The GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition is an amazing graphics card, so I've been excited to see what Nvidia's board partners would put up against the Founders Edition heatsink. Aorus' GTX 1080 Ti Xtreme Edition 11G is the first custom-cooled GTX 1080 Ti in the TR labs, and it's a good one. Aorus' combination of memory and core clock boosts give this card a nice performance boost over the reference GTX 1080 Ti, and its cooler is much quieter and more effective than Nvidia's Founders Edition heatsink.
Its many virtues aside, I do have to wonder why Aorus' engineers set the Xtreme Edition's power limit so conservatively. The card often hit that limit in our stock-clocked testing, and its clock-speed consistency suffered a bit for it. After I maxed the power limit in the Aorus Graphics Engine, the card boosted much higher and with better clock-speed consistency than its stock parameters allowed for.
While raising the power limit is technically overclocking, the card certainly has the PCIe power inputs and power-delivery subsystem to handle the added juice, and there would seem to be a happy medium somewhere Aorus' factory setting and the maximum power limit. Aorus might have been more worried about noise, heat, and power consumption over absolute performance when it developed the card's factory tune. Still, I don't think a card with such a beefy cooler and PCB should be hitting power limits at all out of the box.
In every other part of our testing gauntlet, the XE 11G passed with flying colors. Aorus' triple-fan cooler is still one of the quietest and best-sounding I've ever tested. The company's upgraded power-delivery circuitry let me overclock both the GPU and memory on our particular card without running into power limits as I did on the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition. It's quieter and better-sounding than the FE card with the screws turned, too. With that tweaking, the Xtreme Edition 11G may be the single best-performing graphics card that's ever passed through the TR labs.
The Xtreme Editon 11G's $750 price tag puts it in the middle of the pack for a custom GTX 1080 Ti at the moment. I think that's a fair price to pay for a card that offers quieter running and better performance—both stock and overclocked—than the GTX 1080 Ti FE. If your case has the space for it, the GTX 1080 Ti Xtreme Edition 11G is a TR Editor's Choice.