Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G Video Card Review

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Today we get to take a look at another GTX 1060, this time it is from our friends at Gigabyte. This go around they have sent us their top of the line 1060 in the Xtreme Gaming 6G. If you remember our review of the GTX 970 Xtreme Gaming, the card was certainly a beast. Being a little down the pecking order, I am not sure what this Xtreme version will offer and deliver, but if its anything like previous versions it should be worth it for a lot of users. Let’s take a look and see what features were brought forward and how it performs!

Specifications

Looking at the specifications table below, we don’t see much of anything different than the standard GTX 1060 outside of clockspeeds. It comes with 6GB of GDDR5 Memory on a 192-bit bus. A total of 1280 Shaders with a back end of 48 ROPs and 80 TMUs. For this card the memory comes in at 8164 MHz in Gaming mode (default), but in OC mode it goes up to 8316 MHz. Outputs on the card are pretty standard fare on the I/O plate with a single DL-DVI-D, three full size DisplayPorts, and an HDMI output. The card supports resolutions up to 8K (7680×4320) at 60Hz allowing you to run four 4K monitors at once!

What IS unique about this card is that it is setup for VR. What does that mean? Well, with the popularity of VR gaining traction by the week, board partners are adding outputs on the opposite side of the I/O plate to make connecting to the front panel, and your VR device, a lot more simple. To that end this card has two additional HDMI outputs, aptly named VR links, on the PCB close to where the power (8-pin required!) plug resides (below it… you will see it in the pictures). When in “VR Mode” you are able to use three DisplayPorts and three HDMI ports. The DL-DVI-D port is disabled in this configuration. If you are looking to run 8K, you will leave the regular mode enabled and use the primary outputs.

Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G
Graphics Processing GeForce® GTX 1060
Core Clock Boost: 1873 MHz / Base: 1645 MHz in OC mode
Boost: 1847 MHz / Base: 1620 MHz in Gaming mode
Memory Clock OC mode: 8316 MHz
Gaming mode: 8164 MHz
Process Technology 16nm
Memory Size 6 GB
Memory Bus 192 bit
Card Bus PCI-E 3.0 x16
Memory Type GDDR5
Direct X/ Open GL Version Support DX – 12
Open GL – 4.5
Digital max resolution 7680×4320 @ 60Hz
Multi-view 4
I/O Standard mode (1x Dual-link DVI-D, 3x DisplayPort 1.4*3, HDMI 2.0b*1)
VR mode (DP*3, HDMI*3)
Card Size 57mm(H) x 280mm(L) x 132mm(W)
Recommended PSU 400W (with one 8-Pin external power connector)

GPU-Z

Below is the screenshot of GPUz showing more details of the card clocks, drivers, memory brand (Samsung), and other low level features. Yep, we have a GTX 1060 on steroids ladies and gentlemen!

GPU-Z v1.10

GPU-Z v1.90

Features

Looking at some major features from this card from the Gigabyte website, One of the first things mentioned is the Xtreme Performance. With this card, it goes through their GPU Gauntlet Sorting process which, among other things, analyzes the core, shader, and memory engines to find the optimum frequency for the card to run at. The card supports up to an 8K display (7680×4320) at 60Hz, and offers ‘outstanding’ performance for VR gaming.

The next feature is the Windforce 2x Cooling system. Here Gigabyte uses two large 100mm fans with a unique blade design to help get more airflow where it matters with less noise. The fans also spin in opposite directions from each other which reduces air turbulence and helps remove the heat created from the card. The heatsink itself has angled and differing heights on its fin array which makes for more surface area, yields better cooling ability, as well as reduce noise. The Windforce coolers have always worked well and quiet, and that does not change on this card.

What good are the fans and heatsink if the base isn’t removing the heat from the core and getting it there, right? Gigabyte uses a direct touch all copper plate as well as the composite heat pipes to whisk away heat from the core, memory and VRM area.

Like most cards these days, the Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming’s fans are shut off during low load and low temperature situations. When left to its own vices, the fans will not kick on until around 60°C. There is also an LED indicator which shows when the fan is off (pictured below).

Xtreme Gaming in and of itself, to me, means that this card is built to game and overclock well. To that end, Gigabyte uses a couple of features to help make those higher clocks stable. Its Ultra Durable VGA design which has solid caps, metal chokes, and a lower RDS MOSFET help reach the higher clocks we are looking for. Along those lines, for the extreme overclocking crowd, Gigabyte puts on their “Aerospace-Grade PCB Coating” on the board which helps to keep away dust and insects while protecting from dropped screws, drill shavings, and other abrasions. That coating is also moisture resistant and protects the board from other environmental toxins for the card like humidity, corrosion, salt, etc.

On top of all the ‘go fast’ goodies and other features, the Xtreme Gaming line comes with a four year warranty (normally the cards have three). You will have to register the card to receive the additional year.

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XTREME
PERFORMANCE

GIGABYTE Xtreme Gaming Series graphics cards are crafted for perfection in pursuit of the ultimate graphics experience for gaming enthusiasts. Based on the revolutionary NVIDIA® Pascal™ GPU architecture, Xtreme gaming graphics card brings you incredible gaming experience.

– GPU Gauntlet™ Sorting
– Pascal-powered graphics card give you superior performance and power efficiency
– Support up to 8K display @60Hz
– Outstanding performance for Virtual Reality gaming

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WINDFORCE 2X Cooling System

The WINDFORCE 2X cooling system features two 100mm unique blade fans, alternate spinning fan design, pure copper composite heat-pipes, large copper plate direct touch technology, semi-passive 3D active fan, and protection back plate together delivering an effective heat dissipation capacity for higher performance at lower temperatures.

ALTERNATE SPINNING FAN DESIGN

Optimize air flow by the alternate spinning fans that reduce air turbulence and effectively dissipate the heat.

2x 100mm UNIQUE BLADE FAN DESIGN

The airflow is spilt by the triangle fan edge, and guided smoothly through the 3D stripe curve on the fan surface, effectively enhancing the air flow by 23% over traditional fans. 100mm big fan provides quieter environment and more airflow.

ANGULAR FIN DESIGN

The angular and unequal fins height does not only channel the airflow through the fins and enlarge the contact surface but also results in a lower noise level and better cooling capacity.

COMPOSITE HEAT-PIPES

The composite heat-pipes combines both thermal conductivity and phase transition for efficiently managing the transfer of heat between two solid interfaces which increases 29% of cooling capacity.

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LARGE COPPER BASE PLATE DIRECT TOUCH

With direct contact to the GPU and VRAM, the large copper base plate combines the composite heat pipes to efficiently transfer heat generated from the interior cores to the heat sink, keeping the graphics card cool and stable when overclocked for better performance.

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3D ACTIVE FAN WITH
RGB LED INDICATORS

The XTREME GAMING graphics cards are equipped with 3D-Active Fan, the industry’s first 0dB semi-passive fan design introduced by GIGABYTE back in 2007. The fans will remain off when the GPU is under a set loading or temperature for low power gaming. The LED fan indicator on the top of the graphics card provides an instant display of the fan status.

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16.8M CUSTOMIZABLE COLOR LIGHTING

With 16.8M customizable color options and numerous lighting effects, you could now choose the right scheme for your gaming rig through Xtreme Engine software.

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Easy to VR

With 2 extra HDMI ports, Xtreme VR Link innovatively provides the most flexible output connectivity. Connect up to 4 monitors and/or VR devices at the same time with a total of 3 DisplayPort and 3 native HDMI ports that could be used interchangeably under VR Mode for all types of gaming configuration. Outputs are automatically detected upon restarting PC with no further setting required.

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BUILT FOR EXTREME OVERCLOCKING WITH 6+1 POWER PHASES

Compared to the reference design, the 6+1 power phases on the card make the MOSFET working at a lower temperature and provide more stable voltage output. Over temperature protection and load balance to each MOSFET can effectively extend the card life.

TITAN X-GRADE CHOKES AND CAPACITORS FOR EXTREME DURABILITY

Xtreme Gaming Graphics Cards are engineered with the same highest-grade chokes and capacitors as those of Titan X, delivering high quality performance and longer system lifespan.

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AEROSPACE-GRADE PCB COATING FOR BEST PROTECTION

Dust -resistant shields the circuit board from dust, insects, dropped screws, drill shavings, and abrasion.

Moisture-resistant prevents unwanted conduction paths and board damage.

Corrosion-resistant protects boards from environmental contaminants, such as salt spray, humidity, and corrosion.

 

ico-4yrwarrnty We want your experience with XTREME GAMING to be the best you have ever had. This is why, on top of our standard 3-year warranty, we would like to offer you an additional 1 year of Xtreme Care protection to your XTREME GAMING graphics card free of charge. Register on XTREME GAMING to get 4 years warranty.

Retail Packaging and Accessories

The slideshow below will show our readers what the retail packaging is going to look like on the store shelves, or when it arrives at your home from an online retailer. On the front we see a large Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming badge prominently placed front and center. The back side of the box shows some of the features, specifications, and card requirements. When you open the box up you immediately see another box containing the accessory stack. Under that, the card sits well protected in form fitting foam inside of an anti-static bag.

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Meet the Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G

Our first look at the front of the card shows a new cooler shroud design for for the Windforce cooling system and its opposite-spinning, dual 100mm fans. The black shroud has some silver and orange accents in the middle with LED’s making an “X” between the fans. You are able to control the color and ‘theme’ of the LED through their VGA Extreme Engine software pictured below. The card does come with an attractive backplate for both support and aesthetics purposes.

One other thing you may notice is the sheer size of this card. It is a 2+ slot card. So be aware of this if you plan to add another for SLI that you have enough spacing between them. I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see such a beefy solution on such a low powered card, but it should have some good thermal headroom and be quiet, so it has that going for it.

cardfront

Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G

cardback

Back

Top

Top

Bottom

Bottom

Alternate 1

Alternate 1

Alternate 2

Alternate 2

 

A Closer Look

Taking a closer look a the Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G card, we will first look at its outputs. In the defacto location, the I/O plate, you will see a total of three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and a Dual Link DVI-D round out connectivity, at least in this location.

Gigabyte has jumped on the ‘VR optimized’ train like others have and added what I want to call convenience ports to help with VR enabled systems with outputs ideally located on the front of your case. As you can see from the second picture, there are two HDMI ports for that purpose.

Last up is the 8-Pin PCIe power connector required to get this thing working. With the power limits NVIDIA has put in place this and the slot are more than capable of delivering the require power for pushing the card to its limits.

Outputs - 1x DVI-D, 2x Displayports, 1x HDMI (two more HDMI for VY on opposite side)

Outputs – 1x DVI-D, 3x DisplayPorts, 1x HDMI

Back HDMI for VR

Back HDMI (2x) for VR

8-Pin Required

8-Pin Required

Taking the Windforce 2 cooler off exposes the modified PCB with its Ultra Durable VGA chokes, solid caps, metal chokes, and 2 oz copper PCB helping the card reach its peak potential in both stability and overclocking. What you do not see pictured here is a heat plate for the memory separate from the board. The second picture shows the all copper base which makes contact with the memory and VRMs. It takes that heat and transfer it to the heat pipes and through the fin array to be removed by the two 100 mm fans.

Heatsink Removed

Heatsink Removed

Heatsink Base

Heatsink Base

The last picture is a close up shot of the power delivery area showing off the 6+1 phases and Ultra Durable components like the 2 oz copper PCB, solid caps, metal chokes, and lower RDSon MOSFETs. This helps keeps temperatures lower on the VRMs, allowing for more stable voltage delivery while helping extend the life of the card.

VRM area 6+1 Phase of "Titan X" grade components

VRM area – 6+1 Phases of “Titan X” grade components

Monitoring/Overclocking Software – VGA Xtreme Engine

Gigabyte has their own tweaking and monitoring software, VGA Xtreme Engine for their video cards just like their peers in the industry. You have the ability to monitor temperatures, clockspeed, and fan speed as well as create custom fan curves. If your card has LEDs on it, the software will also control that too. And let’s not forget it will overclock the video card! It is a full service application for your GPU.

The thumbnails below show just a few of the colors on the card.

giga-vgaextm1 giga-vgaextm2
giga-vgaextm3 giga-vgaextm4

(Download HERE from Gigabyte website)

crop1 crop2 crop3 crop4 crop5 crop6

Test System

GPU Test System
CPU Intel 6700K @ Stock (for the motherboard – 4.2 GHz)
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme
RAM 2×4 GB DDR4 GSkill Ripjaws4 @ 3000 MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35 V
Graphics Card Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G
Stock : Core: 1620 MHz (Actual Boost 2000 MHz) / 8160 MHz Memory
Overclocked: 1723 MHz (Actual Boost 2114 MHz) / 8564 MHz
Solid State Drive OCZ RD400 (512GB)
Power Supply SeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)
Operating System Windows 10 x64 (Fully Updated)
Graphics Drivers 372.20
Other Equipment
Digital Multimeter, Kill-A-Watt

Other cards used for comparison are as follows (links are to their reviews):

Benchmarking Method/Settings

Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution (settings also carry over to 2560 x 1440 and Surround/Eyefinity testing if applicable).

All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings, with game benchmarks at noted settings:

  • 3DMark Fire Strike – Extreme, default setting.
  • 3DMark Time Spy – Default
  • Unigine Valley Benchmark v1.0 – 1080p, DX11, Ultra Quality, 8x AA, Full Screen
  • Unigine Heaven (HWbot) – Extreme setting
  • Crysis 3 – Very High settings with 8xMSAA/16xAF (2nd level when you procure and use the Crossbow to get across the level and kill the Helicopter)
  • Metro:LL – DX11, Very High, 16xAF, Motion Blur – Normal, SSAA Enabled, DX11 Tessellation – Very High, Advanced PhysX – Disabled, Scene D6
  • Dirt: Rally – 1080p, 8x MSAA, everything on Ultra that can be, enable Advanced Blending
  • Grand Theft Auto V – 1080p, high settings (see article below for details).
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – 1080p, everything Ultra that can be (Lighting quality High), FXAA and Camera + Object Blur, DOF/OIT/Tessellation enabled.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – 1080p, SSAA 4X, VSync Off, DirectX 12 On, Very High Preset
  • The Division – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Far Cry: Primal – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
  • Ashes of the Singularity – 1080p, DX12, Crazy Preset

More details found in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures

Synthetic Benchmarks

3DMark Fire Strike Extreme results fall where it should with the Gigabyte card scoring 6,106 out of the box. This score was with a ‘sustained’ core boost of 2000 MHz throughout the testing. There will be a lot of parity in this test compared to the the other 1060 tested as the clocks were nearly identical between them. Overclocking yielded a bit less than a 4% increase across the Futuremark benchmarks.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and Time Spy

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and Time Spy

Moving on to the Unigine Suite, Heaven (Hwbot version) and Valley, the story doesn’t change with the Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G beating the RX 480 8G handily and matching its paternal twin. Overclocking again yields almost a 5% increase in this testing.

Unigine Heaven (HWbot version - Extreme) and Unigine Valley

Unigine Heaven (HWbot version – Extreme) and Unigine Valley

Gaming Benchmarks

Moving on to gaming and actual Frames Per Second (FPS) instead of scores, the 1060 proves itself to be a very capable card at our high settings using 1920×1080 resolution. Crysis 3, the resident GPU killer in this graph, is the only title not close to over (slightly) over 60 FPS coming in at 38.2 FPS. When you think about it though, a midrange card playing Crysis 3 with the settings on Ultra at the most common resolution in the wild (1080p), is pretty good performance. It should play about anything else pretty well.

Crysis 3, Dirt: Rally, and Metro: Last Light

Crysis 3, Dirt: Rally, and Metro: Last Light

Here with Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and GTA V, we see 62, 85.1, and 84.3 FPS respectively. The card has zero issues with these titles at 1080p.

Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: SOM, and GTA V

Far Cry: Primal, Middle Earth: SOM, and GTA V

In Rise of the Tomb Raider, we see an average of only 40.8 FPS, which for most is plenty playable, but still below the ‘magic’ number with our high settings. The Division on the other hand managed to average 62.8 FPS running buttery smooth throughout. Last up is the DX12 RTS game, Ashes of the Singularity. Here the 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G averaged 39.8 FPS which for an RTS was definitely smooth to my eyes.

Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ashes of the Singularity, and The Division

Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ashes of the Singularity, and The Division

Pushing the Limits

This portion will again be non existent. The core clocks I set were really just about the end of the line for the card. These Pascal cards, out of the box, really do not allow much voltage control so ‘pushing’ it really isn’t a thing right about now without making changes to increase the voltage going to the card. That is a bit disappointing on cards of this class, but NVIDIA seems to have their hands tied for a couple of generations now. Keep an eye out on the forums for ways around these limits!

Temperatures and Power Consumption

Temperatures achieved on the Windforce 2 cooler were very cool here as I hoped considering the three slot cooler its using. Temperatures peaked at 66°C in my testing with the fan ramping up to a mere 54% at that temperature. The large counter spinning fans were barely audible at this speed. There is plenty of headroom as far as cooling goes.

Temperatures

Temperatures

On the power side of things, the entire review system pulled a peak of 242W at the wall in overclocked testing. In stock form, a peak of 231W was read on the ‘trusty’ Kill A Watt meter. Not too shabby for a card that easily plays modern games at 1080P with a TDP of 120W. It wasn’t long ago this was a 250W performance point!

Power Consumption

Power Consumption

Conclusion

Gigabyte has taken the mid-range GTX 1060 from NVIDIA and has unequivocally improved upon the base product. Not only does it come in with a much higher than reference clockspeed, it sports their Windforce 2 cooler with its large counter rotating fans, direct touch copper base plate, and ultra durable goodies to make for a much quieter and stable video card.

Overclocking was a bit on the disappointing side in that NVIDIA has taken the fun out of really pushing things on the GPU with their power and voltage limits. Sadly, the Gigabyte 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G doesn’t have the ‘button’ to disable a lot of these features. Not a huge deal because you really can’t add voltage anyway. I am sure in a short time there will be modded BIOS’ out there to help the enthusiasts do so. Either way, the overclocks that it reached without a voltage change were pretty good.

Pricing on the Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G comes in at an MSRP of $299.99 and is found at Newegg.com for this amount. This puts it up towards the top of GTX 1060 pricing (range is $249 to $329 with a seemingly anomalous $399 in there). With that price, however, you do receive the highest clocked card out of the box, when using the OC Mode, along with its many other features listed earlier. With the market driving the price, and where this lands performance wise, I can see why the 1060 and aftermarket 1060’s are still fetching a premium over NVIDIA’s suggested MSRP for their AIB’s. Still, if you are looking for one of the fastest 1060’s and don’t want to touch anything to overclock, look no further than the Gigabyte GTX 1060 Xtreme Gaming 6G.

Click here to find out what this means.

Click here to find out what this means.

– Joe Shields (Earthdog)

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