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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  • bananaforscale - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    Early adopter tax.
  • nagi603 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    So much for a fury x price cut...
  • just4U - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    likely about $1200 in Canada.. uh.. no.
  • qasdfdsaq - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    As long as the follow up doesn't go the way of part 2 of Galaxy S7 review... 2.5 months and no news or updates. Mhmm.
  • milkywayer - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    I'm jaw-dropped by performance jump.

    Guess what's going to replace my 970 in a month? (assuming I'll be able to find the damn thing even with another +$100 premium here in Pakistan)
  • cknobman - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Performance improvement is nice but not jaw dropping.

    Honestly I think Nvidia has left the door open for AMD to take control of the high end later this year with the new Fury line.

    I'll be waiting on making a purchase.
  • ChefJeff789 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Later this year? AMD has said that Vega is not coming until next year. I'd be shocked to see it sooner.
  • zoxo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    There are rumours that AMD might come out with Vega this October. Then again the GP100 chip can be released to the consumer space early too if NVidia feels the need to respond. All in all, I'm hoping for pretty darn amazing high-end MXM cards from both sides. This generation is rather exciting!
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    There are always rumors of AMD releasing something. There were rumors that the Fury cards would be released up to 9 months before they were eventually released. For the past few years AMD's release schedules go backwards, not forwards. I'll believe a 2016 Vega release when I see it. Did AMD even say when in 2017 Vega is supposed to arrive? They have it sitting there at the very beginning of 2017 in their slide graphic, but that's hardly something they'd have any trouble ignoring (in terms of PR) if it actually comes out in Q2 2017.
  • zoxo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Well, they have a lot of wiggle room in this. If they release it early, it means lower yields, which means lower initial margins, and possibly lower out of the box clock speeds, but they do get the performance crown (at least before the 1080Ti is released). They can however release it early, then release a 'GHz' edition after Ti is out to compete with it as needed.

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