Today I bring you the latest, custom GPU from MSI, based on the newly released NVIDIA GTX 1060, the MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G! There have been a number of improvements made by MSI to this model of 1060 including, but not limited to, a custom PCB, a dual-fan heatsink, and an 8-pin power connection (in lieu of a 6-pin)! The TwinFrozr heatsink and ZeroFrozr technology should help keep this bad boy both cool and quiet no matter what you’re using it for. Before I get to rambling, let’s take a deeper dive into the card!
Specifications and Features
The 1060 Gaming X 6G can support a maximum of four displays, a max resolution of 7680 x 4320, and sports three DisplayPort 1.4, one HDMI 2.0b, and one DL-DVI-D for connectivity. The 1060 has a power grid sipping 120W TDP!
Note: MSI has shipped the GPU with “OC Mode” for this review sample. Retail versions of this GPU will ship with “Gaming Mode” loaded by default, but can switch to “OC Mode” with the MSI GAMING App.
These specifications are taken from the MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G website!
|MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G|
|Graphics Processing Unit||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060|
|Interface||PCI Express x16 3.0|
|Memory Size (MB)||6144|
|Boost / Base Core Clock||1595 MHz / 1810 MHz (OC Mode)|
1570 MHz / 1785 MHz (Gaming Mode)
1506 MHz / 1708 MHz (Silent Mode)
|Memory Clock (MHz)||2027 MHz (OC Mode)|
2002 MHz (Gaming Mode)
2000 MHz (Silent Mode)
4 Max displays
3x DisplayPort 1.4 / 1x HDMI 2.0b / 1x DL-DVI-D
Max Resolution: 7680 x 4320 @ 60Hz
|Power consumption (W) / Power Connectors||120W / 1x 8-pin|
|HDCP / HDMI / DL-DVI Support||Yes (all three)|
|Accessories||Driver CD, Badges, Manual|
|DirectX / OpenGL Version Support||DX12_1 / Open GL 4.5|
|Card Dimensions (mm)||277 x 140 x 39 mm (11″ x 5.5″ x 1.54″)|
|Weight||1100g (2.24 lbs)|
Next we’ll take a look at quite a few features as listed on the MSI website. As with the bigger brother we reviewed, the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G, the GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G comes with the TwinFrozr VI cooler. This iteration adds the TORX 2.0 fans and includes the ZeroFrozr functionality. Basically, you have fans which are incredibly quiet, which also don’t start spinning until the GPU reaches 60 °C on the core!
In a little more detail here, the heatsink has a nickel-plated copper baseplate with five heat pipes up to eight millimeters in size. MSI is touting premium thermal compound here as well, what I saw during disassembly was definitely a step up from what is typically seen on a GPU.
The Gaming X also has LED’s built in to the heatsink, which can be controlled with the MSI Gaming App, for adding a little extra flair to your build.
See these features and more at the MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G website!
Below is our gratuitous picture of what GPU-Z looks like when it’s reading from the card. We can see the process shrink to 16nm with the die size coming in at 200mm squared. This die has 4.4 billion transistors. The core has 48 ROPs and 80 TMUs on the backend of 1,280 Shaders. With the clock speeds, this yields a 76.6 GPixel/s and 127.6 GTexel/s throughput. As you will also note below, the card, by default comes in at 1570 MHz clocks, the OC Mode clock speeds on the core are 1595 MHz. Boost clocks are, by default, 1785 MHz and in OC Mode jump to 1810 MHz, but we all know the actual boost clock is what counts. There is a slight bump in Memory from 2002 MHz (8004 GDDR5) to 2027 MHz. See? Not a huge increase there (I tested this bump and it was 1% or less improvement in our testing suite).
Photo Op – Retail Packaging and Accessories
The retail packaging for the GTX 1060 Gaming X is predominantly black and red. On the front are some very basic specs with a huge picture of the card itself. On the rear there are detailed features and specs. Inside is a box of accessories and a foam shell to keep the card safe. The card is also kept in an electrostatic discharge bag. One interesting point is MSI touting their GPU matches their motherboard series, haven’t seen that listed as a feature before, but it definitely makes it convenient to carry a theme throughout your build.
The included accessories are a quick user’s guide, driver CD, and a few stickers. Really nothing missing here, almost any PSU should have at least one 8-pin PCIe connector in this day and age.
A Closer Look – Meet the MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G
First thing to note about the GPU, check your case compatibility! The PCB extends a long way past the top of the PCIe bracket, so narrow cases will have issues getting the side panel on. The heatsink is black and red with two huge fans. You may notice the red stripes on the right aren’t pure red like the rest of the heatsink, this is because they’re translucent and are lit during use.
Turning the card around to see the rear we find a matte black backplate with the MSI dragon in gloss black. This backplate is really just for looks and additional support, it has no thermal pads to contact the card and dissipate heat.
Looking at the top view we see a few of the big heat pipes running out from the baseplate of the heatsink. There’s also a translucent MSI logo with a dragon which has an RGB LED behind it. On the bottom view we see a couple more of the heat pipes.
Here’s a quick shot of the aforementioned LED’s on this card, they illuminate very nicely. Only the MSI and dragon logo portion is RGB, note.
Moving to the ends of the GTX 1060 Gaming X we are able to more clearly see the connectivity of the card. For displays there are three DisplayPort connections which conform to spec version 1.4, one HDMI connection of spec 2.0b, and a DVI connection which is digital dual link. For additional power there is an 8-pin PCIe connection, this is a step up from the 6-pin of the reference model.
Removing the heatsink we see the support plate which also cools the vRAM and and VRM components. Once we remove the plate we can see the PCB in all its glory. Included also are pictures of the rear of the heatsink and support plate. The thermal interface material on the heatsink was undoubtedly a step up from what is typical on a GPU and made great contact with the die. The thermal pads on the support plate also had good contact with the components the plate was designed to cool. Notice the three connectors on the heatsink? Two of those are for LED’s, one is for the pair of fans.
Looking in close at the VRM we see six phases. Unless I’m sadly mistaken there are five of these phases for the GPU core itself and one phase for the vRAM. Very solid for a 120 W TDP graphics card!
Here’s a couple quick pictures of the GPU die and the vRAM chips. Of course this is the NVIDIA GP106 core and Samsung K4G80325FB-HC25 GDDR5. The core is based on the newest Pascal architecture. The vRAM is the same from the GTX 1070 Gaming X and rated to GDDR5-8000 at 1.35V.
Monitoring/Overclocking Software – MSI Afterburner, MSI Gaming App
Oh, MSI Afterburner, how we all love you. This piece of software is still doing a great job managing your MSI (and other brand) GPUs. The latest version is v4.3.0 Beta 4 (latest “stable” is 4.2.0) as pictured below. Afterburner controls the core and memory clocks, power limit, voltage, fan speed, and even fan curve profiles. The monitoring portion can display anything under the sun from the GPU and even from the CPU! This is my go to choice for overclocking most cards and monitoring them.
The other app they have is named, appropriately, the MSI Gaming App. This small footprint app allows you to change clock speeds from three different presets with one touch. OC Mode (which is how this card arrived), Gaming Mode (which is how retail cards will land), and Silent Mode. You are also able to change fan speeds and control the LEDs on your device with this software. It also displays the current clock speed of your GPU. It is great for the average user, who may be intimidated by the more complex MSI Afterburner software.
|CPU||Intel 6700K @ Stock (for the motherboard – 4.0 boost to 4.2 GHz)|
|Cooler||CoolerMaster Glacer 240L|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z170 Extreme7+|
|RAM||2×4GB DDR4 GSKILL RipJaws4 @ 3000MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35v|
MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G
Stock (OC Mode): Core: 1595 MHz, Boost 1810 Mhz (actual 2000 MHz)/ 2027 MHz Memory
|Solid State Drive||Samsung 850 Pro 256GB|
|Power Supply||EVGA SuperNova G2 850W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
Other cards used for comparison are as follows (links are to their reviews):
Note, all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution.
All synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings, with game benchmarks at noted settings:
- 3DMark 11 = Performance Level
- 3DMark Fire Strike = Extreme, default setting.
- 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
- Battlefield 4 – Default Ultra setting (Tashgar level – ‘on rails’ car scene)
- 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 detail is in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures
To start our results section we’ll go through synthetics first. 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and 3DMark 11 Performance are the first two benchmarks up. Here we see the 1060 Gaming X trading blows with a heavily overclocked 980 Poseidon. As expected the performance trails behind the 980 Ti and 1070 samples.
Moving on to the next two tests, HWBot Heaven Extreme and Unigine Valley, we see similar results to the 3DMark tests. The 1060 is again dancing around with a heavily overclocked 980, but trailing the 980 Ti and 1070 by as much as 41.4%.
For our first set of gaming benchmarks we’ll look at a slightly aged, yet still popular, title in Battlefield 4. The 1060 not only holds its own here, but kicks the 980 down by over 10 fps at stock speeds! Overclocking gained almost another 4 fps here.
In Crysis 3 and DiRT Rally the 1060 fell back behind the 980, but only slightly. It was to the tune of less than 4 fps in Crysis 3 and 7 fps in DiRT Rally at stock speeds. This gap closed to less than 3 fps and 2 fps, respectively, once overclocking took place.
The next set of gaming results looks pretty similar to the previous for the 1060 Gaming X. It and the 980 continue to one up each other across the board. In GTA V it is ahead by almost 2 fps at stock and just over 5 fps when overclocked, falls behind in Metro: LL by up to almost 7 fps, but pulls back to a split in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
I really wish we had some results from the 980 Poseidon in this set of our newest gaming tests, but the card is no longer available for our usage. Without further ado, we do see how the 1060 compares to a 980 Ti and 1070 in these games. Overclocking gains were solid, as they have been, in all four titles here. Notably, 4 fps was gained in The Division, a cool 6.5% there.
Temperatures and Power Consumption
All I can tell you here is this card must have never gone to school, it’s simply too cool. When testing Fire Strike Extreme, both stock and overclocked, the fans never came out of their ZeroFrozr mode! The highest temperature we see is a mere 61°C throughout any testing. What a simply FANtastic job here.
We knew it coming in, but the 1060 simply sips power. The highest power draw seen, at the wall, during testing was a paltry 256W while overclocked.
Pushing the Limits
This card was rock stable at +150/+150 in Afterburner, but there was nothing I could do to pull even +5 more on either number. Granted, there was currently no voltage control either… would have been nice to get a few more mV. Even so, I kicked up the CPU to 4.7 GHz with the cache at 4.1 GHz and ran Fire Strike Extreme again to get up to an overall score of 6460. This occurred at an actual boost of 2152 MHz.
MSI has brought an incredible offering to the table in their GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G. The improved heatsink, fans, VRM, and power connection gives this 1060 a little more room to stretch its legs. There were plenty of times when I was testing this card, on an open bench note, where the fans never turned on at all. It was running Fire Strike Extreme while taking advantage of the ZeroFrozr feature. The packaging was fantastic, it should keep the card safe from anything the shipping companies can throw at it… literally!
The MSRP of the stock GTX 1060 is $249, the Gaming X 6G comes in at $289. This puts the pricing as tied for the highest priced AIC model, but it also has a nice factory overclock on it. This is to the tune of 1506 MHz vs 1570 MHz or 1595 MHz depending which mode you’re running. Add in a few nice pieces of software and RGB LED lighting and the MSRP is definitely justified.
Performance was, in most cases, slightly above or slightly below a heavily overclocked GTX 980 throughout the testing, but this card manages it with a lower power draw and sports 2 GB more vRAM. It’s a solid card for sure… Overclockers Approved!