Our Gigabyte GTX 1080 Ti Aorus Xtreme ($750) review brings us to look at one of the largest video cards in the 1080 Ti family, matching it well versus the MSI 1080 Ti Gaming X. Our tests today will look at the Aorus Xtreme GPU in thermals (most heavily), noise levels, gaming performance, and overclocking, with particular interest in the efficacy of Gigabyte’s copper insert in the backplate. The Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme is a heavyweight in all departments – size being one of them – and is priced at $750, matching the MSI Gaming X directly. A major point of differentiation is the bigger focus on RGB LEDs with Gigabyte’s model, though the three-fan design is also interesting from a thermal and noise perspective. We’ll look at that more on page 3.
We’ve already posted a tear-down of this card (and friend of the site ‘Buildzoid’ has posted his PCB analysis), but we’ll recap some of the PCB and cooler basics on this first page. The card uses a 3-fan cooler (with smaller fans than the Gaming X-type cards, but more of them) and large aluminum heatsink, ultimately taking up nearly 3 PCI-e slots. It’s the same GPU and memory underneath as all other GTX 1080 Ti cards, with differences primarily in the cooling and power management departments. Clock, of course, does have some pre-OC applied to help boost over the reference model. Gigabyte is shipping the Xtreme variant of the 1080 Ti at 1632/1746MHz (OC mode) or 1607/1721 (gaming mode), toggleable through software if not manually overclocking.
Gigabyte GTX 1080 Ti Aorus Xtreme PCB, VRM, & Tear-Down
Our tear-down of this card already kicked-off cooler and PCB/VRM discussion, but we can recap a few important pieces here.
Gigabyte’s backplate on the Aorus Xtreme 1080 Ti primarily offers structural support for the card, though would lead you to believe there is also a cooling benefit with the copper insert in the backplate. We’ll test the card in A/B fashion (page 3) to determine if this copper insert actually helps in a meaningful way.
Removing the backplate reveals that the rear-side RGB LED pad is taped in place, with some of the corners overlapping the center of the mounting for front-side FETs and inductors (not covering anything important, just preventing thermal pad contact to the backplate). Regardless, unlike some backplates, this one actually does have thermal pad coverage and contact to the PCB. We recently tested MSI’s cards for this, and will link that coverage where relevant once on page 3.
Internally, Gigabyte is following the new trend of using a copper coldplate that provides coverage to both VRAM and the GPU. The copper plate coverage means that VRAM is getting directly cooled by the same finstack as the GPU, with the heat sinked into the same coldplate as the silicon (though with thermal pads between the VRAM and the plate, not thermalpaste). The VRAM will run cooler as a result, but it also means that the GPU diode temperature will appear to be warmer as a result of sharing its cooling solution with other warm components.
Considering that the new video cards run reasonably cool to begin with, there’s really not much need to fret over a few *C increase on the GPU diode – the tradeoff is worth it.
With regard to power design, the Gigabyte Xtreme 1080 Ti is using Fairchild 6823C 50A power stages for a total possible throughput of 600A on the GPU core. It’s a 12-phase VRM that takes up much of the board, and should help in spreading thermal load across a wider surface area. We’ll talk about this more on the thermal testing page.