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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  • FMinus - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Well, there's been rumors, and support for the Vega 10 chip has been added to Aida64 two weeks ago. So maybe October might not be so wrong as the rumors say.
  • Murloc - Thursday, May 19, 2016 - link

    I think people are always overoptimistic on AMD.
  • medi03 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Nothing jaw dropping in 20-30% increase, especially considering 28nm => 16nm jump in the process.
  • Azune - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    You are comparing apples to oranges. This is the smaller of the pascal chips, so it should be compared to a 980. And thats a 50-80% difference.
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    I compare on performance/$ and in that regard it plain sucks. 1070 will be way better in that regard.
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    I'm also more interested in where the 1070 falls into place at this point. nVidia is milking the early adopters tax a little too hard for my tastes with the 1080. Hopefully, the 1070 performance will largely negate the this to some extent.
  • ChefJeff789 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    We're also looking at stock speeds. By all accounts, the custom 1080s will probably be able to push at least another 20% performance with overclocking. Hopefully much more with additional power connectors (I'm hoping for a 2.5 GHz overclock)
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    By virtue of having a much better cooler, the 3rd party models should clock higher. 80c seems so high. (my OCed 770 at 1.25GHz hits 62c tops with a PNY XLR8 three fan cooler)
  • haukionkannel - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    Not likely. If you look old Intel processors with bigger production node and new Intel processors with smaller production node, the overclocking potential has not been too good. There are benefits when going to smaller production node, but high overclocking is not one of them!
  • zoxo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Don't forget that you should compare the GP104 chip to the GM104, so vanilla 980, as the 1080 Ti will come down the line

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