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The NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti Performance Review

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Analyzing Temperatures & Frequencies Over Time

Modern graphics card designs make use of several advanced hardware and software facing algorithms in an effort to hit an optimal balance between performance, acoustics, voltage, power and heat output. Traditionally, this leads to maximized clock speeds within a given set of parameters. Conversely, if one of those last two metrics (those being heat and power consumption) steps into the equation in a negative manner, it is quite likely that voltages and resulting core clocks will be reduced to insure the GPU remains within design specifications. We’ve seen this happen quite aggressively on some AMD cards while NVIDIA’s reference cards also tend to fluctuate their frequencies. To be clear, this is a feature by design rather than a problem in most situations.

In many cases clock speeds won’t be touched until the card in question reaches a preset temperature, whereupon the software and onboard hardware will work in tandem to carefully regulate other areas such as fan speeds and voltages in order to insure maximum frequency output without an overly loud fan. Since this algorithm typically doesn’t kick into full force in the first few minutes of gaming, the “true” performance of many graphics cards won’t be realized through a typical 1-3 minute benchmarking run. Hence why we use a 10-minute warm up period before all of our benchmarks.

The GTX 1080 Ti is obviously a massively powerful card, but it also boasts a TDP of about 250W. That means it outputs a massive amount of heat despite using an upgraded heatsink. Does this spell trouble? Let’s find out.

Temperatures for these NVIDIA cards are typically capped at 84°C in an effort to give GPU Boost some maneuvering room, while ensuring the silicon doesn’t get excessively hot. That just so happens to be where this card tops out and the fan doesn’t allow it to go one iota above that point.

Fan speeds actually remain lower than the TITAN X, which could point towards some of those heatsink upgrades NVIDIA was talking about. This will also likely lead to lowered overall acoustics, but it is nonetheless interesting to see how even a blower-style fan is able to remain at respectable RPM levels provided the internal heatsink is up to the task.

Obviously, Boost will be working overtime to ensure clock speeds, temperatures and power consumption remain in line, but we can see that it works amazingly well. Not only do frequencies remain above those posted by the TITAN X, but they also stay consistent throughout testing.

Whereas the TITAN X tended to have a dip in framerates after a few minutes of testing due to load balancing, the GTX 1080 Ti’s output is quite steady. That points towards a well-tuned design that doesn’t need to sacrifice in one particular area to achieve its goals.

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