ASUS has applied a nearly identical feature set across all of its ROG Strix Pascal cards. The ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC looks extremely similar to the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1060 OC we reviewed earlier, but that’s where the similarities end.
This card is one of the most aggressively clocked custom GeForce GTX 1080 cards on the market now, with a base clock of 1,784MHz and boost clock of 1,936MHz in OC mode. By default, the card ships in Gaming mode, with a base clock of 1,759MHz and boost clock of 1,898MHz. That said, we see little reason why you shouldn’t just use the ASUS GPU Tweak II utility to bump the card up to OC mode, since whatever power savings (or quieter operation for that matter) you get will probably be negligible.
In comparison, the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition has a base clock of 1,607MHz and boost clock of 1,733MHz. This amounts to a 177MHz, or 11 per cent, overclock over stock speeds. While you could argue that you’d be able to overclock the Founders Edition card by the same amount, you can’t say for sure that it will be stable, but getting a custom card like this ASUS model guarantees that your card will work at these speeds.
In order to keep the card running cool, ASUS has gone with a fairly hefty DirectCU III cooling solution comprising five copper heatpipes and a metal plate that comes into direct contact with the memory chips. The heatpipes are in direct contact with the GPU as well, which supposedly helps with more efficient heat transfer away from the chip. What’s more, they branch out from the GPU to different areas of the heatsink fins to better utilize all the available area (the heatsink itself is actually quite massive).
To cap things off, the cooler itself features three semi-passive fans that span the entire length of the heatsink, the better to make use of all the available surface area for cooling and boost airflow.
Like most other cards today, the ASUS card also features a solid metal backplate, with a RGB backlit ROG logo splashed on top. The backplate does a lot for the card’s aesthetics, but it serves a functional purpose as well. For one, the triple-fan DirectCU III solution and massive heatsink adds quite a lot of weight to the card, and the backplate provides some much needed structural reinforcement.
Cooling aside, one of the standout features on the card is what ASUS has dubbed its FanConnect technology, which takes the form of two 4-pin fan headers at the end of the card. You’ll be able to connect your case fans to these headers and set them to vary their speed according to the GPU load, quite a nifty feature that lets you peg airflow to one of the key heat-generating components in your chassis.
As it stands, ASUS is the only vendor on the market to offer this, which scores it some points in the features department.
The power delivery circuit has also been upgraded over that on the Founders Edition card. The ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 features an 8+2 phase design, compared to a 5-phase implementation on the reference model. In theory, this should mean smoother power delivery, lower load temperatures on the power delivery components and more stable overclocks.
To help you achieve higher overclocks, ASUS has also included an additional 6-pin power connector to raise the power draw ceiling. This provides an additional 75 watts of power, for a total draw of around 300 watts.
Round the back, the card has two HDMI ports, two DisplayPort outputs, and one DVI connector. This is a slight departure from the standard layout, and ASUS has actually replaced one of the DisplayPort connectors with an HDMI one. This was done for the benefit of VR gamers, who can now plug in both monitor and headset over HDMI without needing to hunt for an adapter or separate display cable.
The ASUS GPU Tweak II software also comes with all the tools you’ll need to overclock the card. This includes a built-in overclocking utility with voltage controls, a monitoring window, and easy-to-access tabs to switch between the three different clock speed modes.
Finally, LED color customization is done separately in the ASUS Aura app, where you can choose from a wide range of colors and lighting effects. You can even set the lights to pulse in time with your music or change color according to GPU temperature.