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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti review: This is the card you want for 4K gaming

By Koh Wanzi - 11 Mar 2017
Launch SRP: S$1188

Test Setup & performance

Test Setup

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

  • Intel Core i7-6950X (3.0GHz, 25MB L3 cache)
  • ASUS ROG Strix X99 Gaming
  • 4 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)
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • ASUS PB287Q, 4K monitor

We've also acquired a newer ASUS 4K monitor (as listed above) and thus we'll be exploring 1440p and 4K resolution gaming in proper moving forth. Previously we could only stretch to a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels in our previous Dell 30-inch monitor.

For our comparison cards, we went with the GTX Titan X (Pascal) and the GeForce GTX 1080 to see how the latest flagship stacks up against its predecessors. From AMD, we benchmarked the Radeon RX 480 and Radeon R9 Fury to give you an idea of how the red camp’s current offerings measure up. The Polaris-based Radeon RX 480 is the 'top' card from AMD’s newest GPU line-up, while the Fury is the highest-performing card from AMD we have with us at the moment (no Fury X, unfortunately).

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

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (ForceWare 378.78)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X (ForceWare 378.68)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (ForceWare 378.68)
  • PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 480 (Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.2.1)
  • ASUS Strix Radeon R9 Fury DirectCU III (Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.2.1)
     

Test cards compared
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition NVIDIA GTX Titan X (Pascal) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 480 ASUS Strix Radeon R9 Fury
  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition NVIDIA GTX Titan X (Pascal) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 480 ASUS Strix Radeon R9 Fury
Launch SRP
  • From S$1188
  • From S$1188
  • From S$439
  • From S$969
Core Code
  • GP102
  • GP102
  • GP104
  • Ellesmere
  • Fiji
GPU Transistor Count
  • 12 billion
  • 12 billion
  • 7.2 billion
  • 5.7 billion
  • 8.9 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 16nm
  • 16nm
  • 16nm
  • 14nm
  • 28nm
Core Clock
  • 1480MHz (Boost: 1582MHz)
  • 1417MHz (Boost: 1531MHz)
  • 1607MHz (Boost: 1733MHz)
  • 1,304MHz
  • 1000MHz
Stream Processors
  • 3584
  • 3584
  • 2560
  • 2,304
  • 3584
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1480MHz
  • 1417MHz
  • 1607MHz
  • 1,304MHz
  • 1000MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 224
  • 224
  • 160
  • 144
  • 224
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 88
  • 96
  • 64
  • 32
  • 64
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 11000MHz
  • 10000MHz
  • 10000MHz
  • 8,000MHz
  • 1000MHz
Memory Bus width
  • 352-bit
  • 384-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 4096-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 484.4 GB/s
  • 480.4 GB/s
  • 320 GB/s
  • 256GB/s
  • 512GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • 3.0
  • PCIe 3.0 x16
Power Connectors
  • 1 x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
  • 1 x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
  • 1 x 8-pin
  • 1x 8-pin
  • 2x 8-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • SLI
  • SLI
  • SLI
  • Yes
  • CrossFire
HDMI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
DVI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1

Benchmarks

Next up, here’s a list of all the benchmarks used:

  • 3DMark (2013)
  • VRMark
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division
  • Ashes of the Singularity
  • Hitman

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

 

3DMark (2013)

Right off the bat, it’s clear that NVIDIA has released another winner with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Although it costs the same as the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition when the latter first launched, it is as fast as, or rather faster even, than the US$1,200 Titan X.

Although the difference between the two GP102 cards is minuscule, we’d have been impressed even if the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti came up short of the Titan X by a bit. But is it 35 per cent faster than the GeForce GTX 1080 as NVIDIA claims? Not so much in the 1080p Fire Strike benchmark, where the new card was around 18 per cent faster than the 1080.

However, the gap widens in the more demanding Fire Strike Extreme and Ultra benchmarks, where the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was approximately 30 per cent quicker than its predecessor.

 

VRMark

VRMark is a relatively new benchmark used to assess whether a certain hardware configuration is ready for high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Unsurprisingly, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti passed with flying colors.

That said, the difference between the 1080 Ti and the other Pascal cards was quite small as well, and it looks like VR performance isn’t going to be that big of a differentiator here. Instead, you’re going to see the biggest differences in the most demanding games and at the highest resolutions.

 

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and Titan X were once again neck-and-neck in Shadow of Mordor. They came within a few frames of each other at all tested resolutions, but it’s also here that we see how much of a lead the 1080 Ti has over the older GeForce GTX 1080.

Overall, it was over 30 per cent quicker than the latter, but the difference was most pronounced at the 1440p and 4K resolutions, where the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was as much as 34 per cent faster. No doubt, it’s being helped along by its 11GB of GDDR5X memory with greater bandwidth than ever before, compared to the 8GB on the previous flagship.

 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The latest title in the Deus Ex franchise is probably one of the most demanding games you can run right now. Based on the Dawn engine, it features just about every trick to make your game look pretty, including things like volumetric and dynamic lighting, screenspace reflections, and cloth physics.

However, Ultra settings is where the real test lies, and the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti successfully inches out the Titan X, while leaping ahead of the GeForce GTX 1080 by a decent amount. When testing at a 4K resolution, NVIDIA’s latest darling was a good 30 per cent faster than the 1080, an admirable improvement to make within the same generation of cards. To be sure, it did not manage 60fps at 4K, but the fact remains that the game will still be playable, especially if you have a G-Sync monitor.

This bodes very well for 4K performance in other games as well. If it can run Mankind Divided at 4K, it should be comfortable handling pretty much anything else.

 

Tom Clancy’s The Division

It’s clear that we’ll need a 4K resolution and maximum settings to make the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti even break a sweat, and the card handily tears through the lower resolutions on The Division. 4K and Ultra settings still poses something of a challenge, and the card is just shy of the 60fps mark.

That said, it is a good 33 per cent quicker than the GeForce GTX 1080 at those settings. It isn’t as if the two are that close at 1080p (Ultra) either, where the GP102 card was still 31 per cent better. If you want to maximize the use of your 144Hz 1080p monitor, this card will do just fine.

Furthermore, if you want 60fps at 4K, turning down the settings to High appears to do the trick.

 

Ashes of the Singularity

Ashes of the Singularity has long been the poster child for the performance benefits a low-level API like DirectX 12 can bring. It is based on the Nitrous engine and can be extremely punishing thanks to the huge number of onscreen units and the sheer level of detail accorded to each unit.

As a side note, we should point out that the CPU has a tendency to become the limiting factor at the lower settings, which is why you don’t see as much difference when changing the resolution.

That said, moving to DirectX 12 appears to mitigate the bottleneck somewhat, and the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti had a nice 31 per cent improvement when switching APIs at 1080p and High settings. It also managed a comfortable 53.8fps at the 4K resolution and Crazy settings, where it was 30 per cent faster than the GeForce GTX 1080.

 

Hitman

All the cards tested here could handle Hitman quite well, so we’ll once again turn our attention to the most demanding scenarios where the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti really shines. At a 4K resolution and Ultra, the latter was comfortably over the 60fps mark, where it was 18 and 43 per cent better than the Titan X and GeForce GTX 1080 respectively.

All things considered, that counts for quite a domineering performance in our books.

9.0
  • Performance 9.5
  • Features 9
  • Value 9
The Good
Excellent performance that beats the Titan X (Pascal)
Over 30% speeder than GeForce GTX 1080
Same price as GeForce GTX 1080 when it launched
Stellar build quality and attractive design
Decent overclocking headroom
Can handle most games at 4K
The Bad
Still no HBM2 memory
No DVI connector
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