NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 is a PC gamer's dream
It is by no means been a greater time to be a PC gamer. Hardware is getting each cheaper and extra highly effective, most massive-price range console video games are making it to PCs (the place additionally they look higher), and the rise of digital actuality provides a tempting improve goal. NVIDIA, one of many pioneering graphics card designers, is taking full benefit of this revitalized PC gaming market with the GeForce GTX 1080, its newest powerhouse GPU. It is the primary shopper card constructed on the corporate’s Pascal structure, and most intriguingly, NVIDIA claims the $599 video card ($699 for the particular “Founder’s Version”) is quicker than the Titan X, which fits for upwards of $1,000. After testing it out over the previous week, I can say the 1080 is clearly one thing particular.
I had the privilege of testing the Founder’s Version of the cardboard, which is one thing distinctive for NVIDIA. Beforehand, the corporate launched pretty plain reference editions of its playing cards, which might inevitably be one-upped by companions with extra elaborate cooling designs. However NVIDIA is positioning the GTX 1080 Founder’s Version as a premium providing. The corporate claims the supplies used to construct the cardboard, together with the aluminum vapor chamber cooler (a step up from plain previous air cooling) and extra environment friendly energy elements, justify its $one hundred premium. However that is a bit exhausting to abdomen when its reference playing cards had comparable cooler designs up to now.
NVIDIA went for a bit extra aptitude this time round. The sharp angles across the 1080’s cooler really feel extra harking back to a Ferrari than the corporate’s previous designed. That is a becoming strategy to symbolize simply how briskly it’s: It is able to pumping out 9 teraflops of computing energy. The 1080 runs at 1,607MHz (as much as 1,733MHz in increase mode) and packs in 8GB of Micron’s new DDR5X RAM. As compared, final yr’s 980 Ti card clocked in at 1,000MHz with 6GB of ordinary DDR5 reminiscence. In contrast to CPUs, video playing cards have not seen large megahertz bumps over the previous few years, so the 1080’s numbers are critically spectacular.
You possibly can chalk up a lot of the GTX 1080’s upgrades to NVIDIA’s new Pascal structure. It first appeared on the P100 card for knowledge crunchers, however that is the primary time we have seen what it seems like in shopper hardware. The large profit with Pascal is its new 16nm FinFET structure (a kind of 3D transistor know-how). It permits NVIDIA to succeed in greater clock speeds, in addition to make the cardboard rather more energy environment friendly.
When it comes to connectivity, the 1080 Founder’s Version options three DisplayPort connections, one HDMI port and a single DVI socket. It will have been good to see one other HDMI port, however I am positive there are many professionals on the market who’re nonetheless operating fancy screens over DVI.Setup
Getting the GTX 1080 up and operating is not any totally different than you typical video card. It is a huge piece of package, so you will need to ensure that there’s sufficient room in your case for it to suit, however in any other case it snaps proper right into a PCI-X slot. In contrast to the Radeon R9 Fury X, which required me to maneuver some case followers round to make room for its water cooler radiator, the GTX 1080 was a cinch to put in. After grabbing some recent drivers from NVIDIA (and ensuring any traces of previous drivers have been gone for good), I used to be off to the benchmarking races.Efficiency
NVIDIA wasn’t mendacity: The GTX 1080 is a beast. I solely had the R9 Fury X to match it to on my gaming rig (which consists of a 4GHz Core i7-4790K CPU, 16GB of 2400Mz DDR3 RAM and a 512GB Essential MX100 SSD on a ASUS Z97-A motherboard), however that is a powerhouse GPU that simply retains tempo with the GTX 980 and Titan X. And for each main benchmark, the 1080 was considerably quicker.
In 3DMark on-line comparisons with comparable methods, the 1080 was sometimes ranked higher than ninety two to ninety five % of outcomes. It was solely bested by scores from machines operating a number of 980 and 980 Ti playing cards in SLI mode (which might additionally value much more than the 1080 to place collectively).
Nonetheless, benchmarks are one factor: I used to be extra fascinated about how the GTX 1080 performs in precise video games. And as soon as once more, it did not disappoint. In comparison with the R9 Fury X, it reached round forty three frames per second within the Witcher three whereas operating in 4K with all the settings set to Extremely. That made the sport far more playable in such a excessive decision — the Fury X averaged round 35 fps, and it will typically dip under 30, which makes issues unbearably jerky. For Hitman, the 1080 reached a clean forty eight fps on common, whereas the Fury X hovered round 38.
I used to be notably impressed with the cardboard’s efficiency in Fallout four (after turning off that recreation’s body limiter). It was playable on the Fury X, reaching round forty two fps, however on the GTX 1080 it extra typically hovered between 50 and fifty five fps in most environments. Typically it might shoot upwards of 60fps indoors, and in vast open areas it will dip to forty fps. That would not make for the smoothest expertise, nevertheless it’s definitely much more playable in 4K.
Because of the flowery heatsink design, the GTX 1080 Founder’s Version was additionally cooler than I anticipated. It idled at a mere 33c, and underneath full load it reached between 65c and 70c. I additionally had no hassle overclocking the GPU by 250MHz (reaching round 1.ninety five GHz underneath load), and the reminiscence by 200MHz, with none vital temperature modifications. NVIDIA reps managed to push the cardboard previous 2.1GHz throughout a stage demo with none further cooling. In the event you’re into overclocking, this card was principally made for you.
Final yr I wasn’t bought on the viability of 4K gaming — if a $600 card just like the R9 Fury X could not all the time deal with it, why even hassle? — however the GTX 1080 truly makes it viable with a single card. However whereas it is good to see vital progress in excessive-res gaming, I nonetheless want bumping right down to a decrease decision like 2,560 x 1,440 to make sure a silky 60fps expertise. Most individuals would not discover the marginal distinction in rendering decision, however they’d definitely select when frames begin to stutter in 4K.
Even for those who’re not chasing 4K, a strong card just like the 1080 could possibly be used to “supersample” video games, which includes rendering them at a better decision than what’s being proven on the display to take away ugly jagged strains. It is a method that is fallen out of trend within the PC gaming world, however now that playing cards have computing energy to spare, it could possibly be a sensible option to make video games look even higher. With Hitman, I used to be capable of get round 60 fps when operating it at 2,560 x 1,440 with a 1.2X supersample. I could not see an enormous distinction with out enabling the function, however that is the kind of factor that some PC players may eat up.
In terms of VR, the GTX 1080 does not really feel considerably higher than the R9 Fury X. That is partially as a result of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive run at a comparatively low 1,200-by-1,080-pixel decision for every eye show, which is considerably much less sharp than the 1080p HD screens we have grown used to. It’s worthwhile to attain at the least ninety fps in VR to make video games look clean, however that is not a troublesome goal for the 1080 to succeed in at such a low decision.
NVIDIA has additionally included some new know-how, dubbed Simultaneous Multi-Projection, which makes the 1080 extra environment friendly at displaying VR scenes than different playing cards. For instance, it solely must render a scene as soon as to point out it in VR, whereas different video playing cards have to try this work twice (as soon as for every eye). The cardboard can also be a lot smarter about processing the pixels you truly have to see in a scene. These new improvements will not make a huge impact on present VR video games, which do not must be displayed in excessive resolutions, however they could possibly be an enormous cope with subsequent-era headsets.The competitors
As nice because the GTX 1080 is, most players will possible go for its cheaper sibling, the $379 GTX 1070 ($449 for the Founders Version). It is solely barely slower — pumping out 6.5 teraflops as an alternative of the 1080’s 9 terfalops — however NVIDIA says it is also “roughly” the identical efficiency because the $1,000 Titan X. That is an insane value/efficiency ratio, and it additionally leaves room for snapping up one other (inevitably cheaper) 1070 in a yr or so to bump your hurries up.
As is often the case, there may also be loads of competing GTX 1080 designs to select from within the subsequent few months. These playing cards will probably are available nearer to the $599 retail worth NVIDIA is promoting, fairly than the $699 premium for the Founders Version.
Usually, I might additionally urge you to take a look at earlier-era hardware as new gear is available in. However the 1070 and 1080 are such big architectural leaps that it does not make sense for most individuals to think about a 970 or 980. For those who’re actually making an attempt to economize, a 970 for round $200 might be an honest deal sooner or later (they’re nonetheless going for round $300). However you’d additionally remorse that selection if you wish to dabble in VR inside the subsequent yr.
AMD has additionally proven off its subsequent-era graphics know-how, Polaris, which guarantees to be simply as energy environment friendly as NVIDIA’s Pascal. We nonetheless do not know what Polaris shopper playing cards will appear to be but, so it’d repay to attend a couple of months earlier than you determine on a brand new GPU.Wrap-up
When you have the money, and wish probably the most highly effective video card available on the market, you’ll be able to’t go mistaken with the GTX 1080. It is constructed exactly for the issues players are targeted on at this time: 4K and VR. It isn’t simply an incremental improve for NVIDIA: It is a dramatic leap ahead.