Talk about popping out of the blue! A recent leak on Reddit saw pictures of a hitherto unseen Geforce GTX 1060 reference cooler design popping up in the wild. It looks the part and is definitely not a fake, given its similarity to the Founders Edition cooler designs. There are other details too that point to this card’s authenticity – the PCB length is shorter than the cooler shroud, which is typical for NVIDIA’s GTX x60 releases. It’s not a GTX 960 with a fake cooler either, because there’s only one DVI port on this design. The uncropped picture, which you can see through this link, also shows that the card was spotted at the Hong Kong Capital market. Are we in store for a surprise GTX 1060 launch?
As much as the GTX 1070 has been on the minds of enthusiasts looking for a budget upgrade, the GTX 1060 and it’s upcoming opponent, the Radeon RX 480, have the potential to shape many upgrade plans this year more than the high-end cards, which are frequently out of stock across the globe. So little is known about this card that I can’t even tell you if it has a 192-bit bus or not. Is it based on GP104, which makes it a cut-down GTX 1070? No-one knows. While NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 was a really poorly kept secret, literally nothing has leaked about the GTX 1060 until this picture appeared on the internet yesterday evening.
One downside from this leak, though, is that we’re in for another round of confusing pricing where the partner cards have a lower recommended price than the Founders Edition version of the card, which will carry the cooler pictured above and will retail for a higher price. With the GTX 1070 currently sitting at $379 MSRP in the U.S., where exactly does this card fit? $250 for the Founders Edition cooler and more than 4GB of RAM sounds about right, but NVIDIA has to hope that they’re faster than the RX 480, which will go for as little as $199 for the 4GB model. The performance will be good, but the pricing will determine how much of a success it’ll be.
The angle of the picture also suggests that this cooler design has one particular flaw – it might be just higher than a dual-slot PCI bracket. While I don’t think NVIDIA would make that mistake intentionally, very few motherboards have their PCI-Express 16x slots spaced so close together that coolers jutting slightly above the height of two PCI slots won’t fit. If it is indeed higher, we can already make some guesses about how NVIDIA expects this card to be used and what its performance profile will be – NVIDIA surely intends it to be used as a single GPU in most systems, or in a dual-GPU system with two cards in SLI spaced one slot apart for breathing room. Given that the GTX 1070 matches and often beats a Titan X in benchmarks, this card could very well offer GTX 980 levels of performance for about half the current price.
I’ll keep an eye on this one, and will keep you posted. A secret, unexpected launch is always nice!