Which CPU is best for the GTX 1060

Which CPU and graphics card? - GPUs from 95 to 730 euros

In our test selection, the Radeon RX 550 and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 offer the cheapest entry into gaming. Graphics cards with the former GPU are sometimes available for less than 100 euros, such as the Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 with 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM for 95 euros. You have to spend a little more for the GeForce GTX 1050.

Corresponding cards such as the KFA² GeForce GTX 1050 OC LP start at around 120 euros and are equipped with 1 GB of RAM. In terms of price, but also in terms of performance, the AMD Radeon RX 580 and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, both of which are in the upper middle class.

4 GByte models with Radeon RX 580 such as the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 4GD5 cost around 400 euros, while 8 GByte models such as the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 580 OC cost an average of 450 euros.

Graphics cards with the Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 1060 are consistently a bit cheaper: with 3 GB of RAM they cost 300 euros, with 6 GB they cost around 370 euros. You can get high-end graphics performance with the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and the GeForce GTX 1080. At the time of the test, the Radeon RX Vega 56 was only listed sporadically in online shops, a direct result of AMD's decision to stop production and delivery of the Radeon RX Vega reference models.

Instead, AMD now wants to rely on custom designs, i.e. only manufacture the GPUs themselves and sell them to partner companies, which in turn then produce their own graphics cards. Until the delivery bottleneck is resolved, buyers have to put up with higher prices for the Radeon RX Vega 56 - in the cheapest case, at least 730 euros were due. GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards are available for around 650 euros.

Benchmarks

The CPU-GPU teams had to prove their performance in the DirectX 12 games Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Rise Of The Tomb Raider as well as the DirectX 12 benchmark 3DMark Time Spy. Apart from the deactivated VSync, both games ran in the standard settings and were started once in full HD and in the 4K resolution of 3,860 x 2,140 pixels.

We then determined the performance of the GPUs with the internal benchmarks, which render predefined game scenes. 3DMark Time Spy works with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels (WQHD) and outputs a total number of points made up of two graphics tests and a CPU test. The GPUs were put into operation with the latest driver versions at the time of the test (18.1.1 for AMD, 390.77 for Nvidia).

Free choice of CPU for entry-level and mid-range GPUs

Apart from 3DMark Time Spy, which also takes the CPU performance into account in its total score, the entry-level graphics chips AMD Radeon RX 550 and Nvidia GTX 1050 achieve the same result regardless of the processor. The frame rates only differ from each other in the decimal places, so they practically do not fluctuate at all. This shows that both GPUs reach their performance limits on all test systems and the CPU does not have any limiting effect. It looks the same with the mid-range GPUs AMD Radeon RX 580 and Nvidia GTX 1060. They run at the same speed on all systems, so they can call up their full performance.

Core i9-7900X slows down high-end GPUs

With high-end GPUs such as the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and the Nvidia GTX 1080, the choice of CPU is more important, but only when it comes to getting the maximum number of frames out of lower resolutions such as Full HD. If you want to play in 4K, you can easily combine a cheap processor like the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X with a high-end GPU like the Nvidia GTX 1080. The frame rates are no lower here than on a system in which a processor heavyweight works, because the GPUs reach their limit significantly faster than with Full HD. In the test, however, it made a big difference whether the CPU comes from AMD or Intel. With the Core i9-7900X, of all things, the faster of the two Intel CPUs does worse. With Rise Of The Tomb Raider in Full HD resolution, the ten-core processor costs 900 euros and only has 126 fps, while the actually slower Intel Core i5-8400 has a slight lead with 130 fps. The result with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is even clearer: around 134 fps for the Core i5-8400 compared to just 117 fps for the Core i9-7900X. The reason for this downward outlier is the new architecture of the Core i9-7900X, which no longer connects its ten cores with other CPU components such as the memory controller or the cache in a ring as with the predecessor Broadwell-E, but via a network-like structure, the so-called mesh. This means that the CPU sets the best marks for multi-core applications and is one of the fastest desktop CPUs currently available. The special CPU design can have a negative effect on the performance of some applications, which also include the two DirectX games Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Rise Of The Tomb Raider.

Performance winner Intel Core i5-8400

Because the Intel Core i9-7900X weaker in the game selection, the performance winner among the four CPUs is the Intel Core i5-8400. The high-end GPUs AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and Nvidia GTX 1080 do not run as fast on any other processor if you limit yourself to full HD resolution when playing games. In 4K settings, however, there is no longer any difference to the other processors, because both high-end GPUs reach their limits with around 44 fps each in Rise Of The Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided. In interaction with the two high-end GPUs, only the AMD systems behaved as expected, namely according to the motto: a lot helps a lot. On the Ryzen 5-1500X test system, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 and the Nvidia GTX 1080 Rise Of The Tomb Raider run in Full HD at 106 and 97 fps, respectively. If you use the Intel Core i7 equivalent Ryzen 7 1800X, the frame rates increase to almost 127 and 107 frames, respectively. It is similar with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

Conclusion and recommendations

With the entry-level and mid-range GPUs, it did not matter in our test setup whether a mid-range or high-end CPU was calculating in the PC, as they were not slowed down by the processor. Faster graphics cards with AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 or Nvidia GTX 1080 bring quite a few more frames in full HD settings, but they can no longer develop their full power due to the limited CPU performance, so valuable GPU reserves are wasted here.

If the games are to run smoothly in 4K, there is no way around the high-end GPUs. On the other hand, they form a good team compared to the smallest CPU, but with a slight loss in Full HD performance. When it comes to maximum frame rates with 4K resolutions, this can be done most cheaply with the team of high-end GPUs and mid-range CPUs, for example AMD Ryzen 5 1500X and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080.

In order to play smoothly in Full HD, you can also set the processor budget low, but ideally you should use a mid-range GPU like the AMD Radeon RX 580 in order to still have enough fps reserves. You only need the most expensive solution if you want to achieve maximum frame rates at lower resolutions such as full HD. Then the CPU and GPU both have to come from the high-end range.

The AMD Ryzen 5 1500X is the cheapest at 150 euros, but the Intel Core i5-8400 offers the best price-performance ratio. The boxed version only costs around 180 euros, but in terms of gaming performance it is practically on par with the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (320 euros) and the Core i9-7900X (890 euros). This CPU is one of the fastest desktop CPUs, but due to its special system architecture, it sometimes cannot call up its full performance, as in our gaming benchmarks.

Eight graphics cards up to 250 euros in the test

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The graphics card has a huge impact on the performance of the PC. We'll reveal which one suits your computer best.