1060 vs 1070

Which Mid-Range GTX 10-Series Card is the best for gaming?

WePC GTX 1060 VS GTX 1070 template
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With the GTX 10-Series now two generations deep in Nvidia’s GPU timeline (three if you count the 16-Series), there’s never been a better time to sweep one up for an incredible price.

While the top-tier 1080 cards can still fetch a pretty penny, the 1060 and 70 have seen drastic reductions as of late, making them the perfect target for GPU bargain hunters.

The question is, which of these two mid-range 10-Series cards is the best overall GPU for gaming and deserves your hard-earned cash? That’s what we intend to discover!

Architecture

These GPUs have different variants of the same Pascal microarchitecture. Pascal architecture was the predecessor of Maxwell, offering better NVENC encoding, GDDR5 memory, simultaneous multi-projection, DisplayPort 1.4/HDMI 2.0, 4th gen Delta color compression, and so much more.

The 1060 is built using the GP106-400-A1 variant of Pascal architecture, a lower-end blueprint of the GP104 format. It contains 1280 CUDA cores spread across 10 SMs, 80 textural units, 48 render processing units, 4.4 billion transistors, a 48KB L1 cache (per SM), and a 1536KB L2 cache.

As you’d imagine, the 1070 has all the same stuff but more of it, featuring 1920 CUDA cores across 15 SMs, 120 texture units, 64 rendering units, the same 48KB L1 cache but a much larger 2MB L2 cache, and 7.2 billion transistors.

Being that these cards share the same fundamental building blocks, you can glean a reasonably comprehensive understanding of which will perform better by merely comparing the hardware numbers. So, at this stage, it looks like the 1070 has a significant physical edge, but with a higher boosted clock speed, the 1060 should have a more dynamic response to gaming workloads.

Cooling

Pulling 150 watts, the 1070 is the hottest of the two cards, but with all that extra hardware, it’s bound to produce some excess heat. It should max out at around 80°C under load with fans hitting volumes of roughly 48dBA which is about twice the volume of a whisper. With a 94°C thermal capacity, you get a decent amount of headroom for overclocking too.

Not quite as dense in terms of hardware, the 1060 is a little more energy-efficient, pulling only 120 watts and maxing out under loud around the 76°C mark with fans hitting 47dBA. It has the same 94°C thermal capacity as the 1070 so there’s even more OC potential hidden within the 1060 – as far as thermals are concerned anyway.

With both GPUs running fairly cool, blower editions are probably the easiest way forward as you won’t have to do so much tweaking of your in-case flow.

Dimensions

If you’ve got a full tower, you can go ahead and ignore this section as it’ll be large enough to accommodate any size graphics card available, but if you’ve got a busy mid-tower or perhaps even a micro tower, dimensions couldn’t be more important.

The 1060 is definitely the way forward for smaller case owners as at 4.378” (H) x 9.823” (L) x 2-slot (W), it’s almost an inch shorter than the 1070 that measures 4.376” (H) x 10.5” (L) x 2-slot (W). If your case has relatively light-duty brackets, the 1070 may display a fractional amount of sagging over time, in which case, you may need to invest in a GPU brace.

Resolution/FPS

The 1060 has stormed the cooling and dimensions rounds, but once the 1070 starts to flex its silicone muscles in real-world gaming scenarios, will any of that practical 1060 prowess really matter?

1080p

In 1080p in ultra settings, the 1070 does indeed fly off and leave the 1060 to eat its dust. Slightly GPU-heavy games like GTA V, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey do bring its average down below 100fps, but for the most part, it will average well over the 100fps mark in 1080p, performing particularly well in Fortnite and Overwatch.

The 1060 does struggle a little and only ever breaches 100fps during GPU-friendly games, but its averages never fall below 60fps. In fact, it hovers more in the 80fps region for most titles at 1080p.

1440p

Judging from the 1060’s 1080p performance, you wouldn’t expect it to fare too well in the 1440p area, and you’d be right to think so. Its averages drop just shy of 50fps…playable for some titles, but not ideal. Demanding games such as Metro Exodus and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla exhibit low points between 25-27fps – not playable rates.

The 1070 performs remarkably well in 1440p, conquering the 60fps stronghold with an average to the tune of 68fps across a number of titles. That said, during those troublesome GPU-heavy games mentioned above, it struggles to hold 40fps.

4K

Neither of these cards are really designed to tackle the pixel-heavy workload set on them by 4K resolutions, especially in ultra settings. The 1060 is truly out of the race with averages falling below 30fps, and the 1070 barely holds a 40fps average.

Ray Tracing

If you’re after some state-of-the-art real-time ray tracing, you’re barking up the wrong tree with these GPUs. For that kind of eye candy, you’ll need to save for an RTX 20 or 30-Series card.

Ray tracing is amazing, but if you’re considering the kinds of GPUs covered in this article, it probably won’t suit your gaming habits; however, if you’d still like to try it out, you can actually activate software ray tracing in GTX cards. It’s not as good as hardware ray tracing, and it will push your GPU to its limits, but it can be neat to try.

VRAM

Both cards feature the GDDR5 VRAM memory type, but with an 8GB capacity, the 1070 has a whole 2GB on the 1060, which explains why it held its own a little better in high resolutions.

The GP104 Pascal variant also allows the 1070 a much wider 256.3GBps bandwidth and 256-bit bus interface. The 1060 has a vastly reduced memory configuration facilitating a 192.2GBps bandwidth and a 192-bit bus interface. Despite this lesser memory format, it doesn’t amount to many ineptitudes in the 1060’s performance, especially considering it shares the same 2002MHz memory frequency and 8GBps effective memory speed as the 1070.

Verdict

Averaging over 100fps in 1080p and over 60fps in 1440p, the 1070 is clearly the more capable card, though, for 4K or VR gaming, we’d recommend choosing something along the lines of the 1080 or 1080 Ti.

If you only ever game in 1080p, the 1060 is a perfectly valid option, and if you can find it for around $160 or less, it’s the better value for money card. If, however, you can find a 1070 for a good price, that 100fps 1080p average will keep you very happy, especially when you’re playing demanding games.

To enjoy some 1440p gaming, you should go with the 1070. It’s a no-brainer. The 1060 simply can’t handle that many pixels. If you’re looking to the 1070 as a possible upgrade from the 1060, it’s not a bad idea. Not only will it boost your average frame rates by just over 30%, but from lighting to reflection handling to shading, it provides much better graphics in general.