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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 review: A new king is crowned

By Koh Wanzi - 28 May 2016
Launch SRP: S$1188

Performance Benchmarks

Test Setup

The detailed specifications of our current graphics card testbed system is as follows:-

  • Intel Core i7-5960X
  • ASUS X99-Pro (Intel X99 chipset) motherboard
  • 2 x 4GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2133 (Auto timings: CAS 15-15-15-36)
  • Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB SATA 6Gbps solid state drive (OS + benchmark + games)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard drive (general storage)
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Intel INF 10.1.1.14

NVIDIA supplied us with two versions of the beta drivers, ForceWare 368.13 and 368.16. We used the former for benchmarking, but the latter is required for overclocking. There are no performance differences between the two. For our comparison cards, we naturally went with NVIDIA’s top-performing cards from the last generation, including the previous single-GPU king, the GeForce GTX Titan X, and custom versions of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti and 980. Note that these custom cards feature significant factory overclocks over their reference versions, which is why the performance numbers obtained don’t exactly line up with NVIDIA’s claims on its marketing material. In addition, we threw in the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, a dual Fiji card, to get an idea of how the GeForce GTX 1080 performs against a dual GPU part.

The full line-up of graphics cards and their driver versions are listed below:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (ForceWare 368.13)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X (ForceWare 365.19)
  • ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 980 Ti Platinum (ForceWare 365.19)
  • MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G (ForceWare 365.19)
  • AMD Radeon Pro Duo (Crimson Edition 16.5.2.1)

Test cards compared
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X ASUS ROG Matrix GeForce GTX 980 Ti Platinum Edition MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G AMD Radeon Pro Duo
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X ASUS ROG Matrix GeForce GTX 980 Ti Platinum Edition MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G AMD Radeon Pro Duo
Launch SRP
  • From S$1188
  • From S$1329
  • From S$949
Core Code
  • GP104
  • GM200
  • GM200
  • GM204
  • Fiji
GPU Transistor Count
  • 7.2 billion
  • 8 billion
  • 8 billion
  • 5.2 billion
  • 2x 8.9 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 16nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
Core Clock
  • 1607MHz (Boost: 1733MHz)
  • 1000MHz (Boost: 1075MHz)
  • OC mode: 1216 MHz (Boost: 1317MHz)
  • Gaming mode (default): 1190 MHz (Boost:1291 MHz)
  • 1216MHz (Boost Clock: 1317MHz) (OC mode)
  • 1190MHz (Boost Clock: 1291MHz) (Gaming mode)
  • 1127MHz (Boost Clock: 1216MHz) (Silent mode)
  • 1000MHz
Stream Processors
  • 2560
  • 3072
  • 2816
  • 2048
  • 2x 4096
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1607MHz
  • 1000MHz
  • 1216MHz
  • 1216MHz
  • 1000MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 160
  • 192
  • 176
  • 128
  • 2256
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 64
  • 96
  • 96
  • 64
  • 264
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 10000MHz
  • 7010MHz
  • 7200MHz
  • 7010MHz
  • 500MHz (rated up to 1000MHz)
Memory Bus width
  • 256-bit
  • 384-bit
  • 384-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 2x 4096-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 320 GB/s
  • 336.5 GB/s
  • 345.6 GB/s
  • 224 GB/s
  • 1TB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • PCIe 3.0 x16
Power Connectors
  • 1 x 8-pin
  • 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
  • 1 x 8-pin, 1 x 8-pin
  • 2 x 8-pin
  • 3 x 8-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • SLI
  • SLI
  • SLI
  • SLI
  • CrossFire
DVI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
HDMI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes


Benchmarks

We’ve updated our performance benchmarks to include a handful of the latest titles. Two benchmark games, Hitman and Ashes of the Singularity, also take advantage of DirectX 12, so we were also able to get a look at how the GeForce GTX 1080 performed using Microsoft’s latest gaming API.

Here’s the list of the benchmarks we used:

  • Futuremark 3DMark (2013)
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Crysis 3
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division
  • Ashes of the Singularity
  • Hitman

We used the Fire Strike Extreme test in 3DMark (2013) for our power and temperature tests.

 

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 wasted no time demonstrating its chops in 3DMark. It consistently topped all of NVIDIA’s previous top performers, and only fell behind the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, which is a dual-GPU card. And even then, the performance difference between the two was actually quite slim, not at all resembling the lead you’d expect a dual-GPU card to take over a single-GPU counterpart.

In Fire Strike, the Radeon Pro Duo was only around 13 percent faster than the GeForce GTX 1080. Nevertheless, this lead widened to over 20 percent, which is still not exactly a commanding lead, in Fire Strike Extreme and Ultra, no doubt due to the Radeon Pro Duo’s staggering bandwidth advantage thanks to the combined bandwidth of two Fiji GPUs with HBM.

Compared to the GeForce GTX Titan X, the GeForce GTX 1080 turned out to be around 13 percent faster in Fire Strike – not bad at all for a card that also happens to be US$300 cheaper. Even more impressive was the fact that this advantage grew to an approximately 20 percent lead in Fire Strike Extreme and Ultra, which certainly bodes well for more demanding applications like 4K gaming and VR. Not every card can claim to have beaten last generation’s undisputed king by such a large margin, and this isn’t even a Titan-class card.

 

 

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

In Shadow of Mordor, the GeForce GTX 1080 came ahead of everything else as well, save for the Radeon Pro Duo. At a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, the flagship Pascal card was a whopping 32 percent faster than the GeForce GTX Titan X. It maintained this lead at a 4K resolution, where it was also around 17 percent faster than our factory overclocked GeForce GTX 980 Ti. As it turns out, the heavy out-of-the-box overclocks of the latter even helped it edge out the reference GeForce GTX Titan X, but it was still no match for the GeForce GTX 1080.

How much faster is it than the GeForce GTX 980, the card it ostensibly replaces? Well, a staggering 63 percent at a 4K resolution.

 

Crysis 3

The GeForce GTX 1080 continued on a tear in Crysis 3. And unfortunately for the Radeon Pro Duo, NVIDIA’s latest flagship really exposes some glaring weaknesses in it. In our benchmarks with MSAA turned off, the GeForce GTX 1080 came out on top of all the other cards. That turned out to be around 24 percent faster than the GeForce GTX Titan X at a quad HD resolution, and 11 percent quicker than the factory overclocked 980 Ti. And sadly for the GeForce GTX 980, it was left in the dust once again as the new card powered ahead to a 52 percent lead.

At our most demanding test settings (2,560 x 1,600 pixels, 8x MSAA), the Radeon Pro Duo managed to reclaim the lead, but the GeForce GTX 1080 continued to hold sway over everyone else.

 

Tom Clancy’s The Division

In The Division, the GeForce GTX 1080 likewise continued to edge out the previous generation cards, beating AMD’s dual-GPU flagship as well. At the most demanding settings, it was around 13 percent faster than the GeForce GTX Titan X. It also had a 7 percent lead over the factory overclocked 980 Ti.

We’re actually seeing a consistent pattern of the overclocked 980 Ti outperforming the reference Titan X here, so it will be interesting to see how much custom versions of the GeForce GTX 1080 cost in order to get a better idea of its value vis-à-vis a premium 980 Ti card like the ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 980 Ti Platinum.

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9.0
  • Performance 9.5
  • Features 9
  • Value 9
The Good
Stellar performance
More powerful than last-gen flagship, but cheaper
Excellent build quality and attractive design
Low power consumption
Good overclocking headroom
Crammed full of new features for multi-display setups and VR
The Bad
No HBM2 memory
"Reference" design now comes with extra price premium
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