NVidia announced at a recent trade event their newest flagship graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, which is slated to release on March 10th. The naming of this card follows NVidia’s convention of labeling the mid-generation refresh of their line of graphics cards with the “Ti” moniker. NVidia claims, however, that the 1080 Ti features the biggest performance increase of a Ti product yet of roughly 35%. The MSRP of the new high end card is $699, equivalent to the Founders edition of last year’s GTX 1080.
Compared to last year’s unit, the 1080 Ti features significantly boosted specifications, including 11 GBs of video RAM compared to the 1080’s 8 GBs, and 12 billion transistors compared to the 1080’s 7.2 billion.
In addition to the GTX 1080, NVidia released another graphics card late last year, the Titan X, which retailed for $1200 and shares many similarities with this year’s much cheaper GTX 1080 Ti. Both cards feature the same core GPU, the GPU102, and have the same number of transistors and die size. However, in some respects the Titan X was somewhat more powerful, having an additional gigabyte of VRAM and a larger memory bus width of 384-bit, as opposed to the GTX 1080 Ti’s 352-bit bus width. Overall, despite their differences, both cards should offer a similar level of performance for most users.
NVidia has also made some compromises in the new card to accommodate the changes in performance. They have removed the 1080’s DVI port and have replaced it with vents to help prevent the card from overheating. As such, the card now features 3 DisplayPort 1.4 ports and a single HDMI 2.0 port. Aware that many of their customers still use monitors that rely on a DVI connection to the graphics card, NVidia has chosen to bundle a DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter with the card. However, it’s clear that NVidia wants to move on from the outdated DVI technology, just as Apply signaled their intent to abandon the 3.5 mm headphone jack with the release of the iPhone 7.
As usual, NVidia will be working with other companies, such as EVGA, to present a combination of reference designs and custom designs. With the release of the GTX 1080 Ti, NVidia will maintain a strong command of the high-end graphics card market, as their only major competitor, AMD, currently offers nothing that can compete at the 1080 Ti’s level.
NVidia is marketing the new card primarily to gamers who are willing and able to cover the expensive price of a new graphics card for improved graphics and framerates. One of the major selling points NVidia is offering is the performance of the 1080 Ti with virtual reality applications, which they claim is triple that of the GTX 980. In addition to compatibility with consumer virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, NVidia is building in virtual reality features into the software that comes with the card. NVidia’s Ansel feature allows gamers to capture 4K HDR 360-degree screenshots within their games and view them using virtual reality headsets.
Additionally, NVidia continues to offer SLI technology with the 1080 Ti. This hardware feature allows users to combine two graphics cards together to allow them to work in tandem and nearly double performance. Utilizing this feature, however, requires the user to purchase two separate graphics cards and a power supply capable of running them; as a single 1080 Ti draws 250W of power, this can be a tall order for many users.
Due to its price and its top-of-the-line specs, the 1080 Ti is certainly a niche item for extremely devoted gamers or others who find themselves needing the highest possible level of graphics performance. However, those who are willing to shell out the considerable price for the new card will enjoy being able to play their games at maximum settings, in 4K resolution, without worrying about framerate dips or other problems associated with cheaper cards.
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