Final Words

Bringing this review to a close, the launch of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founder’s Edition gives NVIDIA a chance to set their pace and tone for the rest of 2017. After a fantastic 2016 powered by Pascal, NVIDIA is looking to repeat that success this year. And that success starts with a very strong launch of what is NVIDIA’s new flagship GeForce card.

Because the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founder’s Edition isn’t NVIDIA’s first GP102-based product – even if it is their first GeForce product – I don’t think anything we’ve seen today is going to catch anyone by surprise. In fact as the third time now that they’ve released a 250 Watt Ti refresher at the high-end, I don’t think any of this should be surprising. At this point NVIDIA has their GeForce launches down to an art, and that ability to execute so well on these kinds of launches is part of the reason that 2016 was such a banner year for the company.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti: Average Performance Gains
Card 4K 1440p
vs. GTX 1080
+32%
+28%
vs. GTX 980 Ti
+74%
+68%
vs. GTX 780 Ti
+154%
+154%

Taking a look at the numbers, as a mid-generation refresh of their high-end products, the GTX 1080 Ti delivers around 32% better performance than the GTX 1080 at 4K, and 28% better performance at 1440p. NVIDIA said they were going to get a 35% improvement over the GTX 1080 with the GTX 1080 Ti, and while our numbers don’t quite match that, they are close to the mark.

For GTX 980 Ti and GTX 780 Ti owners then, who are the most likely groups to be in the market for a $699 video card and looking to upgrade, the GTX 1080 Ti should prove a suitable card. Relative to the last-generation GTX 980 Ti, the GTX 1080 Ti offers 74% better performance at 4K and 68% better performance at 1440p. This is very similar to the kinds of gains we saw in the GTX 1080 over the GTX 980 last year, and in fact is a bit better than what the GTX 980 Ti did to its predecessors.

Speaking of which, it’s now been three-and-a-half years since the GTX 780 Ti launch, and GTX 1080 Ti’s performance shows it. At both 4K and 1440p, NVIDIA’s card offers just over 2.5 times the performance of their Kepler-based powerhouse. Internally, NVIDIA tends to plan for a two to four year upgrade cadence on their video cards, and 2017 is going to be the year they push remaining GTX 700 series owners to upgrade through a combination of product launches like the GTX 1080 Ti and better pricing. If you didn’t already upgrade to a Pascal card last year, then your benefit for waiting a year is 32% better performance for the same price.

Relative performance aside, in terms of absolute performance I feel like NVIDIA is finally reaching the point where they can offer no-compromises 4K gaming. While both NVIDIA and AMD pushed 4K hard on their 28nm generation of products, even parts like the GeForce GTX 980 Ti and Radeon Fury X weren’t quite fast enough for the task. 4K gaming in 2015 meant making compromises between image quality and framerates. GTX 1080 Ti on the other hand is the first card to crack 60fps at 4K in a few of our games, and it comes very close to doing so in a few others. While performance requirements for video games are always a moving target (and always moving up, at that), I think with the FinFET generation we’re finally at the point where 4K gaming is practical. And that’s in an “all the frames, all the quality” sense, not by using checkerboarding and other image scaling techniques being used by the game consoles to stretch into 4K.

Overall then, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is another well-executed launch by NVIDIA. The $699 card isn’t for the faint of wallet, but if you can afford to spend that much money on the hobby, then the GTX 1080 Ti is unrivaled in performance.

Finally, looking at the big picture, this launch further solidifies NVIDIA’s dominance of the high-end video card market. The GTX 1080 has gone unchallenged in the last 10 months, and with the GTX 1080 Ti NVIDIA is extending that performance lead even farther. As I mentioned towards the start of this article, the launch of the GTX 1080 Ti is both a chance for NVIDIA to take a victory lap for 2016 and to set the stage for the rest of the year. For now it puts them that much farther ahead of AMD and gives them a chance to start 2017 on a high note. But GTX 1080 Ti won’t go unanswered forever, and later on this year we’re going to get a chance to see where AMD’s Vega fits into the big picture. I for one am hoping for an exciting year.

Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • ddriver - Thursday, March 9, 2017 - link

    It is kinda both, although I wouldn't really call it a job, because that's when you are employed by someone else to do what he says. More like it's my work and hobby. Building a super computer on the budget out of consumer grade hardware turned out very rewarding in every possible aspect. Reply
  • Zingam - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    This is something I'd like to do. Not necessarily with GPUs but I have no idea how to make any money tobpay the bill yet. I'vw only started thinking about it recently. Reply
  • eddman - Thursday, March 9, 2017 - link

    "nvidia will pay off most game developers to sandbag"

    AMD, nvidia, etc. might work with developers to optimize a game for their hardware.

    Suggesting that they would pay developers to deliberately not optimize a game for the competition or even make it perform worse is conspiracy theories made up on the internet.

    Not to mention it is illegal. No one would dare do it in this day and age when everything leaks eventually.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 9, 2017 - link

    Something that blatant would be illegal. What nVidia does do is to offer a bunch of blobs that do various effects simulations/etc that can save developers a huge amount of time vs coding their own versions but which run much faster on their own hardware than nominally equivalent AMD cards. I'm not even going accuse them of deliberately gimping AMD (or Intel) performance, only having a single code path that is optimized for the best results on their hardware will be sub-optimal on anything else. And because Gameworks is offered up as blobs (or source with can't show it to AMD NDA restrictions) AMD can't look at the code to suggest improvements to the developers or to fix things after the fact with driver optimizations. Reply
  • eddman - Thursday, March 9, 2017 - link

    True, but most of these effects are CPU-only, and fortunately the ones that run on the GPU can be turned off in the options.

    Still, I agree that vendor specific, source-locked GPU effects are not helping the industry as a whole.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Thursday, March 9, 2017 - link

    Have you noticed anyone touching nvidia lately? They are in bed with the world's most evil bstards. Nobody can touch them. Their practice is they offer assistance on exclusive terms, all this aims to lock in developers into their infrastructure, or the very least on the implied condition they don't break a sweat optimizing for radeons.

    I have very close friends working at AAA game studios and I know first hand. It all goes without saying. And nobody talks about it, not if they'd like to keep their job, or be able to get a good job in the industry in general.

    nvidia pretty much do the same intel was found guilty of on every continent. But it is kinda less illegal, because it doesn't involve discounts, so they cannot really pin bribery on them, in case that anyone would dare challenge them.

    amd is actually very competitive hardware wise, but failing at their business model, they don't have the money to resist nvidia's hold on the market. I run custom software at a level as professional as it gets, and amd gpus totally destroy nvidian at the same or even higher price point. Well, I haven't been able to do a comparison lately, as I have migrated my software stack to OpenCL2, which nvidia deliberately do not implement to prop up their cuda, but couple of years back I was able to do direct comparisons, and as mentioned above, nvidia offered 2 to 3 times worse value than amd. And nothing has really changed in that aspect, architecturally amd continue to offer superior compute performance, even if their DP rates have been significantly slashed in order to stay competitive with nvidia silicon.

    A quick example:
    ~2500$ buys you either a:
    fire pro with 32 gigs of memory and 2.6 tflops FP64 perf and top notch CL support
    quadro with 8 gigs of memory and 0.13 tflops FP64 perf and CL support years behind

    Better compute features, 4 times more memory and 20 times better compute performance at the same price. And yet the quadro outsells the firepro. Amazing, ain't it?

    It is true that 3rd party cad software still runs a tad better on a quadro, for the reasons and nvidian practices outlined above, but even then, the firepro is still fast enough to do the job, while completely annihilating quadros in compute. Which is why at this year's end I will be buying amd gpus by the dozens rather than nvidia ones.
    Reply
  • eddman - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    So you're saying nvidia constantly engages in illegal activities with developers?

    I don't see how pro cards and software have to do with geforce and games. There is no API lock-in for games.
    Reply
  • thehemi - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    > "And nobody talks about it, not if they'd like to keep their job"

    Haha we're not scared of NVIDIA, they are just awesome. I'm in AAA for over a decade, they almost bought my first company and worked closely with my next three so I know them very well. Nobody is "scared" of NVIDIA. NVIDIA have their devrel down. They are much more helpful with optimizations, free hardware, support, etc. Try asking AMD for the same and they treat you like you're a peasant. When NVIDIA give us next-generation graphics cards for all our developers for free, we tend to use them. When NVIDIA sends their best graphics engineers onsite to HELP us optimize for free, we tend to take them up on their offers. Don't think I haven't tried getting the same out of AMD, they just don't run the company that way, and that's their choice.

    And if you're really high up, their dev-rel includes $30,000 nights out that end up at the strip club. NVIDIA have given me some of the best memories of my life, they've handed me a next generation graphics card at GDC because I joked that I wanted one, they've funded our studio when it hit a rough patch and tried to justify it with a vendor promotion on stage at CES with our title. I don't think that was profitable for them, but the good-will they instilled definitely has been.

    I should probably write a "Secret diaries of..." blog about my experiences, but the bottom line is they never did anything but offer help that was much appreciated.

    Actually, heh, The worst thing they did, was turn on physx support by default for a game we made with them for benchmarks back when they bought Ageia. My game engine was used for their launch demo, and the review sites (including here I think) found out that if you turned a setting off to software mode, Intel chips doing software physics were faster than NVIDIA physics accelerated mode. Still not illegal, and still not afraid of keeping my job, since I've made it pretty obvious who I am to the right people.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    Well, for you it might be the carrot, but for others is the stick. Not all devs are as willing to leave their products upoptimized in exchange for a carrot as you are. Nor do they need nvidia to hold them by the hand and walk them through everything that is remotely complex in order to be productive.

    In reality both companies treat you like a peasant, the difference is that nvidia has the resources to make into a peasant they can use, while to poor old amd you are just a peasant they don't have the resources to pamper. Try this if you dare - instead of being a lazy grateful slob take the time and effort to optimize your engine to take the most of amd hardware and brag about that marvelous achievement, and see if nvidia's pampering will continue.

    It is still technically a bribe - helping someone to do something for free that ends up putting them at an unfair advantage. It is practically the same thing as giving you the money to hire someone who is actually competent to do what you evidently cannot be bother with or are unable to do. They still pay the people who do that for you, which would be the same thing if you paid them with money nvidia gave you for it. And you are so grateful for that assistance, that you won't even be bothered to optimize your software for that vile amd, who don't rush to offer to do your job for you like noble, caring nvidia does.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    It is actually a little sad to see developers so cheap. nvidia took you to see strippers once and now you can't get your tongue out their ass :)

    but it is understandable, as a developer there is a very high chance it was the first pussy you've seen in real life :D
    Reply

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