Performance, Noise, And Conclusion
The noise output for EVGA’s new GTX 1080 FTW2 iCX is approximately equivalent to the GTX 1080 FTW ACX 3.0 with our thermal pad modification and BIOS update (again, we covered that in our Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Graphics Card Roundup).
When the card is installed in a closed case, its fan generates an ever-present 43.1 dB(A) during our stress test. Under a normal gaming workload, the result is a more moderate 40.7 dB(A). Still, you’ll hear it running.
The fan noise is mostly uniform, which is naturally perceived as less bothersome than predominantly low-frequency components or particularly high-frequency peaks (hissing/whistling). The different fan speeds also prevent annoying harmonics that occur if both fans rotate at close to the same speed, with slight differences.
The new cooler isn’t particularly quiet, but it does its job more effectively and includes the improvements we suggested in our FTW review, so you don’t have to modify it yourself.
Exchange, Warranty, and Step-Up
For $99, EVGA will exchange any GeForce GTX 1080 FTW or SC card with the ACX cooler for a brand new board, no matter when it was purchased. The manufacturer also says its three-year warranty starts over when you receive the replacement, and that the Step-Up program options are available.
Since the GTX 1080 FTW2 iCX’s PCA is almost identical to EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1080 FTW Gaming ACX 3.0, it's hardly a surprise that they achieve similar GPU Boost clock rates in the handful of games we compared. Expect the performance differences between them to be minimal. Check out our Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Graphics Card Roundup for more details.
Though it’s not perfect, EVGA’s iCX solution is innovative and fun. What the current implementation lacks should be fixable down the road. Adding multiple sensors is a small milestone that seems a little overblown by the marketing folks. However, enthusiasts who thrive on data-driven adjustments can trust they’re getting accurate readings from EVGA’s hardware, and that’s worth something to be sure.
With more sensors, the thermal pads we wanted to see added, and lots of features, EVGA is trying to get you to forget about its previous cooler. If the card also had a larger heat sink with integrated cooling for the memory and VRMs, it would be even better. It’s always good to know everything is in the green when it comes to temperatures, especially if you don’t have easy access to thermal imaging cameras and holes drilled in your backplate to verify thermal readings.
Seen in this light, the extra cost for the iCX compared the ACX is quite reasonable, even at a recommended price of around $800. Though not everyone needs this card’s sensor gimmicks, EVGA may be setting a trend here. After all, the oft-maligned RGB LEDs are now also found in almost every power switch.
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