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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Overclocking Review

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Category: Video Cards
Price: $699
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Overclocking:

As we found out through my testing, NVIDIA's GP104 16nm Pascal architecture is a performance powerhouse. In stock trim running the stock dynamically managed GPU Boost 3.0 clock speeds there is a tremendous amount of delivered FPS performance. The stock clock speeds for the GP104 core are 1607MHz with a GPU Boost 3.0 clock speed of 1733MHz. That's a pretty decent boost right out of the gate, but the reality is that the actual Turbo Boost clock speed can be even higher. Sometimes to the tune of 1800+MHz, as long as the power limit and thermal limits are not exceeded. More often than not when using the stock fan profiles, the GTX 1080 Founders Edition will run at core clock speeds between 1607MHz and 1750MHz, broken down in steps of 13MHz. To manage clock speeds dynamically, NVIDIA uses GPU Boost 3.0 technology.

In the images below, you can see that when clock speed offsets are adjusted on a linear curve, you have the potential to lose performance based on the inability to modify individual voltage frequency offsets to fill those lost gaps. However, out with the old and in with the new. To take advantage of this technology, each of the usual suspects are putting together new enhancements to their overclocking tools to take advantage of this opportunity. Right now we have the latest Alpha version of EVGA's Precision XOC tool. It's not yet ready for prime time, but it does allow the end user to tweak and tune the clock speeds using multiple formats with a built-in OC scanner.

 

 

EVGA's Precision XOC tool is the application we will use to complete the overclocking on the GTX 1080. If you have used it before, many of the controls will look very familiar to you. However, with the implementation of GPU Boost 3.0 we get a couple new wrinkles. The control mechanisms are well laid out and are fairly self explanatory. Where we get into some differences are when you move to the tuning section. Here is where you will have the option to set up either a basic offset voltage frequency curve, a linear offset V/F curve, or manually tweak your own voltage frequency curve.

The settings menu is pretty brief, but it does allow you to tune the OC scanner voltage and frequency offests to shrink the overall changes when you get to the final manual tuning stages. When you tune manually, there is a built-in OC Scanner that uses what looks like a FurMark derivative to scan for graphic artifacts. I found that using the built-in OC Scanner tool I ended up pretty close to my ultimate final core clock speeds on this GPU. Further manual tuning ultimately will get you all the performance the card has to offer.

 

 

 

 

By tuning the card a bit more after using the OC Scanner tool in Precision XOC, I was able to reach a stable 2050MHz to 2088MHz core clock speed by turning the fan speed up to kill, setting the power and thermal limit sliders to the maximum, and prioritizing the limit to look at temperature first, since I would not be exceeding that limit. By doing so, I gave the GP104 core the best chance at maintaining the highest overall clock speed. Memory tuning was completed after finding my final core clock speed. Micron's GDDR5X seems to scale really well here and I used big 100MHz bumps to find my best possible speed. Once I hit 5500MHz I started to randomly have texture blackouts, even though consistently the memory would run at 5700+MHz.

What I was left with after all the final tuning was the aforementioned 2050MHz on the core and 5490MHz on the GDDR5X memory. This increase represents a roughly 10% boost on the memory and 18% boost in the core clock speed. It's an endeavor worth undertaking, since EVGA's application does most of the heavy lifting.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.

 
  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Fallout 4
  2. Grand Theft Auto V
  3. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  4. Far Cry Primal
  5. Battlefield 4
  6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  7. Hitman (2016)
  8. Tom Clancy's The Division
  9. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  10. Ashes of the Singularity
  11. 3DMark

 

  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption



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