Released in 2016, Nvidia‘s GeForce GTX 1060 3GB once offered decent 1080p gaming performance at an affordable price point. But as game developers have pushed visual boundaries over the last 5+ years, the limitations of this budget GPU have become more apparent with each new release.
Modern AAA games are now optimized for GPUs with 6GB of VRAM or more. With just 3GB and a relatively narrow 192-bit memory bus, the GTX 1060 3GB struggles to maintain smooth frame rates in today‘s blockbuster titles unless you heavily reduce visual settings. This leads to a compromised, unsatisfying gaming experience – especially if you‘ve invested in a high refresh rate gaming monitor.
Fortunately, there‘s never been a better time to upgrade. New GPUs utilizing cutting-edge architectures from Nvidia and AMD offer massive generational performance gains over previous mid-range cards like the GTX 1060 3GB. They deliver highly immersive, buttery smooth gaming in both 1080p and higher 1440p resolutions. Some even enable high-fidelity 4K gaming – something the GTX 1060 3GB can barely manage.
This guide will compare six graphics card options, ranging from budget to high-end, that are excellent upgrades for GTX 1060 3GB owners seeking better performance and visuals.
Why Upgrade From the GTX 1060 3GB Now?
Before diving into the upgrades, let‘s recap why an upgrade should be high on your priority list if you‘re still using a GTX 1060 3GB:
- Just 3GB VRAM means textures and assets constantly swap from GPU VRAM to system RAM
- Significantly lowers frame rates, causes stuttering and lag
Lack of performance headroom:
- Far below 60fps in most new AAA games unless you slash quality settings
- Can‘t take advantage of higher resolution gaming at 1440p or 4K
Missing new graphics technologies:
- No hardware ray tracing or upscaling tech like DLSS and FSR
- Visuals don‘t look as good due to lack of modern shading and effects
- Will continue to struggle more each year as game resource demands increase
- Not powerful enough for emerging VR and AR gaming
Upgrading to a new GPU with more VRAM will provide a night and day improvement in your gaming experience. You‘ll unlock far higher frame rates with butter-smooth gameplay at maxed out settings. And you‘ll gain access to cutting edge technologies like ray tracing, DLSS 3, and FSR 3 for dramatically enhanced visuals.
Let‘s explore six excellent GTX 1060 3GB upgrade options across different budgets…
Budget Upgrades Under $300
If you‘re looking for superb 1080p performance on a budget, consider these sub-$300 upgrades:
AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT
- Navi 23 GPU (7nm)
- 2048 Stream Processors
- 32 MB Infinity Cache
- 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
- 160W Board Power
With its RDNA2 architecture (compared to GCN on the RX 580), the RX 6600 XT delivers a massive generational jump from the GTX 1060 3GB. It‘s roughly 67% faster when looking at average frame rates across a variety of AAA games like Control, Cyberpunk 2077, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (source).
For example, the GTX 1060 3GB manages just 25fps in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p High settings. But the RX 6600 XT hits 62fps with the same settings – over 2.5x higher! It can handle any modern title at max settings while keeping frame rates above 60fps.
The RX 6600 XT is the clear choice for 1080p gaming at a budget price point. Plus AMD‘s FSR 2.0 upscaling helps boost fps in demanding scenes while maintaining image quality.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
- GA106 GPU (8nm)
- 3584 CUDA cores
- 12GB GDDR6 VRAM
- 192-bit bus
- 170W power
Nvidia‘s RTX 3060 brings a huge VRAM boost over the paltry 3GB on the GTX 1060 3GB. Games can utilize its full 12GB to load up high resolution textures and assets. This eliminates the constant VRAM swapping that cripples frame rates on the GTX 1060 3GB.
Benchmarks show the RTX 3060 is 2.28x faster than the GTX 1060 3GB on average (source). It runs the latest AAAs above 60fps on High settings at 1080p. Its CUDA core count is 2.25x higher and its boost clock speed is 60% faster than the GTX 1060 3GB.
Plus, you get access to Nvidia‘s DLSS 2.0 upscaling technology and hardware accelerated ray tracing with the RTX 3060. Overall it delivers a vastly improved 1080p gaming experience.
Mid-Range 1440p Cards ($300 – $500)
Ready to move up to higher 1440p resolution? These capable GPUs offer smooth 60+ fps gameplay at 2560 x 1440:
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
- Navi 22 GPU (7nm)
- 2560 Stream Processors
- 12GB GDDR6 VRAM
- 192-bit bus
- 230W Board Power
AMD positions the RX 6700 XT for high refresh rate 1440p gaming, and it delivers excellently on that promise. It‘s roughly 1.5x faster than the RTX 3060 mentioned above, thanks to higher clock speeds, improved architecture, and rapid 16 Gbps GDDR6 memory.
In esports games like Valorant and Fortnite, the RX 6700 XT can put out over 140fps at 1440p max settings (source). It still maintains over 60fps in AAA single player games like Control and Cyberpunk at 1440p High settings.
Upgrading from the GTX 1060 3GB to the RX 6700 XT opens up silky smooth 1440p gaming, and AMD‘s FSR 2.0 helps boost frame rates in demanding scenes.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- GA104 GPU (8nm)
- 4864 CUDA cores
- 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
- 256-bit bus
- 200W power
Slotting right between the RTX 3060 and 3070, the RTX 3060 Ti delivers excellent 1440p gaming performance at this mid-range price point. It achieves over 100fps in popular multiplayer titles like Valorant, Fortnite, and Apex Legends at max settings (source).
Even in single player games, the 3060 Ti pushes above 60fps for smooth 1440p gameplay. Its 8GB VRAM provides enough overhead for higher resolution textures. Plus, you get the benefits of DLSS and ray tracing. Overall an excellent mid-tier choice over the aging GTX 1060 3GB.
Premium Upgrades for 4K and Beyond
If you‘re willing to spend big bucks, these ultra high-end cards will completely transform what your PC can do.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
- Ada Lovelace AD102 GPU (4nm)
- 16384 CUDA cores
- 24GB GDDR6X VRAM
- 384-bit bus
- 450W power
Representing the pinnacle of GPU technology, the RTX 4090 delivers truly mind-blowing performance perfect for high refresh rate 4K gaming or super smooth 8K. It gets over 100fps in many AAA games at max settings in 4K (source). To put that power into perspective, the GTX 1060 3GB struggles to even reach 30fps in most titles at 4K.
With DLSS 3 generating entirely new frames through AI, the 4090 can hit over 190fps in many games at 4K. It‘s a ludicrous 2x leap over the prior generation. If you want the ultimate gaming experience, this is it.
AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX
- Navi 31 GPU (5nm)
- 5120 Stream Processors
- 24GB GDDR6 VRAM
- 384-bit bus
- 355W Board Power
AMD‘s new flagship competes head-on with Nvidia‘s best and enables similarly incredible 4K gaming performance. Architectural improvements allow it to achieve over 2x the performance of the previous 6900 XTX.
Like the RTX 4090, the 7900 XTX runs many AAA games at above 90fps in 4K max settings (source). Combined with intelligent upscaling via FSR 3, it makes high fidelity 4K gaming easily accessible. There are few better ways to unleash the full potential of a GTX 1060 3GB upgrade.
Transform Your Gaming Experience
As we‘ve seen, there is a massive range of excellent graphics card options if you‘re looking to upgrade from Nvidia‘s aging GTX 1060 3GB.
New GPUs like AMD‘s RDNA2 lineup and Nvidia‘s Ampere cards represent enormous generational leaps in performance, visual quality, and next-gen features. They allow you to run any AAA game at max settings with buttery smooth frame rates, whether your target is 1080p, 1440p or even 4K resolution.
The days of compromising visual quality and stuttering frames are over. Upgrade your GPU today and transform what your gaming PC can do! Let us know your thoughts on these GTX 1060 3GB upgrade options in the comments.