Over the past year, gamers looking to build their own PCs have consistently been told to wait. This is what they were being told to wait for — NVIDIA announced their newest graphics cards this past weekend, and they not only blow past the previous top tier cards, they’re somehow much cheaper. I sure hope you didn’t buy a Titan card recently.
The GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 are based on NVIDIA’s new Pascal architecture. The highest-end card, the 1080, is said to be as much as three times as powerful as the GTX 980, although relative performance depends on the game — consider 3x to be the upper bound. Because this thing is going to get pushed to the limit, NVIDIA has given the 1080 a more advanced cooling system, using a vapor chamber to dissipate heat.
The boost clock speed on the GPU is 1733 MHz, using 2,560 NVIDIA CUDA cores. It uses 8 GB of GDDR5X memory that runs at 10 Gbps. All of NVIDIA’s flagship features are supported, including SLI (imagine using two of these together), G-SYNC, GameStream, and GPU Boost. SLI is more attractive than ever, too — NVIDIA is introducing the HB Bridge, which doubles the bandwidth available for data transferred between graphics cards, one of the features unique to the 1080. The 1080 will have a Display Port, HDMI 2.0, and DL-DVI, and, unsurprisingly, can support gaming at up to 8k resolution at a 60 Hz refresh rate.
NVIDIA recommends saving 500W for power consumption, but the 1080 can run on 180W, making it the most efficient card NVIDIA has ever produced. As power has gone up, power consumption has consistently gone up for NVIDIA cards over the years. The 1080 is the first time NVIDIA has taken a huge step back in consumption while taking a huge leap forward in performance. For game developers and engineers in need of all that power, upgrading systems to the 1080 could save a considerable amount of money on energy costs.
Why so much power? Hard to see anyone gaming at 8k, right? The answer is VR — creating persistent 360-degree virtual worlds that look sharp enough to actually be immersive is going to take an incredible amount of power. You can see in the VR games available today that both development and GPU technology isn’t there yet — once you’re strapped in and the screen is that close to your eyes, you can’t help but see jaggies and pixels. The 1080 should be the card that helps put VR over the top, although we’ll have to wait a while for developers to create games that push the card to its limits.
Considering all that, the price is pretty stunning. The GTX 1080 has a recommended price of $600. Keep in mind, this beats the previously top-tier Titan X card in power consumption and performance, and the Titan X sells for well over $1,000. The less powerful GTX 1070 still beats the Titan X, and will sell for just $380, making it maybe the greatest value buy in the history of graphics cards. Both will be available for $700 and $450 respectively as Founders edition cards straight from NVIDIA next month, with other component manufacturers releasing their 1080 and 1070 cards later in the year.