How We Tested Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080
While we try to maintain a standardized test bed across Tom’s Hardware editors and offices, allowing writers across the globe to compare results, today’s review called for a different approach.
Instead of our Haswell-E-based Core i7-5930K at 3.5GHz, we’re using a Skylake-based Core i7-6700K at 4GHz, giving us two generations worth of IPC improvements and an extra 500MHz base clock rate to alleviate host processing bottlenecks wherever they may surface. Of course, the CPU’s LGA 1151 interface also calls for a different motherboard—we tapped MSI’s Z170A Gaming M7 for all of our game benchmarks, and dropped in G.Skill’s F4-3000C15Q-16GRR memory kit composed of four 4GB modules at DDR4-3000. Crucial’s MX200 SSD remains, as does the Noctua NH-12S cooler and be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W power supply.
Gone is Windows 8.1, though. Prior to benchmarking, we installed a clean version of Windows 10 Professional and a new suite of games representing popular AAA titles, some DirectX 12-specific selections and a mix of genres.
Because the GeForce GTX 1080 is a flagship, its competition is limited to the top end from AMD and Nvidia. We chose a GeForce GTX Titan X, 980 Ti, and 980 to go against it, along with AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X, Fury, and 390X. All of the cards are reference except for Sapphire’s Nitro Radeon R9 Fury and MSI’s R9 390X Gaming 8G.
Drivers And Benchmarks
The Maxwell-based cards employ Nvidia’s newest driver at the time of testing, GeForce Game Ready Driver 365.10. For the GeForce GTX 1080, we had to use the company’s press driver, 368.13. All three cards based on AMD GPUs use Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.2 Hotfix, released on May 10.
Our benchmark suite also reflects some changes. A few old favorites remain—notably Battlefield 4, Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher 3. But we’re also adding Hitman, Project CARS, Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division and Ashes of the Singularity.
The Ashes charts represent DirectX 12 performance using the game’s built-in benchmark/logging tool. Hitman and Tomb Raider are presented using DirectX 11. However, we have results from DirectX 12 using those games as well, which we’ll mention in the analysis (spoiler: in most cases, performance drops with DirectX 12). Everything else is DirectX-based, recorded with Fraps. Nvidia is making a DirectX 12-compatible FCAT overlay available, but there simply wasn’t enough time ahead of the launch to experiment with it.
|Ashes of the Singularity||DirectX 12, Extreme quality preset, built-in benchmark|
|Battlefield 4||DirectX 11, Ultra quality preset, custom Tom’s Hardware benchmark (Tashgar jeep ride), 100-second Fraps recording|
|Grand Theft Auto V||DirectX 11, Very High quality settings, 4x MSAA, built-in benchmark (test five), 110-second Fraps recording|
|Hitman||DirectX 11, Ultra level of detail, FXAA, High texture quality, built-in benchmark, 100-second Fraps recording|
|Project CARS||DirectX 11, Ultra quality settings, High anti-aliasing, High texture resolution, Nürburgring Sprint, 100-second Fraps recording|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||DirectX 11, Custom quality preset, Very High quality settings, built-in benchmark, 80-second Fraps recording|
|The Division||DirectX 11, Custom quality preset, Ultra quality settings, Supersampling temporal AA, built-in benchmark, 90-second Fraps recording|
|The Witcher 3||DirectX 11, Highest quality settings, HairWorks disabled, custom Tom’s Hardware benchmark, 100-second Fraps recording|