Nvidia and their Pascal architecture have taken the company to new heights within gaming focused hardware, as the truck along seemingly unchallenged in the upper echelon, enthusiast line of GPUs. Although AMD is preparing their own new generation which is aiming to shake things up later this year, Nvidia still reigns supreme. And nothing screams that loader than the (likely) last release in the Pascal line. The GTX 1080 Ti is the pinnacle of what this architecture can do, with a price that makes it the most alluring card in the range.
In what has become commonplace with Ti release, the GTX 1080 TI shares more with the larger (and way more expensive) Titan X card than it does with the GTX 1080. It features the same GP102 GPU chip, along with the same 3584 CUDA Cores and 12 billion transistors. It’s Boost Clock tops out at a greater than Titan X 1.6GHz, although falls a little below the 1.7GHz of the original GTX 1080. But that’s somewhat offset by the memory, with the GTX 1080 Ti featuring a massive 11GB of new GDDR5X memory, which allows it to reach a blisteringly fast 484GB/s bandwidth.
The whole gigabyte less than the Titan X is a result of this, with the GTX 1080 Ti not really requiring the extra space to perform admirably with memory hungry applications with the speed that it’s able to output. the entire thing is encased in a similar looking NVTTM design that Nvidia has deployed effectively with past Founder’s Edition releases, but with some slight differences. Some changes to airflow allow the card to run a little cooler, a full 5 degrees Celsius according to Nvidia. That wasn’t always the case during testing, and the noise difference was clearly negligible. But it’s a bold design that works with its form factor, even if third-party cooling with ultimately still serve you better.
The card features the same sorts of outputs, with a single HDMI port and three DisplayPorts on the rear of the card. The Ti loses the DVI connection present on the GTX 1080, which is important if you’re still stuck on a monitor requiring such a connection. But if you’re looking at the sort of output the GTX 1080 Ti produces, it’s the three DisplayPorts that are really a godsend here, as they were in the past, making multi-display setups easy.
The other difference is in terms of power. The GTX 1080 Ti maintains the low draw that Pascal has become famous for, but still requires a little more juice to get the job done. The card features a 8+6 pin connection for power, with a TDP of 220W as opposed to the 180E of the GTX 1080. That’s not a massive change that’s bound to have an effect on your power supply, but it’s important to note if you’re looking to partner a few of these up together.
Nvidia claims that the GTX 1080 Ti should outpace the GTX 1080 by as much as 35% (and even 40% in some rare cases), so it seemed apt to test the card on the same titles that featured during our GTX 1080 review. That means that while they’re not the most recent releases, they’re important for the sake of comparison. And also still some of the most demanding titles out there, with the correct tools to measure them.
Metro Last Light
Metro: last Light is still valuable with its strenuous benchmarking runs, and the GTX 1080 Ti puts in a best of show performance here. It’s odd to see its performance dip below that of the GTX 1080 at standard HD (which could come down to drivers, considering each test was run three times), but it’s blazing fast performance when scaling up to 4K is extraordinary. This test brings cards to their knees, but the GTX 1080 Ti manages to stand tall.
DOOM is one of those games that just manages to run well on almost anything, but it’s still a power-hungry beast when you start scaling things up. Given the nature of the game, it’s also one you don’t want to be playing at anything below 60FPS, which makes the GTX 1080 Ti the perfect single card solution for your 4K needs here. It’s even an alluring option if you’re sporting a 120Hz monitor and want the resolution as high as it can be, using all the memory bandwidth to great effect.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V can be a bit temperamental with its benchmark test, but it’s the final run that usually puts the card under the most strain. Here again the GTX 1080 Ti performs well, managing to edge even closer to that 60FPS mark at 4K. Suffice to say, you’ll struggle to find a single card that does better than that right now.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is still a gorgeous looking videogame, and one that scales in strange ways when you start ramping up the resolution. The title comes under heavy strain with its larger textures, making the streaming of them as important to maintain a high framerate. The GTX 1080 Ti copes with this balance nicely, ensuring that the game remains crisp and smooth even at the most demanding resolutions.
3D Mark FireStrike
The GTX 1080 Ti also pulled in the best numbers we’ve recorded yet with 3DMark FireStrike runs, managing to top out the Ultra Benchmark with a score nearly 1500 higher than the GTX 1080.
But if it’s direct comparisons you’re looking for, we looked at the GTX 1080 Ti with respects to both the original Founder’s Edition GTX 1080, and a beefier, overclocked MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X card that we reviewed in the past. The results clearly show that the GTX 1080 Ti is faster in almost all respects (as you might have expected, too), but that the estimations of the improvement Nvidia have fall a little short.
The biggest difference in performance comes in at just over 20%. That’s nothing to shrug at from a card running on the same architecture, but it’s a far cry from the 40% promised in some titles from Nvidia directly. This in no way means the GTX 1080 Ti disappoints with its performance, it just means that the marketing jargon being thrown around it a little off target.
Because when it comes to raw numbers, there really isn’t a card out there right now that holds a candle to the GTX 1080 Ti, which makes it pricing all the more fascinating. The Founder’s Edition of the card is retailing for $699, which will be identical to the starting price of AiB versions (none of that $100 more that was present with the original GTX 1080). Considering a Titan X tops out at $1200, you’re getting identical (and sometimes better) performance for nearly half the price. And an arguably worthy step up in output from the cheaper GTX 1080.
It also means that the market is shifting, with Nvidia already slashing the price of their GTX 1080 to make room for their new flagship. That presents you with the question of how much power you really need. The GTX 1080 Ti might not be an upgrade that makes sense if you’re sticking with your current GTX 1080 setup. But if you’re looking to incorporate more monitors, game at a higher resolution average or set yourself up for the long-term future, it makes sense. The GTX 1080 was already overkill for an standard 1080p setup, so that goes double for this Ti version.
But that’s exactly why it’s an enthusiast card, and why Nvidia seems unchallenged in this space. This isn’t where the majority of cards sell, but for the power hungry markets they take aim at there’s no disputing just how extraordinary this card is. The GTX 1080 Ti is the last hurrah in the excellent era of Pascal processing, and marks a good send off as Nvidia now presumably focuses on Volta in the near future.