4K, Ultra HD, 2160p, whatever you wanna call it, has been a golden dream for PC gamers all over the world for a while now. But the struggle was real: it was so demanding that users needed to use two cards in SLI/Crossfire supported games or else drop the settings to the point it looked better in lower resolutions. Not anymore: GTX 1080 Ti is the first consumer grade GPU to be able to provide 4K at 60fps at max settings in most games, beating the previous 1200$ Titan X and sitting as the sole king of the graphics card market until AMD Vega shows up to the battle. Today we’re reviewing one of the first custom models to hit the market: The Gaming OC model from Gigabyte.
At this point you know what the 1080 Ti is all about: it’s a variation of the high end GP102 chip from Nvidia, featuring the same 3584 CUDA Cores found on the previous king of the hill, the Titan X (just shy of the newly released Titan Xp sporting the full GP102 at 3840 CUDA’s). Basically it’s the same as the Titan X with just one less memory cheap, leaving us with 11 GB of GDDR5X memory (which is still a ton). That module disabled means that we go from 96 to 88 ROP Units and from 384 to a 352-bit memory configuration. But- the 1080 Ti’s GDDR5X memory is clocked at a whopping 11 Gbps, which in turn means the 1080 Ti surpasses Titan X in memory bandwith (480 GB/s on the Titan against 484 on the Ti), and the clocks have also gone up a little to 1582 Mhz for the Founder’s Edition boost clock.
Of course, today we’re talking about a custom model. This Gigabyte card runs at 1657 Mhz boost clock on the OC mode, so that’s 75Mhz on top of the reference model (note: Titan cards don’t have custom models). To sustain these clocks, the card comes equipped with the now classic Windforce 3X cooler which has been proven as very efficient for the last few years. That is, three 80mm fans which spin in different directions to maximize airflow, on top of a good yet thin heatsink with five copper heatpipes in direct contact with the GPU. These fans, as with almost every graphics card today, won’t turn on until the chip reaches 60C, and even when they are turned on they are hardly audible above case fans.
As a negative: the shroud, which is a white version of the same one on the G1 Gaming GTX 1080 -with the same orange accents-, feels very plasticky and not what you would expect for a high end 700$/800 euro card. It also doesn’t come with a backplate, which I personally don’t mine since it doesn’t affect cooling and it means less weight which in turn reduces GPU sagging, but again, users are expecting it for a product like this. To compensate, this model has a very important advantage which most 1080 Ti’s don’t have: it’s a dual-slot card, which means you won’t have to worry about the thickness that comes with other 2.5-3 slot coolers found on more exotic offerings. I personally find this very nice to see. Also as good is the price: this Gaming OC model from Gigabyte comes at the card’s MSRP (699 dollars/799 euros), so essentially you’re getting a much better cooler, a custom PCB with 8+2 power phases, a Gigabyte RGB logo that you can toy with in Gigabyte’s Aorus Engine software, and a moderate factory OC for free, since usually AIB MSRP cards are content to be rebranded blower style coolers with a reference PCB. For reference, the very popular MSI Gaming X, which is admittedly a bit better in terms of PCB, cooler and clocks, is 750 dollars. It’s up to you if you want to spend 50 more for essentially the same performance. Also from Gigabyte, the Aorus 1080 Ti at 720 dollars seems like a very good deal (keep in mind, that one is thick). All these cards for a limited time come with a copy of For Honor (which I’ve yet to install) or Ghost Recon Wildlands.
It’s time for what you’ve been waiting for: how well does this 1080 Ti perform? It would be good to start with temperatures. As you know, the Founder’s Edition blower style cooler gets air out of the case, but gets very hot (84C or even higher) and if you try to up the fan speed to control temperature, things will get noisy. The Windforce cooler on this card makes the 1080 Ti stay around 71-74C during intense 4K gaming load, with many times hovering around 69-70 and in the hardest of stress tests it tops at 75-76C. In lesser intensive games (as the newly released Bayonetta Steam port) it stays comfortably in the low 60’s. All of this is with the stock fan curve (which can be adjusted in programs such as MSI Afterburner). At 70% and while overclocked, the card is 2C cooler. For reference, this card is around 3 celsius warmer than my previous card: Palit’s Super JetStream GTX 1080, which is the card this will go up against later in the article. That card was much thicker at 2,5 slots and the heatsink was impressive (if what you want is a 1080, it’s one of the best), and considering that the GP104 1080 has 2560 CUDA’s and consumes a lot less wattage, which means less heat, I am comfortable in saying that the Windforce 3X does a very nice job on the 1080 Ti.
Nvidia boldly states that the Ti is 35 per cent faster than the vanilla GTX 1080, so let’s see what GPU Boost 3.0 has to say about that. The SuperJetStream 1080 boosted to an average of 1936 Mhz (vs the 1848 advertised on the box), which means 9,91 TFLOPS (basically 10). The 1080 Ti Gaming OC from Gigabyte boosts to an average of 1848 Mhz (even a bigger jump from the advertised 1657), which gives us 13,24 TFLOPS. That’s a 33,6% increase in compute performance, which added to the 51% higher bandwith (484 GB/s on the Ti vs 320 GB/s on the 1080) makes the 35% percentage pretty believable. So let’s do some tests.
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So yeah, we get a 25-40% increase depending on the game, which pushes us from the acceptable 4K experience the 1080 provides, to the very good performance of the 1080 Ti, scoring over 60fps average in all games tested which were maxed out or near maxed out. As for overclocking, I was able to push the GPU to around 2025-2038 Mhz (though it can dip to 2000 and below) with a +135 Mhz offset on the core with a healthy +400 Mhz on the memory, making the bandwith go even higher. These are the results on 3D Mark Firestrike Ultra (4K, extremely demanding) before and after the overclocking:
In games, overclocking means an upgrade to performance of about 5 to 10 percent. Keep in mind the card comes factory OC’ed and that GPU Boost makes it go as high as 1,9 GHz out of the box. This is a capture of the overclocking offset, paired with a GPU-Z capture:
There’s no way around it: the GTX 1080 Ti is a monster of a GPU. Whether you’re a programmer, a video producer, or of course, a gamer, this card, though expensive, is the best consumer chip you can get. The Gigabyte Gaming OC model, even with it’s faults like having no backplate and the cheap plastic, is a great model thanks to it’s base pricetag, a very good cooling solution and a 2 slot design that will fit in ATX cases and will also delight SLI users who don’t want to deal with FE problems. As such, it gets a hearty recommendation from me.