Today we're taking a look back at the mighty GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, the previous-gen Nvidia flagship that has become somewhat of an iconic GPU, and for good reason. We were impressed with what Nvidia managed to achieve at the time, and while cost per frame wasn’t great -- a given with high-end flagships -- the 1080 Ti was designed to enable a level of performance never seen before and it accomplished just that.
Compared to AMD’s flagship at the time, the Radeon R9 Fury X, the GTX 1080 Ti was an incredible 60% faster at 4K and up to 30% faster than the original GTX 1080. This level of performance was made possible by a staggering 3584 CUDA cores, 17% more than the previous generation's Titan part, that were also clocked almost 50% higher.
For roughly 18 months the GTX 1080 Ti was the most powerful GeForce GPU on the market, but the fondness high-end gamers seemed to have for this GPU was only magnified when Nvidia showed it the door with the GeForce RTX 20 series.
These days we may have digested the GeForce RTX series as the top offering in Nvidia's lineup, but when the RTX 2080 launched in late 2018, it did so at the same $700 price point as the GTX 1080 Ti while offering no real performance advantage. You may not recall this, but Nvidia also made the Founders Edition version the only you could buy initially for an extra $100. Ray tracing and DLSS made their debut as promising technology that you couldn't use.
By that point the GTX 1080 Ti was being sold for about $600, so even at the base MSRP, gamers were asked to dish out at least 20% more money for an RTX 2080 and there was no evidence that you were getting anything for that extra investment. This had many prospective buyers actively hunting the remaining discounted GTX 1080 Ti stock, and once that dried up, the used market became a popular target. For a while you could see people selling their GTX 1080 Ti’s for as little as $400, which in hindsight was a steal at the time.
Even today, over three years after release, the GTX 1080 Ti is going for about $500 on the second-hand market. The inevitable question thus is, how does the old Pascal GPU compare to modern $400 - $500 GPUs? That's exaclty what we’re going to find out with a comprehensive 35 game benchmark.
As usual, all testing has been conducted using our Core i9-9900K GPU test system clocked at 5 GHz with 16GB of DDR4-3400 memory. We’re covering 1080p and 1440p resolutions in over thirty titles with the respective performance breakdowns after discussing some of the more interesting game results.
First up we have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and despite using DirectX 12, the GTX 1080 Ti is still able to get the better of the RTX 2070 Super and 5700 XT, though it has to be said performance is comparable. As an unfortunate side note, we had some issues completing testing with the RTX 2080, however the 2070 Super and RTX 2080 are fairly evenly matched, not quite as similar as the RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070, but there’s really not much more in it.
All in all, the old 1080 Ti is killing it here with high refresh rate performance at 1440p.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint at 1440p sees the GTX 1080 Ti and 2070 Super very evenly matched. This is also what you’d typically expect to see given the 2070 Super is similar to an RTX 2080.
We had expected the 1080 Ti to drop off with this newer Vulkan implementation, but it seems Nvidia has optimized the Pascal GPU properly here. Again, a strong result for the aging flagship GPU.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was released just before the Turing GPUs, so it’s still well optimized for Pascal. The GTX 1080 Ti delivers comparable performance to the RTX 2070 Super and this time also the 5700 XT. Using the highest in-game quality settings you’re looking at well over 60 fps at all times when gaming at 1440p.
The Gears 5 results are interesting as we see a situation where the GTX 1080 Ti and its many more cores is able to comfortably beat the RTX 2070 Super. Here we’re looking at a 14% performance boost at 1440p, taking us from 80 fps to just over 90 fps.
Control has been heavily optimized for the Turing architecture (it's one of the few ray traced/DLSS titles available) and as a result the GTX 1080 Ti suffers only delivering comparable performance to that of the RTX 2070 and 5700 XT. It’s hardly poor performance, but with some optimization work the GTX 1080 Ti could certainly do better here.
The GTX 1080 Ti does very well in Metro Exodus, beating the RTX 2070 Super by a convincing 10% margin. This also placed it ahead of the 5700 XT which does well in this title with HairWorks disabled. Impressively at 1440p we’re looking at over 90 fps at all times in our benchmark pass, so great stuff from the 1080 Ti.
Resident Evil 3 is another game where the GTX 1080 Ti does well, delivering well over 90 fps at all times to beat the 2070 Super by a 9% margin and the 5700 XT by a 17% margin. This really is excellent performance at 1440p in one of the newest titles we have.
Next up we have Doom Eternal and this is a good example of Nvidia prioritizing the Turing architecture. Even so the GTX 1080 Ti hardly makes out poorly with an average of 126 fps at 1440p and while that meant it was 13% slower than the 2070 Super, it was still 6% faster than the 5700 XT.
Playing Fortnite with the new DX12 mode sees the GTX 1080 Ti deliver comparable performance to that of the 2070 Super, so just over 100 fps on average at 1440p. This is excellent performance and with competitive esports quality settings you’ll see frame rates far exceed the refresh rate of high speed panels.
Now this is an interesting set of results, testing with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sees the GTX 1080 Ti beat the 2070 Super by a 12% margin, pushing up over 140 fps. The Pascal flagship was a whopping 36% faster than the 5700 XT, though it has to be said PUBG isn’t a particularly AMD friendly title.
Not unlike what we just saw in PUBG and even earlier Gears 5, the 1080 Ti is notably faster than the 2070 Super in Borderlands 3, particularly at 1440p when comparing 1% low data. The GTX 1080 Ti is on par with the 5700 XT which performs really well in this title.
Battlefield V using the DX12 API we have the GTX 1080 Ti matching the performance output of the 5700 XT and 2070 Super. That's solid performance at 1440p given we’re looking at over 100 fps on average.
As you might have expected, the GTX 1080 Ti is still a bit of a beast, even by today’s standards. Based on that dozen game sample it looked very competitive with the RTX 2070 Super and a little faster than the 5700 XT, but before we close the book on the benchmarks, let’s take a look at the 35 game breakdown.
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti vs. GeForce RTX 2070 Super
Well, it's very competitive with the RTX 2070 Super indeed. Overcoming it by a small 2% margin overall... as always anything under 5% we deem a draw. It’s interesting to see where the core heavy Pascal GPU shines such as World of Tanks, Gears 5, PUBG, War Thunder, and so on.
It’s also interesting to see which games are optimized for Turing such as Control, Doom Eternal, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Youngblood and Strange Brigade. For the most part though, when the GTX 1080 Ti was slower, it wasn't a great deal slower.
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti vs. Radeon RX 5700 XT
Moving on to the breakdown with the Radeon RX 5700 XT, overall the GTX 1080 Ti was 11% faster at 1440p. That’s not a dramatic difference but it’s starting to get up there and we do see gains of almost 40% in some titles. If you look at this comparison from the perspective of old $700 GPU vs. new $400 GPU, that’s not a bad look for AMD. But for those shopping second-hand, you can see why the GTX 1080 Ti is still a compelling option.
Great Old Timer
Undoubtedly the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti still looks to be a very solid GPU in 2020, offering very similar performance to the RTX 2070 Super. In other words, it's up there competing with a new GPU with a $500 asking price. That's about 30% cheaper than where it started, so a depreciation rate of 10% per year.
But that still doesn't make it a good buy today. What would you expect to pay for a 3 year old graphics card that delivers comparable performance to a modern $500 GPU, or about 10% more performance than a $400 model? Assuming you only have eyes for the green team, we’d say at least a $100 discount is in order for shopping second-hand. Ideally you’d want it $150 off, putting the GTX 1080 Ti at $350 and we have seen some go for that price in the past.
However, having recently put together a massive 80 GPU used buying guide, we were surprised to find the average selling price of used GTX 1080 Ti’s at $475. Bizarrely, people are spending over $500 on used GTX 1080 Ti cards on eBay and in rather large volumes. It makes no sense to purchase a 1080 Ti at that kind of price, of course. A new RTX 2070 Super for $500 is better, or you can save some money and get a well cooled Radeon RX 5700 XT that is only marginally slower.
Our two-pronged conclusion is that current owners of the GTX 1080 Ti can rejoice, especially if you've had yours for a long time, it's still an amazing GPU that you won't have to replace unless high refresh 4K gaming is what you're strictly after. For prospective buyers, second-hand GTX 1080 Ti’s are hard pass at anything over $350 considering that in the near future more Turing optimized games like Doom Eternal and Control won't run as smoothly on Pascal. We suspect with the next-gen Nvidia GPUs not that far away, Pascal could age quite noticeably over the next year.