Upon release in 2016, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 was the king of the graphics card jungle. In the world of computer processors, the wait for a new surge in technology had been excruciatingly long before the reveal of the GTX 1080. NVIDIA made it worth the wait, though, broadly increasing memory and speed while making 4K gaming a reality for all.
The technology that made it happen is based on the Pascal architecture created by NVIDIA. Pascal replaced the previous generation of Maxwell cards, and although it been succeeded by the newer generation of Turing architecture, the GTX 1080 remains one of the finest graphics cards available. That is if you can get your hands on one.
The problem is that the card is no longer being manufactured. So, the market now includes as many used GTX 1080 cards as it does new models. But before we get to the pricing options, let’s take a look under the hood at what this powerful graphics card is capable of. Below we’ll go over the specs, the different versions of the card, how to overlock it, and how to install it.
GTX 1080 Pascal Specs
If you own a high-resolution monitor, or you’ve been patiently waiting for 4K gaming to become a reality, the release of the GTX 1080 was a game-changer. To boost performance with the Pascal architecture, NVIDIA reduced the transistor node from 28 nanometers, all the way to 16 nanometers. NVIDIA also simultaneously increased clock speeds, while reducing the GTX 1080 power consumption.
The GTX 1080 also became the first graphics card to take advantage of GDDR5X memory. As far as memory size, the 1080 version is 8 gigabytes, while the NVIDIA GeForce 1080 Ti goes up to 11 GB.
Moving from Maxwell architecture to the new Pascal model provided the GTX 1080 with radically improved specs compared to the card it replaced, the GTX 980. According to NVIDIA, the GTX 1080 provides up to 3x faster performance than the GTX 980. In addition to the new capability of 4K gaming, the GTX 1080 also delivers next-gen virtual reality gaming.
Another notable feature in the GTX 1080 is the inclusion of DisplayPort 1.4. You’re probably used to plugging in your monitor using the HDMI port, but the benefits of DisplayPort 1.4 will have you replacing your HDMI cable as soon as possible. DisplayPort 1.4 replaces the 1.2, which limited 4K gaming to 60 Hz. For older monitors, that was fine, but with 1.4, you can now experience 4K gaming on a 144 Hz monitor.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the GTX 1080 Pascal card vs. the GTX 980 Maxwell card:
|GTX 1080 vs GTX 980
|8 GB GDDR5X
|4 GB GDDR5
|Boost Clock – Relative
|Boost Clock – Actual
GTX 1080 Teraflops
When it comes to the GTX 1080 teraflops capability, according to IGN, it can do around 8.9 teraflops, as long as it has enough cooling. In comparison, the GTX 980 could do 5.5, and the GTX 980 Ti got up to 6 teraflops. In the console gaming world, the PlayStation 4 Pro clocks in at 4.14 teraflops while the Xbox One X can do about 6.0 teraflops.
So, what are teraflops anyways? “Tera” stands for trillion, and “flops” represents an acronym for Floating-Point Operations Per Second. These floating points are complex operations that a computer must do when creating images. So, with each teraflop, your GPU is performing an additional trillion complex operations per second.
GTX 1080 vs 1080 Ti
The first notable spec difference when comparing the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 vs 1080 Ti is memory size, as 1080 sits at 8 GB while the 1080 Ti goes up to 11 GB. Bandwidth is also considerably higher on the 1080 Ti at 484 GBps compared to 1080 at 320 Gbps. Bus width on 1080 is 256-bit while the 1080 Ti ups the ante with a 352-bit bus width.
The boost clock speed is also considerably different on each. On the GTX 1080 Ti, the boost clock sits at 1582 MHz, while the GTX 1080 gets a boost up to 1733 MHz.
As far as the API supported, both cards work with Vulkan, OpenGL 4.5, and DirectX 12. However, the 1080 Ti also works with DirectX 12.1.
Another notable difference is in the number of CUDA cores between the two graphics cards. The 1080 Ti contains a whopping 3584 CUDA cores, while 1080 has 2560 CUDA cores. You may be wondering, well, what’s the difference?
So, what are CUDA cores? The acronym CUDA stands for Compute Unified Device Architecture. They enable your GPU to execute programs written in C. CUDA cores are a proprietary technology to NVIDIA.
Now you’re probably wondering, well, what exactly does a CUDA core do? The short answer is they help your GPU to process graphics, which is kind of a big deal for a powerful graphics card.
The last question you may have is, how many CUDA cores do you need? When comparing the number of CUDA cores, it’s only helpful to compare from the same manufacturer using the same architecture on the card. So, if we were to compare the Radeon RX 580 vs GTX 1080, the CUDA core count would not be on a 1:1 scale. There is no standard for how many CUDA cores you will need. But the more CUDA cores you have, the better the graphics processing power the card can provide.
Here is the full breakdown of specs between the two cards:
|GTX 1080 vs GTX 1080 Ti
|GPU Engine Specs
|GTX 1080 Ti
|NVIDIA CUDA Cores
|Base Clock (MHz)
|Boost Clock (MHz)
|GTX 1080 Ti
|8 GB GDDR5X
|11 GB GDDR5X
|Memory Interface Width
|Memory Bandwith (GB/sec)
|GTX 1080 Ti
|NVIDIA SLI Ready
|Yes – SLI HB Bridge Supported
|Yes – SLI HB Bridge Supported
|NVIDIA G-SYNC Ready
|NVIDIA GameStream Ready
|NVIDIA GPU Boost
|Microsoft Direct X
|12 API with feature level 12_1
|12 API with feature level 12_1
|Windows 7-10, Linux, FreeBSDx86
|Windows 7-10, Linux, FreeBSDx86
|GTX 1080 Ti
|Maximum Digital Resolution
|Standard Display Connectors
|DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
|DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b
|Graphics Card Dimensions
|GTX 1080 Ti
|Thermal and Power Specs
|GTX 1080 Ti
|Maximum GPU Temperature (in C)
|Graphics Card Power
|Recommended System Power
|Supplementary Power Connectors
|One 6-pin, One 8-pin
GTX 1080 Overclock Capacity
So, you’re probably wondering what the limits are of the NVIDIA GTX 1080. How hard can you push this beautiful piece of hardware? Well, you’ll be happy to hear that the GTX 1080 overclocks as well or better than could be expected.
What is Overclocking?
The word “overclocking” means pushing your components past the speeds that the manufacturer determined was the most stable to ship out. Manufacturers will sacrifice a little speed for stability, to ensure the product works as intended. This means that the chip is capable of higher rates than what it ships out with. And if your CPU is unlocked, you can reveal the maximum potential of your components by overclocking.
Every microprocessor works on a timed clock rate. The clock rate is the frequency that the CPU and GPU are measured in. For example, a 120 Hz monitor refreshes 120 times per second. The GTX 1080 has a base core clock of 1607 MHz, which means that it cycles 1.6 billion times per second. So, overclocking means pushing that cycle rate beyond its stock rate.
How to Overclock GTX 1080
The old way of overclocking involved a more rudimentary method of adjusting your settings and seeing what worked. The accepted recommendation for how much to move up your clock speed was in 25 MHz increments. Starting first with the core clock, and then with the memory clock, you would increase the speed in your card’s settings. As soon as you experienced artifacts, which are visual image errors on your screen, or a lockup, then you would dial the speed back down by 25 MHz to find your stable zone.
Cooling is a major factor when it comes to overclocking. So, if you can increase your fan speed to keep the card cooler, that will allow for more overclocking potential. The temperature of the room your computer is in will also have an effect on your overclocking capacity.
The settings you will typically control are:
- Power Target
- CPU Clock
- Memory Clock
- Fan Speed
You’ll notice in the specs above that NVIDIA provides these new cards with GPU Boost 3.0. GPU Boost 2.0 used linear offset curves, which meant that your overclock speed followed the same linear curve no matter what voltage level you applied. While this system worked well, it left some potential speed on the table, depending on your voltage level.
With GPU Boost 3.0, you have the choice to continue using linear offset curves or to set the speed for each voltage point manually. Using a program like the EVGA OC Scanner, you can manually adjust your rates while also adjusting for power and temperature targets. The best part about a program like OC Scanner or AfterBurner is that you can test out these settings before putting them into place.
GTX 1080 Overclock Capability
Comparing the GTX 980 vs 1080, the newer Pascal card performs quite well. The GTX 980 was already an overclocking dream, as it could capably be overlocked by an additional 250 MHz, an increase of 22-percent over its core clock of 1126 MHz. GTX 1080 starts with a core clock of 1607 MHz, and we can overclock it up an extra 260 MHz.
Comparing the memory clocks, the 980 could go from 7 GHz to 7.8 GHz, an increase of 11-percent. On 1080 we don’t get quite the increase, but that’s because it already begins at 10 GHz and can bump up an additional 525 MHz.
Overall, the GTX 1080 can be boosted up to an obscene 2,088 MHz with the right settings. And the best part about this overclocking capacity is that it doesn’t require much extra voltage. In fact, you likely won’t even notice the increase in power, given how quiet your machine will remain.
GTX 1080 Hashrate Capability
For those of you looking to do some crypto mining with your shiny new GTX 1080, here are the details. With a GTX 1080, you’ll be capable of mining Ethereum and Ethash-based coins. This includes Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Metaverse (ETP), Expanse (EXP), Musicoin (MUSIC), Ellaism (ELLA), Elementrem (ELE), DaxxCoin (DAXX), and Ethereum Fog.
What is Hashrate?
If you are new to mining or are interested in getting started, here’s do a quick primer on hash rate. According to Unblock, “Hashrate is the speed at which a computer is completing an operation in the Bitcoin code. For example, 1GH/s = One Giga Hash = A computer is capable of trying 1,000,000,000 hashes per second.”
So, to put it simply, the higher the hash rate, the more cryptocurrency you can mine. When you mine, you are providing processing power to the crypto network.
GTX 1080 Hashrate Output
On its own, the GTX 1080 should have a hash rate output of 40 Mh/s. The GTX 1080 Ti can up this to 50 Mh/s. Those numbers can be increased using third-party tools to build more powerful mining rigs.
GTX 1080 Price Drop
Perhaps the only problem with the GTX 1080 upon release was a price point that provided a significant barrier to entry for some people, despite an extreme eagerness to unlock the power within. The GTX 1080 price history varied wildly when it first came out. The GTX 1080 Founders Edition was initially released with a sticker price of $1000, while the GTX 1080 standard edition was later listed around $650.
Upon the release of the GTX 1080 Ti at just $699, NVIDIA announced that the GTX 1080 would be available at $499. The GTX 1080 Ti is now down to $679.99, while the GTX 1080 can be found for $469.99. If you want to buy a GTX 1080 used, you can find it below $400 on sites like Amazon and eBay.
If you want to go all out, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition is available at Newegg for $1250. For comparison, the GTX 1080 Ti Newegg price is just under $700 to buy it refurbished.
As far as the new GTX 1080 Amazon price, it ranges wildly depending on the version and which of NVIDIA’s partners is offering it. For example, ZOTAC offers the GTX 1080 Mini for $469.99. ASUS offers the GTX 1080 standard version for $579.99 on Amazon Prime, and if you’re lucky, you can snag a $30 off coupon.
To get an even lower price, you can buy a used GTX 1080. The GTX 1080 eBay price runs around $300 and up. I’m not sure the price drop is worth buying second hand, though, as the additional $160 to buy it new would likely be worth the peace of mind.
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti vs RTX 2080
The reason for the GTX 1080 price drop, of course, was the release of a newer and more powerful card. Ushering in their “20” series of Turing graphics cards, NVIDIA’s new line is highlighted by the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti. When comparing the RTX 2080 vs GTX 1080 Ti, many were initially disappointed with the RTX.
According to Forbes, the consensus of RTX 2080 reviews is that it offers a poor value proposition when compared to its 1080 predecessor. The problem is that the new technology that the RTX 20 series offers, DLSS (deep learning super-sampling), and ray tracing aren’t technologies that can be properly benchmarked because there are no games that can take advantage of them.
The idea when buying a new piece of hardware is often to future-proof your system. But it’s hard to know what you’re getting when the new technology can’t be adequately benchmarked. And because the RTX 2080 has a higher MSRP than the 1080 Ti, sales of the GTX 1080 spiked when initial reviews of the GTX 2080 were available.
The comparison of the RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti comes down to two major differences included on the RTX:
- Ray Tracing
- DLSS Technology
The new DLSS technology is a game-changer in itself. The way it works is that the technology renders an image at a lower resolution but then is able to upscale that resolution due to a deep learning algorithm. The resulting image looks like the standard image at full resolution but takes 50-percent less power to render. The end result is a huge boost to frame rates.
For example, according to EuroGamer, Final Fantasy 15 features an 80-percent jump in performance with DLSS on the RTX 2080 compared to the GTX 1080. The only problem is that Final Fantasy 15 is one of the only current games to take advantage of this new technology.
NVIDIA began developing its ray tracing technology back in 2008. A technology ten years in the making, NVIDIA firmly believes that ray tracing will change the future of gaming. Ray tracing replaces the technology of Rasterization and is centered on how light and shadows are rendered on the screen. Rasterization is unable to account for where a light source is, and therefore, it cannot accurately define how that light will cast shadows in the scene.
The goal of ray tracing is to produce a concept known as “Global Illumination,” which basically means rendering images precisely as they would appear in the real world. Ray tracing is especially useful at reflection and refraction. It can accurately present the color spill and how light passes through objects.
The RTX 2080 also features the largest vapor chamber ever built on a graphics card and is cooled by two 13-blade dual axial fans. In addition, the new Turing card excels at overclocking capacity and features 8K HDR.
Before purchasing a new RTX 2080, though, be aware that in October 2018, Digital Trends reported that many early adopters of the RTX 2080 had seen a high failure rate. GamersNexus believes that the problem may be limited to the FE RTX 2080 Ti models. So, make sure to do your homework before placing an order.
When compared to the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, the RTX is clearly more powerful. However, it’s power is limited by its current functionality. It will take time for game developers to take advantage of ray tracing and DLSS. It’s also likely that you do not have a screen capable of 8K gaming. So, while the RTX 2080 greatly exceeds the capabilities of the GTX 1080 Ti, it does so with technology that may take years to be fully realized.
How to Install GTX 1080
The GTX 1080 is a PCI Express 3.0 x 16 graphics card. So, the first step is to check your computer to see if there is already a card installed in this slot. If so, you’ll need to remove that card first.
Next, for safety purposes, get rid of any static electricity built up in your body by touching a grounded surface before you begin the installation.
- Step One: Turn off your computer and disconnect its power source.
- Step Two: Open up your computer by removing the cover and side panel.
- Step Three: Remove any graphics card already installed.
- Step Four: If there was no previous card installed, remove the two adjacent slot covers.
- Step Five: Look for a slot labeled x16. It should be the only PCI Express slot that has a retention lever. This slot is often closest to the CPU.
- Step Six: Take your 8-pin power connector and connect it to the power source.
- Step Seven: That’s it for the hard stuff. Now, cover your computer back up and download the GeForce Experience
- Step Eight: Once you’ve set up your software, you’ll want to install the latest drivers. Go to the Drivers tab on your NVIDIA GeForce Experience and click download driver. Next, select express install.
That’s it. Your new GeForce GTX 1080 should be all ready to go now. If you’ve lost your user guide, or purchase a used GTX 1080, here’s a link to a PDF of NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 user guide.
Bottom Line on the GTX 1080
While no longer the undisputed king of the graphics card jungle, the GTX 1080 remains one of the most powerfully built cards on the market. It made 4K gaming a viable reality and provided an enhanced engine for VR gaming. Although NVIDIA’s new Turing architecture has surpassed the Pascal architecture in the GTX 1080, the GTX 1080 has no noticeable limitations when it comes to the current gaming market.
The GTX 1080 price drop has also greatly increased its value proposition. At less than $500, the GTX 1080 is a viable purchase for anyone serious about VR, 4K gaming, or crypto mining.