NVIDIA have released their latest graphics card for gamers (and VR enthusiasts). Arguably for users with incredibly deep pockets. This is a continued theme in the world of cutting-edge PC upgrades. If you want the latest, you pay a pretty price. However, this technology is rather like the world of Formula 1. It's an expensive, and elite, taster of the kind of technology that will make the mainstream in the next few years.
My existing PC rig was already creaking at the seams when it came to graphics power. It had three of the previous generation cards, the GTX980, and it could cope with just about anything I would throw at it. The current "gold standard" for gaming is 4K. This essentially requires the PC to process the equivalent of 4 x 1080 "High Def" pictures, ideally at the silky-smooth 60 frames per second. Imagine that, having to paint 8.3 million pixels 60 times a second ! Even this three card setup struggled to cope with that amount of pressure. Will the new darling of the games press live up to the hype ?
I have seen a lot of the tech sites showing benchmark data for the new 1080 compared to various other graphics cards. But given my "interesting" position of having a three card setup, I thought it would be very interesting to compare 1 card against 3, and even more interestingly, 2 cards against three. So here you have it, our 980 vs 1080 SLI benchmark.
Asus Rampage V Extreme (BIOS 1701)
Intel Core i7-5960X @ 3.00Ghz (Haswell-E)
32Gb Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666Mhz (8 x 4Gb)
Samsung 850 EVO Solid State Drive
Windows 10 Pro x64 10.0.10586 Build 10586
Cards under test
MSI Geforce GTX 980 OCV1 x 3 with Asus ROG 3 Way SLI Bridge
NVIDIA Founders Edition GTX 1080Ti x 2 with NVIDIA 2 Way SLI HB Bridge
NVIDIA Driver 378.78
“Manage 3D Settings” as Default
Applications under test
SteamVR Performance Test
Passmark Performance Test 9.0 (Build 1008)
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Unigine Valley 1.0
3DMark (Time Spy 1.0, Fire Strike 1.1)
Batman Arkham Knight
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of Mordor
All were on Ultra / 4K default settings where possible. If anyone would like to find out more specific information about graphical settings, please contact us.
This set of benchmark tests were designed to see how the new NVIDIA Geforce 1080Ti stacks up against the last generation of GPU. Specifically, we were interested in seeing how it performed singly, and under 2-way SLI against a 3-way SLI 980 configuration.
All non-essential applications were shutdown, on a fresh reboot of the PC.
Each benchmark application was set to a common standard and the tests performed three times each. The average score across all three runs was used in the reporting.
The tests were performed from a cold initial PC at the same time of day in order to maintain temps as best as possible.
Tests were not performed in lab conditions or in a freshly installed PC. This was completed on a working machine which is used daily for VR, gaming, graphical editing and other workstation activities.
There are some anomalies in these results, most notably;
SteamVR - the standard benchmark does not take into account SLI (more than one card) configurations, so effectively we are testing a single 980 against a single 1080Ti
Batman Arkham Knight - not sure of the implications here. It is perhaps a bottleneck in processor or RAM. Initially I thought it may have been the dreaded VSYNC issue, but my monitor runs at 60Hz so it's not that. I will rerun these tests at another time to double check.
Bioshock, Alien Isolation, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Passmark all act as I was expecting - the single 1080Ti out performing the Tri-SLI 980s, and the twin 1080's blowing everything away.
The Unigine benchmarks show an interesting trait of the 980s having stronger performance that the single 1080Ti.
The 3D Mark tests demonstrate that the 1080Ti is strong in specifically native 4K benchmarks (Firestrike Ultra, DirectX12).
NVIDIA have clearly set another standard with the 1080Ti. If you are looking for a gaming card, and have the resources, there is nothing out there that can touch it, and it will comfortably run the current generation of software in 4K resolution, with all the bells and whistles, at a comfortable 60FPS. Adding a second card is the very definition of overkill right now. However, with a new generation of 120 and 144Hz 4K monitors heading our way, and software developers stretching the art of the possible with graphics engines, it won't be long before the extra power will be useful.
In terms of VR usage, a single 1080 handles everything that SteamVR is expecting, at the best quality, with it's hands tied behind it's back. For that there is absolutely zero concern.
Great job NVIDIA, this is a truly epic card.