NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Overclocking & Best Playable Settings At 4K & Ultrawide – Techgage
I took an in-depth look at NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 a couple of weeks ago, and mentioned that there was more content en route. When I said that, I didn’t realize that the ever-elusive poltergeist in our lab would decide to come out and play. Thus, this article (and the others) are late; but better late than never, right?
In case you’re not familiar with this article format, it’s where we take the latest GPU and try our hand at figuring out the best settings to be used in a handful of games at appropriate resolutions, and then seek out the best possible stable overclock for the card (we’re talking undeniably 100% stable).
With that, this article has been a long time coming, so let’s just get on with it:
Our GTX 1080 Overclock
I am not even sure where to begin. When I produced this kind of article for the GTX 970 & 980, GTX 980 Ti, and GTX TITAN X, I didn’t have to fuss that much to achieve an overclock that was as stable as it was impressive. I encountered the opposite kind of ease when tackling overclocking on the GTX 1080, however.
I could dedicate an entire page outlining all of the nonsensical hassle I ran into, but for the sake of time and the desire to not bore you to death, I’ll abbreviate things here.
At first, I felt like +200MHz core and +400MHz memory was stable, as all tests I ran on these settings proved hassle-free. Those settings even managed to allow Metro Last Light Redux‘s timedemo to run at 3440×1440 / Very High 25 times over without any variation in the framerate. Imagine my surprise, then, when a day later, those same settings cut the performance advantage in half.
Max Stable GTX 1080 Overclock – Probably: +150MHz Core, +400MHz Memory
After much painstaking trial and error, it became clear to me that the pre-release EVGA Precision software we were provided was not ready for prime time – something we were warned about. Even so, the software caused me two definitive issues during testing: saving profiles was broken, and sometimes, new settings wouldn’t actually apply even though it appeared that they did.
Near the end of this personal debacle, I couldn’t for the life of me achieve the +200MHz / +400MHz overclock again; however, I did manage to get almost the exact same performance using +150MHz / +400MHz. Makes no sense, right? Exactly!
Despite that, I retained those settings (seen in the screenshot above) for the sake of testing. However, because of the amount of hassle encountered, I don’t at all feel confident that this is the perfect, or even an accurate overclock. It does however give us a gain of about 10%, which is in line with what we saw from NVIDIA’s Maxwell chips.
NVIDIA’s Pascal enables much finer control over a card’s voltages
A couple of days ago, EVGA released the final version of its Precision XOC software, versioned 6. 0.0. Installing this with a non-EVGA card turned out to be fruitless, as the software simply wouldn’t open. My hopes were heightened when I saw that a follow-up version, 6.0.1, was released, but again, the software simply refused to open. Thus, I had to use the seriously buggy ‘alpha’ build for overclocking here.
As ridiculous as this might sound: take these results with a grain of salt. For what it’s worth, using GPU-Z to monitor clocks during game tests peaked the card at around 2,000MHz. In previous tests, I hit 2,062MHz, but I haven’t been able to match that again.
This all said, I am confident that an overclock which could deliver a ~10% boost to performance will be possible for most users of a stock-clocked GTX 1080. This is based on the fact that similar gains were seen on Maxwell, and also the fact that colleagues have achieved similar gains (but with less hassle).
With that all said, let’s get into some performance testing, shall we?
|4K (3840×2160)||Min||Avg||Min||Avg||+ / –|
|3DMark Ultra Score||5074||5575||+10%|
|Ashes of the Singularity||50. 8||56.2||+11%|
|Catzilla 4K Score||7328||7966||+9%|
|Grand Theft Auto V||50||67||54||73||+9%|
|Metro Last Light Redux||12||21||13||23||+10%|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||38||43||42||47||+9%|
|The Witcher 3||38||44||41||48||+9%|
|Total War: ATTILA||27||36||30||40||+11%|
Across all of the titles tested, the gains in performance ranged between 9% and 11%. Unless of course we count DOOM, which somehow didn’t exhibit an increase at all. While my overclocking hassles were frustrating, I am confident that end-users should have a much easier time clocking their card to match these results, or perhaps even surpass them.
Once the overclocking situation stabilizes a bit, and other AIBs release their respective overclocking tools, I’ll give those a try and see if I can push the performance even further.
GTX 1080 Best Playable Settings (4K & Ultra-wide)
As I’ve done in previous dedicated articles and select graphics card reviews, I took a handful of games from our test suite, adjusted their settings to get as close to 60 FPS average as possible, and then took a screenshot to show you exactly what you can expect to see if you choose to pick up a GTX 1080.
An obvious caveat to this sort of testing is that not everyone’s tastes are the same. While I might be willing to drop ambient occlusion in favor of increased effects detail, you may not. In reality, it’s impossible to cater to everyone here, so these Best Playable results, like all of our others, are here just to act as a baseline; to give you an idea of what to expect. While 4K might be the new big thing, it’s ultrawide that will likely deliver better results (check out our review of the Acer Predator X34 for a look at Ultrawide in action).
This title might be getting a little long in the tooth where pushing the GPU hard is concerned, but it’s still a very popular game and hasn’t been replaced by a newer Battlefield title (worth replacing it with) up to this point. Plus, as the result below highlights, the game is still harsh on a GPU at 4K resolution.
|Battlefield 4 – 4K|
In order to breach the 60 FPS mark with this title, I had to reduce a couple of the settings from Ultra to High, and anti-aliasing post from High to Medium. The result is still quite good, and gives us a hint that Battlefield 1 could make it quite difficult to hit 60 FPS on this graphics card at 4K (assuming it’s been adequately upgraded).
|Battlefield 4 – Ultrawide|
As you’ll see with all of our tests, the ultrawide resolution of 3440×1440 is much easier on the GPU than 4K. In Battlefield 4‘s case, that means that the game’s max settings can be used without a tweak. While the 4K resolution had to be decreased in order to achieve 63 FPS average, the higher settings at the ultrawide resolution gave us a 61 FPS minimum.
Like Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 is another aging title in our stable. Despite that, it still pushes top-end GPUs hard, evidenced by the fact that we can’t even use Very High detail all-around at 4K with a card like the GTX 1080. That GPU strain isn’t for nothing, either; at top detail, this game is still gorgeous.
|Crysis 3 – 4K|
This result happened to be pulled straight out of our in-depth look at the GTX 1080, as it delivers the level of performance needed for our Best Playable section. The minimum FPS leaves a bit to be desired, largely because of all of the graphical effects that occur during the battle in this particular scene. In most cases, you won’t notice the frame drop too much as you’ll be trying to stay alive.
|Crysis 3 – Ultrawide|
At the top-dog ultrawide resolution of 3440×1440, Very High detail was able to be used on the most important settings, while High was left in tact for a few others.
If you took even a quick glance at the overclocking section above, you’ll know that I encountered some nonsense that just can’t be explained. Well, DOOM gave me a similar experience. When benchmarked at High and Medium at 4K, I get roughly the same result. Makes no sense, right? Exactly! (Sorry, it felt appropriate to do that a second time.)
|DOOM – 4K|
If there’s an upside to not hitting 60 FPS here (which would require a Low overall setting), I would personally consider 42~52 FPS to be totally playable; at least, I never felt like the game was running any slower than 60 FPS outside of the battles (but as mentioned before, you’re not likely to notice a frame drop when you are trying to stay alive. )
|DOOM – Ultrawide|
Continuing tradition, the ultrawide resolution allows the game to run at very high settings, which includes a healthy serving of Ultra and most dials maxed out.
Grand Theft Auto V
While there’s no denying that GTA V is a great game, what might not be so much fun is tweaking the graphics settings. There’s just so many of them, so finding a sweet spot can be a little challenging. However, because the GTX 1080 is such a powerful card, it actually wasn’t that difficult to find Best Playable settings here.
|Grand Theft Auto V – 4K|
For the most part, I’d almost consider this “max detail”, but there are a couple of dials that had to be turned down, such as anti-aliasing, depth of field effects, and NVIDIA TXAA. This assortment of settings delivers performance that doesn’t dip below 50 FPS, and averages 66 FPS.
|Grand Theft Auto V – Ultrawide|
Compared to the 4K resolution, the ultrawide best playable settings add MSAA, TXAA, depth of field effects, and improves the shadows – and manages to give us an extra 1 FPS on top.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
If you’re looking for a modern game that will please your eyeballs, Rise of the Tomb Raider can help with that. That is, at least, if you have the GPU horsepower to back the game’s demands up. At 4K, you’re going to be needing a lot of GPU juice at the ready, unless you’re willing to see a whole lot of ‘Medium’.
|Rise of the Tomb Raider – 4K|
I’m not sure how this game scales with SLI, but I hope it scales well, because at 4K, you’d want dual GPUs to power the game at high detail. Despite the moderate settings, the screenshot here can attest that the game will still look great, so maybe you can overlook that second GPU?
|Rise of the Tomb Raider – Ultrawide|
Yet again, the difference in settings allowed between 4K and ultrawide is great. While 4K had to settle with moderate settings, 3440×1440 allows the game to run with full detail levels.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I said that Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best-looking games out there right now, but I’d have to slot it in behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The game is jam-packed with eye candy, and a truly vast world to explore. At high-resolution, it’s downright gorgeous.
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 4K|
As with RotTR, The Witcher 3 will need Medium settings across the board in order to run smoothly at 4K with the GTX 1080. That’s really impressive when you think about it, considering the fact that the 1080 is the fastest single-GPU solution going right now.
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Ultrawide|
It’s probably safe to say that the GTX 1080 is the ‘ultimate’ card for Wild Hunt at 3440×1440, as almost everything can be maxed out without worry. The exceptions to speak of is that HairWorks maxed-out was chosen in favor of HBAO+ (which was knocked down to SSAO). In my opinion (and the opinion of a few others on the Techgage team), HairWorks adds a lot more to the game than a bump from SSAO to HBAO+ does.
What can we take away from this long page? For starters, while I had a ridiculous time overclocking the card, you’ll be able to avoid the same issues I did. However, what I am not confident about are the clocks that I provided, because while the application (EVGA Precision) shows +150MHz Core and +400MHz Memory, hassles incurred during testing make me believe I could have achieved the same exact real performance with different settings. Once I get more stable overclocking software, I’ll be able to verify this.
Nonetheless, as we saw with the top-flight Maxwell cards, you can see at least a ~10% improvement in performance when clocking a GTX 1080 beyond NVIDIA’s stock speeds. As mentioned earlier, my real top limit was around 2,000MHz. NVIDIA has told me this level of boost is expected when overclocking, although dedicated clockers are likely to push the card even higher.
As for the Best Playable results? The GTX 1080 isn’t a “4K card” like many were hoping, which isn’t an insult to the card but rather a testament to just how hardcore that resolution is. It’s also a reason I think folks should consider a 3440×1440 ultrawide monitor, because it’s not just able to provide a wider view of your games, it can run a lot faster, as well.
None of this is much of a surprise thanks to simple math: ultrawide is 21:9, not 16:9 (like 4K, 1080p), and it’s just 5 megapixels, not 8. As seen in the above performance results, some games that couldn’t go beyond Medium settings in games at 4K could be pushed to Very High at 3440×1440 thanks to the drop in megapixels.
At the end of the day, you have to choose between a resolution that’s far more demanding on a GPU at the same aspect ratio of most of the monitors on the market today, or opt for a wider resolution that happens to be a lot easier on the GPU.
Whatever you choose, the GTX 1080 is one hell of a card, and at this point, the only thing we want to see is how AMD’s Polaris is going to compare. The first Polaris cards are rumored to launch at the end of June, so our wait for the answers to our questions won’t take much longer to get here.
It’s going to be a fun summer!
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Overclocking the GTX 1080 with Precision XOC
We have reviewed the GTX 1080 with our full benchmark suite of 26 games this last Tuesday for BTR’s readers, and we have concluded that at stock settings, it is the fastest single-GPU video card in the world, beating the GTX 980 Ti, the TITAN X, and the Fury X by large margins. Increases in bandwidth and power efficiency allow the GTX 1080 to run at really high clock speeds over 1733MHz at stock, while only using 180 watts of power.
In fact, our stock GTX 1080 is just about as fast as GTX 980 SLI! After seeing what Jensen’s team accomplished at the GTX 1080 launch by achieving 2100MHz on the core, we were excited to see what stable overclock that we could get with our sample of the Founder’s Edition of the GTX 1080.
Unfortunately, originally we were only able to spend a few minutes overclocking our GTX 1080’s core by +190MHz and added +150MHz offset to its memory, and were able to give some very promising but preliminary reports of good stability and scaling.
Today, we will present our final stable overclock using EVGA’s latest non-public beta of Precision X16, or Precision XOC with our entire game benchmark suite of 26 games and 1 synthetic, and will give you a report on our adventure in overclocking the GTX 1080. EVGA’s Precision XOC or Precision X 16 will be released to the public shortly, in less than 5 days and it features a scanner for a semi-automatic new way to set overclocks to fully unlock the new Pascal GPU’s Boost 3. 0.
Let’s get right to the test configuration, to the driver release notes, and then to our overclocking method, and finally to the 26-game overclocked results.
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7-4790K (reference 4.0GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost is locked on to 4.4GHz by the motherboard’s BIOS; DX11 CPU graphics), supplied by Intel.
- ASUS Z97-E motherboard (Intel Z97 chipset, latest BIOS, PCIe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
- Kingston 16 GB HyperX Beast DDR3 RAM (2×8 GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz, supplied by Kingston)
- GTX 1080, 8GB, Founder’s Edition, reference clocks supplied by Nvidia and also overclocked +190MHz core and +400MHz memory offsets.
- 2TB Toshiba 7200 rpm HDD
- EVGA 1000G 1000W power supply unit
- Cooler Master 2.0 Seidon, supplied by Cooler Master
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
- ASUS 12X Blu-ray writer
- Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K
Test Configuration – Software
- Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Launch Drivers 368. 13 and 368.16 for overclocking (they only differ in that 368.16 enabled Precision X). High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display.
- VSync is off in the control panel.
- AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied
- All results show average frame rates including minimum frame rates shown in italics on the chart next to the averages in smaller font.
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
- Clean install of Windows 10 64-bit Home edition; all DX11 titles were run under DX11 render paths. Our DX12 titles are run under the DX12 render path. Latest DirectX
- All games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication.
- EVGA’s Precision XOC, latest non-public beta version Precision X16 released 5/16/2016.
The 26 PC Game benchmark suite & 1 synthetic test
- Firestrike – Basic & Extreme
- Crysis 3
- Metro: Last Light Redux (2014)
- GRID: Autosport
- Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor
- Alien Isolation
- Dragon’s Age: Inquisition
- Dying Light
- Total War: Attila
- Grand Theft Auto V
- the Witcher 3
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- Mad Max
- Fallout 4
- Star Wars Battlefront
- Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
- Just Cause 3
- Rainbow Six Siege
- DiRT Rally
- Far Cry Primal
- Tom Clancy’s The Division
- DOOM (*OpenGL game)
- DX12 Games
- Ashes of the Singularity
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
Nvidia’s Control Panel settings:
Overclocking with Precision XOC – EVGA Precision X16 non-public Beta
Precision XOC is still in beta and yet it offers these features which implement all capabilities of GPU Boost 3. 0, including:
- Per voltage point frequency offsets
- Support for integrated OC scanners
- Overvoltaging controls
Precision XOC uses an integrated scanner that we ran. It runs FurMark, an OpenGL program, to attempt to find the highest stable overclock.
There are some known Issues that will be fixed for public release which I also encountered
- Temperature limits are wrongly reported as the power target limit.
- Recovery from the overclock scanner crashes usually crashes the driver and it will stop responding but sometimes recover.
- Too high of an end scan point will lead to hard crashes which require a reboot.
- The scanner cannot test the theoretical max clock to find all of the available headroom yet
We definitely experienced crashes – one after another until we finally gave up on using the scanner and we finally decided to manually overclock.
UI (User Interface)
The UI is still a work in progress. Here is the stock Precision XOC when you first open it. We have clicked on the yellow triangle on the left to open the voltage adjustment and we have moved it to 100% in the red (below left).
There are additional functions as the yellow triangles navigate to different top level pages.
- Over-voltage is accessed by clicking the area left of the sliders near the lightning bolt icon.
- Monitoring can be accessed on the 3rd page and can be expanded by double clicking on the monitoring graphs
All scanner pages use blue and green which mean:
- Blue is the default V/F curve
- Green is the overclock settings curve
- You can adjust the curves by clicking the area above the blue section
Hit apply to apply any changes you wish to make or default to cancel.
- Linear mode active voltage points are denoted by the green bars at the top of the columns
- You can assign a curve by selecting the voltage column and a desired frequency along the Y-axis
- Hitting the default button will clear your VF curve for all modes
This can be used to help set your maximum overclock.
Basic uses the same overclocking method available to Maxwell by assigning a standard offset to all voltage points and if you assign a curve by selecting a frequency for any voltage and an offset curve is set automatically – just hit apply to set or default to clear it.
This didn’t work for us very well as we had too many crashes with the scan mode which should otherwise be able to give the user a good idea of the GPU’s overclocking capabilities. We did run with Vsync off which is critical to success but this is what we got:
So we finally set everything manually. Here is Precision XOC at default running looped Heaven 2.0, and notice that the core clock will throttle below 1733MHz when it gets too warm.
Next all we did next was to set the Power Target and the Temperature Target to maximum, and we continued to loop Heaven:
Now we see a boost well above 1733MHz. Everything else remains at stock and this is how we run our basic testing of the stock GTX 1080.
Now we overclocked to our highest stable frequency. Notice that the Power Target is reduced from the maximum 120% down to 110% as this same overclock was not completely stable with a maximum Power Target. Also, notice how the Heaven scores continue to increase sequentially with each change that we made.
We achieved a final stable overclock of +190 MHz to the core which settled in above 1950MHz with GPU Boost while Heaven looped continually. No matter what we tried – maximum voltage, fan at 100%, a cold room – we could not achieve a +200MHz offset.
Our GTX 1080’s GDDR5X memory also took a final offset +400MHz to achieve a 5400MHz final stable memory clock. We noticed that there is a memory hole with instability around +500MHz offset, and that we could then push it even higher to +600MHz, but we lost some performance compared with a +400MHz offset.
So ultimately, the final stable overclock for BTR’s GTX 1080 sample is +190MHz core offset leading to an average boost over 1950MHz and a +400MHz memory offset resulting in a 5400MHz memory clock. This is with a power target of +110% (not 120% which is unstable) and a temperature target of 91C. However, there were 2 problematic games out of 26 games that required an adjustment downward – GTA V (which has always been extremely sensitive to all overclocking) and Ashes of the Singularity (which has been somewhat problematic for Nvidia cards) which required lowering the offset by 20MHz to +170MHz offset.
Perhaps once Precision X is finalized, our GTX 1080 overclock will go even higher with more stable fine-tuning of voltage, but this overclock is what we have now. Let’s see the performance results of 26 games with our games at stock GTX 1080 speeds compared with our highest stable overclock.
The Summary Chart & Conclusion
Below is the summary chart for 26 games and 1 synthetic test. The highest settings are always chosen, and it is DX11 when there is a choice (except for Ashes of the Singularity, Hitman, & Rise of the Tomb Raider which are always run in DX12), and the settings are ultra. Specific in-game settings are listed on the charts.
The benches are run at 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 since testing at 1920×1080 makes no sense as most of those results are CPU-limited. All results, except for Firestrike, show average framerates and higher is always better. Minimum framerates are displayed next to the averages in smaller font which is italicized. In-game settings are fully maxed out and they are identically high or ultra across all platforms. Only GTA V and Ashes of the Singularity had some instability with our overclock, although the display driver never stopped responding, and the GTX 1080’s core clock was lowered by -20MHz to +170MHz offset to properly complete the benchmarks instead of raising the voltage which was kept at stock.
We generally see good scaling with most of our games with this moderate overclock of the GTX 1080 over stock settings. In some cases, the framerate increase makes a difference to the playability of some of the games, especially at 4K. For example, Dragon’s Age: Inquisition, The Division, and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate minimums rise above 30 fps at 4K after overclocking, and several games have minimums rise from the 50s to above 60 fps at 2560×1440 after the GTX 1080 is overclocked.
Let’s head to our conclusion
We would highly recommend overclocking the GTX 1080 with the new Precision XOC after it is released to the public in less than 5 days. Overclockers will enjoy its new features which fully unlock Pascal’s GPU Boost 3.0, and as the scanner becomes more stable, overclocks should be a lot easier to set.
For many games in our benching suite, overclocking moderately, even without increasing the voltage or the fan profile, brought noticeable and practical gains in several games, sometimes making a difference to performance especially in borderline situations at 4K and at 2560×1440.
We have a lot of interesting upcoming evaluations planned for our readers. We will also have a contest this month, open to all of BTR’s Community members. In the meantime, join BTR’s Community for great tech discussions and also feel free to comment on this Overclocking Analysis in the comments section below.
Review and testing of MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk: cool Pascal (page 6)
First of all, let’s resort to manual overclocking, which amounted to +137 MHz for the core and +125 MHz for memory. It is worth emphasizing that the video card quite confidently kept the set frequencies under load.
To obtain these results, the tangential fan was fixed at 55% or 1800 rpm to keep the power subsystem temperature at 80°C.
Thanks to user Abuser and his thread, an interesting fact was revealed: the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk uses a reference BIOS version with a lower power consumption limit. The TDP level is 190W versus the original 217W with a peak of 225W. And you say that only AMD video cards can boast of such a feature.
The question arises: why should the developers of such a high-quality video card, which is also equipped with a powerful cooling system, make sacrifices? Is it only meant for silence? Let’s try to get more.
As an alternative, and for further overclocking, the BIOS firmware of the Inno3D iChiLL GeForce GTX 1080 X3 model was used. There, factory overclocking is higher, and the limits are completely different.
Now the average is 230W, and the maximum TDP can be up to 260W. I recall horror stories about the Radeon RX 480: the TDP package is wired at around 150 W, and the model “eats” all 180 W. Nothing will burn? Now we’ll check.
First, let’s note the smoother and more stable operation of the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk. The video card overclocked to 2000 MHz without a single drawdown at a comfortable noise level and heating.
Interestingly, in the case of the Inno3D iChiLL GeForce GTX 1080 X3, the speed of the impellers is limited to 1550 rpm, but you will learn about this in the material dedicated to this model, which is being prepared.
What about overclocking? On the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk, we managed to achieve another extra 41 MHz in the core, and the final result reached 2126-2152 MHz! All turntables worked at 100%, which is quite comfortable at 1550 and 1650 rpm.
About ten runs of the 3DMark Fire Strike stability test.
Examining the potential of the cooling system
Below is a graph of the temperature of the graphics core / power system and noise versus the speed of the cooling fans. This video card is devoid of sensors in the area of the power subsystem, the readings were taken using an IR thermometer.
Results of a study of the potential of the cooling system.
More than fifty iterations of tests and measurements demonstrate all the capabilities of the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk hybrid cooling system. It is worth noting that the developers have set up the CO profile algorithms quite well and there is little point in interfering with their work: the only feature is the low TDP threshold. We also emphasize the quiet operation of the pump.
Electricity consumption level
Graph of electricity consumption of the whole bench depending on video card frequencies and GPU operating voltage.
System power consumption, W
Power supply outlet
Plain | Heaven Benchmark 4.0 | MSI Kombustor
2D power consumption measured with system idle (desktop). Testing in Heaven BenchMark 4.0 was carried out at the following settings — quality: ultra, tessellation: extreme, AA8x, 1920 x 1080; MSI Kombustor — 2xMSAA, 1920 x 1080.
The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk is a good attempt by the two companies to present a model with a cooling system that combines air and liquid cooling principles. True, enthusiasts have been doing something similar with their video cards for a long time, but in this case, manufacturers are doing it on an industrial scale, supplying their brainchild not only with an attractive design, but also with an official guarantee.
Of course, we can say that there are ready-made LSSs designed for graphics accelerators. For example, a couple of such solutions were considered by my colleague Konstantin R. aka RKR in the article “Review and testing of video coolers Arctic Accelero Hybrid III-120 and Accelero Hybrid III-140”, however, in their case, developers sometimes forget about cooling the power unit or do not pay due attention to it, and indeed these structures look more cumbersome. But back to the tested model.
The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk turned out to be quite an interesting video card with a well-thought-out cooler and mounting design, high workmanship, low noise level and comfortable temperatures. Unfortunately, there were some remarks, this is not high factory overclocking for such a model, and a limitation in the BIOS, and the cost.
It only remains to say that in testing the novelty proved to be good and showed the high efficiency of the hybrid cooling system. However, such models are taken not only for silence, but also for high overclocking, and here you will have to face limitations and look for ways to remove them.
Nefedov Petr aka
We would like to thank:
- Regard Company for providing the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Sea Hawk video card for testing;
- And personally donnerjack .
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Testing the GeForce GTX 1080 in 4K
Ultra HD 4K monitors enhance our gaming experience with ultra-clear visuals. But the resolution of 3840×2160 is still the lot of wealthy enthusiasts, because the performance requirements in this mode are extremely high. The power of video cards is growing every year, but the graphics in modern games are also constantly improving. Among modern graphics solutions, the GeForce GTX Titan X and GeForce GTX 1080 based on the new Kepler family of GPUs offer the highest level of performance. Is one flagship graphics card enough for 4K? Let’s find out on the example of the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition.
A detailed review of this reference video card was made earlier. We will now focus exclusively on performance at 3840×2160. Testing will be carried out in 17 games with maximum graphics quality. In particularly demanding games, small adjustments to the settings will be made to maintain maximum image quality while achieving optimal performance. All tests were carried out at standard frequencies GeForce GTX 1080 and overclocked.
At the heart of the graphics card is a GP104 processor with 2560 CUDA cores, which operates with a floating Boost frequency — a base value of 1607 MHz, an average Boost Clock of 1733 MHz, and brief peak values up to 1886 MHz. The 8 GB GDDR5X memory operates at an effective data rate of 10 GHz. When overclocked, the base frequency increased by 195 MHz to 1802 MHz (peak Boost values up to 2088 MHz), the memory was overclocked to 11404 MHz. This overclock is slightly lower than what was used on this video card at lower resolutions, but the load in 4K is higher, which allowed us to identify artifacts at higher frequencies and limit ourselves to the indicated values.
Description of other parameters of the test computer below.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-6950X @4.1 GHz
- motherboard: MSI X99S MPOWER
- graphics card: GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition
- memory: DDR4 Kingston HyperX HX430C15SB2K4/16, 3000 MHz, 4×4 GB
- hard drive: Hitachi HDS721010CLA332, 1 TB
- power supply: Seasonic SS-750KM
- operating system: Windows 10 x64
- GeForce driver: NVIDIA GeForce 372.54
The test applications are listed alphabetically according to their name. In each case, the configuration settings and comments on the testing methodology will be indicated. For testing, some repeatable scenes were replayed or benchmarks were used, if there are any in the game. For clarity, there are also small videos recording gameplay in 4K with an fps counter on an overclocked GeForce GTX 1080 video card. Video capture was carried out using NVIDIA ShadowPlay as part of the GeForce Experience application. After the start of ShadowPlay, short-term jumps in the frame rate and instability in the readings during the first couple of seconds are possible, which must be taken into account when watching videos.
Dark Souls 3
Testing in Dark Souls 3 was done by repeating a small sequence of actions in accordance with our other tests in the game. A video of the test sequence is available here.
The graphics quality is set to maximum and the automatic quality change option is disabled, which prevents the possibility of lowering the settings in difficult moments. The game runs under DirectX 11.
Test results at standard frequencies and overclocked are shown below.
The nominal GeForce GTX 1080 produces about 40 fps in this game. Overclocking allows you to increase performance by 10-11% and increase the minimum fps level above the bar of 40 frames.
As an example, a small game segment from the beginning of the game. It will give you an idea of what Dark Souls 3 looks like in 4K, and the frame counter in the corner will give you an idea of the performance of the GeForce GTX 1080 in overclocking.
When capturing video, the GeForce GTX 1080 ran at 1802-2088/11404 MHz. Loading video memory at the peak reached 5.8 GB. Thanks to ShadowPlay, the video capture process is practically free, although it can reduce overall performance by a couple of percent.
The highest quality profile was selected for the game and the level of anisotropic filtering was additionally increased to the maximum. Among anti-aliasing, TSAA 8TX mode is selected. The game ran under the OpenGL 4.5 API. In this environment, you can use convenient tools for monitoring and controlling fps with recording results. With the Vulkan API, third-party utilities do not fix fps above the monitor’s refresh rate, i.e. above 60 frames per second.
Large open locations show the biggest performance drops. Therefore, testing was carried out by repeating a simple sequence of actions at the beginning of the level «Sanctuary of Kadingir».
Even at par, the GeForce GTX 1080 produces about 60 fps, although drawdowns of up to 50 fps are possible. overclocking improves performance by 8%. This level of performance will suit the most demanding player. Video memory loading reaches 5 GB.
To evaluate the performance in dynamics, you can take a look at the following game scene in a steel mill.
As you can see, with the GeForce GTX 1080 you can safely count on 60 fps in DOOM even with OpenGL. Activating the Vulkan API will give a small additional boost.
Performance issues in the game at lower resolutions on the example of video cards of a simpler level were discussed earlier in a separate article.
Fallout 4 RPG remains relevant thanks to numerous additions. Initially, testing was carried out at standard settings of maximum quality, then testing was carried out with the additional inclusion of HBAO + shading, which improves the overall perception of the picture quite well. More details about this shading and other NVIDIA graphics technologies in the game are described in detail in a special material.
Testing was carried out by replaying our standard test scene, 6 repetitions were made.
In normal Ultra-mode, the GeForce GTX 1080 averages about 47 fps, but in some moments with light rays, short drawdowns of up to 30 fps are possible. After activating HBAO+, performance drops by 12-18%. Serious reduction, at lower resolutions the difference between SSAO and HBAO+ is more modest. Overclocking gives an acceleration of about 10%, which allows you to smooth out the experience and reach 46 fps in the average game with a minimum level of about 29fps. With such indicators, you can already play comfortably.
Below is a video of a short walk around the game in Ultra mode with HBAO+. The video clearly shows how performance varies depending on the conditions. Serious drawdowns are noticeable in moments of dense sunlight at dawn, but in general this does not interfere with the gameplay.
Approximately 3.5 GB memory load in the heaviest graphics mode. If you want to stabilize performance and minimize the chance of drops, check out our Fallout 4 graphics settings guide to fine-tune your settings. The most obvious way to drastically increase fps in scenes with sun rays is to lower the rendering quality of these rays by one step.
Far Cry Primal
The graphics quality is set to maximum. Initially, testing was carried out with standard textures, then with high-resolution textures, which were released for the game in one of the later updates.
Standard game benchmark is used for testing.
At maximum quality settings, the GeForce GTX 1080 produces the same results with standard and enhanced textures. In the second case, the use of video memory in the test is slightly less than 5 GB, and in a real game in long sessions it can be higher. Overclocking improves performance by 11%, allowing even the minimum frame rate to exceed 40 fps, and reach about 47 fps in the average game value.
For clarity, here is a small game fragment, in which it is clearly seen that the frame rate of the game is quite consistent with the results of the benchmark.
Additionally, reducing Motion Blur improves the clarity and sharpness of the final image. This operation will further improve the gaming experience and increase performance by a few percent.
Performance in Far Cry Primal at lower resolutions on mid-range graphics cards and below is disclosed in a separate test.
Forza Horizon 3
This racing game has just been released. Works only under Windows 10 and DirectX 12. The Ultra quality profile is selected, but only high-quality MSAA 4x anti-aliasing is active from anti-aliasing modes, and FXAA is disabled. Also deactivated the dynamic optimization item so that the game does not change the quality settings depending on the load. Unlocked all framerate restrictions.
For testing, the first race was replayed, when you chase an opponent suspended from a helicopter on a buggy. The track passes through various areas with dense vegetation, you have to overcome the water at the same time, raising a lot of spray. This race is visually very diverse and one of the most difficult for a video card.
The GeForce GTX 1080 can easily handle Forza Horizon 3 in 4K. At standard frequencies, the average frame rate is at the level of 50 fps, and even in the most difficult moments there are no drawdowns below 41-42 fps. And that’s all with gorgeous environmental detailing with MSAA 4x anti-aliasing. Acceleration gives the usual acceleration of about 10%.
Let’s take a video of a test race as an example.
We only note that the testing itself took place from the moment of the start to the big jump towards the end of the race, and the race was repeated 6 times for more accurate final data.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Another game for Windows 10 and DirectX 12. This is a re-release of the first part of Gears of War with improved graphics. The standard profile of maximum quality (High) is selected without the use of 4K textures.
Testing was carried out using the built-in benchmark by fixing the final results after a continuous two-minute test. For more accurate final data, four runs were performed.
The final results are excellent, because even at nominal the average frame rate is over 70 fps. In a real game, the performance is more uneven, in some scenes there are about 50 fps. But the overall level of performance is still high.
You can evaluate the capabilities of the GeForce GTX 1080 with increased frequencies in this game on the example of a video walkthrough, which is posted on our channel. Below is the first part of the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition walkthrough in 4K. This part was filmed with the old video driver, in a couple of moments you can observe brief drawdowns up to 40 fps, with the current driver the frame rate is higher.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition experience and testing in easier modes in a separate article. Also, an article on Gears of War 4 will be released soon. Stay tuned for our updates!
Just Cause 3
Beautiful open world sandbox game where you can blow up almost anything. For the game, the maximum graphics quality parameters are selected with all additional effects active. SMAA is selected from anti-aliasing modes. The game has a heavier version of SMAA T2x, which blurs the picture a little, and it was decided not to use it.
Testing in Just Cause 3 followed our standard methodology, repeating a specific test sequence, which includes driving on roads and blowing up cars in a parking lot.
The average frame rate on the GeForce GTX 1080 tends to be 50 fps. At some moments with massive explosions, drawdowns of up to 34-39 fps are possible, depending on the frequency of the video card. These indicators are quite consistent with the level of comfortable gameplay.
As an example, let’s take one of the first missions, where the performance is even slightly higher than the test figures.
Just Cause 3 video memory loading at 5.2 GB in 4K mode.
Killing Floor 2
We recently wrote about Killing Floor 2, where we also tested video cards in 1920×1080 and 2560×1440 resolutions. It’s time to experience the game in 4K. And for testing this time, a more complex sequence of actions was used with active firing from a small grenade launcher.
The graphics quality is set to maximum. In addition, «little pieces» based on NVIDIA Flex technology are involved. These additional effects are only available on NVIDIA graphics cards. We will talk more about these effects in a separate article.
The GeForce GTX 1080 averages around 45 fps. Rare drawdowns of up to 36 fps occur during moments of shooting and massive explosions with a bunch of lumps, which is largely due to the effects of Flex.