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When it comes to power consumption the GTX 980 raised the bar back in 2014 for efficiency as it was faster than all other previously tested GPUs while consuming less power.
Well, that bar has been raised once again with the GTX 1080, which delivers around 60% more performance while consuming on average ~10% more power in a typical high-end gaming system.
Back in 2010 the GTX 480 was a very power hungry GPU that pushed our test system up to 319 watts. Nvidia refined the 480 design slightly with the 580 to save a little power while delivering more performance. Nvidia then made huge inroads with Kepler in 2012 reducing power consumption considerably with the GTX 680, while still improving performance.
Efficiency was mostly put on hold for the next few years while Nvidia squeezed what they could out of Kepler with the more complex and naturally power hungry GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti. Then in 2014 the GTX 980 arrived and Nvidia's new radically improved architecture saw power consumption drop back down to GTX 680 levels while delivering around 70% more performance.
However, by squeezing in 38% more CUDA cores with the GTX 980 Ti power consumption climbed back up to GTX 780 Ti levels. Now with the GTX 1080 we are almost back down to GTX 980 and GTX 680 levels of power consumption.