MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G Video Card Review

Add Your Comments

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 Type GDDR5
Memory Size (MB) 6144
Memory Interface 192-bit
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)

Maximum Displays

Outputs (DP/HDMI/DVI)

4 Max displays

3x DisplayPort 1.4 / 1x HDMI 2.0b / 1x DL-DVI-D

Max Resolution: 7680 x 4320 @ 60Hz

Multi-GPU Technology N/A
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!

ico-dispfanbld TORX 2.0 FAN
TEAMWORK FOR GREATER STRENGTH
Just like in games, the exclusive MSI TORX 2.0 Fan technology uses the power of teamwork to allow the TWIN FROZR VI to achieve new levels of cool.TORX 2.0 Fan design generates 22% more air pressure for supremely silent performance in the heat of battle.
ico-zerofn ZERO FROZR-STAY UNDETECTED
First introduced in 2008 by MSI, ZeroFrozr technology has made its mark and is now the industry standard among graphics cards. It eliminates fan noise by stopping the fans in low-load situations. This means you can focus on gaming without the noise of spinning fans.Under 60C, fans stop, completely silent (mulitmedia or light gaming). Above 60C the fan starts.
ico-led CATCH THE VIBE WITH COOL LED EFFECTS
Each LED can be controlled individually by choosing any of the animation effects availiable in the MSI Gaming App, ranging from responding to your game sounds or music to steady light, breathing and flashing. Of course, you can also turn them off.
ico-hsairflw HEATSINK
Lurking under the cover of the GAMING graphics card is an engineering masterpiece designed to keep the graphics card cool. Every tiny detail of the intricate heatsink plays an essential part in providing a cool & quiet gaming experience.
AIRFLOW CONTROL TECHNOLOGY
Using advanced aerodynamics, Airflow Control Technology directs more air directly onto the TWIN FROZR VI heat pipes. The special deflectors on the heat sink enlarge the surface area, which means lower temperatures and better gaming.
ico-basplttim SMOOTH HEAT PIPES
Up to 8mm thick copper heat pipes with a smooth squared shape at the bottom maximize heat transfer from the surface of the copper base plate.
SOLID BASEPLATE
To temper the heat generated by a powerful GPU, MSI GAMING series graphics cards use a solid nickel-plated copper base plate. The base plate catches the heat from the GPU and transfers it to the heat pipes for dissipation so you can keep cool.
PREMIUM THERMAL COMPOUND
Every detail counts when it comes to creating the ultimate thermal design, which is why TWIN FROZR VI uses a premium thermal compound to make sure it outlives the competition.

GPU-Z

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).

GPUz v1.9.0 Screenshot

GPUz v1.9.0 Screenshot

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.

Retail Packaging - Front

Retail Packaging – Front

Retail Packaging - Rear

Retail Packaging – Rear

Retail Packaging - Inner

Retail Packaging – Inner

Retail Packaging - Padding

Retail Packaging – Padding

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.

Accessories

Accessories

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.

Front

Front

Rear

Rear

Top

Top

Bottom

Bottom

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.

LED's Illuminated

LED’s Illuminated

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.

Outputs

Outputs

Power Connector

Power Connector

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.

Heatsink Removed

Heatsink Removed

VRM/vRAM Cooling Removed

VRM/vRAM Cooling Removed

Heatsink Rear

Heatsink Rear

VRM/vRAM Cooling Plate

VRM/vRAM Cooling Plate

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!

6-Phase VRM

6-Phase VRM

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.

NVIDIA GP106 Die

NVIDIA GP106 Die

Samsung vRAM Chip

Samsung vRAM Chip

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.

MSI Afterburner v4.3.0 Beta 4 Screenshot

MSI Afterburner v4.3.0 Beta 4 Screenshot

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.

MSI Gaming App

MSI Gaming App

 

Test Setup

 

Test Setup
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
Graphics Card

MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G

Stock (OC Mode): Core: 1595 MHz, Boost 1810 Mhz (actual 2000 MHz)/ 2027 MHz Memory
Overclocked: Core: 1745 MHz, Boost 1960 Mhz (actual 2138 MHz)/ 2102 MHz Memory

Solid State Drive Samsung 850 Pro 256GB
Power Supply EVGA SuperNova G2 850W
Operating System Windows 10 x64
Graphics Driver 368.64

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.

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

Synthetic Benchmarks

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%.

3DMark and Unigine Results

3DMark and Unigine Results

Gaming Benchmarks

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.

Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, and DiRT Rally Results

Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, and DiRT Rally Results

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.

GTA V, Metro: LL, and ME: Shadow of Mordor Results

GTA V, Metro: LL, and ME: Shadow of Mordor Results

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.

RotTR, The Division, FC: Primal, and AotS Results

RotTR, The Division, FC: Primal, and AotS Results

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.

Temperature

Temperature

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.

Power Consumption

Power Consumption

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.

Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits

Conclusion

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!

ocapproved

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

-Austin (ATMINSIDE)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discussion
  1. EarthDog
    I guess what I am trying to say is that you are looking at the extra space for memory ICs and power delivery different than I am. That does't tell me anything, honestly. At least nothing with any certainty. It could have been left over 1070 boards so to keep costs down, MSI used those?


    This is what I was getting at.
    I guess what I am trying to say is that you are looking at the extra space for memory ICs and power delivery different than I am. That does't tell me anything, honestly. At least nothing with any certainty. It could have been left over 1070 boards so to keep costs down, MSI used those?

    If it used more power, why wouldn't they just add them on? Sure they would do that... No idea what the core count would be, but there are multiples between teh shader count and ROPS that could make it possible, no?

    As far as 3GB, maybe they use less dense ICs? Or simply less... perhaps with a different board as well. Who knows. :shrug: :)

    My point is that there will not be a 1060 that is 8GB. The rumor has it a cut down 3GB version may be in the works (maybe a 1050?)...I can also see a 1060Ti due to the large performance gap between it and the 1070. How that magics happens, I don't know. :)

    EDIT: Reference PCB is a shorty 3+1 phase it seems..: https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_1060/5.html
    EarthDog
    Extra pads? Perhaps they are using an existing PCB. ;)



    right i figured they made one pcb that would be used for a few different 1060's. i call them pads, im not sure what they are called other wise. as there are maybe what 2-3 dozen tiny points for solding for the memory ic's.

    in the pic here to the left of the gpu, two places missing ram ic's

    http://www.overclockers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IMG_5376.jpg

    yes i figured a higher end card might come with more ocing possibilities. as you also notice near the power section is missing or left blank of one more phase for ram as well as the gpu. as i mentioned above about that but, a 1060Ti, would nv do that? what core count would it have then with a 256bit memory unless its just a matter of enabling the extra 64bits on the FW side.

    my thought about the 3gb card is wouldnt they use less ic's not more? i mean i dont know where to look up specs for this stuff but does each ic have its own width for a connection or am i missing something still. having that many pads for 3gb just seems backwards if they are to use the same density ic's as on the 6gb model, do they even make less dense ic's this late in GDDR5 maturity. yea im going back and forth a bit, for 3gb will they use more ic's or less, depends on the density of the ic. cuts both ways if someone has less dense ic's for a much cheaper price then they will use them same for higher dense ones. i mean if your buying more of the higher dense ic's then you would think costs would be even cheaper then having two sets of ic's on hand for 3gb vs 6gb.
    Extra pads? Maybe they are using an existing PCB. ;)

    Perhaps in the future you may see an 8GB 1060 Ti with a 256bit bus (as there is a fair amount of performance gap there), but you will not see a 1060 with 8GB. Again, there are rumors there will be a cut down 1060 with 3GB.
    well since there is alot i dont know about the new 1060, who is to say they didnt disable part of the memory controller. why the 2 extra pads for memory IC's left blank? does this mean they can get the same witdh with all pads in use, using lower density ic's. assuming they are going to use all those pads for the 3gb model, which might be possible. even so about specs, msi has two blank spots, if guessing the memory controller is disabled this way for 6gb. that means a 8gb card would be 256bit, 32bit wide for each memory ic. i guess i think of them putting on ram ic's for gpus like sticks of ram, sticks still only have 32bit width per channel to work with but yet so many ic's per stick. i guess i wonder why they couldnt stack two gpu-ram ic's to one 32bit channel or would that then make each ram ic 16bit width for it to use. i blanks to fill in so alot of guessing on stuff.
    Yes and no about NVIDIA's world... everyone had the same information given to them AFAIK. We received the reviewer packs, high res pics etc, just like everyone else. The difference is NVIDIA told their AIBs to send the cards to some reviewers this time around. There seems to be fewer FE reviews than AIB reviews out there from a quick google. How some got them? No idea. But the FE is only available at NVIDIA.com while the 1070/1080 FE's are available everywhere. In other words, this launch was different on many fronts. Not sure it really shows some kind of pecking order?

    There will not be an 8GB 1060... you can't really do that on a 192bit bus (without splitting the memory speeds - which is silly and causes issues Read: GTX 970).

    Now, there are rumors of a 3GB model that may/may not be cut down performance wise...but how do you put 8GB on a 192bit bus? The math doesn't work out without some significant retooling of the memory bus.
    no worries, im starting to notice some reviews our there are using non-FE cards and some FE cards with different coolers like an evga one i read. its kind of interesting how its a mixed bag and no all FE reviews like with the 1070/1080. i guess it does also show, who is let into NV's world in a way with who has what cards as well as more detailed info.

    i guess this means people need to keep there eyes out for a 8gb model down the road, makes sense to do that way.
    Thanks evil! I'll do my best to answer your questions, some are stretching what I know though.

    The FE has less power phases, this is a custom pcb model.

    I was able to overclock, completely stable, to +150/+150 with Afterburner. This was on top of MSI's overclock.

    I would love to have access to a 960 as well, but it wouldn't have been a blip on the radar for the 1060.

    I typically do mention the stock design of the VRM, but I had no access to the information at the time of writing.

    It's possible the pcb was repurposed by MSI from a higher model of GPU, I haven't checked THAT closely with their other models yet, though. It would explain the missing phases and the blank memory spots.
    good job!

    a few questions, do you know if the FE has the same number of phases or less then what the MSI has? it looks like there is room for another phase where those 5 are but whats the one up top in that pic? i thought the top one would be dedicated to the ram with the other 5 to the gpu, but with an extra one open near the 5 and that one up top. it seems there might be a another version coming with some OCing options or even more boosted then this one. would be nice to see some ocing options since NV wont allow SLI on these cards. IMO the whole pricing structure in general is messed up, i think the base even FE models should be closer to $200. with more oc'd/boosted cards coming in at or slightly above MSRP.

    *edit*

    i get these are not easy to do at all, i wish someone could have lent you a GTX960. Since the 1060 is the 960's replacement, seeing how much faster it is vs a 960 would have been welcomed.

    *edit 2*

    ok so i found this

    A four phase power supply is responsible for supplying the GP106 GPU with power. An additional power phase is dedicated to the board’s GDDR5 memory.


    GTX1060FE

    just a suggestion but saying "MSI has X and standard for the FE cards is 4+1" just as a reference so people can see its not a FE design msi has. im still thinking there will be a card setup as a 6+2 down the road if not out/coming out soon one that is more ocnig friendly with gpu voltage/ram voltage control. maybe someone can find out if at all possible...

    *edit3*

    sorry for so many edits but i think that one to guru3d is wrong, i found two reviews with tear downs.

    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_1060/5.html

    http://hothardware.com/reviews/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1060-review

    both show max 3 phases on the FE board, if you noticed there are 2 missing spots on the board for ram ic's. does this mean there is room for two more 1gb ic's to be installed making a 8gb FE card. better question, did they have to leave those two off due to power cause of the design having a max of 3 phases.