Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 - fastest card ever of the year

It's... so... fast!

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Very very fast!

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Nvidia’s first long-awaited Pascal-based graphics card truly is a beast in every sense of the word, smashing performance records while veritably sipping on power

Would you buy this?

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Ashes of the Singularity and DX12

We were hoping to test the GTX 1080’s DirectX 12 performance in several games, but Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider’s DX12 implementations left us wanting for the reasons previously discussed. Windows Store-only DirectX 12 games aren’t really usable for benchmarking due to the inherent limitations of Windows Store apps. That left us with a single DX12 game to test: Ashes of the Singularity, running on Oxide’s custom Nitrous engine.

AoTS was an early flag-bearer for DirectX 12, and the performance gains AoTS offers in DX12 over DX11 are mind-blowing—at least for AMD cards. AoTS’s DX12 implementation makes heavy use of asynchronous compute features, which are supported by dedicated hardware in Radeon GPUs, but not GTX 900-series Nvidia cards. In fact, the software pre-emption workaround that Maxwell-based Nvidia cards use to mimic the async compute capabilities tank performance so hard that Oxide’s game is coded to ignore async compute when it detects a GeForce GPU.

gtx 1080 aots 4k crazy
gtx 1080 aots 4k high
gtx 1080 aots 1440 crazy
gtx 1080 1440 high

That creates some interesting takeaways in performance benchmarks. Maxwell-based Nvidia GPUs actually perform worse in DirectX 12 mode, while AMD’s Radeon cards see massive performance gains with DX12 enabled—to the point that the Fury X in DX12 is able to essentially equal and sometimes even outpunch the reference GTX 1080’s baseline DX11 results, even though the GTX 1080 clobbers the Fury X’s DX11 results. That’s a big win for AMD.

That said, once you take the pedal off the metal and look at results below 4K/crazy, the GTX 1080 starts to see decent performance increases in DX11 vs DX12 performance, though it never nears the mammoth leaps that Radeon graphics cards enjoy. At 1440p/high settings, shifting to DirectX 12 gives the GTX 1080 a 20.3-percent performance leap. Therefore, even though AoTS explicitly disables basic async compute in Nvidia cards, the new async compute enhancements Nvidia’s built into Pascal can indeed provide tangible benefits in DX12 games with heavy async compute utilization.

Looking directly at Nvidia-to-Nvidia performance, the GTX 1080 provides frame rate increases similar to what we’ve seen in other games: Roughly 72 percent more performance than the GTX 980, and 35 to 40 percent over the Titan X.

Next page: Virtual reality and 3DMark Fire Strike results

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