First Thoughts

Wrapping up our preview of the GeForce GTX 1080, I think it’s safe to say that NVIDIA intends to start off the 16nm/14nm generation with a bang. 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.

Looking at the bigger picture, as the first vendor to launch their 16nm/14nm flagship card, NVIDIA will get to enjoy the first mover’s advantage both with respect to setting performance expectations and with pricing. The GeForce GTX 1080 will keep the performance crown solidly in NVIDIA’s hands, and with it control of the high-end video card market for some time to come.  NVIDIA’s loyal opposition, AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, has strongly hinted that they’re not going to be releasing comparable high-performance video cards in the near future. Rather the company is looking to make a run at the much larger mainstream market for desktops and laptops with their Polaris architecture, something that GP104 isn’t meant to address.

The lack of competition at the high-end means that for the time being NVIDIA can price the GTX 1080 at what the market will bear, and this is more or less what we’re looking at for NVIDIA’s new card. While the formal MSRP on the GTX 1080 is $599 – $50 over what the GTX 980 launched at – that price is the starting price for custom cards from NVIDIA’s partners. The reference card as we’ve previewed it today – what NVIDIA is calling the Founders Edition card – carries a $100 premium over that, pushing it to $699.

GeForce GTX 1080 Configurations
  Base Founders Edition
Core Clock 1607MHz 1607MHz
Boost Clock 1733MHz 1733MHz
Memory Clock 10Gbps GDDR5X 10Gbps GDDR5X
Cooler Manufacturer Custom
(Typical: 2 or 3 Fan Open Air)
NVIDIA Reference
(Blower w/Vapor Chamber)
Availability Date June 2016? 05/27/2016
Price Starting at $599 $699

While the differences between the reference and custom cards will be a longer subject for our full review, the more immediate ramification is going to be that only the Founders Edition cards are guaranteed to be available at launch. NVIDIA can’t speak definitively for their board partners, but at this point I am not seriously expecting custom cards until June. And this means that if you want one of the first GTX 1080s, then you’re going to have to pay $699 for the Founders Edition card. Which is not to say that it’s a bad card – far from it, it’s probably NVIDIA’s finest reference card to date – however it pushes the card’s price north of 980 Ti territory, some $150 higher than where the GTX 980 launched in 2014. For those who can afford such a card they will not be disappointed, but it’s definitely less affordable than past NVIDIA x80 cards.

Anyhow, we’ll be back later this week with our full review of the GeForce GTX 1080, so be sure to stay tuned.

Spring 2016 GPU Pricing Comparison
  $699 GeForce GTX 1080 FE
Radeon R9 Fury X $609  
  $589 GeForce GTX 980 Ti
  $429 GeForce GTX 980
Radeon R9 390X $399  
Radeon R9 390 $289 GeForce GTX 970
Gaming Performance, Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    From the rumors, I doubt the P10 is going to touch 1070 performance
  • dragonsqrrl - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    The 4000 series didn't start at the middle. The 4870 was the high-end card in the stack.

    The highest-end Polaris 10 based card is rumored to perform similarly to the 390X. So quite a bit below early estimates for the 1070.
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    AMD and Nvidia knew that HBM2 will not be ready for mass production until Q4 2016 early 2017.
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Isn't it over 4 times faster than a 670? If the 670 still works for you will something being 10 times faster make a difference? Are you looking to jump up from 1080P with low qualities settings to 4K with high quality settings?
  • bananaforscale - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    Funny, I'm thinking of replacing my 770, but with a 1070, because lower TDP, faster memory and more of it and more eye candy. Granted, I may find I need to upgrade the CPU too but that's life, and it's approaching five years old anyway...
  • rtho782 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    I wish there were 1440p benchmarks, with the advent of monitors like the RoG Swift this is the most common "step up" from 1080p these days.
  • Eden-K121D - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    They did well considering how nvidia positioned it as a single card solution for 4k.
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    You may find bench to be of relevance to you then:
  • Eden-K121D - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    I have a question are second hand 350-400$ 980Ti cards a good buy
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Wait for GTX1070 review to decide. I would estimate that if you have the patience to wait for after-market $380-400 GTX1070 cards, there will be a better buy than a used 980Ti.

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