Date: Thursday , March 09, 2017
NVIDIA is not sitting still or waiting to counter AMD’s Vega GPU, in fact one person from NVIDIA told us last month, "We are waiting for nothing." What has been made very clear to us directly is that NVIDIA is moving down its own path to improve the gameplay experience. NVIDIA is not waiting for the competition, or to counter the competition, instead NVIDIA is forging ahead in several ways to improve the gameplay experience beyond what we have now in terms of performance.
NVIDIA is making several moves, expanding both hardware and software, rolling forward to improve performance for gamers. NVIDIA could have waited for AMD Vega, and countered with this big blow, but instead it is doing it now, way ahead of Vega so gamers right now can experience better gameplay.
On the hardware side of things three important things are happening. Firstly we have the launch today of the $699 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti which is poised to offer 35% more performance compared to GeForce GTX 1080. NVIDIA also claims that it is faster than the $1200 GeForce GTX TITAN X Pascal video card, which up till now was the reigning champ on gaming performance, for a high price of course.
The second bit of important news is that pricing on the GeForce GTX 1080 has been officially lowered to $499. What’s more, gone are the Founders Edition pricing differences! GeForce GTX 1080 cards are now simply $499, this is a $100 decrease from the launch price of $599. This will surely put the GeForce GTX 1080 in more peoples' hands. It also gives a nice layer of product stack stratification between the GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at $699.
The third bit of hardware news is that NVIDIA is now offering higher memory VRAM frequency models on GeForce GTX 1060 and GeForce GTX 1080 video cards from add-in-board manufacturers. This means custom video cards from the likes of ASUS, MSI, GIGABYTE etc.. can now offer products with memory that runs 1GHz faster than before. GeForce GTX 1060 gets a bump from 8GHz to 9GHz GDDR5. GeForce GTX 1080 gets a bump from 10GHz to 11GHz GDDR5X. These memory frequency improvements should help create more separation between the competition, especially between the GeForce GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 480 which in the past have been very close on performance. The current models are not going away however.
NVIDIA isn’t stopping there either. On the software side of things NVIDIA is dropping a new driver version that contains a substantial performance improvement across the line of Pascal GPUs. This is a big enough impact on performance that this in its own right is not only news, but will also have to be tested and written about in a separate evaluation from this review, so look for that early next week. The gains proposed are substantial in DX12 and DX11 games across Pascal GPUs. Hopefully we will now be seeing advantages in performance in DX12 games. The driver we are using today, v378.78 contains these performance improvements.
With all these things combined, new video card, lower prices, higher memory frequencies, and new "performance" drivers, we should be seeing an overall improved gaming experience. We are excited that this is all happening now, and not months down the road to counter Vega, which NVIDIA could have definitely sat on until then.
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Specs
The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is based on the GP102 GPU, Pascal architecture. It contains 12 Billion transistors on the 16nm FinFET process.
There are 3584 CUDA cores and 88 ROPs and 224 Texture Units consisting of 28 SMs and 6 GPCs. The base clock runs at 1480MHz and the boost clock runs at 1582MHz. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has 11GB of GDDR5X memory on a 352-bit memory bus running at 11GHz. That gives it 484GB/sec of memory bandwidth. The TDP of the video card is 250W.
GeForce GTX TITAN X Pascal Comparison
If you think these specs look similar to the GeForce GTX TITAN X Pascal video card, you would be correct. The GeForce GTX TITAN X is based on the GP102 GPU core. It is also manufactured at 16nm FinFET with 12 Billion transistors. The GeForce GTX TITAN X has the same CUDA Cores - 3584, but the TITAN X has more ROPs at 96 and the same Texture Units at 224 and the SMs are the same at 28. The base clock on the GeForce GTX TITAN X is 1417MHz and the boost clock is 1531MHz. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has a higher operating clock frequency.
The memory side of things are also slightly different with the GeForce GTX TITAN X having 12GB of GDDR5X on a 384-bit memory bus at 10GHz. That gives the GeForce GTX TITAN X a 480GB/sec memory bandwidth. Even though the memory configuration is different the actual memory bandwidth is similar between the two video cards due to the clock frequency. The TDP on the GeForce GTX TITAN X is 250W.
Pricing is the big difference though! Launch price on the GeForce GTX TITAN X was $1200, and this new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is $699. NVIDIA is claiming the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will be faster than the GeForce GTX TITAN X, so we will test that claim.
GeForce GTX 1080 Comparison
The GeForce GTX 1080 is based on the GP104 GPU core with 7.2 Billion transistors at 16nm FinFET. The GeForce GTX 1080 has 2560 CUDA Cores 64 ROPs and 160 Texture Units utilizing 20 SMs. The base clock is 1607MHz and the boost clock is 1733MHz. The GeForce GTX 1080 has 8GB of GDDR5X on a 256-bit memory bus at 10GHz. This gives the GeForce GTX 1080 a 320GB/sec memory bandwidth. Remember, it is the add-in-board custom video cards that will have new models with faster memory, there will also still be models with 10GHz memory still around. We will test at the original 10GHz frequency to make our comparisons. The TDP of the GeForce GTX 1080 is 180W.
The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is "35% faster than a GeForce GTX 1080" according to NVIDIA. The GeForce GTX 1080 has now been reduced in price to $499. We will test this claim of performance improvement.
While the GPU architecture is the same between the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and all other Pascal GPUs, the PCB and thermal components have been modified. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti uses an improved thermal solution that provides enhanced and improved cooling to the GPU compared to past "Founders Edition" style video cards.
The actual physical area of the heatsink dissipation has been increased. One way in which this has been done is that NVIDIA has completely removed the DVI output components and connector. That’s right, this video card only has DisplayPort and HDMI connections. However, by doing so the area of the heatsink could be increased. The heatsink also has an "improved" vapor chamber design.
The power delivery system on the video card has also been improved. This video card uses a 7-phase switching power supply and 250 watts. With the PCB improvements, power delivery improvements, and thermal improvements this video card should be more stable, overclock well and run with a relatively cooler GPU temperature, even compared to the TITAN X.