MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G Video Card Review

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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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: 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.


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


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!

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.



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