With the release of the GeForce GTX 1080, NVIDIA has cemented its status as a leader in the high-end graphics solutions segment. The new flagship has no alternatives yet, offering maximum performance. The standard version of the Founders Edition gives a good combination of temperature and noise characteristics. For those who want even more and better, NVIDIA partners are releasing non-reference cards with more powerful cooling and higher frequencies. Among them is Gigabyte, which offered several modifications of the GeForce GTX 1080. In this review, we will consider a video card from the G1 Gaming line with the code number GV-N1080G1 GAMING-8GD.
Gigabyte GV-N1080G1 GAMING-8GD
The video card comes in a large box, which is designed in a typical style for the company’s products.
The Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming card itself offers a recognizable design. Its length is 28 centimeters. The dual-slot cooling system is equipped with three fans, which are distinguished by an unusual shape of the blades.
The video card looks solid and outwardly attractive. The fact that the casing is made of thin plastic spoils the feeling a little.
The back side is protected by a metal plate that completely covers the PCB. In the corner there is one eight-pin power connector.
On the side of the case there is a large Gigabyte inscription and an indicator of the operation of the fans. In operation, they are highlighted in different colors.
By default, the backlight color changes smoothly across the entire color spectrum. Through the software, you can enable other modes and adjust colors.
The rear panel has a standard configuration of interface connectors: three DisplayPort, one each HDMI and DVI.
Let’s take a closer look at the WindForce 3X cooling system. Its general design is similar to that implemented in the Gigabyte GV-N980G1 Gaming-4GD cooling, but fewer heat pipes are used. Also, instead of a large copper plate at the base, direct contact with the surface of the graphics chip is implemented.
Three thick heat pipes are a rod that carries two sections of thin aluminum plates. At the point of contact with the GPU, they are tightly fitted to each other to provide maximum contact area. The imprint of the thermal paste clearly shows that there is no point in a larger number of tubes, three just cover the entire area of the GP104 crystal. Around the contact area with the core there is a plate for contact with memory chips. The second section of the radiator has a stepped contact pad for the elements of the power unit. In the photo, you can see that one of the thermal pads cracked from strong pressure, which indicates good contact and high-quality heat dissipation.
On the front side, a casing with fans is installed on the radiator, fixed with screws.
Three Power Logic fans with a diameter of 80 mm are responsible for blowing. Their impeller is made according to a unique design.
The blades have additional teeth and grooves that allow you to create a more powerful air flow.
The plate covering the back of the board performs not only a protective function. She is also a radiator. One large thermal pad is placed in the area of the memory chips, and the other is in contact with the field-effect transistors, which are placed on the back of the PCB.
The PCB itself uses a rather complex design with many electronic components that are spaced apart on two sides. The electronic components and manufacturing technology of the board meet the internal quality standard of Ultra Durable VGA.
The power supply system is built according to the «8 + 2» phase scheme. The cooling system provides direct heat dissipation from all power components in the GPU power circuit and from a number of chokes.
The GP104-400-A1 processor operates 2560 stream processors. It is made using the 16nm FinFET process technology.
Eight gigabytes of GDDR5X memory are recruited with Micron Micron D9TXS chips.
Gigabyte Gaming video cards support several operating modes with different frequencies. By default, the base core frequency is 1696 MHz with Boost Clock 1835 MHz. Effective memory frequency 10 GHz.
This combination of frequencies corresponds to the Gaming profile. OC Mode offers core frequencies of 1721/1860 MHz. Note that the test samples from ASUS and MSI have a BIOS that is initially set to the maximum frequency configuration. Gigabyte does not practice this. However, the difference between these modes for the new Pascal video cards is minimal. We will verify this after comparing the performance of Gigabyte Gaming at initial frequencies and in OC Mode.
In addition to the voiced modes, there is also an Eco profile to minimize noise. It offers lower frequencies at 1607/1746 MHz, which are almost the same as recommended. Switching between modes is carried out through the utility Gigabyte Xtreme Engine. The choice of a profile is carried out in one click on the corresponding button in the main menu.
At the same time, the Gigabyte Xtreme Engine has ample opportunities for fine manual tuning, allowing you to control frequencies or fan speeds. In particular, three profiles are provided for the fans, and with manual settings, you yourself set the graph for the dependence of speed on temperatures. All this is very clear and convenient.
In the LED menu, you can change the type of color effects for highlighting the video card, change the key colors.
Pascal video cards support the new GPU Boost 3.0 technology, which provides for the possibility of different frequency shifts when the supply voltage changes. And this can be adjusted manually using the Gigabyte utility, establishing a non-linear relationship between Boost and voltage. In fact, this means that for some intermediate Boost voltage states, you can slightly increase the frequency delta by which the core of the video card is accelerated. But since all this has a minimal effect on the resulting performance and requires a thorough check for stability, such experiments are the lot of especially scrupulous enthusiasts.
And of course there are direct settings for frequency, power limit and supply voltage. Along the way, accurate monitoring of all parameters is carried out, a familiar window with parameter graphs opens by clicking on the Monitor button.
To illustrate the state of the video card, we will resort to the usual screenshots from MSI Afterburner. At initial frequencies, short-term Boost peaks could reach 1960 MHz. During testing in Tom Clancy’s The Division, the actual frequency was close to 1900 MHz. In Metro: Last Light, the Boost frequency was slightly lower, with occasional drops to the level of 1823-1835 MHz.
The average fan speed under gaming load was 2100-2300 rpm. Gigabyte’s fans are fairly quiet, but there is still some noise at these speeds. But the temperature of the core was kept within 71–72 °C, which is 10 °C lower than the heating of the reference. Note that these figures are obtained at an ambient temperature of 27 °C. In a cool room, the fan speed and noise may be slightly lower.
Is the Eco mode very different? We tested this with Metro: Last Light. But after switching to this mode, the core temperature and fan speed did not actually change. The Boost frequency was below 1800 MHz.
As an experiment, the video card was tested in Metro: Last Light with a fixed fan speed at a comfortable level of 1900 rpm.
The result is good. The peak temperature did not exceed 77°C, which is still below the reference heating level. So, if in terms of noise the video card does not satisfy you initially, then with manual settings you will reach the desired compromise.
In terms of overclocking, the GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming card showed quite a standard result, justifying the earlier assumption that all models have about the same ceiling. Relative to the initial level, the base core frequency was raised by 90 MHz. Increasing the voltage by one step provided some Boost in some applications.
With a base frequency of 1786 MHz, peak Boost reached 2050 MHz. In Tom Clancy’s The Division, the real Boost did not drop below 2000 MHz (lower left screenshot). But in Metro: Last Light, he swam approximately within 1950-2000 MHz. This is even slightly lower than the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Founders Edition overclocking. It seems that the very first copy of the new NVIDIA video card was the most successful. The memory was overclocked to 11484 MHz, which can be called a standard result.
For such overclocking, I had to put Gigabyte into a noisy mode in order to improve cooling. If you do not chase the maximum GPU frequency, but focus only on memory overclocking, then you can achieve some kind of balanced mode with low noise and increased performance.