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Overclocked performance
Even though GPU Boost 3.0 is pretty good at wringing most of the potential clock speed headroom out of a given Pascal chip, we can still usually find a little extra speed through manual tweaking. To get there, we used the proprietary utilities provided by Gigabyte for the GTX 1080 XG and Aorus for the GTX 1080 XE 8G. To overclock the Founders Edition card, we used MSI's tried-and-true Afterburner utility. The Asus Strix card is sitting this section of the review out, thanks to our sample's nonexistent overclocking headroom.

  GPU
base
clock
(MHz)
GPU
boost
clock
(MHz)
Memory
speed
(MT/s)
Heaven
GPU
voltage
Heaven
GPU
clock
(MHz)
Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition 1152 1733 10000 1.031 ~1923
Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming 1759 1898 10206 1.050 1987
GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming (OC Mode) 1784 1936 10400 1.050 2012
Aorus GTX 1080 Xtreme Edition 8G 1759 1898 10206 1.043 1987
GTX 1080 Xtreme Edition 8G (OC Mode) 1784 1936 10400 1.043 2012

The easiest way to overclock either of the Gigabyte cards in our test suite is to click on the built-in OC mode profile in each card's utility software. Both the Xtreme Gaming card and the Aorus Xtreme Edition 8G dutifully boosted up to 2,012 MHz in this mode, a nice increase over the claimed 1,936 MHz from both cards' spec sheets. Easy, but not exciting.

To really get the clocks ticking, I maxed the power and temperature limits in the Aorus Graphics Engine and the power, temperature, and voltage limits in the Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming Engine. Strangely, the Aorus card doesn't offer voltage tweaking—a definite plus for the GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming. With those safeties loosened as much as possible, I got to pushing up some sliders. I double-checked my work with the Heaven benchmark and some play time in Doom.

Here are the stable settings we determined for each card. The "Boost clock with offset" figure in the table below isn't an observed value. Instead, that figure represents the boost clock each tuning utility displays (if it's available).

  GPU
clock
offset
(MHz)
Boost clock
with offset
Memory
speed
(MT/s)
Heaven
GPU
voltage
Heaven
GPU
clock
(MHz)
Heaven
GPU
temp. (°C)
Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition +212 N/A 10302 1.031 2012 80
Gigabyte GTX 1080
Xtreme Gaming (manual OC)
+50 1948 10868 1.094 2063 68
Aorus GTX 1080
Xtreme Edition 8G (manual OC)
+177 2075 10860 1.043 2075 70

Despite its lack of voltage adjustments, the Aorus card sustained a 2,075-MHz boost speed with our chosen settings, a small increase over the Xtreme Gaming's voltage-assisted 2,063 MHz. Still, it's a record for a GP104 GPU in the TR labs. The GDDR5X chips on the Aorus card had about as much headroom as those on the Xtreme Gaming card did, as well. I was able to reach a 10,860 MT/s effective memory clock, compared to 10,868 MT/s on the Xtreme Gaming.

To put those numbers into perspective, our manual tweaking efforts got us another 3.13% of clock speed and 4.4% of memory speed over the card's baked-in OC mode profile. Once again, GPU Boost 3.0 got us most of the way there, but every little bit helps. Not every Aorus GTX 1080 Xtreme Edition will reach these numbers, thanks to the silicon lottery. Still, we achieved impressive absolute clock and memory speeds, and Aorus' utility software made the process quick and easy. That's really all we can ask for when we overclock a graphics card.

For reference, we were able to push the Founders Edition GTX 1080 to a 2,012-MHz sustained boost clock and a 10,302-MHz memory clock using MSI's Afterburner, with a minor increase in temperatures and fan noise. We observed 85° C load temps and a 46.5 dBA noise level from that card under those settings. While the FE's clocks aren't too far off what we achieved with the Aorus card, Gigabyte's custom cooler is a lot nicer to live with when we push the GP104 silicon to its limits. The Aorus GTX 1080 only reaches 71° C under our overclocked load, and it only produces 39.2 dBA.


If you were hoping for big differences in performance between the two overclocked Gigabyte cards, we're sorry to let you down. This duo reached nearly the same settings after our overclocking exercises, and their performance in Rise of the Tomb Raider is practically identical. The GTX 1080 Founders Edition didn't reach the same heights, so it trails the other cards a bit. No surprises here.

Of course, overclocking causes all of our cards to consume more power. The Founders Edition and Aorus cards only need modestly more power to do their thing, since we didn't push up the voltages beyond the baked-in scaling curves on each card. The GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming can push more voltage than any other card on the bench, and therefore it consumes the most power to achieve its boost clocks.