Like video gaming technology, video card tech changes and improves with the times. There are several reasons you might think about upgrading your gaming card:
Your current card is a bit long in the tooth and is finding it increasingly hard to handle newer games
You want to build a new gaming machine with the latest tech
Your video card has been used to its final death and cooking it in an oven won't even bring it back to life
And my personal favorite
Your card died because your cat pissed on it and fried the electronics
Yep, that last one happened to me, believe it or not. I won't go into why the cat was pissing around the house and thought my gaming PC was a suitable place to mark. Maybe it was his way of telling me I play games too much.
I'd been using a hand-me-down MSI 2GB GTX-960 in the meantime, just so I can still play games. However, compared to the R9 280X, it leaves a bit to be desired. I can use it on Ultra but Fallout 4 frequently pauses for several seconds before the game starts going again. At least it's not just a screen freeze where the action continues and I end up dead because I can't react. FPS rate is still in the 40+ per sec range but the pauses are a game immersion killer.
So I've been looking at a more up-to-date replacement for the card that was assassinated by my cat.
Playing With An MSI 3Gb GTX 1060
I've always preferred nVidia to ATI but, back in 2013, ATI had the edge. When not playing games, I was using my gaming PC to mine Bitcoin and STI cards had mined faster than nVidia cards.
Now that mining Bitcoin at home is no longer economically viable, I've been looking at nVidia cards again.`
The 1060s are the newest generation so I've been checking out the MSI 3Gb edition of the GTX 1060. I really like the card and its level of performance. Here's the pros and cons:
Low power consumption
3GB may not be enough for future titles
I also like the low power consumption as the R9 280X was a power hog and could literally heat the room during an extended gaming session. Fallout 4 seems to strain the GTX 960 as well as the fans frequently spin up.
The GeForce GTX 1060 comes in 3GB and 6GB editions, and that might make you wary of going for the cheaper model. I had that concern, especially as my 2GB GTX 960 already struggles with Fallout 4. However, in practice, I found that that 3GB GTX 1060 is more than sufficient for a great gaming experience.
The 3GB card also has a slightly cut-down GPU, having 1,152 stream processors compared to the 1,280 in the 6GB model. Otherwise, the cards have the same spec. Base clock speed is 1,506 MHz which can be boosted to 1,708 MHz. The cards also have an effective 8 GHz GDDR5 memory frequency and a 192-bit wide memory interface.
I play games in 1080p with my PC hooked up to my HD TV. So I don't need a card that will play at a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. In 1080p, I haven't seen any of the intermittent pauses I get with the GTX 960 and again, that's with everything set on Ultra.
I lifted this chart from PCGamers site which shows how the GTX 1060 performs with Fallout 4:
In practice, the card seems to be 2%-10% slower than its 6Gb big brother. Whether the 6GB is worth paying an extra $55 for is down to you. It may be a better option if you want to future-proof your card with that extra 3Gb of memory.
If you're in the UK, then many editions of the 3Gb cards are available at the all-important sub-£200 price point. The 6GB model is around the £250 mark, about £60 more expensive.