My tryst with Nvidia began when I was 16 years old. Serious Sam: The First Encounter had just launched and unbeknownst to me, my ageing poor Voodoo Banshee had depreciated into a sea of BSOD’s and random freezes. I did what any 16-year-old without any knowledge of a GPU would do, head to Nehru Place and ask for a cost-effective solution that still had enough in its tank to power the latest games, I could care less about the educational applications of a desktop, what I wanted were high framerates and smooth buttery Serious Sam gameplay.

The card I bought was the Riva TNT 2, at the time already a couple of years old but my mission to play Serious Sam was accomplished and the experience strengthened my relationship with Nvidia, in many ways this was my first foray into the world of high-performance GPU’s, Nvidia had introduced me to the exciting world of clock speeds and framerates.

Over the years, Nvidia has released winner after winner in the GPU market, growing to a scale that has dwarfed the competition. The sheer number of products that a GPU line from the green team has ensured that there is something for everyone and it helped them dominate the GPU market.

The GTX 1080 Ti is the new frame-rate ninja from the green team, it slices through whatever you throw at it and shuriken’s the crap out of leftovers. It’s quite possibly the fastest card on the planet right now.


The Good

We were sent a 1080 Ti Founders edition for review, which means that this is the purest Nvidia experience that it possibly can be, think of the Founders edition as the vanilla version of Android, without the OEM skins and modifications, as it was meant to be.



One look at the card and you would not mistake this for a sleek, understated piece of technology. It’s meant to be loud and boisterous and it is, it’s huge, taking up nearly a quarter of the motherboard, with a premium grey design, a new single fan cooling solution and Geforce GTX LED to the side that lights up when powered on, you may want to use a transparent case with this one.

I tested the card on a rig that a normal, budget conscious Indian gamer would buy. My rig consisted of an intel i5 7500 that comes with a stock clock of 3.4 GHz, a pair of Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR 4 memory clocked at 2133 MHz, MSI’s Z270-A Pro motherboard, Corsair’s TX 850 PSU, Kingston 64 GB SSD, Western Digital Caviar Black 7200rpm 1TB HDD and of course the 1080 Ti.

So, without further ado, let's head to the benchmarks.

Doom (2016)

2016 was a weird year for me. Instead of spending hours exploring the intricate worlds of Dishonored 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind divided, I saw myself put in close to 140 hours in a linear, corridor shooter. After the disappointing RAGE, DOOM was id software’s big return to form and it had me hooked from day one, the fantastic gunplay was a like a ballet of fireballs and shotguns blasts to the face, not to mention the game looks downright beautiful.



So, I guess, the point I am trying to get at here is, it was going to take something special for me to jump in DOOM’s world again, like playing it in 4K for example. The 1080 Ti makes that possible. At a resolution of 3840 x 2160, with everything at Ultra, Shadows and Virtual Texturing Page Size set to Nightmare and Vsync off, I was getting consistent frame rates between 100 and 120 FPS, which is insane.

The game was tested using the OpenGL 4.5 renderer, which is what it defaults to, id has also added a Vulkan render path to the game but selecting that, you see a big delta in frame rates. The average fps comes down to between 80 and 90 fps, which is still awesome but clearly, Nvidia hasn't quite worked out its Vulkan support for the game yet.

Here is a quick look at how the Ti performed at various resolutions in the game.


As you can see, at 1080p, using either OpenGL or Vulkan, the Ti absolutely creams the game, pushing out frame rates of more than 150. At 2715 x 1527, The Ti has no problems maintaining that 150 mark and at 3840 x 2160, the Ti still breaks the 100-fps barrier, I never saw the frame rates dipping below 60 in DOOM and that’s quite an achievement, considering the number of particles, animations and lighting effects the game throws at the screen.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

The Tomb Raider reboot introduced the world to a more realistic, gritty Lara Croft and that continues with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Visually, the game is leaps and bounds above the previous title, with new particle effects, high quality texturing, jaw-dropping art design and of course, a more realistically proportioned Lara herself.



This game was notorious for the buggy state it launched in but Crystal Dynamics has since updated the game to support DX 12 and fixed many bugs and performance issues. The game also ships with a benchmarking tool that tests your rig under three graphically intensive areas of the game, which is what we used to test out the 1080 Ti performance.



Wow, in 1080p with everything maxed out as high as it would go, the Ti breaks the 100 fps barrier in the mountain peak section of the test but scales back down to an average of about 65 frames for Syria and Geothermal Valley. Increasing the resolution just drops the framerates further, with the game barely playable at 4K.

Keep in mind, though, that the settings are set to the absolute maximum, so it is still possible to have a much smoother experience across the board by lowering the settings down at resolutions above 1080p.

Hitman

Hitman was another pleasant surprise in 2016, making it my mind at least, the best year for PC gaming for quite some time. Io interactive took a different approach with this one, releasing content in a steady stream of episodes through the year. This allowed the developers enough time to polish each episode to its fullest potential, presenting a world of possibilities to the player.




I did not use the benchmarking tool that the game ships with as it only tests environments from the first episode, instead we played through each of the episodes, one by one to record average framerates across the board.



At 1080p, the Ti plateaus at about 70 fps, this is with everything set to max and DX 12 enabled. The game is still playable at 2715 x 1527 averaging about 40 fps, which drops to 25, once we increase the resolution to 3840 x 2160.


At this point, I must stress that all settings were left at maximum for this test, lowering these will result in much better framerates at higher resolutions.


Battlefield 1

The Battlefield series has seen itself shave off the popularity it once enjoyed with buggy launches and seriously boring campaigns that try to ape Call of Duty, which is why it was so great that DICE decided to go back to World War 1 for the latest entry in the franchise.




Battlefield 1 may be based on World War 1 but the technology powering it is cutting edge. Once again, we tested with everything set to maximum.




At 1080p, the Ti motors along at nearly 80 fps, which drops down to the mid 50’s at 2715 x 1527, at 3840 x 2160, the Ti holds a steady 25 fps.


Once again, at higher resolutions, you may want to play around those setting sliders to get everything smooth.


The Bad

As you can probably tell, the Ti is pure overkill at 1080p, pushing this card higher was what it was designed for, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver playable framerates at resolutions higher than Full HD but a few tweaks of the settings sliders should fix that problem. What this means is that we still don’t have a single card solution that can handle 4K with settings maxed out but the Ti gets the closest to that dream.

The Ugly

The reality of being a PC gamer in India is you are going to have to deal with thermal issues, which is one of the reasons why mid-range cards are popular here, the 1080 Ti recorded a maximum of 94oC under stress and 34oC idle. The card didn’t randomly turn off or freeze my PC but 94 is a very high number and you are going to have to look for cooling solutions other than the stock cooler this ships with, if you want to overclock this bad boy.

Conclusion

The 1080 Ti is a beast of a GPU, it munches through games but sadly doesn’t quite deliver on the 4K dream, but there is a caveat here, remember we tested the card just to see how it will perform on a mid-range PC, the numbers at higher resolutions will definitely benefit from an enthusiast grade rig this card was aimed at. The 1080 Ti is available for INR 63,000 with availability starting from next week.