Nvidia GTX1080 Founders Edition Review
Published: 21st May 2016 | Source: nVidia | Price: |
There are some hardware products which slip out under the radar to burst onto the scene in a manner that leaves us all breathless with a need which, until that moment, we had didn't know we had. The same cannot be said of any flagship graphics card release.
Even if you were living under a rock, in the depths of Africa, with your fingers in your ears you'd still be aware that a new nVidia GPU was on the horizon in the shape of the Pascal. There is no technology followed quite as fervently as modern graphics, and nVidia's offerings are no exception. As much as Indie gaming might have brought pixel art back to the masses, as much as we all might deride games which are a technology demo and hopeless to actually play - hello The Order 1886 - we're all still eye-candy slaves, prostrating ourselves at the feet of whichever new god can make us slack-jawed in wonderment. After all, if shinier graphics wasn't a large part of why we're all here then our Atari 2600s would be in front of the TV rather than in the loft.
Whenever a new GPU appears it always brings with it a huge amount of marketing fluff explaining exactly why we want different APIs to give us new phong-shaded voxels in render pathlines an nth of a nanosecond faster than before*. In reality we all just want to know if our games will be smoother, our image quality better, and our wallets not too much lighter.
If we were in the aforementioned marketing world then it would be at this point that we'd pretend the nVidia GTX 980 Ti didn't exist, and merely look at how the GTX 1080 improves upon the GTX 980. We're not in the marketing business though, so we're going to compare like for like and in this case it means the current flagship nVidia GPU, the Maxwell architecture of the GTX 980 Ti, versus the Pascal architecture on today's sample GTX 1080. At first glance the GTX 1080 seems to be weirdly underpowered, despite us knowing it shouldn't be. Strap yourself in for a number bomb.
Compared to the current nVidia GTX 980 Ti there are 4 GPCs instead of 6, 20 SMs instead of 22, 2560 CUDA Cores rather than 2816, 16 fewer Texture Units and a whopping 32 fewer ROP Units. However, similarly to how an old 5 litre V8 only gave 200BHP but a modern 1 litre engine can get similar BHP, it's not about how much you have but what you do with it.
To return to our GTX 980 Ti comparison the Pascal GTX 1080 has a 1607MHz base clock compared to 1000MHz on the 980 Ti, 1733MHz Boost clock, utilising nVidia's latest GPU Boost 3.0 technology, compared to 1075MHz on the Ti, and finally 5005MHz of GDDR5X rather than 3505MHz on the GTX 980 Ti. All in all the GTX 1080 is miles ahead in clock speed and Texture Fill rate despite giving up plenty of processing hardware. It's all in the name of efficiency though as the GTX 1080 manages to bring all that in at a TDP of only 180W, rather than the 250W of the GTX 980 Ti.
This wouldn't be the first nVidia card that made better use of its available CUDA Cores to provide a cooler, more efficient gaming experience whilst still managing to make our jaws drop in the visuals department.
* We know phong-shaded voxels aren't a real thing. No need to write in.