Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 review: The most badass graphics card ever created

Hail to the new king of graphics cards, baby.

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The Division

First up: Ubisoft’s The Division, a third-person shooter/RPG set that mixes elements of Destiny and Gears of War. The game’s set in a gorgeous and gritty recreation of post-apocalyptic New York, running on Ubisoft’s new Snowdrop engine. Despite incorporating Nvidia Gameworks features—which we disabled during benchmarking to even the playing field—the game scales well across all hardware and isn’t part of Nvidia’s “The Way It’s Meant to be Played” lineup. In fact, it tends to perform better on Radeon cards.

Until the GTX 1080 enters the fray.

gtx 1080 the division

As you can see, the reference GTX 1080 offers a whopping 71-percent performance increase over the GTX 980 at 4K resolution and Ultra graphics settings. The GTX 1080 is designed as a generational replacement for the GTX 980, remember—not the Titan X. That said, the GTX 1080 outpunches the Titan X by 34.7 percent at 4K, and 24 percent at 1440p resolution, despite costing $400 less than Nvidia’s flagship.

Hitman

This glorious murder-simulating sandbox’s Glacier engine is heavily optimized for AMD titles, with Radeon cards significantly outpunching their GeForce GTX 900-series counterparts, especially at higher resolutions. Because of that, while the GTX 1080 offers a significant performance leap over the GTX 980 (72.7 percent at 4K) and Titan X (33.8 percent), the performance gain over the Fury X is much more modest (8.8 percent) with all settings cranked to Ultra and FXAA enabled. That drives home how important in-engine support for a particular graphics architecture can be.

gtx 1080 hitman

Note that these results are using DirectX 11. Hitman theoretically supports DirectX 12, but a recent update broke it, and the game refused to launch in DX12 on both PCWorld’s GPU testbed as well as my personal gaming rig despite ostensibly being fixed. Alas.

Next page: Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmarks

At a Glance
  • The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 is the first graphics card built using 16nm technology after GPUs stalled on 28nm for four long years. The performance and power efficiency gains are nothing short of astounding.

    Pros

    • Outrageous performance leap over GTX 980
    • Hugely power efficient
    • Attractive premium design
    • Numerous new features

    Cons

    • Doesn't blow away Radeon cards in heavily AMD-optimized games
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