The NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB Review

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Performance Consistency Over Time

Modern graphics card designs make use of several advanced hardware and software facing algorithms in an effort to hit an optimal balance between performance, acoustics, voltage, power and heat output. Traditionally this leads to maximized clock speeds within a given set of parameters. Conversely, if one of those last two metrics (those being heat and power consumption) steps into the equation in a negative manner it is quite likely that voltages and resulting core clocks will be reduced to insure the GPU remains within design specifications. We’ve seen this happen quite aggressively on some AMD cards while NVIDIA’s reference cards also tend to fluctuate their frequencies. To be clear, this is a feature by design rather than a problem in most situations.

In many cases clock speeds won’t be touched until the card in question reaches a preset temperature, whereupon the software and onboard hardware will work in tandem to carefully regulate other areas such as fan speeds and voltages to insure maximum frequency output without an overly loud fan. Since this algorithm typically doesn’t kick into full force in the first few minutes of gaming, the “true” performance of many graphics cards won’t be realized through a typical 1-3 minute benchmarking run. Hence why we use a 10-minute warm up period before all of our benchmarks.

While we don’t have any concerns over a mere 120W core causing issues for a pretty capable heatsink, NVIDAI will still have to finely balance temperatures, core speeds and acoustics so throttling doesn’t occur. Remember the critique we laid at the GTX 1080’s feet when its performance was pushed downwards as the lethargic fan speed profile failed to keep up with rising temperatures? Yeah, hopefully that doesn’t happen here…

The first results we are seeing here are quite heartening with temperatures barely reaching the 70°C mark after an intensive 15 minutes of gameplay. Something else to take note of is the actual decrease in heat as time goes on at the fan / clock speed dance finds a happy medium where both can coexist while being minimally invasive upon the gaming experience.

Fan speeds ramp up in a fairly linear fashion so the noise output won’t be distracting and finally level out around 1900RPMs. That’s actually quite impressive since it doesn’t represent too much of an increase from the fan’s normal “idle” speed.

NVIDIA claims the Boost Clock on the GTX 1060 should be around 1708MHz and after an initial minor step-down our sample achieved frequencies well above that mark. In most applications it leveled out at 1850MHz with some pushing the card a bit further towards its TDP limit and the resulting core speed came down to about 1800MHz. Nonetheless, regardless of the situation, the GTX 1060 was simply unflappable and exhibited perfectly consistent frequencies.

As we add custom cards to this chart things will certainly become a bit more interesting but for the time being the GTX 1060 Founders Edition delivers constant framerates without any perceivable throttling.

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