AMD was first-to-market with Doom-ready drivers, but exhibited exceptionally poor performance with a few of its cards. The R9 390X was one of those, being outperformed massively (~40%) by the GTX 970, and nearly matched by the GTX 960 at 1080p. If it's not apparent by the price difference between the two, that's unacceptable; the hardware of the R9 390X should effortlessly outperform the GTX 960, a budget-class card, and it just wasn't happening. Shortly after the game launched and AMD posted its initial driver set (16.5.2), a hotfix (18.104.22.168) was released to resolve performance issues on the R9 390 series cards.
We had a moment to re-benchmark DOOM using the latest drivers between our GTX 1080 Hybrid experiment and current travel to Asia. The good news: AMD's R9 390X has improved performance substantially – about 26% in some tests – and seem to be doing better. Other cards were unaffected by this hot fix (though we did test), so don't expect a performance gain out of your 380X, Fury X, or similar non-390-series device.
Note: These charts now include the GTX 1080 and its overclocked performance.
Had investigators walked into our Thermal-Lab-And-Video-Set Conglomerate, they'd have been greeted with a horror show worthy of a police report: Two video cards fully dissected – one methodically, the other brutally – with parts blazoned in escalating dismemberment across the anti-static mat.
Judging by some of the comments, you'd think we'd committed a crime by taking apart a new GTX 1080 – but that's the job. Frankly, it didn't really matter if the thing died in the process. We're here to make content and test products for points of failure and success, not to preserve them.
The test results are in from our post-review DIY project, which started here. Our goal was a simple one: As a bit of a decompression project after our 9000-word analysis of nVidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, we decided to tear-down the GTX 1080, look underneath, and throw a liquid block onto the exposed die. The “Founders Edition” of the GTX 1080 is effectively a reference model, and as such, it'll quickly be outranked by AIB partner cards with regard to cooling and OC potential. The GTX 1080 overclocks reasonably well – we were hitting ~2025-2050MHz with the FE model – but it still feels limited. That limitation is a mix of power limit and thermal throttling.
Our testing discovered that thermal throttles occur at precisely 82C. Each time the card hits 82C absolute, the clock-rate dips and produces a marginal impact to frametimes and framerate. We also encountered clock-rate stability issues over long burn-in periods, and would have had to further step-down the OC to accommodate the 82C threshold. Even when configuring the VRM blower fan to 100% speed, limitations were encountered – but it did perform better, just with the noise levels of a server fan (~60dB, in our tests). That's not really acceptable for a real-world use case. Liquid will bring down noise levels, help sustain higher clock-rates at those noise levels, and keep thermals well under control.
The video (Part 3) is below. This article will cover the results of our DIY liquid-cooled GTX 1080 'Hybrid' vs. the Founders Edition card, including temperatures, VRM fan RPM, overclocking, stability, and FPS. Our clocks vs. time charts are the most interesting.
In the process of tearing apart the new nVidia GTX 1080 video card, we discovered solder points for an additional 8-pin power header positioned at a 90-degree corner to the original 6-pin header. This is shown in our tear-down video (embedded at the bottom of this post), but we've got a photo above, too.
We're building our own GTX 1080 Hybrid. We're impatient, and the potential for further improved clock-rate stability – not that the 1080 isn't already impressively stable – has drawn us toward a DIY solution. For this GTX 1080 liquid cooling mod, we're tearing apart $1300 worth of video cards: (1) the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Hybrid, which long held our Best of Bench award, is being sacrificed to the Pascal gods, and (2) the GTX 1080 Founders Edition shall be torn asunder, subjected to the whims of screwdrivers and liquid cooling.
Here's the deal: We ran a thermal throttle analysis in our 9000-word review of the GTX 1080 (read it!). We discovered that, like Maxwell before it, consumer Pascal seems to throttle its frequency as temperatures reach and exceed ~82C. Each hit at 82C triggered a frequency fluctuation of ~30~70MHz, enough to create a marginal hit to frametimes. This only happened a few times through our first endurance test, but we've conducted more – this time with overclocks applied – to see if there's ever a point at which the throttling goes from “welcomed safety check” to something less desirable.
Turns out, the thermal throttling impacts our overclocks, and it's limited the potential of a GPU that's otherwise a strong overclocker. And so begins Part 1 of our DIY GTX 1080 build log – disassembly; we're taking apart the GTX 1080, tearing it down to the bones for a closer look inside.
All the pyrotechnics in the world couldn't match the gasconade with which GPU & CPU vendors announce their new architectures. You'd halfway expect this promulgation of multipliers and gains and reductions (but only where smaller is better) to mark the end-times for humankind; surely, if some device were crafted to the standards by which it were announced, The Aliens would descend upon us.
But, every now and then, those bombastic announcements have something behind them – there's substance there, and potential for an adequately exciting piece of technology. NVidia's debut of consumer-grade Pascal architecture initializes with GP104, the first of its non-Accelerator cards to host the new 16nm FinFET process node from TSMC. That GPU lands on the GTX 1080 Founders Edition video card first, later to be disseminated through AIB partners with custom cooling or PCB solutions. If the Founders Edition nomenclature confuses you, don't let it – it's a replacement for nVidia's old “Reference” card naming, as we described here.
Anticipation is high for GP104's improvements over Maxwell, particularly in the area of asynchronous compute and command queuing. As the industry pushes ever into DirectX 12 and Vulkan, compute preemption and dynamic task management become the gatekeepers to performance advancements in these new APIs. It also means that LDA & AFR start getting pushed out as frames become more interdependent with post-FX, and so suddenly there are implications for multi-card configurations that point toward increasingly less optimization support going forward.
Our nVidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition review benchmarks the card's FPS performance, thermals, noise levels, and overclocking vs. the 980 Ti, 980, Fury X, and 390X. This nearing-10,000-word review lays-out the architecture from an SM level, talks asynchronous compute changes in Pascal / GTX 1080, provides a quick “how to” primer for overclocking the GTX 1080, and talks simultaneous multi-projection. We've got thermal throttle analysis that's new, too, and we're excited to show it.
The Founders Edition version of the GTX 1080 costs $700, though MSRP for AIBs starts at $600. We expect to see that market fill-in over the next few months. Public availability begins on May 27.
First, the embedded video review and specs table:
Austin, Texas this weekend hosted nVidia's Pascal GTX 1080 unveil event, headed-up by nVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and dotted with high-end demo rigs from well-known case modders (including BS Mods). The week's #OrderOf10 event prefaced tonight's press conference – a puzzle we solved just ahead of the show – and ultimately unlocked a count-down timer that unintentionally coincided with Dreamhack US. Tonight, nVidia announced its new GeForce Pascal architecture GPUs, including the GTX 1080 video cards.
The Pascal architecture was first unveiled at GTC a few years back, when nVidia's roadmap through 2018 was posted (concluding with Volta). Earlier this morning, we published a Pascal architecture deep-dive that fully detailed the new Pascal SM (Streaming Multiprocessor) and memory subsystem as it relates to GP100. Although GP100 belongs exclusively to the Tesla P100 Accelerator Card, Pascal as an architecture applies globally to the platform – and that includes the imminent GeForce cards. Pascal as it relates to GeForce is almost certainly running a “lite” version of the architecture, but will carry-over potential game-changers from the GP100. A 16nm FinFET process node from TSMC heralds nVidia's move away from the 28nm process that both major GPU manufacturers have resided on for the past few years. Other changes, like a reduction in cores-per-SM while increasing or maintaining warp schedulers and dispatch units, will work with this datapath organization change to improve overall efficiency and performance-per-watt of Pascal.
If this architecture discussion interests you, we'd urge you to read our deep-dive on Pascal.
(Article title & content updated).
The Order of 10 puzzle preempted a forthcoming event that we'll be covering, publicly disclosed as occurring on May 6 at 9PM EST. Although nVidia has not technically, officially laid claim to the “#OrderOf10” puzzle, the countdown timer happens to expire precisely when nVidia's yet-undetailed Twitch.tv streaming event will kick-off. UPDATE: View our GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 coverage here.
And that full day of decoding mysteries led us to brush-up on nVidia's “Pascal” architecture, revealed years ago and announced at this year's GTC as hitting volume production. The first Pascal chip publicly known to enter production is the GP100, found on the Tesla P100 scientific and computational accelerator card. GP100 is the “Big GPU” for this generation of nVidia devices, measuring in at an intimidating 610mm^2 die size, and stands as the trailhead for imminent derivatives of the GPU architecture. Those derivatives will invariably include gaming-targeted devices – something for which the P100 is not remotely targeted – in the GeForce GTX lineup.
This article dives deep into NVIDIA's new Pascal architecture. We'll talk streaming multiprocessor layout, memory subsystems and HBM1 vs. HBM2, L1 & L2 Cache, unified memory, GDMA, and more.
As for the live-streamed event tonight, we're hoping that it'll offer us some official names for the rumored “GTX 1000” series (e.g. GTX 1080, GTX 1070, GTX 1060 Ti), but we really don't know for certain what's being unveiled. We will be covering that event tonight in full detail, whatever it may involve. Be sure to check the site and YouTube channel for updates as they're released live.
One of our most commonly received Ask GN questions is “which video card manufacturer is 'the best?'” (scare quotes added). The truth of the matter is, as we've often said, they're all similar in the most critical matter – the GPU is the same. If MSI sells an R9 380X and PowerColor sells an R9 380X, they're both using the same GPU (Tonga) and silicon; core performance will be nearly identical. The same is true for the GTX cards – EVGA and PNY both sell GTX 960 video cards, and all of their models implement the same GM206 GPU. The differences are generally rooted in pre-overclocking, cooling units, support and warranties, and aesthetics.
All our content combined, we've spent hours and tens of thousands of words talking about which video cards perform the best in various categories. That's great -- but sometimes it's fun to do something different. This video allows each GPU manufacturer one minute to explain who makes the best graphics cards for gaming. It's a speed-round, to be sure.
PAX is always surprisingly full of PC gaming hardware, and we’ve run across a couple more items that aren’t yet available – but will be soon. PNY brought the newest addition to their red-and-black gaming suite, an overclocked Nvidia GTX 960, and OCZ came with an M.2 SSD, the RD400 NVME. Both devices are set to release sometime in May.