EVGA 1080 Ti Kingpin In-Depth: VRM Components, Tear-Down, & Cooling

By Published May 29, 2017 at 8:33 am

EVGA’s GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin made its first debut to a group of press before Computex 2017, and we were given the privilege of being the first media to tear-down the card. The Kingpin edition 1080 Ti is EVGA’s highest-end video card – price TBD – and is built for extreme overclockers and enthusiasts.

The GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin uses an oversized PCB that’s similar to the FTW3, though with different components, and a two-slot cooler that partners with NTC thermistors on the VRM + VRAM components. This means that, like the FTW3, the cooling solution slaves to independent component temperatures, with a hard target of keeping all ICs under 60C (even when unnecessary or functionally useless, like for the MCUs). The Kingpin model card uses a copper-plated heatsink, six heatpipes, and the usual assortment of protrusions on the baseplate for additional surface area, but also makes accommodations for LN2 overclocking. We’ll start with detailing the air cooler, then get into LN2 and power coverage.


EVGA 1080 Ti Kingpin Air Cooler

EVGA’s using a three-fan GPM design that’s driven by two MCUs (GPU + MEM) and one NXP KL26, which replaces the third MCU with a device that has more IO pins and additional ROM space. The NXP can still communicate with the other MCUs.

Fin pitch and density are the same as the 1080 Ti FTW3, as are the milled holes and airflow channels and the multiple heatsink fin designs. L-shaped fins, closed (squared) fins, and straight fins all return on the Kingpin card, just as they were seen on the FTW3 card. The copper plating won’t heavily impact thermals and mostly adds to the look and weight of the card.

evga 1080ti kingpin 1

The Kingpin model does front some changes in the heatpipe department, though. EVGA is using composite heatpipes – generally the best option between weave, mesh, sintered, and composite – that are in two groups of three. Three 6mm heatpipes and three 8mm heatpipes run through the card, doubling up into stacks of two to increase thermal transfer capabilities in a small area. The GPU die surface area is limited, so more heatpipes doesn’t necessarily help. Here, EVGA’s just stacking them (which relies upon a patent from the heatpipe supplier), and is able to keep all the pipes under the fans as a result. This bypasses issues with other cards we’ve seen lately, like the MSI Armor, by keeping the heatpipes within the shroud + fan area.

evga 1080ti kingpin cooler 1

As for the plates, we’ve got two to speak of: The baseplate is separable into two pieces, while the backplate is a monolithic die-cast plate. This is the opposite of the SC2 & FTW3 cards, which use a monolithic baseplate and a two-piece backplate. On the latter cards, the separation on the backplate theoretically helps with thermal isolation of the components, but also is just for production and die casting reasons. On the former, the Kingpin, the separable baseplate reduces the structural aspect of the baseplate, but improves functionality. Hardcore overclockers are able to remove the left-side baseplate to accommodate LN2 pots, while keeping the right plate for VRM component cooling. The baseplate provides some cooling when case fans or CPU cooler fans draft air across the back of the video card.

EVGA 1080 Ti Kingpin PCB

The PCB is where things really start getting interesting, even if only from an engineering standpoint. Outside of power component design, the most immediately noticeable aspect of the Kingpin PCB is its gold plating – something we haven’t seen before. The gold plating exposes the inner ground layer to the outer edge of the PCB, which assists in sinking heat outward and into airflow more efficiently. In speaking with professional overclocker Kingpin, after whom the card is named, we learned that it’s reasonable to expect roughly a 5C thermal improvement from just the gold plating alone. That number isn’t exact, but provides a conservative estimate on thermal performance improvement.

evga 1080ti kingpin teardown 1

Also present on the PCB, EVBot connectors are available for owners of the old utility, with multimeter voltage checkpoints top-side and a USB2.0 header on the right-side of the card. The USB2.0 header uses the same pinout as a motherboard’s USB2.0 header, but critically permits additional voltage tuning through software, bypassing some of the BIOS limitations. Vital LEDs are adjacent to this, and can be used to visually check voltage on all the rails.

Power components, which we’re working with Buildzoid to fully analyze for GamersNexus, include all components by International Rectifier. The 10-phase design uses IR3575 MOSFETs that are doubled with IR3599 doublers, with an amperage throughput of around 400A to the GPU core in its stock state, from what our EVGA contact tells us (though we will soon have Buildzoid to analyze it all). The FBVDDQ controller is an IR3570, with additional controllers in the form of an IR3595 and PEX_VDD IR3899 controller. EVGA has configured the core VRM controller switching frequency to 350-400KHz (this is the most accurate range we were given), though it is capable of greater.

evga 1080ti kingpin side

Our tear-down video is presently rendering and uploading, but will be soon edited into this article for viewing. We’ve also got an interview with Kingpin and TiN of the EVGA OC team, who detail the card’s design in greater depth. That’s coming a bit later.

This will get us started, though.

As for the very basics, EVGA is guaranteeing a minimum overclock of 2025MHz on the card, and although it is not necessarily accurate to say that the GPUs are “binned,” it is accurate to say that they are pre-tested and selected. EVGA tests the GPUs on the PCBs to ensure that a bottom-line specification is met, and will not sell the GPU + PCB combo unless its qualifications and guarantees are fulfilled in the OC department. The card’s price is TBD, with release sometime in the next month or so – it might push into July. Hydro copper variants will exist, which will enable the card to go into single-slot configurations.

Be sure to follow our site and YouTube channel closely for coverage throughout the week. We’ll be posting different content pieces in each location. We also have plenty more EVGA coverage to come, with the rest of the vendors immediately thereafter – this just happened to be our first stop.

Editor-in-Chief: Steve Burke
Video Producer: Keegan Gallick

Last modified on May 29, 2017 at 8:33 am
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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