EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2 review: A ferocious graphics card with a radical cooler

Fire-breathing performance, damn cold temperatures.

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Unfortunately, time constraints prevented me from fine-tuning the perfect overclock with the EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2. Without tweaking the power limit—an important note—I was able to achieve a +80MHz offset on the card’s GPU clocks, which resulted in actual clock speeds of 1,910MHz to 1,987MHz in games depending on the resolution and intensity of the scene. Memory overclocks hit +300MHz without a hitch, and could’ve gone further if I had time to keep stepping up the frequency and checking stability.  

Even overclocked, EVGA’s aggressive fan curve kept temperatures in the mid- to high-50s, Celsius. The combination of the overclock and using the aggressive fan curve also didn’t use much more power than the stock configuration, at 314W instead of 303W.

This hasty overclock added a few more frames' worth of performance in the handful of games I was able to test at 4K/Ultra.

overclocked Brad Chacos/IDG

Brief overclocking results.

The extra oomph provided by the overclock resulted in a 9.9 percent average frame rate increase compared to the stock GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, and no doubt with time I could’ve pushed it even further. Not too shabby.

Oh, and I tested Ashes of the Singularity at 1440p with the overclocked EVGA SC2 and saw virtually no difference in performance yet again. Yep, it’s CPU-bound.

Bottom line

The EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2 kicks ass.

evga gtx 1080 ti sc2 6 Brad Chacos/IDG

Sure, it’s only an average of 5.7 percent faster than the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition out of the box, but even that modest increase is enough to push The Division and Far Cry Primal to the edge of 60 fps at 4K resolution with all the graphics options cranked to 11—and push Ashes of the Singularity into being CPU-bound at 1440p. A quick, basic overclock nearly doubled the performance gain, though overclocking’s always subject to the whims of the silicon lottery.

The real star here is EVGA’s unique iCX cooling solution. I was a fan (har har) when EVGA debuted iCX, and the refinements in the GTX 1080 Ti SC2 really make it shine. The card runs cool as a cucumber and quiet as a mouse with its default fan profile, and that’s all the more impressive when you consider that the EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2’s a standard 2-slot size. Most of the other custom GTX 1080 Ti cards released expanded to bulkier 2.5- and 3-slot thicknesses to accommodate the heat of this potent GPU.

evga gtx 1080 ti sc2 9 Brad Chacos/IDG

If you’re really looking to crank overclocks as far as possible, you might want to wait for the release of EVGA’s flagship GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 flagship, which is also imbued with iCX. That card offers slightly higher out-of-the-clock speeds but really caters to overclockers by swapping out the secondary 6-pin power connector with another 8-pin connector, upgrading the power phases to a 10+2 arrangement, and adding a second BIOS. It costs $30 more, though.

You can’t be disappointed with a cool, quiet, eminently configurable graphics card that pushes performance to the literal brink in a game like Ashes, though. The GTX 1080 Ti SC2’s performance bump and vastly improved cooling solution make it well worth the $20 premium over a Founders Edition card. EVGA’s card is easily the fastest graphics card to ever cross our labs. Don’t hesitate to buy it if you’re gaming at 4K resolution, or 1440p at a high refresh rate.

And we won’t hesitate to upgrade our testing system. Look for a rebuild before Radeon Vega lands, complete with a new lineup of game benchmarks.

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At a Glance
  • The GTX 1080 Ti SC2 uses EVGA's revolutionary iCX cooling technology to make the most potent consumer graphics card in the world even better. It's cool, quiet, and powerful.


    • Incredible gaming performance, even at 4K
    • EVGA's iCX cooling keeps temperatures and noise low
    • Smaller than other custom GTX 1080 Ti cards


    • Shroud design may be divisive
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