The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 is the first available graphics card using the 16nm Pascal architecture and is positioned as the top GPU in the high-end range. The 1080 has 8 gigabytes of GDDR5X memory, three DisplayPort 1.4 connections, a single DVI-D port and an input for HDMI 2.0b.
The GTX 1080 Founders Edition is the reference graphics card and is made by NVIDIA. This edition features a standard backplate and the reference cooler. However, other GTX 1080 models are also available by sub-brands such as MSI, Gigabyte, Asus and more with the same GTX 1080 chip, and a different cooler. Some of these GTX 1080 chips might also be overclocked. A full overview of all graphics cards with the GTX 1080 chip can be seen here.
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Pro Well optimized
NVIDIA properly optimized the GTX 1080 FE for DirectX. This means that games supporting DirectX 11 will see a slight performance boost, but more-so for the upcoming games using DirectX12.
Pro Epic 4K performance
In benchmarks, the GTX 1080 FE (Founder's Edition) is a hair slower than two GTX 980 units in SLI configuration (the difference is 2% in 3DMark 11).
In gaming tests, the GTX 1080 FE achieved 61fps average in Need For Speed 2016 on high settings at 4K resolution. For comparison, the AMD Radeon R9 Fury scored 40fps (34% lower), and the GTX 980 scored 34fps (44% lower than the GTX 1080 FE).
The only slowdowns you will encounter in maxed out 4K graphics is during extremely demanding scenes.
The GTX 1080 FE also supports GPU Boost 3.0 which lets it ramp up performance even higher as long as the temperature doesn't rise too much.
Pro Very power efficient
While performance is higher than its competitors, the GTX 1080 FE actually uses less power. The maximum amount of power consumption this GPU requires is around 185 watts, which is an improvement of over 35% compared to NVIDIA's previous generation high-end graphical card, the GTX 980 Ti. This also plays a positive roll when choosing a power supply, or determining if you need to upgrade your existing PSU.
Con No native support for 3- and 4-way SLI
SLI - short for Scalable Link Interface - is NVIDIA's technology of combining the power of two or more identical GPU's in order to reach a better performance. In other words, you can use multiple GTX 1080 videocards to further increase performance. Although the GTX 1080 supports 2-way SLI without a problem, NVIDIA does not offer support for 3- and 4-way SLI. The included SLI-bridge which serves as a connector between the two cards, is only compatible in a 2-way configuration. 3-way and 4-way SLI are possible, but aren't supported. You'll have to use an older SLI-bridge found on older GeForce models and you'll need to generate an 'Enthusiast Key' on NVIDIA's website. However, NVIDIA does not guarantee a 3- or 4-way configuration will provide any noticeable benefits.
Con Disappointing performance improvements when using Vulkan
Vulkan is a graphical API that allows developers to communicate better with the GPU, which in theory should result to performance improvements compared to the more standard DirectX 12 or OpenGL API's. The GTX 1080 doesn't perform particularly better in Vulkan however, and the difference with the standard OpenGL is minimal at higher resolutions.
Doom is one of the first (and only) titles with support for Vulkan and serves as a good benchmark for OpenGL vs Vulkan performance. In 1080p Full HD resolution and Ultra settings, the GTX 1080 is able to reach an average framerate of 140 FPS in OpenGL. Vulkan improves the framerate to 166 FPS, a fifteen percent increase. Starting from 1440p resolutions however, performance improvements using Vulkan are very minimal and not noticeable during gameplay. The 1080 does pretty well at 109 FPS in 1440p, while Vulkan only marginally improves this result with 145 FPS, a 5% increase. For comparison: AMD's RX 480 card does perform significantly better with Vulkan and higher framerates, with a performance boost of 29.3%. Similar results are seen when testing in 4K. In this case, the GTX 1080 using Vulkan actually performs worse than the standard OpenGL, with 59 FPS and 60 FPS respectively. AMD's RX 480 is better optimized, as it's able to achieve a performance increase of 24.7% in this scenario.
In short, Vulkan performance seems particularly useful when gaming in Full HD, but it doesn't provide much performance benefits otherwise. It would appear that NVIDIA's Pascal architecture isn't optimized for high-resolution Vulkan gaming.