MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X PLUS Review

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The GeForce GTX 1060 series overall is a nice, these cards offer good performance in that 1920x1080 and even 2560x1440 resolution region. We do recommend the 6 GB models though as 3GB is IMHO a bit too little (for 1080p gaming that can be argued though). That said, this release is all about the PLUS inside that gaming X naming. Yes, the Gaming X Plus indeed is a bit faster thanks to the 9 Gbps memory. The difference however is too small to make a sturdy enough difference. Some games benefit a little more from the extra memory bandwidth, and others not so much. On average we can see a 2 to maybe 3% performance increase with similar numbers in your average FPS. The card overall remains to be lovely, nice perf, cool temps, low noise and excellent power consumption at roughly 279 USD, well that's just terrific + you get to play your games with 6GB of graphics memory. So yeah, these are excellent value mainstream performance products. Would I purchase a GDDR5 memory at 8 Gbps over a 9 Gbps one if there is more than a 20 bucks price difference? Well, probably not. The perf increase is too small to make a big enough difference. Then again, the new memory ICs do tweak a lot better as you will reach 10 Gbps when you tweak it yourself. So there definitely is added value to be found in that.



The design and cooler is obviously 100% similar to the regular GTX 1060 Gaming X.  The top logo etc you can switch on/off or to any color and animation you prefer, the choice is yours. Cool dibs is that backplate, with opening at the proper areas (GPU/VRM) for venting. As you can see, I remain skeptical about backplates, they potentially can trap heat and thus warm up the PCB. But the flip-side is that they do look better and can protect your PCB and components from damage. Consumer demand is always decisive, and you guys clearly like graphics cards with backplates. Both the front IO plate and backplate are dark matte black which certainly gives the card that premium feel. All that combined with a nicely design 5 phase PCB again in matte black, and the end result is a lovely looking product.  

Cooling & Noise Levels

The reference design (founder editions) of the GeForce GTX 1060 is set at an offset threshold of just over 72 degrees C. Once the GPU gets warmer the card will clock down / lower its voltage etc to try and keep the card cooler, that's throttling and it part of the design. MSI however throws in a cooler that manages roughly 500 Watt  cooling performance. It is a really good one, so good that up-to a degree or 60 on the GPU, this card remains passive and thus inaudible. Once the fans kick in, you can expect to hover at the 65 Degrees C marker, with seriously demanding games. Please do note that you always need proper ventilation inside your chassis to achieve that number. MSI shaved off a good 5 Degrees C over reference. Noise wise, we can’t complain about cooling whatsoever. Expect sound pressure values in the 37 dBA range at max under load and warm circumstances. That's silent. We had no coil noise issues.

Power Consumption

GP106-400-A1 Pascal GPUs are rated as having a 120 Watt TDP under full stress, our measurements show it to be a tiny bit higher at 135~139 Watts, that still remains to be a very low value. Here again keep in mind we measure peak power consumption, the average power consumption is a good notch lower depending on GPU utilization. Also, if you plan to overclock the CPU/memory and/or GPU with added voltage, please do purchase a power supply with enough reserve. 

Gaming Performance

A GeForce GTX 1060 is a near perfect product for Full HD gamers at 1920x1080/1200. However given the nature of it's performance this actually is a pretty darn good WQHD (2560x1440) card as well. Not everybody requires or demands 100+ FPS and many people find that 40~60 average FPSes good enough, especially with a GSYNC monitor. For that last category the GeForce GTX 1060 is going to offer a tremendous amount of value as at WQHD you are indeed in the 40 to 60 FPS marker. In short, for the money this is an excellent 1080P and a proper 1440P card that will often offer a nice 40~60 FPS experience at WQHD and proper image quality settings. It has plenty of muscle and has the graphics memory to deal with it (6 GB model), even with the best quality settings and some niche AA levels. Resolutions after 2560x1440 will obviously be more complicated. 


Last Words

The new PLUS model is as lovely as the previous Gaming X model was. Truly excellent and even staggering low noise levels, nice performance and it runs cool as well. The performance differential in-between the two will not make a hige difference though, and that is the honest truth. A couple of extra FPS here and there is what you will see at best. So for 20 bucks less, you might as well grab the regular clocked one with 8 Gbps memory and tweak it yourself. You'll play your games up-to 2560x1440 with nice framerates and proper image quality settings. Obviously that 6 GB framebuffer helps out quite a bit and does make your graphics card a little more future proof. The new architecture proves its agility and the die shrink to 16 nm FinFET shows low power consumption due to lower voltages and obviously the high clock-speeds and that 9 Gbps GDDR5 memory offer the product that the GTX 1060 is. The GeForce GTX 1060 is a terrific choice for the ones that game in the 1920x1080 up-to 2560x1440 resolution domain. The card will tweak quite well, we however predict (once again) that any and all cards can achieve a 2.0~2.1 GHz boost clock frequency and for the memory you should be reaching 10 Gbps (effective data-rate) quite easily as well. MSI offers a nice card here that comes with a decent enough factory tweak and is fitted with a totally silent Twinfrozr rev. 6 cooler that runs at very nice temperatures. All things combined we can surely recommend the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X PLUS edition as a product that should be on your short-list. However, we do urge you to look into the Radeon RX 570 / 580 as well as these cards might offer a compelling more price attractive proposition. Performance wise these cards are just downright lovely, plus they offer true value in a cool looking silent package. But the difference compared to the regular 8 Gbps version is not a big one. Go with the best priced product and from there onwards, tweak out the difference we say. But overall, this remains to be one of the better 1060 cards out there.

 - H

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