So you’re building a computer and looking for a GPU to run the graphics. There are a ton of graphics cards on the market for you to choose from and any number of them can get the job done, but with so many and the minute differences between them, how do we know what the actual differences are? Let’s look at Nvidia alone; they have the GTX 1060, 1070, 1080 and they come in 3GB, 6GB, 4GB, 8GB variants and if we broaden our search to different manufacturers we’ll find that there are as many different compositions of GPU with onboard RAM memory options, GDDR5, GDDR5X, and more. Wading into the world of finding the right GPU carries the risk of being caught by the undertow and washed out to sea.
Since it would take an entire novel to compare the differences between all the different GPU options out there, and we don’t have the time to write fast enough to keep up with new releases (nor would you have time to read and evaluate before the next series releases) we are going to boil down to a couple of the key differences between two different GPU cards – the Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB versus the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB.
NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB Versus 1060 6GB
Obviously the two most obvious differences are printed on the boxes they come in – the 3GB memory difference and the price tag. The 3GB Nvidia GTX 1060 typically retails for around $200 while the 6GB variant generally retails at just under $300, but what does the increased investment look like on your computer screen?
Before we get to the drag strip, let’s take a look under the hoods of these two GPUs – the 3GB variant of the Nvidia GTX 1060 features 1152 CUDA cores versus the 1280 (a 10% reduction) of the 6GB variant. For those unfamiliar with CUDA cores, they are parallel processors. Just like your computer may have a dual or quad-core processor, these GPUs feature over a thousand micro processors that handle all the data fed into the GPU to render visual graphics to the user – and the 6GB variant of the Nvidia GTX 1060 has an extra 128 of them to help increase your frames per second performance.
Additionally, the 6GB version of this graphics card has 8 additional texture mapping units (TMUs). TMUs rotate, resize, and distort images in a fashion that takes a two dimensional image and is able to to make it appear in a three dimensional plane as texture, and unfortunately the 3GB version accomplishes this just a little less effectively.
So there we have the nuts and bolts of the differences between the two GPU units, but what does that actually mean after they are installed and running on your CPU? Are you actually going to notice a visible difference between the two units? Let’s talk about that too.
Both of these GPUs feature a 1506MHz core clocking speed and have the ability to overclock at 1708 MHz, for all the differences in the hardware, the processing speed of the two cards remains strangely the same, and both feature an 8 GBps memory clock.
What you will find is that while both GPUs feature similar processing speeds and clock speeds on paper, the end result is a very different frame per second result. For example, for pure texture detail, the 6GB version of the card can reach fps counts of 211 versus the 191 of the 3GB edition. I don’t know about you, but a 10% difference seems significant.
When actually getting into gaming, the fps differences are even more significant. League of Legends, one of the more popular eSport games in the world, sees an 18% better fps rate (188 fps vs 159) on the 6GB model than the 3GB. A first person shooter, where every second makes a difference, like Battlefield 1 sees a 34% increase (73 fps vs. 55) in the 6GB version over the 3GB version.
(NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB)
(NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB)
There is no question that the 6GB version of the Nvidia 1060 GTX leads to better performance on the high end of the requirement scale. Depending on the game, the performance increase is significant. What we will toss out there though is the question of how you really intend to use your CPU and what its graphics requirements are going to be. If you want to be able to have the best graphical performance for less than $300, the 6GB (Buy It Here: Amazon) would suit you just fine.