- Revamped appealing design and high build quality
- Silent and cool thanks to the GameRock cooler
- High frequencies after factory overclock
- BIOS switch
- Monitoring of temperatures thanks to the LED backlighting
- Additional performance with DirectX 12
- 2.5-inch in height
In our review of be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 we shared with you that our configuration featured the Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition graphics card. Now that were done with the case, we would like to have a look at another modification of the second most powerful NVIDIA GPU – GeForce GTX 1080. After NVIDIA refreshed its reference coolers lineup, which received the Founders Edition label, Palit also revealed a new type of cooler meant for the present generation of GPUs – its name is GameRock. For now it is available only for the highest end graphics cards – GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, which is confirmed by its seemingly solid construction.
Palit offer two different GameRock GPU models. The one we were sent is GameRock Premium Edition, and the only differences between it and the simple GameRock are as regards their basic frequencies and memory bandwidth. Fortunately for all of us, both of them offer factory overclock, and as we already mentioned, we managed to further increase the frequency of our graphics card. It is in this review that you can find out more about the capabilities of Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition.
What’s in the box?
Just as it was the case with previous Palit GPU models, the new graphics cards come in a stylish and elegant box. Its front carries the GameRock logo and a confirmation that your product is powerful enough to fully immerse you in the world of virtual reality. In comparison to the other two models we have reviewed (GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and Founders Edition), there is no picture of the graphics card itself which will make you even more impatient to unbox it. As for the back part of the “shell”, it carries GeForce GTX 1080’s specification, while the top even has a plastic handle – the entire box is like a convenient and stylish suitcase.
When unboxing be careful because the device is placed in the second box which does not have a lid. Of course, Palit has made sure that their product will not simply slip out of the smaller box – there are styrofoam pieces which encompass the GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition, placed in an antistatic plastic bag. In addition to it, you get the mandatory complementary connector which supplies the GPU, a disc with drivers, as well as a user manual.
Now that we’ve already published our MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and Palit GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition reviews, we decided not to include the well-familiar technologies but provide you with a link to one of our reviews in which you can find a detailed description of the apps and programs that come with the GeForce GTX 10xx series. Nonetheless, the present publication shall touch upon a piece of software particularly developed by Palit – ThunderMaster.
Just as MSI offers the Gaming App software package, Palit has created ThunderMaster – an app which provides certain curious and useful options that are easy to use. The interface is pretty simplified and the theme color is the mandatory blue. Additionally, the home screen gives information as to the operational frequency of your GPU, its temperatures as well as the rpms of the two fans – GameRock Premium Edition has two fans, and if you want to learn more about the GPU’s construction, read on.
Apart from the above-listed functions, you will also be presented with buttons which can record up to 5 profiles. We can also find the Settings, Status, BIOS and Restore options, located at the lower left corner. Before getting to the most important part, which we consider the overclocking capabilities, fans’ control and some more, we would like to quickly go through the ones mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph.
We begin with Settings. Pressing the button will result in a pop-up screen which asks you to allow ThunderMaster’s launch with Windows, and to determine the frequencies you wish to see displayed on the home page – base or present. Additionally, the Status submenu informs you of the core frequency and memory, temperature, rpms, voltage, energy consumption, and the load exercised on the core, as well as the amount of occupied memory. By pressing the BIOS button you can save the BIOS file if you have changed anything in it. Lastly, you are perhaps familiar with what the last button does – restores default settings.
As we mentioned above, the most important options ThunderMaster contains are the fans’ speed control and the overclocking capabilities. When we tested the maximum capabilities of the graphics card we used MSI AfterBurner but this application is very similar to ThunderMaster, and if this is your first time boosting the GPU’s frequency with this software, you are unlikely to encounter problems. Again, you will be presented with a slider for increasing the core’s frequency and memory, as well as a Power limit which is vital for max overclocking. What ThunderMaster adds is the opportunity to increase voltage – we did not find any changes, irrespective of the way we tweaked it.
The fan controller is very much like any other software which allows us to manually adjust the fans’ rpms. We are again presented with two scales – one for temperatures and another for speed. Thus, you could effortlessly set the fan speed to 50% if the temperature is at 70 degrees Celsius, and if it’s quite noisy, you can always lower the rpms. However, the most positive feature which should motivate you to download ThunderMaster is the option of controlling the backlight located on the side. Apart from the great variety of colors, Palit has added a “GPU Temperature” button. By clicking on it, GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition will start glowing in four different colors, depending on the GPU’s temperature.
In the lines to follow we shall touch upon the way Palit has built its graphics card, what they have added to it, what cooler type they have used, as well as the Pascal core itself. So, GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition is 285 mm long – almost 2 cm longer than Founders Edition. This means that the PCB is rather different from the reference one and the lines below shall go through all contrasting features.
Pascal was announced on May 6th together with GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition. It was back then that we figured that the graphics card ensures a really high performance without a drastic increase in power consumption. All this is due to the new architecture which is an indispensable part of the NVIDIA 10xx series’ models. The core in GeForce GTX 1080 has four Graphics Processing Clusters each of which contains five Streaming Multiprocessors. One SM holds 128 CUDA cores, 96KB shared memory block, eight texture cores and 48KB L1 cache memory.
All these pieces of data comprise a Pascal core which has a total of 2560 CUDA cores, 160 texture and 64 raster cores – to draw a parallel, the previous GeForce GTX 980 features 2048 CUDA cores, 128 texture ones and 64 raster units. Additionally, the model we were sent has a base frequency of 1746MHz that can go up to 1885MHz. Yes, this is the fastest graphics card that has ever crossed the threshold of our office without us having to manually increase its frequency. As far as its overclocking performance is concerned, we already spoke about in a separate publication but we shall also mention it in the Overclocking section. Because the chips’ frequency, which by the way are using the Boost 3.0 technology, depends on the temperature and supplied current, we came across a moment in which GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition used its “base” frequency of 2000MHz which says a lot about the good job they’ve done with the cooler.
Furthermore, the type of memory that GP104 (the core’s code name) has is GDDR5X and its capacity is 8GB. This seems to be the best choice because its smaller brother, GeForce GTX 1070, uses GDDR5. In its turn, the HBM memory may offer higher bandwidth but does not allow larger capacity than 4GB. Anyway, NVIDIA has already officially revealed GeForce GTX TITAN X that is not available with HBM2 memory, and this says a lot about the price of this memory type for the present moment. GDDR5X also allows higher memory bandwidth than the one of the standard GDDR5, and it reaches up to 10 000MHz efficiency through a 256-bit bus.
Construction and design
As we already mentioned, the PCB size is larger than that of the reference model. Nonetheless, the “distinctive feature” is the height of GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock/Premium Edition. Also, the GPU is 2.5-slot which means that you may encounter problems in case you have two PCIe slots placed one next to the other, or if your SATA ports are in close proximity to the one in which you will install the graphics cards. When we attempted, we did not succeed in adding a second GPU to our motherboard, which was MSI Z170 Gaming Pro Carbon, namely because of the cooler’s height. However, if you pay close attention to this detail, you can effortlessly install your GPU in Mid Tower computer cases.
GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition is supplied via a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector. According to the manufacturer, the model’s power consumption can reach 200 Watts which is 20 Watts more than the one of the Founders Edition model. In order for the GPU to be supplied, it draws up to 75 Watts from the PCI slot and 75+150 Watts from the power cables. This means that a decent quality PSU of 500 Watts will be more than enough to “feed” the chip. However, do be careful if you are planning to do an overclocking and increase the model’s Power limit – as we mentioned above, the GPU comes “on steroids” and you may not even need to overclock unless you want to push it to the extremes.
Above the chip itself you can find the new Palit cooler – GameRock. For now we can encounter it in the most powerful NVIDIA graphics cards – GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. This confirms the fact that the company targets hardcore gamers with this extravagant cooler that brings some freshness in the JetStream lineup. As it was noted above, the cooler is really solid – its height occupies 2.5 slots. Its lower-most section there is a copper base which is in direct contact with the GP104 core. To further disperse heat, Palit has put five copper pipes that go through the cooler fins. It is thanks to that, the manufacturer claims, that the chip’s temperatures are 20% lower – of course, we shall share the temperature data we registered and weather they are lower than the ones of Founders Edition and Gaming X models.
Above the base itself you will find the two fans which are 10 cm in diameter. Each of them is of the TurboFan Blade type which increases the airflow for the sake of lower GPU temperatures. What’s more interesting here is that the fans spin in opposite directions which increases the efficiency of the cooling system. Additionally, the quite operation, as it was the case with MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X, has also been thought of. When the GPU is engaged and its temperature is lower than 50 degrees Celsius, the fans are not operating – noise levels are at 0 dB. Like we said, thanks to the ThunderMaster software you can adjust the fans’ rpms according to your personal preferences. Above all this there is a plastic enclosure in three colors – blue, white and gray, and it carries a “GameRock” inscription in the lower left corner. When you add the LED lights we can’t but admit that Palit has done a very good design job.
It will probably not come as a surprise if we told you that the back part of the GPU has the so called backplate. It carries the GameRock inscription, printed on a metal plate – it would have been even more interesting and appealing if the logo had been engraved or laser-cut. Nonetheless, a back plate is a positive thing to have. Apart from the Backplate, the rear section of the GPU carries a switch. GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock features two identical BIOS-es. The second one can be called “BackUp” – in case there are some problems with the flashing of the first one, you just need to change the position of the switch and everything returns back to normal.
On the side, where the I/O panel is located, we are presented with the so called “Honeycomb Bracket” plate. According to Palit, this design language increases the airflow with up to 15%, allowing the generated hot air to go out through the side of the graphics card. As for the ports, GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition comes with three Display Ports, one HDMI 2.0b and a DVI port. The maximum digital resolution supported is 7680 х 4320 pixels with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Additionally, the GPU comes with a three years of warranty.
Specs sheet of Palit GeForce GTX 1080 Premium Edition
|Base core clock||1607MHz|
|Turbo core clock||1733MHz|
|Memory speed||10 Gbps|
|Memory type and size||GDDR5X, 8GB|
|Maximum digital resolution||7680×4320@60Hz|
|Monitor outputs||DP 1.42, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI|
|Technologies supported by
GeForce GTX 1080
|Dimensions||26.7 cm x 11.12 cm, dualslot|
|Maximum temperature||94 degrees|
|Maximum consumption||180 Watts|
|Power cables||1 x 8-pin|
|Recommended PSU||500 Watts|
Specs sheet of our configuration
|CPU||Intel Core i7-5820K (6-core, 3.30 – 3.60 GHz, 15MB cache)|
|Motherboard||MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon|
|RAM||16GB (2x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2133Mhz|
|GPU||1x MSI GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)|
|HDD/SSD||256GB M.2 SSD|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/1000/1000 Mbps|
Benchmark tests and comparison to GeForce GTX 1080
Yet again we conducted our benchmark tests which exercise a 100% load on the graphics card. Because the GPU’s frequency depends mainly on the chip’s temperature, we got some pretty decent results which you can find below. As it was touched upon above, this is the most powerful GPU which comes with a factory overclock, and this, perhaps, had a key role in our tests. We have included both the 3DMark package and Unigine Heaven, while GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition performed at “base” frequencies – you can find the post-overclocking results in our “Overclocking capabilities and results” section.
Unigine Heaven 3.0 and 4.0
3DMark Firestrike Ultra
3DMark Sky Diver
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark Time Spy
Comparison of the above results to those of GeForce GTX 1080
In the table below you can observe all results from the above images as well as a juxtaposition between the models Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and Founders Edition. Unfortunately, MSI has included a Silent mode which lowers the first model’s frequencies to the standard – with Palit there is no such option and the results are at maximum base frequencies which are quite far from those of the ones of Founders Edition or the other GPUs part of this series.
|Model||GeForce GTX 1080 FE||GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X||GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock|
|Unigine Heaven 3.0||6062||6091 (+0,5%)||6243 (+3%)|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||5118||5170 (+1%)||5282 (+3,2%)|
|3DMark Cloud Gate||135 064||140 630 (+4,1%)||143 891 (+6,5%)|
|3DMark Sky Diver||73 534||77 591 (+6%)||79 724 (+8,4%)|
|3DMark Fire Strike Ultra||5010||5396 (+7,7%)||5488 (+9,5%)|
All gaming tests were performed with NVIDIA’s original driver, version 368.81
|Tomb Raider (1080p, Low)||Tomb Raider (1080p, Medium)||Tomb Raider (1080p, Max)|
|612 fps||347 fps||182 fps|
|F1 2015 (1080p, Low)||F1 2015 (1080p, Medium)||F1 2015 (1080p, Max)|
|178 fps||155 fps||147 fps|
|Mode||Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Low)||Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Medium)||Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Max)|
|Direct X 11||105 fps||96 fps||85 fps|
|Direct X 12||118 fps||110 fps||101 fps|
|GTA 5 (1080p, Low)||GTA 5 (1080p, Medium)||GTA 5 (1080p, Max)|
|171 fps||132 fps||65 fps|
|Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Low)||Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Medium)||Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Max)|
|244 fps||211 fps||166 fps|
Overclocking capabilities and results
We already said that we could not keep secret our overclocking results and published them in a separate news which discusses these. We can’t miss displaying the results once more because we managed to go beyond the limit of 2100MHz without having to increase the fans’s speed to 100%. The maximum frequency we managed to record was 2139MHz. Despite this, after a couple of minutes it fell down to the stable 2113MHz, which we believe is a very good result – the cooler proved not only solid but also extremely efficient.
|Model||GeForce GTX 1080 (base frequency)||GeForce GTX 1080 (OC)||Difference|
|Unigine Heaven 3.0||6243||7308||+17%|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||5285||5410||+2,4%|
|3DMark Cloud Gate||143 891||147 625||+2,6%|
|3DMark Sky Diver||79 724||83 765||+5,1%|
|3Dmark Time Spy||7 549||7 952||+5,3%|
|3Dmark Fire Strike Ultra||5 488||5 817||+6%|
Temperatures and convenience
After all above-listed results you have perhaps formed an idea as to the performance of the cooler. Nonetheless, we would like to share our 100% stress test readings, which by the way happens very rarely in the world of virtual reality. We perform this test to examine the cooler’s capabilities and see if it is reasonable enough or you could expect some surprises after longer gaming sessions.
As our custom goes, we begin with a 100% CPU load to see if this would increase the temperature to 50 degrees Celsius and thus launch GeForce GTX 1080’s fans. Although the Dark Rock Pro 3 cooler was close to the graphics card, the temperatures remained absolutely within the normal – 39 degrees with entirely passive fans. After observing these results, we launched the parallel 100% GPU stress test. At first the temperatures were around 60 degrees Celsius and then gradually started to go up. Toward the end, after an hour of loading the two most important components, we measured 78 degrees max temperature and 75-6 average temperature. As far as frequencies are concerned – we reached a maximum of 1973MHz which is a good news, considering the fact that the GPU does not have a large number of modes as it is the case with ASUS or MSI.
The most powerful graphics card with factory overclock is perhaps the best way to describe this Palit model that we discussed in the present review. Without you having to download any additional software, the GPU is among the fastest on the market and the fastest that has entered our office. This is the model which went beyond 2100MHz without us having to increase the speed of the two TurboFan Blade fans – these results were achieved at the announcement of GeForce GTX 1080 several months ago.
Of course, we can’t miss mentioning the solid base itself which is 2.5 slots tall – consider this if you are planning to add a second GPU to the configuration or if some of your ports/outputs are near to the PCIe slot. It is perhaps thanks to this that we managed to maintain high frequencies and reasonable temperatures.
Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock really redefines the idea people have about this company in a good way. Because the graphics card is targeted at gaming fans, its aggressive looks really impressed us. Another positive aspect, we think, is the LED backlighting which is programmable and changes its color depending on the temperature. The only thing that puzzled us was that when the degrees were low, the GPU glowed in green, which is a bit strange – perhaps this signals that everything is normal. For those of you who are fans of overclocking and want to push the chip to its extremes, there is a BIOS switch which can be found in the back part of the GPU – a small but great complement.