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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • doggface - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    The problem with low end amd cards atm is they lack features. Give us a $150-200 card with 4k 10bit h/w 265 decode, hdmi2, dp 1.4, etc and moderate gaming performance and it will sell. Give us great performance/cost and shitty features. Watch it sit on the shelf.
  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    Everything destroys GT730, extrapolating anything out of such comparisons is a wishful thinking at best.
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - link

    The 730 was a cheap upgrade I did to get a hotter running and far older GeForce 8800 GTS out of my system last year to take some load off the power supply (only 375 watts) so I could upgrade the CPU from a tired Xeon 3065 to a Q6600 without pushing too hard on the PSU. The only feature I really did bother with making sure I got was GDDR5 so the chip wasn't hamstrung by64-bit DDR3's bandwidth issues. The A10's iGPU would indeed make it look underpowered, but I'm not in the market for integrated graphics for my desktop. However, it's long overdue for a rebuild for which I'm gathering parts now. I would have considered an A10, but instead I just picked up an Athlon x4 and will carry the 730 forward onto the new motherboard for a little while until 16/14nm makes its way down the product stack into lower end cards. Since I plan to eventually purchase whatever new generation hardware is out on the smaller process node anyway, a CPU with an iGPU that ultimately ends up being unused doesn't make a lot of sense. In the short term future 730 should be fine for anything I do anyway since I have no reason to push higher resolutions or use any sort of spatial anti-aliasing. All of that doesn't really matter once the game's video and audio are rolled up in an h.264 stream and pushed across my network from my gaming box to my netbook where I ultimately end up playing any games on a low resolution screen anyway. I think something around a GTX950's performance would be perfectly fine for anything I need to do so I'm content to wait until I can get that performance for around $100 or less. Spending my fun money on a computer is a very low priority and I can always wait until later to get newer/faster hardware if I game I'm interested in playing doesn't run on my current PC. Such is the case with Fallout 4, but I won't bother with it until all of its DRM is out, there are patches that address most of its issues, and it's got a GOTY edition on discount through Steam for $20. By then, whatever I'm running will be more than fast enough to offer an enjoyable gaming experience without me struggling and grubbing around to find high end gear for it or divert money from seeing films, traveling, or dining out. I also don't have to bother overclocking, buying aftermarket cooling solutions, managing cables to optimize airflow, or any of that other garbage I used to deal with years ago...I don't know how many hours I spent playing IDE cable origami so those big ribbons wouldn't impede a case fan's air current over a heatsink so I could eek out one or two meaninglessly fewer degrees C on an unimportant component. Now, screw it, I put crap together once and forget about it for a few years, enjoying the fun it provides on the way because I finally figured out that the parts are just a means to obtain a few hours a week of recreation and not the ends themselves.
  • paulemannsen - Thursday, May 19, 2016 - link

    Man you really try thinking too hard just for Angry Birds.
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, May 19, 2016 - link

    I understand that the idea of someone playing casual games while also keeping tabs on computer hardware is somehow a really threatening concept, but don't let it cloud your thoughts too much that you assume that Angry Birds and Fallout 4 are mutually exclusive. You can be smarter and better than that if you try.
  • lashek37 - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    As soon as AMD comes out with their card, Nvidia will unleash the GTX1080 T.I ,lol.😂
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    They won't have the middle of the market completely to themselves. They'll have the only new cards in the segment for 2 or 3 months. But during that time those cards will be competing with the 980 and 970. AMD, on the other hand, probably can't make much money selling Fury cards priced to compete with the 1070, and they'll have virtually nothing competing with the 1080, and that situation will last for 6 or more months. That's the reason AMD will be hurt, not because of "ignorant customers", as you claim.
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    As an aside, if consumers were ignorant to choose new Maxwell cards over older AMD cards competing against them, why will they not similarly be ignorant to choose new Polaris cards over the older Maxwell cards competing with them?
  • etre - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    I fail to see how chosing old tech over new tech for a price difference of few euros is the smart thing to do.
    Everyone wants new tech, it's a psychological and practical factor.

    As an example, where I'm living, in winter we can have -10 or -20 C but in summer is not uncommon to exceed 40C. For me power consumption is a factor. Less heat, less noise. The GTX line is well worth the money.
  • cheshirster - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Last time they went middle first was a big success (4870 vs GTX265).
    Don't see a problem for them if their P10 can touch 1070 perf for <400$

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now