Every generation of graphics card brings something new to the table, better performance, a lower price and maybe better efficiency. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 brings all of that, but it also supplements raw horsepower with significant tweaks under-the-hood.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (let's just call it the 1080 from here on out) is Nvidia’s current flagship graphics card and claims to lay waste to every other single GPU solution before it. ASUS took that 1080, slapped on a souped up cooling unit, overclocked it slightly, dubbed it the ROG Strix GTX 1080, and sent it to us for review.
We put the card through its paces and this is what we found:
Design and build: 8.5/10
As expected from a card that’s claimed to be a flagship, the 1080 looks the part. Asus’ cooling unit uses a triple-fan cooling system and a dual-slot design to ensure optimum cooling. It’s a slick looking card and we love it. You also get some nice lighting effects which should look amazing if you’ve got a transparent side panel.
Handling it required a little bit of care because the fans take up almost all the real estate on one side, but it’s not a big deal.
The card itself requires power via a 6+8 pin PCIe connector combo. It's also 11.73 inches long and shouldn’t bother anyone with a reasonably roomy cabinet.
Features and accessories: 8/10
The 1080 gets 2560 CUDA cores, a 256-bit memory bus and comes with a whopping 8GB of GDDR5X memory. In terms of outputs you get DVI-D, 2x HDMI 2.0 and 2x Display Port slots. Nvidia originally set the Boost Clock at 1733MHz, but Asus boosted that up to 1936MHz in OC and 1898 in Gaming mode. The base clock of 1607MHz was also boosted to 1759MHz and 1784MHz in Gaming and OC modes respectively.
Nvidia rates the card’s power draw at 180W and recommends a 500W PSU at a minimum. Nvidia also recommends a single 8-pin power connector rather than the 8+6 combo used by Asus. The extra power, we assume, is for the fans, lighting and OC overhead.
Asus threw in a couple of PCIe power adapters as well as some cable-ties, but that’s as far as accessories go. We didn’t find any freebies (games) in the box, which was a tad disappointing.
Head over to the next page to check out performance stats for this card.
We come to the real meat of the review now, the performance. Our test rig was as follows:
- Intel i7 4770K (no OC)
- 8GB DDR3 RAM G.Skill RipJaws
- AsRock Z87M Extreme
- BenQ XL2730Z
- CoolerMaster Silent Pro 800W Gold PSU
- Windows 10 Enterprise Edition
Sadly, we didn’t have a Titan X lying around so we had to settle for an AMD Radeon R9 Fury and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti, both from Asus, as reference cards.
After hours of benchmarking, here are the results.
All the tests were conducted at 2560x1440 (2K) and 1920x1080 (FHD), unless otherwise specified. Tests were looped at least 3 times and the average of the three runs was used for the comparison.
As you can see from the results, the 1080 is a full 50 percent faster than AMD’s offering. Interestingly, it’s only, on average, about 11 percent faster than the 980Ti.
In fact, the largest performance bumps of 18 percent and 14 percent can only be seen in Project Cars and Tom Clancy’s The Division respectively.
The strangest result was Doom, where we saw no significant difference in performance between the 980Ti and 1080. Doom was yet to receive the Vulkan patch at the time of testing, but we’re not sure how much of a difference that will make.
The performance figures are impressive, but not staggeringly so when compared to the 980Ti. In fact, when you consider that the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both specify 2K @90fps as the base line for good VR performance, even the 1080 fails to deliver and you will have to tone down the settings. That’s 90fps minimum, not average. The same goes for 4K gaming. The card is managing to cross the 60fps mark at 2K, but at 4K, it’s not going to be anywhere near that figure.
The 1080 is meant to replace the 980 however and while we couldn’t compare the two cards side-by-side, the performance bump over the 980 will easily hit the 20-25 percent mark.
We were impressed with Asus’ cooling solution though. The card never crossed 72 degrees C even under sustained load, which means no throttling. Despite the 3 cooling fans, the card was very quiet as well. The fans would spin down when idle and only spool up when required.
There’s no doubt about the fact that the 1080 is an impressive card. Asus have done their part in amping up an already good card and we applaud them for that. However, it’s the price that brings this monster down.
Rs 64,000 (not including taxes) is a ridiculous price for a card that’s supposed to retail for $599 (around Rs 40,000). That’s a 60 percent markup on the expected retail price and that still doesn’t include taxes.
Nvidia's done some fine work with the 1080, but more significant than the raw power are the under-the-hood tweaks like simultaneous multi-projection and Ansel. In the long term, these will have greater impact than mere performance numbers.
Here’s a little upgrade guide to help you decide if you need the 1080:
- You’re rolling in money and just want the best card that money can buy
- If you’ve invested in a 980Ti or Titan X, the 1080 isn’t worth the upgrade.
- If you’re on something slower than a 980Ti and you plan to game at 2K resolutions and above, get the 1080.
- If you’re going for VR, two 1080s might be better, unless you’d rather tone down the visuals.
- If you're into multi-monitor setups, the 1080 will definitely be worth the upgrade if you can stomach the price.
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