Let's take a look at how much juice the GTX 1080 needs to do its thing. Our "under load" tests aren't conducted in an absolute peak scenario. Instead, we have the cards running a real game, Crysis 3, in order to show us power draw with a more typical workload.
Here we can see another advantage of Pascal's 16-nm lithography. Not only does the 1080 roundly outperform the rest of the cards we tested, it does so while using far less power. In our Crysis power-test run, peak power draw on the GTX 1080 was quite a bit lower than any of its competitors. Nvidia isn't giving up the efficiency crown with this new generation of chips, to be certain.
Noise levels and GPU temperatures
Thanks to the move to a slightly different test rig, the noise floor on our test system is rather high thanks to its closed-loop liquid cooler. Even with a passive graphics card, just the pump and its fan left us with a 40-dBA noise floor. Still, some cards showed a significant increase from that floor when under load. Our test rig also happens to be down in sunny Alabama, and thanks to high temperatures and a creaky old house, the ambient temperature in our testing environment was about 80° F (or about 27° C), so the zero-point for our temperature numbers is a bit higher than in previous reviews. Those caveats aside, let's see how loud and hot our cards get under load.
The Founders Edition cooler on the GTX 1080 sadly doesn't do a great job of keeping the GPU underneath cool, or even all that quiet. The card's load noise levels are only exceeded by the triple-fan cooler on the Gigabyte Windforce GTX 980 we have on hand, and its load temperatures are the worst of the pack by a wide margin. The sound from the single blower-style fan also has an unpleasant grinding quality, something our absolute noise measurements can't convey. The Fury X produces a similarly unusual and annoying sound: a high-pitched whine that we've picked up on in past reviews.
Now's as good a time as any to talk about the GTX 1080's overclocking potential. While the silicon lottery certainly plays a role, it's equally important to have a good cooler strapped onto the GPU you're trying to tweak. While the GP104 chip itself might have plenty of overclocking potential on tap, we'd be wary of trying to push it too far with the Founders Edition cooler given our stock-clocked results. Plenty of Nvidia's board partners are now selling GeForce GTX 1080s, and the custom coolers on those boards might unlock the thermal headroom one would want to really push the clocks skyward. For now, we're reserving judgment on the GTX 1080's overclocking prowess.