EVGA GTX 1080 SC ACX 3.0 Review




After countless discussions about the GTX 1080 Founders Edition’s price, place in the market, performance and countless other aspects, EVGA’s GTX 1080 Superclocked ACX 3.0 is like a breath of fresh air. With it, there won’t be any debates about its long-term performance characteristics, acoustics, temperatures or even price. That’s because what you see here is what you get: EVGA has created an awesome GTX 1080, one that makes the Founders Edition look laughably overpriced by comparison.

One of my main critiques about the Founder Edition was its performance over time. While its framerates and paralleling frequencies typically started off extremely strong, after a few minutes of gaming both elements ended up leveling out at lower points. The reason for that was a fan profile that gravitated towards aggressively minimizing noise output rather than balancing acoustics with optimal clock speeds. As you can imagine that hiccup didn’t mesh all that well with NVIDIA’s aggressively marketing of the GTX 1080 Founders Edition’s high end components and premium price The GTX 1080 Superclocked ACX 3.0 on the other hand features exactly the opposite situation since it hits a high pre-overclocked frequency and doggedly hangs on.

In most situations the actual onscreen difference between the Founders Edition and Superclocked ACX 3.0 is minimal at most. It can certainly be charted but actually differentiating one from another in side-by-side gameplay is next to impossible. However, there are quite a few applications like Hitman and The Division where that consistency and higher overall clock speed pays off in spades.

Perhaps the GTX 1080 Superclocked ACX 3.0’s most redeeming aspect is the fact that it accomplishes all of its feats while being both quieter and less expensive than the reference version….errr…Founders Edition. We aren’t talking about a few bucks either; $50 is nothing to sneeze at even if you have a $700 upgrade budget. As for the “quieter” part of that equation, this thing is as noisy as a morgue on Sunday, even when overclocked.

While this may all sound like a ringing endorsement for the EVGA’s Superclocked ACX 3.0, there are some elements which may not go over so well with the buying public. First and foremost its design is a love it or hate it affair since the ACX 3.0 cooler is anything but understated and actually looks like countless bits have been sewn together without rhyme or reason. It isn’t pretty but some folks love that industrial style approach. For the record I’m completely ambivalent since I’ve yet to buy into the windowed side panel craze.

Overclocking headroom and control over the GTX 1080 Superclocked ACX 3.0’s LEDs may also cause some people to look to higher end models. Like many of its competitors, the Superclocked’s Power and Voltage limits are aligned with those from the Founders Edition. That means overclocks which are very similar, if not identical to what amounts to a reference version, though at significantly lower temperatures and at whisper quiet noise levels. In addition, you won’t be able to control or even turn off the SC’s LEDs. For both higher overclocks and fully RGB modifications you’ll need to step up to EVGA’s FTW or Classified cards.

While we haven’t reviewed any other custom GTX 1080’s yet (more reviews are incoming!) I can honestly say that the GTX 1080 Superclocked ACX 3.0 will remain among the best even as the architecture matures. The card’s design may not be for everyone but there is no denying EVGA has created something special here.

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