding. The 1060 was a little slower in some cases, but overall performance was excellent.
We're talking well over 60 fps at 1080p with the default quality preset, which can be seen as a high quality setting. Even at 1440p the performance was impressive and certainly very playable with the standard quality preset.
The Dirt 5 results are strange and rather unexpected. As an AMD sponsored title, you'd expect the RX 580 to run away with it, but the opposite is true here. In all conditions, the GTX 1060 was faster and sometimes much faster, as you can see when testing with the ultra-low and low presets at 1080p.
So Dirt 5 is an excellent title for the GTX 1060. With the medium quality preset, which by the way looks great, the GTX 1060 6GB spit out an average of 65 fps. The low and ultra-low results at 1080p are surprising. I went back and tested both models to verify this data. It seems that there is a bug on AMD's side that severely limits the performance of the RX 580 under these test conditions and as a result the GTX 1060 was up to 42% faster.
The Fortnite data is kind of boring, but in a good way if that's one thing.
The RX 580 and GTX 1060 are closely matched here and the performance was excellent. At the medium settings most Fortnite gamers use for a competitive advantage, the GTX 1060 averaged 158 fps at 1080p and then 101 fps at 1440p. Both are very playable and allow a pleasant gaming experience.
Watch Dogs: Legion is a Nvidia sponsored title, so you'd expect the GTX 1060 to come out on top here. But that was not the case. It seems like old Nvidia GPUs work best in AMD sponsored titles while AMD GPUs work best in Nvidia sponsored titles, who knows.
The GTX 1060 averaged 64 fps at 1080p on the medium quality preset, so it's certainly good enough to enjoy the game, and even on the high setting, you'll still see an average of 55 fps. All in all, 1440p is a bit tedious with an average of just 47 fps at the lowest quality preset.
Resident Evil Village is another brand new version of the game that we tested. This played significantly better with the Radeon GPU, although the GTX 1060 was still able to deliver a very playable performance at 1080p with the maximum preset. It was only 15% slower than the RX 580 and 20% slower with the balanced preset.
The only game you probably can't really enjoy with the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB is Cyberpunk 2077. We only see an average of 46 fps at 1080p with the lowest quality settings.
Cyberpunk 2077 isn't the best-optimized title, so these results are hardly surprising. The RX 580 also had problems, although it was 20% faster and this difference was very noticeable.
Forza Horizon 4 is a good example of a well-optimized game, the graphics are stunning and while it certainly cannot be compared to Cyberpunk 2077 as they are completely different games with very different hardware requirements, Forza still looks and is great a ton of fun.
The GTX 1060 spat an insane 167 fps at 1080p with the lowest quality preset, 115 fps with Medium, and an impressive 84 fps with Ultra. Even at 1440p, the ultra preset still allowed 66 fps.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order played better with the GTX 1060 and as a result we achieved almost 60 fps at 1440p with the default setting for medium quality. Dropping to 1080p allows for a 60 fps experience with the maximum in-game quality preset, while "High" allows for over 70 fps. The GTX 1060 is more than capable of delivering a very playable performance in this title with respectable visual settings.
The penultimate game tested is F1 2020 and here the GTX 1060 is a bit slower than the RX 580, although that's not too much of a problem as we push over 60 fps under almost all test conditions. At 1080p, for example, we see an average of 75 fps with the maximum quality preset called "ultra high", then 132 fps with medium and 160 fps with low.
Then at 1440p it is still possible to render an average of 105 fps with ultra low, 89 fps with medium and then 55 fps with ultra high, so another solid gaming experience here.
The results from Apex Legends really surprised us. The last time we tested Apex with these GPUs, which was probably about a year ago, the GTX 1060 was a bit faster than the RX 580. But with the latest version of the game with a completely new card and of course newer drivers that RX 580 took the lead with a respectable ~ 15% lead.
The GTX 1060 delivered a very playable performance under most test conditions with 69 fps at 1080p at high quality settings, 88 fps at medium settings and 106 fps at low quality settings.
As expected, 1440p was a bit more demanding, but it is still possible to receive an average of around 70 fps with the low quality settings.
Here's a quick look at the average of 17 games, because while this isn't really intended to be a head-to-head comparison, I know a lot of you will want to see this graph.
At 1080p, we can see that the RX 580 is ~ 4-5% faster and that is exactly what we found a year ago when we compared the two in over 30 games. The margin increases at 1440p, with the low and medium settings the RX 580 averaged 7% faster and then 11% faster with high. The difference in VRAM capacity undoubtedly has an impact on these results.
Hot or not?
The GeForce GTX 1060 6GB is still surprisingly punchy in 2021. For about $ 300 on the used market, that's about $ 50 more than those cards were sold in new condition in mid-2016. That's not much today, of course, but if you need a graphics card to enjoy PC gaming, this is an affordable option by today's standards.
To be clear, we don't recommend anyone running on an old GeForce GTX 1060 6GB and losing $ 300. The truth is I don't have a good option for you, nobody has one. But if spending well over $ 1,000 on an RTX 3070 or $ 800-900 on an RTX 3060 is out of the question, and that's honestly what we think it is, then an option like a used GTX 1060 is an option 6GB is an alternative, and it's one that you will lose less money on in the long run.
By the way, if you don't care about texture quality because you play games like Rainbow Six Siege or Fortnite, the 3GB GTX 1060 might be the better option for you. These graphics cards often sell for ~ $ 100 less and deliver a similar level of performance provided you keep the game content below the VRAM limit.
In the end, some people were upset about our use of the Ryzen 9 5950X test system for the RX 580 benchmarks, claiming it would bloat GPU performance and create unrealistic expectations. Just want to point out that even with a much lower CPU like the Ryzen 5 2600 as an example, this isn't the case, in almost all of these tests you will still get severely GPU limited because the RX 580 and GTX 1060 aren't very powerful.
That said, if you are not limited by these 5 year old mid-range GPUs, I have good news for you: don't worry about a GPU upgrade as you are in desperate need of a CPU upgrade and right now they are much cheaper and easier to buy.
We always test the GPU performance without a CPU bottleneck, since CPU-limited data for a graphics card evaluation very quickly becomes unusable. There is, however, a driver overhead issue, and it's true that the GTX 1060 will need more CPU power than the RX 580 due to the architecture differences, but testing for that is a completely different matter.
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