Over my many years as a computer enthusiast I have been the owner of countless graphics cards. Some cheap, some expensive and the rest from somewhere in the middle. It is the biggest headache for anyone who wants to build their own gaming computer but doesn’t have an unlimited amount of money. Coupled with the fact that they can be incredibly expensive, there is also far too many to choose from. So which graphics card is the best one to get? Well the best one (currently) is probably the NVIDIA Pascal Quadro GP100 but not everyone has a spare £8,000. That is also a highly specialised piece of equipment which 99.9% of people wouldn’t know how to use, let alone optimise.
So allow me to look at the best graphics card that I can find for under £250 (around $300).
Nvidia GTX 1060
The GTX 1060 is not the most powerful graphics card in the world. It is crushed by its bigger brothers (1070, 1080 and the Ti’s). However, it is still a powerful card that’s capable of running pretty much everything that I threw at it. I have been testing one for the past 3 weeks now and I was incredibly surprised with how good I found it to be. The one I tested was the Gigabyte Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB. There is a 3GB version available but for the small difference in cost, the 6GB version vastly outperforms it.
In fact, I was so surprised by the card that I am going to make a bold statement. It is the best value graphics card that money can buy.
The tech specs
Now I could go into lots of details regarding the memory bandwith, clock speeds, VRAM, overclocking etc but I will keep this review as simple as possible. I have been fortunate enough to use both the GTX 1080Ti and 1060 (6GB version) for over 3 weeks now. What I thought I would do, instead of boring you all to death, was compare how the two GPUs performed at the job which they’re designed to do; playing games. I have been playing a variety of highly GPU intensive games and comparing the FPS (Frames per second) that the cards achieved (higher is better).
Below, I have created a graph to show the difference in power between the two cards. All of these games were played at their maximum settings and I was running the GPU’s alongside an intel i7 7700k processor to get a fair comparison. I also just used the stock air cooling on both GPU’s and didn’t overclock them. The games were ran at 1080p rather than at a 4K resolution because I’m not made of money. Also, if you do already own a 4K monitor I doubt you would be buying a graphics card based on whether it’s good value for money.
If we take a closer look at the FPS counts for just the GTX 1060 we can see that the lowest FPS I achieved was a perfectly playable 42 on The Witcher 3. It only dropped frames for a matter of seconds before it went back up to the average (of over 60).
Also please note that both graphics cards are capable of running a 4K display but there could be a noticeable drop in fps.
Am I insane?
Now you may be thinking “The GTX 1080Ti completely destroys the 1060 so why aren’t you recommending that graphics card?”. You are completely correct, the Nvidia GTX 1080Ti is a phenomenal graphics card which wipes the floor with the GTX 1060 6GB. However, and it is a BIG however. The 1060 which I tested costs £245 ($300) whilst the 1080Ti graphics card costs an eye watering £700 ($850). The 1060 also uses less than half of the power of the 1080Ti and doesn’t run as hot (or as loud) meaning that it will likely last longer overall.
Let me just emphasize my main point once more, the 1060 costs almost 3 times less than the 1080Ti. You don’t get three times the performance from the 1080Ti, in fact based on my fps tests you don’t even get 1.5 times the performance.
One not so good point with the 1060 though is that it only has one display point whereas the 1080Ti has 3. However, it does have a HDMI port and two DVI ports so if you are wanting to have a dual display you will have to use one of those cables.
For playing any present day game on max settings the GTX 1060 6GB is possibly the best value graphics card you can hope to find. There is also a 3GB version available for slightly less money but it lacks significantly in performance. If you are building a budget PC, I cannot recommend the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB highly enough.