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Nvidia’s new, cheaper graphics card is just as powerful as promised

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Review Roundup

When Nvidia announced that it was launching the new GTX 1080 last weekend, it promised power far in excess of the flagship Titan X, but at a much lower price point. We now have more specs details as well as first impressions from a number of reviewers, and it looks like the claims are holding up.

First, the full specs:

GTX 1080 Titan X
CUDA Cores 2560 3072
Texture Units 160? 192
ROPs 64 96
Core Clock 1607MHz 1000MHz
Boost Clock 1733MHz 1075MHz
FP64 1/32 1/32
Power 180W 250W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 16nm TSMC 28nm
Launch Price $599 $1050

Those specs hold up to real-world performance. A number of testers have got their hands on the cards, and things look good.

Per Anandtech

As the first high-end card of this generation the GTX 1080 sets new marks for overall performance and for power efficiency, thanks to the combination of TSMC’s 16nm FinFET process and NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture. Translating this into numbers, at 4K we’re looking at 30% performance gain versus the GTX 980 Ti and a 70% performance gain over the GTX 980, amounting to a very significant jump in efficiency and performance over the Maxwell generation.

(Emphasis mine.)

Anandtech doesn’t hand out praise lightly, so those efficiency figures look to be a huge step up.

Things aren’t so rosy over at Ars Technica, which thought the card didn’t quite live up to the hype:

1080 is the latest in a long line of impressive, if predictable updates from Nvidia. For many—particularly those still rocking a 680 or a 780—the performance improvements in the 1080 will be more than enough to justify a purchase. But for the graphics nerds out there, myself included, it’s hard not to be just a tiny bit crestfallen by the jump to 16nm.

PC World wasn’t so reserved, crowning it as “the new king of graphics cards, baby”:

Nvidia’s powerhouse isn’t quite capable of hitting 60fps at 4K in every game, as the results from Division and Far Cry Primal show, but it’s awfully close—especially if you invest in a G-Sync monitor to smooth out sub-60fps gameplay. And it’s worth noting that game engine optimization can play a big role in potential performance as the disparity in Hitman and AoTS results between AMD and Nvidia cards clearly show. Regardless, the GTX 1080 annihilates everything you throw at it.

Engadget threw some shade on the 1080’s ambitions to be the only VR card worth talking about:

When it comes to VR, the GTX 1080 doesn’t feel significantly better than the R9 Fury X. That’s partially because the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive run at a relatively low 1,200-by-1,080-pixel resolution for each eye display, which is significantly less sharp than the 1080p HD screens we’ve grown used to. You need to reach at least 90 fps in VR to make games look smooth, but that’s not a tough target for the 1080 to reach at such a low resolution.

Polygon had similar feelings: great card, but probably overpowered for most people

That said, in my personal experience upgrading from a 980Ti to a GTX 1080, I didn’t notice that significant a difference when running today’s games on a single monitor at 1080. Certainly, it wasn’t a big enough difference to warrant the $599 to $699 price tag. Upgrading from a 980 might make more sense, but also, judging by the numbers using games at max settings, it seems like a card you can put off buying for a bit.

If you’re looking to upgrade and haven’t yet made it to the 900 line of graphics cards or you’re all about 4K, the 1080 is the obvious choice.

The consensus seems to be that the GTX 1080 is a fantastic card at the price point, and a big step up from previous generations. But unless you need that power, there’s no point upgrading from a 900-series graphics card. If you’re a new buyer, it’s no real competition. The 1080 (and its cheaper sibling, the 1070) are the cards of choice.