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

    Well the vanilla 1080 will be $50 more than the vanilla 980 so that should be taken into account.
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    @zoxo: "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"

    Architecturally, yes. That is the comparison to make. However, from a consumer standpoint, the 1080 is positioned as the new halo product and it comes in closer to the price of the older halo product (980Ti). Thus, until such a time as a new halo product (1080Ti? / Titan?) emerges, it will be compared to the 980Ti. Don't forget, the 980 was compared with the 780Ti and there was a significant time gap before the 980Ti hit the scene. I doubt a 1080Ti will be short in coming.
  • Commodus - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Better to be honest and post a preview than rush out a half-hearted review.
  • 3ogdy - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Hello Disappoint! How are you today?
  • WinterCharm - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    You must not be very familiar with Anandtech. Their full review takes time, but it will melt your face with how thorough it is.
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Not disappointed?
  • tipoo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    After being on 28nm since 2011, PC hardware is finally starting to get interesting again. Pascal, Polaris, Zen, exciting times.
  • JimmiG - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    "After being on 28nm since 2011, PC hardware is finally starting to get interesting again. Pascal, Polaris, Zen, exciting times. "

    Couldn't agree more. Even though this card makes my 970 look pathetic, it also makes me very happy to see these performance gains in an age where it looked like the entire PC market had stagnated.
    If you ignore the price premium, this kind of leap over the 980 (which is the card that the GTX 1080 technically replaces), reminds of previous grand GPU launches like the Radeon 9700, GeForce 4, GeForce 8800 etc.
  • tipoo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Even the 380 dollar 1070 should be a decent leap following this, as it still has Titan X beating performance. I hope both camps drive forward the 200 dollar price point performance.
  • medi03 - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    789€ for 1080 in Germany (announced Founders Edition price was 699$)

    Founders Edition 1070 was supposed to be 449$. So, I guess, 480-520€ (1 Euro is more than 1$, but somehow that's the pricing we get... =/)

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