Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 review

Pascal breaks the pixel barrier

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Our Verdict

The Nvidia GTX 1080 offers exceptional graphics performance, rocketing straight to the top of the single GPU world. If you're looking to game at 4K or higher refresh rates this card is an excellent choice. Yet the price of the Founder's Edition just doesn't sit well with us.

For

  • Great all round performance
  • Makes 4K gaming viable
  • Classy design
  • Quiet Cooler

Against

  • Expensive launch price
  • Aftermarket cards will be better specced for less

Nvidia’s Pascal GPU architecture was on the top of every PC enthusiasts wish list for a year before it finally released. And, with good reason – it was the first time we’d ever seen a manufacturing process smaller than 28nm.

About as small as Intel’s 14nm Skylake processors (and the three preceding generations). Pascal brought the new 15nm FinFET process to its mainstream graphics cards. And, with that comes more transistors, faster performance and better efficiency. This lets users enjoy AAA games at higher frame rates, resolutions and makes for a better VR experience than was possible with earlier generations.

And, while it’s been succeeded by the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, the GTX 1080 is still absolutely worth your time – doubly so when the Black Friday and Cyber Monday PC components deals up the value of the aging flagship. 

Nvidia GTX 1080

Design and cooling

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 doesn’t run quite as cool as some of the GTX 980s we’ve seen in the past, but it still sits firmly at 82 degrees C, or 91 if you pump up the power limit and let GPU Boost have that extra thermal headroom. You don’t need to worry about overheating.

What is interesting about this card in particularly, is the inclusion of the DisplayPort 1.4 connection standard. The biggest limiting factor currently with 4K gaming, is the lack of higher refresh rate monitors. DisplayPort 1.2 is limited to pumping out 3840x2160 at 60 Hz, meaning the buttery smoothness of 144Hz gaming panels has been unobtainable on higher pixel density screens.

Although there's no 4K 120Hz panels out on the market just yet, Nvidia claims two 1080's in SLI will be able to push 4K resolutions at 144Hz. DisplayPort 1.4 also supports resolutions as high as 8K (7680x4320) at 60 Hz with HDR, or 4K at 120Hz with HDR.

Nvidia GTX 1080

Power up

And, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 has the horsepower to handle those ports. Coming jam packed with 2,560 CUDA cores, 160 texture units, 64 ROPs, 8GBs of Micron's latest GDDR5X VRAM, and a GPU boost clock running in at a comfortable 1,733 MHz, is there any wonder why the PC enthusiast community is so abuzz?

For those less savvy with the technical jargon, the best way to compare these cards is simply by looking at how many TFLOPs they can produce. The GTX 980, manages a respectable 5.5 TFLOPs, the 980 Ti, 6.5, the Titan 7.

And the GTX 1080? 9 teraflops.

Yep, in essence it should be almost twice as powerful as its predecessor, and in nearly every scenario, it is. At least in our testing. So let's get to it.