EVGA GTX 1080 FTW Hybrid Review vs. MSI Sea Hawk X

By Published August 30, 2016 at 6:23 pm
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Additional Info

  • Awards: Editor's Choice
  • Original MSRP: 730
  • Manufacturer: EVGA

We're finally reviewing the real EVGA GTX 1080 Hybrid ($730), having built our own several months ago by using a liquid cooling kit. The EVGA version, though, is more official – and it's also using an FTW custom PCB rather than the 5-phase reference board we relied upon. The FTW Hybrid has better power management and delivery, in theory, alongside a far more advanced cooling solution than we instituted on our own DIY Hybrid.

In this review, we'll primarily and most heavily be focusing on thermals between the Sea Hawk X and the EVGA 1080 FTW Hybrid, but will also look at FPS and overclocking performance. Noise and power testing are additionally available, along with some unique Boost functionality discussion.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Specs vs. GTX 1070, GTX 1080, GTX 960

NVIDIA Pascal vs. Maxwell Specs Comparison
  GTX 1080 GTX 1070 GTX 1060 GTX 980 Ti GTX 980 GTX 960
GPU GP104-400 Pascal GP104-200 Pascal GP106 Pascal GM200 Maxwell GM204 Maxwell GM204
Transistor Count 7.2B 7.2B 4.4B 8B 5.2B 2.94B
Fab Process 16nm FinFET 16nm FinFET 16nm FinFET 28nm 28nm 28nm
CUDA Cores 2560 1920 1280 2816 2048 1024
GPCs 4 3 2 6 4 2
SMs 20 15 10 22 16 8
TPCs 20 15 10 - - -
TMUs 160 120 80 176 128 64
ROPs 64 64 48 96 64 32
Core Clock 1607MHz 1506MHz 1506MHz 1000MHz 1126MHz 1126MHz
Boost Clock 1733MHz 1683MHz 1708MHz 1075MHz 1216MHz 1178MHz
FP32 TFLOPs 9TFLOPs 6.5TFLOPs 3.85TFLOPs 5.63TFLOPs 5TFLOPs 2.4TFLOPs
Memory Type GDDR5X GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5
Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 6GB 6GB 4GB 2GB, 4GB
Memory Clock 10Gbps GDDR5X 4006MHz 8Gbps 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 384-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 320.32GB/s 256GB/s 192GB/s 336GB/s 224GB/s 115GB/s
TDP 180W 150W 120W 250W 165W 120W
Power Connectors 1x 8-pin 1x 8-pin 1x 6-pin 1x 8-pin
1x 6-pin
2x 6-pin 1x 6-pin
Release Date 5/27/2016 6/10/2016 7/19/2016 6/01/2015 9/18/2014 01/22/15
Release Price Reference: $700
MSRP: $600
Reference: $450
MSRP: $380
Reference: $300
MSRP: $250
$650 $550 $200

evga-ftw-hybrid-2

The GP104-400 chip remains constant across all GTX 1080 cards, and so the specs are largely the same. Aside from the cooler, the two primary changes made by EVGA include a pre-OC to 1860MHz – or thereabouts, depending on how Boost 3.0 feels – and a master/slave switch that toggles to allow +130% power target. The default setting is for 120%.

EVGA GTX 1080 FTW Hybrid Tear-Down & PCB

evga-ftw-marked-up

Above is a look at the PCB used in EVGA's 1080 FTW Hybrid, and we've got a forthcoming PCB analysis (from “Buildzoid”) to further explain the components. The FTW is using a 10-phase vCore VRM and 2-phase memory voltage VRM, deploying onSemi Conductor power phases and MOSFETs with a doubler (5x2 phase, effectively).

EVGA's board uses 2x 8-pin power headers and the M/S switch to toggle additional power to the board.

evga-ftw-hybrid-tear-1

evga-ftw-hybrid-tear-2

evga-ftw-hybrid-tear-3

evga-ftw-hybrid-tear-4

evga-ftw-hybrid-tear-5

Cooling is handled by the same Asetek 4.5 Gen liquid cooler with the protruded copper coldplate, but now uses some more unique cooling methods to dissipate heat from VRAM. EVGA has fitted a backswept blade design to its VRM for the VRM cooling, but the VRAM is indirectly cooled by the GPU coldplate. Still, enough of the VRAM copper sink is exposed to post benefit from increasing the VRM fan speed.

evga-ftw-hybrid-tear-6

EVGA has, oddly, decided not to make any cuts to the shroud to improve breathability of the VRM fan. The VRM fan has no meaningful way to intake/exhaust air through the shroud, and must exchange all air through the exposed face. We might mod the Hybrid to cut intake ports in the front (which is actually a plastic grill, made to look like a real grill) to determine impact on cooling.

MSI GTX 1080 Sea Hawk X Tear-Down & PCB

NOTE: Corsair has released a marketing video which teases the protruded coldplate on the Hydro GFX, despite the fact that our review sample did not include this. It appears that Corasir has made a running change to its production. For the time being, the below excerpt is from our Hydro GFX review and is based only upon our review sample. It is yet unclear if the review samples mirror the shipping product.

corsair-hydro-gfx-pcb-1

Taking apart the Corsair Hydro GFX GTX 1080 (or “MSI Seahawk 1080,” same thing) reveals that the PCB is the very same used for the reference cards by nVidia. We first showed the Founders Edition PCB in our GTX 1080 Hybrid build log, detailing lightly its 5+1 phase power design for the VRM, 8Gb Micron modules (for 8GB GDDR5X), and down-costed absentees on the board. The VRM, for instance, could add one full set of caps, FETs, and an inductor for an additional phase, but that PCB of both the FE and Hydro GFX (by extension) leaves this blank. That leaves us with the 5+1 setup, for which the initial overclocking is shown in our GTX 1080 review. We'll get to the Hydro GFX overclock momentarily.

The above video details our tear-down of the Corsair Hydro GFX / MSI Seahawk GTX 1080. Thankfully, unlike the hellish-to-disassembly Founders Edition, the Corsair and MSI amalgam sticks entirely to Phillips head screws, mostly of the A1 size. There are 8 Phillips screws securing the somewhat flimsy backplate (it's clear that this one is mostly for looks, though some structural support is provided), then 4 screws securing the pump block to the PCB. 6 Phillips screws and 2 hex screws (for DVI) secure the expansion plate to the card, with another set of 6 Phillips screws securing the shroud to the baseplate.

corsair-hydro-gfx-pcb-2

corsair-hydro-gfx-vrm

The baseplate is used to sink heat from the VRAM and VRM, which then sees dissipation from the blower fan. The baseplate isn't finned, but GDDR5X doesn't generate a ton of heat and the card's OC potential is fairly limited, so the baseplate + blower solution is sufficient. We'll show this later.

With the baseplate removed, the GP104-400 (rev A1) GPU is revealed, along with the expected 8x 8Gb VRAM modules, 5+1 VRM, and the rest of the PCB. A splitter cable merges the pump power and fan power into the PCB's PWM fan header. The blower fan is modulated by thermal demand, as is normal.

corsair-hydro-gfx-clc

The Corsair H55 CLC sees deployment in the Seahawk/Hydro GFX. From quick measurements and visual inspection, it appears as if this variant of the H55 uses a flat coldplate for its cooling solution -- an improvement over the curvature found in most CPU liquid coolers. A slight concave bow is useful for dissipating heat across an IHS -- a curved surface -- and for dealing with unique CPU hotspots. These hotspots don't exist on a GPU, though; at least, not the same hotspots. A GPU is a flat piece of silicon atop a substrate, with no IHS between the GPU and its cooling solution. Making direct, perfectly flat contact will immediately improve performance over a run-of-the-mill CPU CLC, which may bow in a way that prevents full, flat contact to the surface.

Tension of the solution also matters, and imperfect mounting pressure can skew thermals negatively. The Corsair unit appears to just barely make acceptable contact with the GPU silicon, and seems to be corrected for by additional torque on the screws. The company has slotted in some o-rings between the CLC standoffs and the PCB to prevent cosmetic damage, it appears, so steps have been taken to account for this. The close contact is a result of the tall baseplate, which exceeds the z-height of the silicon, and so would require a copper protrusion for full contact or another solution -- like additional torque on the screws. We ran into this same issue when building our GTX 1060 Hybrid card, and solved it in a less-than-elegant way: By filing down the base plate.

Continue to Page 2 for test methodology.


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Last modified on August 30, 2016 at 6:23 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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