- Epic 4K performance
- Very overclockable
- Fastest consumer card you can buy
- Power hog
- Price-cut GTX 1080 more attractive
- GP-102 GPU
- 3854 CUDA cores
- 1.6GHz boost clock
- 11GB GDDR5 X memory at 11GHz
- 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI (DP-DVI adapter in box)
- Founders Edition
- TDP: 250W
- Manufacturer: Nvidia
WHAT IS THE NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1080 TI?
The 1080 Ti represents the pinnacle of Nvidia’s 2016/17 graphics card line-up, pitching itself as a 4K-and-beyond graphics card. It sits at the top of the range, £200/$300 more expensive than the recently price-dropped GTX 1080 and £300/$450 below the similarly-specified Titan X, which is all but irrelevant now for gamers.
This is the third “80 Ti” card Nvidia has introduced, following the 780 Ti and 980 Ti. The Ti brand normally means a £100/$150 premium over the regular “80” card, but with performance that looks forward to the next generation of games and monitors – and that’s exactly what the 1080 Ti is. This monstrous card is what Nvidia hopes will carry early adopters into the era of next-gen VR, high-refresh-rate 4K gaming and even 5K.
It’s the most expensive Ti product ever, but for those who can stump up the cash, it’s a card that really looks to the future.
SPECS AND TECHNOLOGY
The seventh consumer card to launch using Nvidia’s Pascal technology, you’d expect the 1080 Ti to be the most refined yet. From the spec sheet, things look very good indeed.
Despite what the name might suggest, this isn’t simply an enhanced GTX 1080; this is a completely different card with a different chip on board. Indeed, it shares its DNA – and its GP102 GPU – with the £1,000/$1,500 Titan X 2016.
This means you get a full whack of 12 billion transistors and 3,854 CUDA cores. Other, more technical specifications vary slightly, but for all intents and purposes, this is almost identical to the Titan X with a few improvements. The factory default boost clock is higher at 1.6GHz (overclockable to 2GHz and beyond), and you get 11GB of GDDR5X running at a 10% higher clock speed of 11GHz (11Gbps).
This is both more and faster memory than the GTX 1080, which makes do with 8GB of 10Gbps memory. Note that the latter has had its price cut substantially since the launch of the Ti.
You’ll notice that the Ti has 1GB less memory than the Titan X, a shortcoming that’s made up for by the increased data speeds. This leads to an effective data rate of 484GB/sec, which is a smidgen faster than the Titan X’s 480GB/sec.
So what else is new? On this card, the Founders Edition that launches first, there’s a refined internal design with a better power delivery system for more efficient and cooler running. Also, the blower fan design and settings have been tweaked to make the card that little bit quieter.
At the rear of the 1080 Ti there are three DisplayPort 1.4 ports alongside an HDMI 2.0 port. You also get a DisplayPort to DVI adapter in the box – handy if you have a monitor that only accepts this standard.
Externally, the design is identical to the Titan X, with die-cast aluminium and sharp edges, a green light-up GeForce GTX logo and black accents in a dual-slot configuration. It’s rather attractive, if entirely predictable.
Personally, I’d hold out for third-party interpretations from the likes of EVGA, Asus and MSI. The Founders Edition cards are always slightly cheaper than third-party rivals, but offer slightly lower performance.
Turn the page for the results of benchmarking.
GTX 1080 Ti performance vs 1080, Titan X and 980 Ti
HOW WE TEST
We’ve run all three of these cards on the open test bench that consists of the following components.
- Motherboard: Asus Z170-Deluxe
- Processor: Intel Core i5-6600K (Overclocked to 4.8GHz)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2666MHz, 16GB DDR4
- Cooler: Corsair H60 liquid cooler
- PSU: Corsair CX750M
- SSD: Samsung 850 EVO
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
I’ve run the numbers against the GTX 1080 and the Titan X, all with the very latest March 2017 drivers to give each GPU the fairest crack of the whip.
The games were run at their maximum settings with a healthy dose of anti-aliasing. Some might find the addition of AA controversial, but you’ll always get the best comparisons when pushing cards right to their very limits. I also ran each game at 5K, although here I’ll focus on the 4K results since this is what most people will be expecting.
GTX 1080 TI – PERFORMANCE AND BENCHMARKS
To make the most of the 1080 Ti, we’ve added some benchmarks that represent a couple of more recent games to ensure it’s pushed to its limits. We start with a hit from last year.
DICE’s World War I epic is a great benchmark for high-end GPUs thanks to incredible detail, particle effects and GPU-sapping textures. I ran it at 4K and at 5K, although realistically most people will be maxing out at 4K for the time being.
Battlefield 1 doesn’t have a repeatable built-in benchmark, so the test is run during the on-rails section of the mission “Mud and Blood”.
The GTX 1080 Ti managed an average frame rate of 72fps, which is superb when you consider I’d turned everything to Ultra and whacked up anti-aliasing as well. Tweaking the graphics settings that aren’t as important to you will yield even better results.
Compared to the GTX 1080, which managed 55fps in the same test, the 1080 Ti is 24% faster.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
It’s almost time to retire Shadow of Mordor from our benchmarking suite. 2014’s adventure epic has an excellent built-in benchmark, but with sequel Shadow of War coming soon, the 1080 Ti benchmark is perhaps its last hurrah.
At 4K and Ultra settings, 86.6fps is another good result, with no noticeable dips in frame rate during the test. Surprisingly for such an old title, Shadow of Mordor was a huge outlier in my tests, generating a 1080 Ti score that was 44% faster than the regular GTX 1080.
Rise of the Tomb-Raider
One of the toughest tests at high resolutions, Tomb Raider’s beautiful benchmark was where the 1080 Ti came closest to nudging the sub-60fps barrier, with an average score of 61.5fps at maximum settings in 4K. This was 20% faster than the GTX 1080, which is a notable and noticeable improvement.
Drop a few graphics settings, including shadows and anti-aliasing, and you’ll have 70fps plus in Tomb Raider without any issues.
Hitman released its final set of missions last year, but it still has a resource-hogging benchmark that really tests the mettle of GPUs.
In 4K, the GTX 1080 Ti managed an impressive 73.6fps at maximum settings, maintaining a relatively stable frame rate throughout the run. It wasn’t significantly faster than the GTX 1080, though, which put in an average frame rate of 59fps.
GTX 1080 TI VS 1080
GTX 1080 TI VS 980 TI
I didn’t have a 980 Ti test with the latest drivers, but our benchmark results from last year point to 1080 Ti performance that’s between 30% and 50% faster at 4K in Hitman, Tomb Raider and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
GTX 1080 TI VS TITAN X
It was the comparison Nvidia made when it launched the 1080 Ti – and it is indeed faster for £300/$450 less. If you own a Titan X, it isn’t exactly a tragedy; you’ve had world-beating performance for a full seven months, so think of it as a Titan Xclusive. Obviously, you’ve no need to upgrade.
GTX 1080 TI – OVERCLOCKING, HEAT AND POWER CONSUMPTION
The GTX 1080 Ti is a much more powerful beast than the GTX 1080, and considerably more so than the 980 Ti. Its TDP (thermal design power) is rated at 250W, the same as the 980 Ti and Titan X, while the GTX 1080 clocks in at just 180W. This could be all the difference for those with builds that have 500W power supplies.
Indeed, peak power draw for the entire TrustedReviews test system without overclocks was 412W, compared to the GTX 1080’s 340W in the same test. If you have a more powerful processor than the one we used, take a look at your power consumption readings to check you won’t over-stretch your PC’s power supply.
Running the Unigine Heaven benchmark on a loop in 4K, the GTX 1080 Ti was able to boost well beyond its stated 1,600MHz clock speed, happily sitting at around 1,800MHz at around 84oC.
Overclocking is as easy as ever, with the GTX 1080 Ti receptive to around 1,950MHz. I was quickly able to get a stable looping Unigine benchmark at 1,950MHz without the GPU throttling back. Temperatures maxed out at around 86oC on the automatic fan profile; I’d probably tweak it so it runs a little louder and cooler. Popping the fan speeds up to 70% reduced the temperature to a more comfortable 77oC.
It will be interesting to see whether third-party card manufacturers can encourage the 1080 Ti beyond 2GHz and what sort of cooling will be required in order to achieve such performance.
Memory overclocking was nice and easy: the 11GB of 11GHz GDDR5X memory was happy to receive a boost up to 11.8GHz without instability kicking in.
Nvidia says it has improved the fan design to run slightly quieter, but I didn’t hear a difference – and neither could my decibel meter. At 28,000rpm, both fans put out between 55 and 56dBA of noise, which is perfectly acceptable. In a compact, poorly insulated case with overclocks applied, it will likely become louder, but not significantly.
SHOULD I BUY THE GTX 1080 TI?
Buying the most expensive graphics card you can afford has long been a reviewer’s’ trope, but it’s almost always true. The 1080 Ti stretches this advice to its very limits with its super-high price, but with no competition from AMD at this end of the market, Nvidia has reached new performance territory.
When buying a 1080 Ti, don’t think about the Titan X – for what it offers, it’s rather overpriced at this point – but think more about the GTX 1080. With the 1080’s big price drop to £500/$750, it’s become the new de facto choice for 4K gaming at High settings.
However, with 3GB more memory and at least 20% better performance, it’s hard not to recommend the 1080 Ti for those building the best system they possibly can for 4K and multi-screen gaming.
If you’re thinking about a direct upgrade from the 980 Ti, the performance increase is substantial; the 1080 Ti is up to twice as fast. If you have a 1080, your card has a lot of life left in it and it’s probably wise to stick with it for now.
If you don’t have a 4K monitor and don’t plan on buying one, the 1080 Ti is overkill – and even if you have a 1080 Ti but don’t always find yourself playing the very latest AAA games, you can save a couple of hundred quid on a 1080 or more on a 1070.
A new performance benchmark – but you pay for it.