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Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card reviewed


I like big chips and I cannot lie
— 8:00 AM on March 9, 2017

Sometimes at TR, we do funny things for major product launches. We've asked chips to review themselves. We've had the NSA monitor our testing labs. With the advent of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, Nvidia's fastest consumer graphics card ever, I felt like it was time to continue the tradition.

Once I got this card on the bench, though, I dropped that idea, because the GTX 1080 Ti is no joke. I'm also not that funny.

If you're not already familar, Nvidia tends to launch its biggest graphics chip per generation aboard a Titan-branded card that sticks around for a while, after which it tends to send some folks in with the world's tiniest chainsaws to produce a slightly cut-down yet similar-performing product it can sell for less money. When the Titan X Pascal launched in July of last year, we knew that a GTX 1080 Ti would likely follow. It just took a while.

In the case of the $700 GTX 1080 Ti, the tiny-chainsaw-wielders didn't have much work to do with the GP102 graphics chip that's shared by the Titan X Pascal. The GTX 1080 Ti comes with the same 3584 stream processors enabled as its $1200 forebear. To justify the $500 price difference, Nvidia buzzed off eight ROPs and narrowed the memory bus width to 352 bits, resulting in an unusual 11GB pool of GDDR5X RAM compared to the Titan X Pascal's 12GB on a 384-bit bus. At the same time, the green team bumped up the boost clock 51 MHz and filled out that 11GB of RAM with new 11 GT/s memory. That means in some regards, the GTX 1080 Ti is actually faster than the Titan. Maybe some people will really want that black cooler.

  GPU
base
clock
(MHz)
GPU
boost
clock
(MHz)
ROP
pixels/
clock
Texels
filtered/
clock
Shader
pro-
cessors
Memory
path
(bits)
GDDR5(X)
transfer
rate
Memory
size
Peak
power
draw
E-tail
price
GTX 970 1050 1178 56 104 1664 224+32 7 GT/s 3.5+0.5GB 145W $329.99
GTX 980 1126 1216 64 128 2048 256 7 GT/s 4 GB 165W $499.99
GTX 980 Ti 1002 1075 96 176 2816 384 7 GT/s 6 GB 250W $649.99
Titan X 1002 1075 96 192 3072 384 7 GT/s 12 GB 250W $999.99
GTX 1080 1607 1733 64 160 2560 256 10 GT/s 8GB 180W $499.99
GTX 1080 Ti 1480 1582 88 224 3584 352 11 GT/s 11GB 250W $699.99
Titan X Pascal 1417 1531 96 224 3584 384 10 GT/s 12GB 250W $1200.00

Even folks who prefer black may want to go with the GTX 1080 Ti anyway, because this Founders Edition card has an improved design compared to the first FE coolers.

Most importantly, the DVI output is no more, so the 1080 Ti's blower has more vent area to exhaust the heat the cooler wicks away from the 471 mm² GPU underneath. Those who still need a DVI connector will find an DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter in the 1080 Ti FE's box. Even if you have to burn a DisplayPort this way, the 1080 Ti FE still offers two more DisplayPort 1.3 outs and an HDMI connector.

The cooler keeps the same 63-mm blower fan and a vapor-chamber heatsink similar to the ones we know from earlier Nvidia reference designs. We didn't have time to strip down the 1080 Ti FE for forensic purposes, but the new card weighs 25g more than the GTX 1080 FE. We're guessing not that much is different underneath the shroud.


The GTX 1080 Ti reference PCB. Source: Nvidia

At a board level, though, there are most definitely differences. With a 250W TDP, the Founders Edition card needs both six-pin and eight-pin PCIe power connectors to operate. Nvidia also says it's beefed up the power-delivery subsystem of the 1080 Ti with a seven-phase "dual FET" setup capable of delivering 250A of power. This setup purportedly delivers cleaner power with less waste heat. Compare that to the five-phase design of the GTX 1080 FE. We'll see how this setup translates to overclocking prowess a little later on.