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The GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
When Nvidia first announced the GeForce GTX 1080, the company introduced a new concept called a "Founders Edition" card. At the time, this new name gave rise to speculation the card would have some kind of special sauce inside, but we now know that it's really just a different designation for what we used to call "reference coolers." The Founders Edition card also has a $699.99 suggested price tag, a $100 premium over the $599.99 suggested price for custom cards from Nvidia's board partners.

GeForce GTX 1080 1607 MHz 1733 MHz 2560 8GB GDDR5X 1x 8-pin 180W $699.99

The GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition has a pretty standard Nvidia reference board look, much like the GeForce GTX 980 Ti before it. Nvidia devised a fancy new polygonal design for the aluminum cooler shroud, but even with the new aesthetics, it could hide among other recent Nvidia reference boards without arousing too much suspicion.

The new reference cooler's internals are pretty similar to what's come before. The heatsink that the blower-style fan cools looks the same as those inside the company's older, higher-end reference cards. Nvidia touts this "vapor chamber" heatsink as something special, and the card does appear to use one, but that same basic heatsink has been present in cards dating back to the GTX 780, at least. 

The one major upgrade from past Nvidia reference designs is the inclusion of a backplate on the card, which is a nice touch. The backplate is a pretty standard plastic-coated metal job.

After removing the million tiny screws that hold it in place, the backplate comes off to reveal the PCB itself. The four Philips-head screws hold down the heatsink on the GPU, which thankfully doesn't require that the whole card be disassembled to be removed. The cooler assembly itself comes off as a unit.

Back to the front of the board, and few hex-key screws later, and we can pull off the acrylic shroud and the metal trim piece that cover the heatsink. With the four Philips screws removed from the back, we can fully expose the GPU die.

After removing even more screws, we can remove the shroud and see the exciting bits of the 1080. This view shows the GP104 die and the GDDR5X RAM that rings it. We also get a look at the 5+1-phase power delivery subsystem of the card, plus the single eight-pin PCIe power connector the 1080 uses to get the extra juice it needs from the PSU.

We were able to successfully reassemble our Founders Edition card without too much trouble after dissecting it. While we'll be moving on to testing next, we actually performed this disassembly after we concluded our benchmarking, so the results you'll see in the following pages all come from a factory-fresh GTX 1080. Let's see what it can do.