No-Compromise 4K Gaming, Now Feasible?

Before benchmarking the GeForce GTX 1080 I put all expectations aside, all that Nvidia marketing material that had been pouring over just a week prior was deleted from my memory. With no real expectations, I set out to discover just how fast the 1080 really was.

For the price, the obvious reference points included the Titan X, GTX 980 Ti and Radeon R9 Fury X. The hope was to see playable 60fps 4K performance in most titles, something neither the Fury X or Titan X can deliver. Although you can lower certain settings to boost performance and achieve the desired 60fps, like many, I have longed for a no-compromise type solution that didn't require more than one card and spending well over four figures. Is the GTX 1080 that solution? For the most part yes, but there are a handful of games where tuning will be required, such is the case with Crysis 3 and The Witcher 3.

So how does the GTX 1080 stack up against existing competition?

At 1440p, across the ten games we tested with, it was on average 22% faster than the Titan X and 28% faster than the GTX 980 Ti, which is significant. It was also 60% faster than the GTX 980, which is an important comparison to make considering how many 980 owners will likely be looking at the GTX 1080 for their next GPU upgrade. The 1080 was also 34% faster than the Fury X.

Moving to 4K, the GTX 1080 was only 19% faster than the Titan X and 26% faster than the 980 Ti. Interestingly, it remained 60% faster than the GTX 980. Against AMD's top card, the GTX 1080 was 28% faster than the Fury X which is surprising -- we expected the 4GB AMD card to slip further behind at this extreme resolution but it did hold well.

Putting these numbers into context is the price and I am inclined to focus on the $600 MSRP for the board partner cards, rather than the $700 for the Founders Edition. The $100 price premium for early adopters doesn’t sit well with me, but we are technically testing the Founder Edition card here, so let’s talk about both price points.

Although we closely compared the GTX 1080 to the Titan X in terms of frame rate performance we are going to ignore the Titan X in our pricing comparison, as this product doesn’t make sense for PC gaming.

If the screaming fast performance and compelling pricing has not sold you on the new GeForce GTX 1080 yet, then perhaps its power consumption will.

Let’s look at the GTX 980 Ti then, a graphics card that until recently was selling for $650. Having recently exited production in anticipation for the new Pascal GPUs, the GTX 980 Ti has fallen in price and can now be had for as little as $530, though a typical asking price is about $570. This makes the GTX 1080 Founder Edition roughly 23% more expensive -- given it was 26% faster on average you get a similar bang for your buck.

Third party GTX 1080 cards will on the other hand sell for less, making the GTX 1080 a worthy successor and an immediate recommendation as the best high-end GPU money can buy.

But what about AMD, what does the GTX 1080 do to their Fury X? In short, nothing good.

AMD is going to have to restructure their pricing aggressively if they plan to sell another Fiji graphics card this year. The GTX 1080 Founders Edition costs just 11% more and is some 30% faster. Not just that, but once overclocked the new GTX 1080 can be up to 60% faster than the Fury X, while AMD's GPU is renowned for its poor overclocking headroom.

For the Fury X to make sense in a world where the GTX 1080 Founder Edition exists, AMD will need to slash pricing by at least $100. Then when when more affordable board partner cards land, the Fury X will have to be dropped further. It is going to be interesting to see how AMD plays things next month, not just pricing-wise for current offerings, but also with their upcoming Polaris GPUs.

If the screaming fast performance and compelling pricing has not sold you on the new GeForce GTX 1080 yet, then perhaps its power consumption will. Frankly I was expecting about 20% more performance than the Titan X after Nvidia's announcement. What I wasn’t sure of was the power consumption. Those high clocked CUDA cores had me second guessing the 1080’s efficiency.

The GTX 1080 consumes about the same amount of power as the GTX 980. This is more than remarkable since the Pascal-based card is 60% faster. This also means the GTX 1080 consumes at least 20% less power than the Titan X, while delivering on average 20% more performance.

The GeForce GTX 1080 is the new GPU king and we expect it to sit in the throne for some time to come. It is hands down, the fastest graphics card you can get, and it does so without resorting to sky-high Titan-like pricing or other compromises.

The Founders Edition card is a seriously nice bit of hardware, the card looks amazing and the thermal/noise performance is excellent. We think adding a really good reference card to the mix is a great idea -- though we aren't crazy about the price premium, especially if you want to buy one of these immediately -- we believe that situation will self-correct over time and once third party offerings are in the market, you'll be able to choose freely between less expensive no-frills GTX 1080s, the Founders Edition, and other overclocking friendly options that could potentially provide even greater overclocking headroom. So stay tuned, as we plan to check out Gigabyte’s masterpiece in the coming weeks.

The GeForce GTX 1080 is the new GPU king and we expect it to sit in the throne for some time to come.

100
TechSpot
score

Pros: Phenomenal performance, great overclocker, efficiency is top notch. This is the best high-end GPU to land in years with a price that we feel is justified for what you get.

Cons: We are not crazy about the $100 premium for Founders Edition cards, but you can wait and get a GTX 1080 for less in a few weeks.