Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming Review
With custom GTX 1080 cards finally making their way onto the market after an NVIDIA-imposed exclusivity for their Founders Edition, we are finally able to better judge the types of cards that will be getting into most gamers’ hands. While we’ve already covered EVGA’s Superclocked ACX 3.0, there are plenty of other options right now among them Gigabyte’s new GTX 1080 G1 Gaming. Like many other non-reference GTX 1080 cards, the G1 Gaming is not only more affordable than NVIDIA’s Founders Edition but it also comes with a long list of features and some impressive clock speeds.
Like many of NVIDA’s other board partners Gigabyte has a whole lineup of GTX 1080’s ready to offer buyers specific combinations of features and performance. The $649 G1 Gaming in this particular review sits within the middle of their lineup, being considered a higher performance (yet lower priced) option than the aforementioned Founders Edition yet featuring clock speeds that are lower than the Xtreme Gaming and Xtreme Gaming Water Cooled. All in all it is supposed to compete directly against the likes of ASUS STRIX OC, EVGA’s Superclocked ACX 3.0 and MSI’s Gaming 8G. Among such illustrious company, the G1 Gaming will have a tough time standing out.
From a raw specifications perspective the Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming offers up a Based and Boost clock that notably exceeds NVIDIA’s reference specifications. As a matter of fact, those 1751MHz and 1860MHz Base / Boost frequencies make this card one of the fastest at its respective price point. Compared against the Founders Edition we expect the gap to be even greater since Gigabyte’s advanced Windforce 3X heatsink should help keep those frequencies consistent in situations where the FE struggled. Unfortunately, memory speed remain at 10Gbps but this was likely done to insure adequate yields on this particular SKU.
While there may not be all that much from a clock speed perspective to differentiate the G1 Gaming from a card like the Superclocked ACX 3.0, it does offer numerous benefits that EVGA’s Superclocked card doesn’t. There’s a fully controllable RGB LED, a custom PCB with upgraded components and a binned core which is supposed to offer more overclocking headroom. Many of those items require an “upgrade” to the more expensive FTW or Classified versions within EVGA’s lineup so even though we can’t consider a $649 graphics card inexpensive, this one does have some potential value packed into its frame.
One thing to note is that Gigabyte offers three distinct speeds for their GTX 1080 G1 Gaming, all of which can be accessed through the Xtreme Engine App. If the card is installed without this software, it will run at Gaming speeds which equates to 1695MHz / 1835MHz for the Base and Boost frequencies respectively while Gigabyte doesn’t publish the ECO Mode running speeds. OC meanwhile is highlighted in the chart above and it is the setting we will use for all of the tests. Supposedly each of these include different fan speed profiles as well so check on the next page for more information about that.
Now is actually a good time to talk about this Xtreme Engine application as well since it represents a massive departure from the Gigabyte OC Guru we have been seeing for the last few generations. Whereas the last few ODSs could be charitably called “clunky”, this one is sleek, well designed and highly intuitive. There’s a section with full control over the single backlit RGB logo, a dedicated fan profile area and a user friendly Overclocking tab.
Unlike previous software there’s no hidden settings or oddball toggle switches; everything is right there, ready to be used. I actually appreciate its functionality more than the new Precision but it is missing EVGA’s straightforward per-point voltage modifiers and instead uses a confusing curve-like approach which didn’t seem to have any discernible impact upon achievable overclocks.
Gigabyte first introduced their Windforce 3X heatsink years ago and since then it has gone through several evolutions, from oversized to sleek to a bit overdesigned. On the façade at least this latest iteration is actually a pretty significant departure from the one which showed up on their GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming. Whereas that card included a minimalist black and white shroud, the GTX 1080 version utilizes an all-encompassing, predominantly black cover with a few red highlights. It is much less distinctive than EVGA’s current designs but I think it is much more likely to fit a broader range of builds.
The new design direction here makes this card look more like it belongs in ASUS’ Republic of Gamers lineup rather than something which was cooked up in Gigabyte’s kitchen. However, there’s a good reason for the red / black color scheme: it is used quite extensively in Gigabyte’s own Gaming motherboard lineup.
In my opinion, the Windforce 3X cooler has historically been one of the best-regarded heatsinks around. By utilizing a large horizontally-placed heatsink which runs the card’s entire length, Gigabyte has been able to effectively maximize dissipation while also insuring their direct touch heatpipe base has enough thermal mass above it to keep up with the core’s output. That base has been revised this time around so its heatpipes all make contact with the smaller GP104 core.
No massive heatsink would be complete without high performance fans and the ones here have been engineered to maximize downwards airflow without requiring fast rotational speeds. They have a unique triangular edge and thin strips at their mid-points, helping grant a 23% airflow increase over traditional units. Whether or not that will have a positive effect upon cooling performance remains to be seen.
There is one sacrifice with this heatsink: it is a bit longer than the PCB. That means the Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming about 11 Ľ” in length which shouldn’t cause installation problems into most ATX and larger cases but it is nonetheless something to take note of if you are looking for a more compact chassis.
Along the card’s outer edge there’s a single backlit LED Gigabyte logo as well as a small illuminated Fan Stop sign which lights up to tell users there’s nothing actually wrong when the fans grind to a halt in low-load situations. The single 8-pin power input is also located here.
Unlike other cards in this price range, Gigabyte has gone for the full monty on their G1 Gaming and integrated a heavily upgraded 8+2 phase all-digital PWM, a custom PCB with a 2oz copper layer for better heat distribution and even long life capacitors. Many of these components interface directly with the heatsink through integrated heat pads to insure lower operating temperatures, especially when the card is overclocked.
Gigabyte’s backplate is a straightforward yet functional affair without any of the grilles or fancy graphics of some competing solutions. However, it gets the job done and all of the mission critical components located on this side of the PCB should benefit from its additional heat dissipation characteristics.
Gigabyte’s rear I/O area design is an interesting one but the connectors here are simply based off of the reference design. There’s a trio of DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, a single HDMI 2.0b and one DVI-D connector. The departure from standardization is evident when you look at the grille: whereas many competitors are maximizing its openings in the hope that some hot air will be exhausted here, Gigabyte has gone for a distinctive slotted design. Whether or not this will help or impede outwards air movement is anyone’s guess.
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