The Aorus name couldn't have made a splashier entrance into the world of graphics cards than to ride in on a GTX 1080, and the Xtreme Edition 8G card uses the DNA of a well-proven steed to get there. What's more, Gigabyte promised even better cooling performance than its previous effort thanks to the Aorus card's copper-covered backside—an impressive claim, given the GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming's excellent cooler.
Despite those claims, we actually observed higher GPU temperatures from our card than we did with its GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming stablemate. In fact, the XE 8G's load temps were on par with those of the more compact Asus ROG Strix GTX 1080. Those higher temps didn't seem to impact the XE 8G's ability to hit sky-high boost clocks, but hey—we were promised lower temperatures, and we didn't get 'em. Given that the extra heat has no impact on the card's delivered performance, we're neutral about the value of the extra copper. At least it looks cool.
Aside from the copper slab, Aorus' changes to make Gigabyte's Xtreme Gaming card its own are mostly positive ones. I enjoy the Aorus card's prominent RGB LED eagle logo on its backplate, and the broader light pipes on the cooler's X-brace look sharper than the Xtreme Gaming's more spindly tubes. Aorus' gunmetal-and-orange accents sit well with me, too. This is a graphics card that will stand out from any angle.
Most importantly, the Xtreme Edition 8G's Aorus bodywork doesn't sully the things I enjoyed most about its Gigabyte predecessor. Since it uses the same cooler as its stablemate, the Aorus GTX 1080 is delightfully quiet under full load, and its performance is beyond reproach. Gigabyte even found a way to kill most of the coil whine that was my only point of concern with the GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming in its Aorus refresh. As a victory lap, the Aorus hit the highest overclocked speed we've seen so far from a GTX 1080, although Pascal's GPU Boost 3.0 and Aorus' OC mode profile got us most of the way there without touching a single slider.
All told, Gigabyte couldn't have picked a better graphics card to kick off the Aorus brand's expansion. The Xtreme Edition 8G isn't an automatic pick over its Gigabyte progenitor, though. The GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming Premium Pack sells for $679.99, and it includes an HB SLI bridge and Gigabyte's handy VR front panel, a $30 extra for the Aorus GTX 1080. The Aorus card sells for the same $679.99, and it includes fewer extras, more copper and more RGB LEDs.
Really, though, picking between these two graphics cards is like being asked which color of Lamborghini you'd like to drive on a given day. The Aorus GTX 1080 Xtreme Edition 8G is an exquisite graphics card, and it's an easy pick for another TR Editor's Choice award.