With 2,560 processing cores and 8 GiB of 10 GHZ GDDR5X video RAM, the GeForce GTX 1080 is the flagship of the Pascal NVIDIA video cards. Let’s test it!
The most recent generation of NVIDIA video cards, based Pascal architecture, was launched in May 2016. At first, were launched the GeForce GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070. Later, they launched the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GiB (which we already tested), the TITAN X (the most high-end of the series), the GTX 1060 3 GiB, and finally the entry models GeForce GTX 1050 e GTX 1050 Ti, also already reviewed at Hardware Secrets.
The GeForce GTX 1080 is based on the GP104 chip, manufactured under 16 nm technology. This is the same chip used on the GTX 1070, with the difference that on the GTX 1080 all the 2,560 cores are enabled, while on the GTX 1070 there are only 1,920 enabled cores.
This chip works with GDDR5 memory running at 8.0 GHz (on the GTX 1070) or with GDDR5X running at 10 GHz (on the GTX 1080), with 256-bit bus in both the cards. The TDP on the GTX 1080 is 180 W.
We tested the GeForce GTX 1080 “Founders Edition”, which is the reference model offered by NVIDIA itself. Video card manufacturers like ASUS, Gigabyte, Zotac, Galax, EVGA, etc, can offer custom models. Curiously, the “Founders Edition” is more expensive than the custom models (USD 699 vs. USD 599 MSRP), even if the technical specs are, in theory, the same: 1,607 MHz clock base, 1,733 MHz turbo clock and 8 GiB of GDDR5X VRAM at 10 GHz with 256 bits bus, presenting a bandwidth of 320 GiB/s. Some custom models can, however, bring higher clocks (and prices).
Just like its less expensive sisters, the GeForce GTX 1080 supports SMP (Simultaneous Multi-Projection) technology, which is useful for Virtual Reality applications, and the Ansel technology, which allows to capture an in-game high-resolution picture with any camera position and even 360 degrees.
The GeForce GTX 1080 supports SLI technology, that combines the processing power of two or more identical video cards.
Figure 1 shows the GeForce GTX 1080 FE video card.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 1: the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition

As the GeForce GTX 1080 can be found starting from USD 600, there is no direct competitor from AMD; the most high-end video card based on AMD chips, like the Radeon Fury X, cost around USD 400.
Unfortunately we have not other high-end video cards like the Radeon Fury X or the GeForce GTX 980 Ti on the moment we tested the GTX 1080 to make a direct comparison.
So, we decided to benchmark the GeForce GTX 1080 against the Radeon R9 390 and the GeForce GTX 1060, which are two video cards from the high/mainstream segment, to have an idea of the performance of the GTX 1080. Keep in mind, however, that the cards included in this comparison are not direct competitors to the GTX 1080.
In the table below, we compare the main specs from the video cards we included in this review. Prices were researched at Newegg.com for this article.

Video card

Core clock

Turbo clock

Effective memory clock

Memory bus

Memory bandwidth

Memory

Processing cores

TDP

DirectX

Price

GeForce GTX 1080 FE

1,607 MHz

1,733 MHz

10.0 GHz

256 bit

320 GB/s

8 GiB GDDR5X

2,560

180 W

12.1

USD 600

GeForce GTX 1060 FE

1,506 MHz

1,708 MHz

8.0 GHz

192 bit

192 GB/s

6 GiB GDDR5

1,280

120 W

12.1

USD 250

Radeon R9 390

1,020 MHz

6.0 GHz

512 bit

384 GB/s

8 GiB GDDR5

2,560

275 W

12

USD 250

Now let’s take a closer look to the tested video card.
[nextpage title=”The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti”]
The GeForce GTX 1080 “Founders Edition” is 10.6 inches (268 mm) long and uses two slots. It uses a centrifugal fan, which is a good choice because it pushed the hot air outside the case, and allow you to use the contiguous slot to the video card.
Figure 2 shows the video connectors of the GeForce GTX 1080 FE. It brings three DisplayPort 1.4, one HDMI 2.0b and one DVI-D connectors.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 2: video connectors

In Figure 3, you see the top of the card, where there is an eight-pin PCI Express power connector. The “GEFORCE GTX” logo lits in green when the card is powered on.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 3: top view

Figure 4 shows the bottom of the card.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 4: rear view

Figure 5 shows the solder side of the GTX 1080, which is covered by a backplate.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 5: backplate

In Figure 6 you see the GeForce GTX 1080 with the backplate removed, unveiling the solder side of the PCB. There are no memory chips on this side.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 6: solder side

Figure 7 shows that the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition uses a two-piece cooler: a heatsink with vapor chamber at the base that cools the GPU chip, and a big metallic plate where is installed the fan.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 7: GPU cooler removed

In Figure 8 you see the GTX 1080 with the cooler removed. This cooler touches the memory chips and the voltage regulator circuit transistors.
Notice that there are eight memory chips.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 8: cooler removed

Figure 9 unveils the GP104 chip, which is manufactured under 16 nm process.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 9: the GP104 chip

Figure 10 shows one of the memory chips present on the GeForce GTX 1080. It is a GDDR5X Micron 6HA77 memory chip. Unfortunately, we were not able to find this chip specifications.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 10: memory chip

Figure 11 shows the voltage regulator of the GeForce GTX 1080. It uses five phases for the GPU and one phase for the memory chips.

GeForce GTX 1080 reviewFigure 11: voltage regulator

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between the tests, the only variable component was the video card being tested.
Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit

Driver Versions

  • AMD driver version: Crimson 16.12.1
  • NVIDIA driver version: 376.33

Software Used

Error Margin
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
[nextpage title=”3DMark”]

3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. We ran the Time Spy, Fire Strike Extreme and Sky Diver benchmarks.

GeForce GTX 1080 review

The Time Spy benchmark measures DirectX 12 native performance, running at 2560 x 1440 resolution. In this benchmark, the GeForce GTX 1080 “Founders Edition” was 66% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 85% faster thank the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
The Fire Strike Extreme benchmark measures DirectX 11 performance and is aimed at high-end gaming computers. It runs at 2560 x 1440. In this test, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 66% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 95% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
The 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark is aimed at mainstream PCs with DirecX 11 simulations. It runs at 1920 x 1080. In this test, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 37% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 52% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance – Part 1″]

 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action RPG with FPS elements, launched in August 2016, that uses the Dawn engine, being compatible with DirectX 12. We tested it using the benchmark included in the game, with DirectX 12 enabled, graphic options “very high” and MSAA 4x.
The results below, in Full HD and 4K, are expressed in frames per second.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 68% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 50% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On 4K, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 86% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 44% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Doom

Doom is an FPS/horror/sci-fi game launched in May 2016, that used the id Tech 6 engine. We tested the performance in this game, with the API OpenGL with quality options “high” and FXAA on, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On the Doom test with Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 8% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 60% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On 4K resolution, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 71% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 114% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Dying Light

Dying Light is an open-world horror game launched in January 2015, using the Chrome Engine 6. We tested the performance at this game with all quality options at the maximum, measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On the Full HD benchmark, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 69% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 114% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On 4K, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 68% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 79% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is a open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015 and uses the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game (the plane portion), measuring the frame rate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V with image quality set as “very high” and MSAA as 2x.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

GeForce GTX 1080 review

On GTA V, with Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 51% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 81% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
With 4K resolution, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 73% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 96% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance – Part 2″]

Hitman

Hitman is an action/stealth game, launched in March 2016, that uses a DirectX 12 compatible version of the Glacier 2 engine. To measure performance in this game, we ran the benchmark in it, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran this game with DirectX 12 enabled, with image quality set as “high” and SMAA on.
The results below, in Full HD and 4K, are expressed in frames per second.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On Hitman, in Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 70% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 63% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
With 4K resolution, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 80% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 69% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Mad Max

Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game with image quality set as “very high”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1080 review

On Mad Max, in Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 74% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 89% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On 4K, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 78% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 83% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

Rise of the Tomb Rider

Rise of the Tomb Rider is an adventure/action game launched in January of 2016, based on Foundation engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using graphics quality “high” and DirectX 12 enabled.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On Rise of the Tomb Rider, in Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 68% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 88% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
On 4K resolution, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 72% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 77% faster than the Radeon R9 390.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open-world RPG released in May of 2015 and based on the REDengine 3 engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we walked around at the first scene of the game, measuring the frame rate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game with image quality set to “ultra.”

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GTX 1080 review

In this game, in Full HD, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 79% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 116% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
GeForce GTX 1080 review
With 4K resolution, the GeForce GTX 1080 FE was 70% faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 FE and 77% faster than the Radeon R9 390.
[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
Like the entry video cards from the GTX 1000 series, the GeForce GTX 1080 brings improvements on performance and thermal efficiency, compared to the early generation.
It is clear in our tests that the GeForce GTX 1080 has plenty of power to run recent games in Full HD, 1440p and even 4K with very high image quality and a high framerate.
The only disadvantage of the GeForce GTX 1080 is, of course, its price. Like every high-end product, it does not offer a good cost/benefit ratio like the entry and mainstream cards. So, if you have a Full HD video monitor, a mainstream card will be enough for your needs.
However, if you play on a QHD or 4K monitor and want to run your titles in high quality and excellent framerate, the GeForce GTX 1080 will not disappoint you. It is one of the most powerful video cards on the market.