Heat & Noise
Temperature Under Load
The advantages of Nvidia's direct heat exhaust design are plain to see. The average temperatures are the same whether you're working with a closed PC case or on an open bench table. In fact, due to an ample supply of fresh air, temperatures in the closed PC case rise more slowly than those on the open bench table. Otherwise, the curves are almost identical, which means that Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition is a good choice for closed PC cases and small enclosures.
The card does hit a temperature limit, though. We know this due to the power consumption and clock rate results at different temperatures. Then again, Nvidia's Titan X (Pascal) did the same thing when we reviewed it.
Of course, it goes without saying that we’re using our high-resolution infrared technology to record temperatures around the card, since the GPU's thermal reading isn't the only one that matters. Other components play an important role too, and some of them get even hotter!
The Warm-Up Process
We ran the gaming and stress test loops on an open bench table and in a closed PC case, so we ended up with four datasets corresponding to one video each. Since the original videos would have gotten boring for you to watch in real-time, we sped them up by a factor of 10. The videos display only the GPU temperatures as their main measurement focus.
If the videos are either too fast or slow for you, we're also including the final results as stills for every scenario. In these, we added the voltage converter and memory module temperatures.
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At idle or under a light load (browsing the Internet or watching a video), the fan spins leisurely at 1000 RPM or less. This is enough to keep temperatures nice and cool.
The temperature results under load demonstrate once again that it really doesn’t matter where you install the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, thanks to its cooling solution.
Stress Test Loop
The load might be different, but our infrared pictures appear unchanged. The memory modules do rise 1°C when switching from the open bench table to a closed PC case during both the gaming and stress test loops. However, with Micron’s GDDR5X memory modules rated for a maximum temperature of 95°C, the result isn’t even close to worrisome. Also, there aren't many enthusiasts who run FurMark recreationally.
The Founders Edition card's cooling performance is generally very good, especially when it comes to the voltage converters. However, Nvidia's reference design does reach a noise level that is quite noticeable.
The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti's operating noise after warm-up is obvious, but (just so) bearable. This is certainly not what we'd call a quiet graphics card. Let's have a look at the relationship between fan speed and temperature.
In a closed PC case, the fan has to make a noticeable push to to keep the temperature stable at Nvidia's configured ceiling once the card has been running for a while.
A direct comparison between Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition and Titan X (Pascal) yields almost no difference. The temperatures and fan speeds are practically identical during our gaming loop.
The only physical change to the Founders Edition card involves its rear exhaust, which is more free-flowing. Perhaps as a result, the 1080 Ti's noise profile is a little different compared to Titan X. Subjectively, however, there’s no difference between the two graphics cards, and their noise levels are almost the same as well. At full operating temperature, the 1080 Ti is slightly higher, despite a slower fan speed. Then again, its clock rate is a bit more aggressive as well, and there could always be slight manufacturing-related differences between the boards.
The noise level increases during our stress test. This is due to the temperature target the card must adhere to, no matter what.
Bottom line: there’s really not much difference between Nvidia’s Titan X (Pascal) and its GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition. This might be a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.