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EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Gaming Review

Fans & Noise

Fan Control & Fan Curves

To start, we wanted to measure the performance of all three fans.

The readings we took with our laser confirmed that what we observed in software more or less matched the actual fan speeds. So that we wouldn't have to work with three fan curves in one chart, we chose to graph their mean. This is accurate enough, since the two right-hand fans never spin at more than 100 RPM faster than the left fan, even under maximum thermal load.

Under a gaming workload, the difference between running on an open test bench and inside of a closed case is apparent. One reason for this is the unguided vertical airflow. Unfortunately, if the card is installed horizontally, some heated air can flow back under the card, at which point it's blown through again. If the exhaust was better-directed and guided towards the rear (the top of the card, once it's installed), you'd see lower temperature numbers. Our experiments confirmed this.

Since the GPU stays cooler during our stress test, the fans spin a bit slower as well.

We stumbled upon one rather puzzling behavior that we managed to reproduce only a few times and consider a bug. During the card's cool-down, the middle fan stops first. Now, if the card catches just the right (or actually, the wrong) moment to go back to full load, this fan remains inactive. Consequently, during gaming the card heats up to just above 80°C. At that point, only a reboot is able to get the middle fan working correctly again.

Noise

On the first page, you may have noticed a "Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber" in the test setup table. We're often asked about the minimum measurable noise level in that room. So, today we include a control reading for reference.

In our gaming loop and on an open test bench, we end up with almost 41 dB(A). That's acceptable for a two-slot GeForce GTX 1080 Ti armed with three fans. This goes to show, however, that slimming the board down does have consequences. Greater airflow ultimately has to compensate for reduced cooler surface area.

We observe almost no low-frequency bearing noise in the sound spectrum; this is rare, and incredibly pleasant. The measured 41 dB(A) is clearly audible, but the noise isn't obnoxious by any means.

In an extreme example, during our stress test with a maximum power target of 127%, fan noise may increase to just about 44 dB(A). This is very much on the far end of what is still reasonably acceptable.

EVGA's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Gaming sports a two-slot cooler that performs admirably, considering much of the competition relies on 2.5-slot designs. This thermal solution isn't super-quiet, but because the noise it generates isn't grating in any way, the outcome is still acceptable. When you install the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Gaming in a closed case, the more room you can leave between the card and chassis, the quieter those fans will be. Furthermore, try directing ambient airflow from the bottom of the case, below the card. This yields better results than unguided air coming from the front.


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  • AgentLozen
    I'm glad that there's an option for an effective two-slot version of the 1080Ti on the market. I'm indifferent toward the design but I'm sure people who are looking for it will appreciate it just like the article says.
    Reply
  • gio2vanni86
    I have two of these, i'm still disappointed in the sli performance compared to my 980's. What i can do but complain. Nvidia needs to do a driver game overhaul these puppies should scream together. They do the opposite which makes me turn sli off and boom i get better performance from 1. Its pathetic. Nvidia should just kill Sli all together since they got rid of triple sli they mind as well get rid of sli as well.
    Reply
  • ahnilated
    I have one of these and the noise at full load on these is very annoying. I am going to install one of Arctic Cooling's heatsinks. I would think with a 3 fan setup this system would cool better and not have a noise issue like this. I was quite disappointed with the noise levels on this card.
    Reply
  • Jeff Fx
    19811038 said:
    I have two of these, i'm still disappointed in the sli performance compared to my 980's. What i can do but complain. Nvidia needs to do a driver game overhaul these puppies should scream together. They do the opposite which makes me turn sli off and boom i get better performance from 1. Its pathetic. Nvidia should just kill Sli all together since they got rid of triple sli they mind as well get rid of sli as well.

    SLI has always had issues. Fortunately, one of these cards will run games very well, even in VR, so there's no need for SLI.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    19811038 said:
    I have two of these, i'm still disappointed in the sli performance compared to my 980's. What i can do but complain. Nvidia needs to do a driver game overhaul these puppies should scream together. They do the opposite which makes me turn sli off and boom i get better performance from 1. Its pathetic. Nvidia should just kill Sli all together since they got rid of triple sli they mind as well get rid of sli as well.

    It needs support from nVidia, but it also needs support from every developer making games. And unfortunately, the number of users sporting dual GPUs is a pretty tiny sliver of the total PC user base. So devs aren't too eager to pour that much support into it if it doesn't work out of the box.
    Reply
  • FormatC
    Dual-GPU is always a problem and not so easy to realize for programmers and driver developers (profiles). AFR ist totally limited and I hope that we will see in the future more Windows/DirectX-based solutions. If....
    Reply
  • Sam Hain
    For those praising the 2-slot design for it's "better-than" for SLI... True, it does make for a better fit, physically.

    However, SLI is and has been fading for both NV and DV's. Two, that heat-sig and fan profile requirements in a closed case for just one of these cards should be warning enough to veer away from running in a 2-way SLI using stock and sometimes 3rd party air cooling solutions.
    Reply
  • SBMfromLA
    I recall reading an article somewhere that said NVidia is trying to discourage SLi and purposely makes them underperform in SLi mode.
    Reply
  • Sam Hain
    19810871 said:
    Unlike Asus & Gigabyte, which slap 2.5-slot coolers on their GTX 1080 Tis, EVGA remains faithful to a smaller form factor with its GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Gaming.

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Gaming Review : Read more

    Great article!
    Reply
  • photonboy
    NVidia does not "purposely make them underperform in SLI mode". And to be clear, SLI has different versions. It's AFR that is disappearing. In the short term I wouldn't use multi-GPU at all. In the LONG term we'll be switching to Split Frame Rendering.
    http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/graphics/916-nvidias-sli-an-introduction/?page=2

    SFR really needs native support at the GAME ENGINE level to minimize the work required to support multi-GPU. That can and will happen, but I wouldn't expect to see it have much support for about TWO YEARS or more. Remember, games usually have 3+ years of building so anything complex needs to usually be part of the game engine when you START making the game.
    Reply