Nvidia has always followed the rule of xx60 being entry-level and xx70 being the mid-range option for any generation of the graphics card. But things get a bit more complicated when comparing a cross-generation product like the Gtx 970 and Gtx 1060.
Nonetheless, by comparing the specs and benchmarks from a few games we can easily find out if the Gtx 1060 can hold up against the previous generation mid-range Gtx 970.
Nvidia GTX 970 vs GTX 1060 Graphics Card – Specification Comparison
When it comes to specs GTX 1060 card being the newer generation, has a lot of improvement over the previous-gen GTX 970 cards. 1060 card uses the new Ansel architecture instead of the previous generation’s Maxwell 2.0 that can be found on the Gtx 970.
Cuda Cores and Clock Speed
The Gtx 970 actually has more Cuda cores than the Gtx 1060. It has 1664 Cuda core while the Gtx 1060 has 1280 for the 6 GB version and 1152 for the 3 GB version.
But the lack of Cuda cores is more than made up the boost clock. GTX 1060 has a base clock of 1506 MHz and a Boost clock speed of 1708 MHz. On the other hand, Gtx 970 has only a 1050 MHz base clock and 1178 MHz of Boost clock speed.
This Ansel architecture opens the card up to many different features such as VR, G-Sync, and in recent years ray tracing. These newer features cannot be used on the old Maxwell architecture that is found on Gtx 970.
The video memory also gets some boosts in the 1060 version if you choose to do so. The Gtx 970 has 4 GB of video memory while the Gtx 1060 comes with either 3 GB or 6 GB depending on the version. But even if the 3 GB version has less video memory it performs better while playing games because of the higher clock speed.
Thermal and Power Consumption
Thermal and power consumption are also optimized in the newer version of the graphics cards. GTX 1060 has a max temperature of 94 degrees C while the Gtx 970 has 98 degrees C.
Along with the lower temperature, the power consumption on the Gtx 1060 is also less than its previous version of Gtx 970. For comparison’s sake, a Gtx 1060 needs 120W power to use at maximum capacity. But the Gtx 970 has a recommended power of 145W.
For the lower power consumption on the newer model, you will only need 400W power for the whole computer which jumps up to 500W when you want to use a Gtx 970. As a result, you are getting more performance at a lower cost when using the Gtx 1060.
Benchmarks and FPS Comparison
A card can have all the features but they also have to do well in the real test. Only having more features or more cores is not enough if it doesn’t improve the performance. So here we have the result for both Gtx 970 and 1060 in a benchmark.
There is also a measure of FPS for a few popular games at the same resolution and system. This will help us find out which card performs better and gives more FPS while playing games.
According to the user benchmark in 3D games, the Gtx 1060 6GB version has 14% and the 3 GB version has 5% more speed than Gtx 970. The average score of the benchmark is 10% in Gtx 1060; 6 GB but only 2% in the 3 GB version.
While considering the lighting, reflection, and gravity (N-body calculation) they perform 15%, 10%, and 15% better respectively in terms of frame rate on Gtx 1060; 6GB. Overclock speed is also better on it; to be precise, 10% better than Gtx 970.
But this 10 to 15% boost begins to get small when we compare the Gtx 1060; 3 GB version. It has a 7% better frame rate while considering reflection and 5% better n-body calculation but lighting remains the same as its previous version of Gtx 970. The overclock score is 3% better and the overall score is 2% better than the Gtx 970.
Frame per Second (FPS) Comparison
After testing, the Gtx 1060; 3 GB version performs slightly better than the Gtx 970 but the 6 GB version has a pretty significant frame rate up while gaming.
In GTA V, the Gtx 970 gives about 53 fps on average, whereas the Gtx 1060 6 GB gives 62 fps which is a 17% increase. The 3 GB version also performs a lot better for GTA V. It gives 60 fps in-game which is more than what it increases for other games.
Here the Gtx 970 gives 48 fps and the Gtx 1060 6 GB gives 56 fps while 3 GB gives 51 fps. In both cases, it is a 17% and 6% increase respectively.
In counter-strike, the Gtx 970 actually performs 4% better at 156 fps than the Gtx 1060 3 GB which gives 150 fps. But the 6 GB version outshines both at a maximum of 160 fps.
League of Legends
LoL continues the trend of CS: GO. Here the Gtx 970 gives 156 fps while the Gtx 1060 3 GB gives 148 fps but 6 GB increases it to 178 fps.
PUBG and Fortnite
Both PUBG and Fortnite have better performance in Gtx 1060 cards. The 3 GB gives 64 and 98 fps respectively and 6 GB gives 68 and 101 fps respectively. On the other hand, the Gtx 970 gives 63 and 98 fps respectively for these games.
In every way, the Gtx 1060 is better than the Gtx 970. A few games may have a bit better fps on the 970 when compared to the 1060 3 GB but they are not too significant.
On top of that, the 970 these days goes for more than 1060 because of its rarity. So considering everything, the Gtx 1060 6 GB will be the best pick in any circumstances and the 3 GB version if there is budget constrain.