“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!”
Since I was a wee lad, I’ve been an early adopter of technology. Starting at the age of 15, I spent my money on whatever my minimum wage & allowance would provide me. My first investment was Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. As I poured over all the gaming magazines of the time, I was absolutely enthralled by this system, and the promises of (say it with me now, in a deep echoed voice) “Vvvvvvvitual Rrrreality!” Little did I know, that the system would give me a headache in under an hour, and that Mario Tennis was less than enthralling enough to hold my attention for more than 15 minutes at a time.
For the current gen of VR, my old GTX 690 simply wasn’t going to cut it. So, twenty years later, enter the GTX 1080. After all was said and done, I plunked down a hefty $815 USD for EVGA’s Founders Edition. Now despite what I paid, once the stock improves in a month or two, you should be able to get your hands on this card for $699 USD.
This is the very first card to use a 16nm die, putting four years of 28nm technology behind us. The benefit to the customer is far more yield, and far less power consumed. A win win, in anybody’s book. The 1080 is also the first to sport GDDR5X memory, an upgraded version of the long standing GDDR5 memory we’re all used to reading about. And the Pascal technology Nvidia has placed into its pipeline ensures the card will be ready for DirectX12. Below is Nvidia’s spec sheet.
The available connectors include, two SLI, 3 DispalyPort, which are 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 ready. Additionally there’s an HDMI 2.0, and a dual-link DVI-D.
Did you fall asleep? No? Good.
For the overclocker’s out there, Nvidia has implemented its new GPU Boost 3.0 technology. You can still overclock like you have previously, but GPU Boost 3.0 allows you to fiddle with individual voltage points, allowing you to squeeze out every last ounce of power. Personally, I don’t mess with overclocking anymore. Overclocking carries with it the potential to damage the card, your rig, or both. But done with knowledgeable care, overclocking can be a fun hobby to get into.
Now what makes this card VR ready (besides its beastly yield) is its SMP (Simultaneous multi-projection) technology. This tech allows the card to simultaneously project geometry effortlessly into your eye holes. Fully optimized, it will provide the consumer an immersed experience second to none.
For the videophile, the HDR output (High Dynamic Range) comes in 12-bit color, SMPTE 2084, BT.2020 wide color gamut, HDMI 2.0b/12b, 4K@60Hz 10/12b HEVC decode, 4K@60Hz 10b HEVC encode for 4K HDR. Have or want a 4K capable television or monitor? The GTX 1080 gotchyu.
Now, we all know linking 3 to 4 cards via SLI certainly looks awesome. But the practical results can be less than impressive. Nvidia has addressed this, with eliminating support for these setups. Opting instead, to only allow for the linkage of two cards via a new “high bandwidth” capable SLI bridge. This new bridge runs at 650MHz, in comparison to its 400MHz predecessor. The new bridges also do away with the ribbons, and are rigid. They allow for two, three, or four slot motherboard spacing.
Now I, being a high-end gaming plebe, can only logically afford certain things. And I don’t get all those wickedly awesome freebies the other guys & gals get. So, I do with what I have. And for the time being, until I can place an order for the Rift next month, the most graphically demanding games that I own now are The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Grand Theft Auto V, the Metro Redux games, Metal Gear Solid V, Fallout 4, Far Cry 4, and DOOM. Even though my GeForce Experience dialed down some of the settings on a couple of these games, I went ahead and maxed them out anyway. Running at 1920×1080, I was honestly not shocked in the slightest by the results. After tooling around in each game for 30 minutes, and keeping a close eye on my Fraps, not once did I experience a tear, a stagger, or even dip in the frame rate. Each game was capped to 60fps, and it was as if my rig was saying “Really? This is all you got?”
In an effort to give my rig & this card a challenge, I downloaded and installed 3D Mark’s Fire Strike Ultra from Steam. I WAS shocked, to see in two of the 3 tests, my rig almost doubled the required horse power for the Vive & Oculus. A nice reassurance, for when I do get my hands on a Rift. My system specs and test results are below.
Even while stress testing using 3DMarks benchmark tool, I didn’t hear anything above the insanely quiet spin of the fan. A dream for a guy such as myself, who’s only a few short years away from screaming “You damn kids! Get off my lawn!!!”
Nvidia’s GTX 1080, is nothing short of an absolute triumph. In every single way, it ceases to impress. What’s more, it’s worth every single penny I spent on it. Get it.