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Last Update: May 04, 2019

Top 1080 Ti Gaming GPU Cards

Published 13:35 PM
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NVIDIA has already launched their newest 2080 series of video cards, and something even newer will probably be out by next week—but the “older” 1060/1070/1080 cards are still perfectly respectable. A 1080 Ti card can definitely get you into the 60 FPS club in a big chunk of games, even on their highest settings.

We’ve slaved away endlessly at our keyboards to find six of the best 1080 Ti cards

for your reasonably high-end rig. 🖥️ 🔝

GPU naming conventions can be confusing, to say the least. Several companies make 1080 Ti cards; these GPUs may share a name, but they’re often very different cards with significant variability in their capabilities. To make your shopping experience even harder, ambitious cryptocurrency miners have been elbowing their way into “our” GPU market for a few years now, creating significant price and availability fluctuations in the process.

How do you know which 1080 Ti card is best for your particular system—and how do you know the price you’re seeing on your screen is a fair one? Stick around for the answer to these and many more questions, including who really killed JFK.

One of those things might have been a lie.


Best 1080 Ti Graphics Cards for Gaming

To be clear, we’re only talking about 1080 Ti NVIDIA GPUs in this article. If you’re more of an AMD fan, we haven’t forgotten about you—head over here for our thoughts on the best AMD graphics cards for gaming.

To make sure we’ve accounted for a wide variety of budgets and preferences, we’ve picked three clear winners and three honorable mentions in a few different categories. If you’re going to buy a 1080 Ti card, 2019 is the best time to do it; when new GPUs launch, previous generation cards often drop significantly in price, and they’ll still be perfectly capable of running most games for years to come.

 

1

Best Choice: ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

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If you’ve got sufficiently deep pockets to be shopping for VR gear or 4K/5K displays, you know that 1060/1070 cards simply won’t do. The ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU costs even more than some of the 2080-series GPUs NVIDIA is rolling out right now, but it outperforms many of them, too.

Key Features

  • Supports 4K and 5K resolutions
  • VR ready
  • Ultra-quiet fans

Specifications

  • VRAM: 11GB GDDR5X
  • Memory interface: 352-bit
  • Power Consumption: 275W
  • Base frequency: 1569MHz
  • Boost frequency: 1683MHz

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Review

The ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is one of the beefiest cards out there right now. It’s huge (40% thicker than some other 1080 cards), it weighs like 19 pounds (not really), and it will be able to handle anything you can throw at it. With the amount of graphical horsepower it’s capable of dishing out, you’d expect it to run hot and loud, but it does neither.

Even under heavy strain, it almost never gets hot enough that throttling becomes necessary. Its three onboard fans are nearly silent; they don’t even really become audible until the card gets close to its upper limits. The end result is a GPU that works hard but stays cool and quiet 99% of the time.

This card boasts a total of five outputs (HDMI x2, DP x2, DVI x1). With multi-monitor systems becoming more popular every day, it’s nice to know that you can connect your new GPU to almost any display.

You can even configure it to display VR games on a headset and an external display simultaneously (although if your friends can see what you’re seeing while you’re wearing a VR headset, you don’t look quite as insane, which is kind of a bummer for them).

The ASUS ROG STRIX’s drawbacks are to be expected, given the class of card that it is. You can currently buy a used one that costs more than about half of the new 2080 cards. It’s also enormous—it covers 2 ½ PCI-e slots worth of space when installed and may not fit in smaller cases at all. So, if you have an awesome micro ATX or even one of the best mITX cases for gaming – just forget about it.

Speaking of upgrades, we’ve got a handy guide on how to install or upgrade a graphics card if you need it.

If you’re all about staying on the cutting edge but you also want to keep temps and noise as low as possible, the ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 TI (~$879 used, ~$1,350 new) is pretty hard to beat.

+Pros
  • Stays cool; rarely needs to throttle itself
  • Fans are some of the quietest around
  • Wide variety of outputs
-Cons
  • Expensive
  • It’s massive and may not fit in small cases
2

Premium Pick: Gigabyte AORUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Waterforce WB

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If the ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti looks good to you, but it’s either too big or too expensive to buy a new one, consider the equally excellent Gigabyte AORUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Waterforce WB Xtreme Edition. It performs just as well, and you can get a new one for the price of a used ASUS ROG—just be aware that it runs somewhat hotter and installation is more complicated.

Key Features

  • Included, pre-configured Waterforce liquid cooling system
  • Spiffy RGB lighting
  • Built for extreme overclocking

Specifications

  • VRAM: 11GB GDDR5X
  • Memory interface: 352-bit
  • Power Consumption: 250W
  • Base frequency: 1608MHz
  • Boost frequency: 1721MHz

Gigabyte AORUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Waterforce WB Xtreme Edition Review

In terms of performance, the Gigabyte AORUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Waterforce WB Xtreme Edition is about on par with the ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. You may be asking: “Then why does it cost so much less?” Glad you asked—in exchange for paying a few hundred dollars less, you’re giving up the latter card’s excellent ability to manage noise and heat.

The AORUS puts out comparably phenomenal frame rates on max settings, but it does run somewhat louder and hotter (hence the included water cooling setup). At idle/low speeds, it’s very quiet indeed, but it does get loud faster and more often than the fans on the ASUS ROG do.

Speaking of water cooling: the AORUS comes with a complete AOI system designed for easy installation, but it’s hard to tell just how plug-and-play it really is. Water cooling always carries inherent risks and increased installation time, but several owners of this card report that they got it set up without too much trouble, even without prior liquid cooling experience.

Like the ASUS ROG GPU, the AORUS is pricey. It’s also big, but it’s not gargantuan like the ASUS ROG is. When you’re shopping for cards at this level of performance, both of those things are largely unavoidable. At ~$999 new, the AORUS is definitely one of the best and most fairly priced 1080 Ti cards we’ve seen.

+Pros
  • Top-tier performance
  • Looks neat, assuming you’re into RGB lighting and laser-etching
  • Very quiet
-Cons
  • Large—may not fit in smaller cases
  • Expensive
3

Best Value: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition

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The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition was—as the name suggests—one of the first 1080 Ti cards that NVIDIA rolled out. They’re still excellent high-performance GPUs… as long as you’re willing to buy a used one.

Key Features

  • Consistently powerful
  • Stays nice and cool
  • Performance on par with Titan-X cards

Specifications

  • VRAM: 11GB GDDR5X
  • Memory interface: 352-bit
  • Power Consumption: 250W
  • Base frequency: 1481MHz
  • Boost frequency: 1582MHz

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition Review

If you’re shopping for the absolute best price-to-performance ratio in a 1080 Ti card, the NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition is a strong contender.

It’s not quite the powerhouse that the ASUS ROG and the Gigabyte AORUS are, but it’s pretty close, and it’s a full $100 less (right now, at least). Temperature-wise, it’s much closer to the older but significantly less powerful original GTX 1080 cards than to many newer models.

The GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition is one of the more popular cards among the overclocking crowd. Overclocking GPUs is a science all its own; we won’t get too deep in the weeds here. Suffice to say that this card can be overclocked easily up to a theoretical maximum of 120%, but stability is a concern above 110% or so.

Still, an extra 10% clock speed is nothing to sneeze at, especially in light of how easy it is to accomplish with this card. High-level air cooling or liquid cooling is advised if you’re going to go that route.

This GPU is the noisiest of our top three; it can get downright loud if overclocked and not liquid-cooled. In addition, one could argue that its current price of ~$1,300 for new units is a little silly. It’s a great card, but it’s older than and objectively (but not seriously) inferior to the ASUS ROG and the Gigabyte AORUS, both of which retail new for about the same price.

Amazon’s current “Used – Like New” prices of $750 or so are much more reasonable and our “Best Value” award is based mostly on those numbers.

+Pros
  • Performs much better than older/original GTX 1080 models, but stays just as cool
  • Easy to overclock
-Cons
  • Can get loud-ish, especially without ample cooling
  • Used models are fairly priced, but new units are arguably inflated
4

Best Cooling: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

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Let’s be real, overclocking a GPU is very often a pain in the butt, not to mention the small but non-zero risk of an overclocked card burning to cinders. If you’re willing to shell out more cash in exchange for convenience, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will make overclocking easier and a bit less risky.

Key Features

  • NVIDIA VRWorks technology
  • Automatic overclocking and temp management with EVGA Precision XOC

Specifications

  • VRAM: 11GB GDDR5X
  • Memory interface: 352-bit
  • Power Consumption: 280W
  • Base frequency: 1480MHz
  • Boost frequency: 1582MHz

EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Review

If you’re going to spend $1,300 on a GPU, you might as well find one that makes its extra features easy to use. Overclocking isn’t rocket science, but it is an inexact one, and it can OHKO your GPU if you aren’t careful. Hop over to our guide on how to overclock a GPU if you could use some advice.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti comes with overclocking and temp-monitoring software that’s engineered to the exact specifications of the card by its manufacturers, meaning you’re less likely to run into serious problems.

The program has a nice, clean interface and is easier to use than many other overclocking applications, particularly if you only kind of know what you’re looking at.

This card runs cool and quiet, and its performance is about on par with most of the others in this guide. Its nine temperature sensors ensure truly accurate real-time readouts when used with the included software (generic third-party programs can be off by as much as 5°C in either direction).

We’ve already revealed this card’s major drawback—it costs about as much as five car payments. What’s more, the secondhand market for this particular card seems to be pretty small; if you can’t find a gently used one, dropping $1,300 for a new one may be your only option.

+Pros
  • Easier for n00bs to tweak than many other cards
  • Cool and quiet
  • Nine sensors for accurate temperature monitoring
-Cons
  • Not cheap
5

Best Overclocking: MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

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Are other 1080 Ti cards too plebeian for you? Are you compelled to run 16 12K displays at once? Weird flex, but MSI has you covered with their GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

Key Features

  • NVIDIA VRWorks technology
  • Powerful Pascal architecture
  • Ultra-fast FinFET technology for increased performance

Specifications

  • VRAM: 11GB GDDR5
  • Memory interface: 352-bit
  • Power Consumption: 250W
  • Base frequency: 1569MHz
  • Boost frequency: 1683MHz

MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Review

MSI has been all about the overclocking game for years—they’re the makers of Afterburner, the most popular overclocking software around. It makes sense that they’d sell you a (mildly) pre-overclocked GPU.

The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is a beastly brick of a video card out of the box, but it can be ramped up even more if you’re so inclined. For most gamers, though, this card will be more than they ever need, even without additional tinkering.

Provided you don’t crank up the overclocking yourself, this GPU stays well within safe GPU temperature ranges and will rarely be pushed hard enough to throttle itself. It’s got HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI outputs, so all modern displays are accounted for. Like the ASUS ROG Ti card, this one can handle a VR headset and another external display simultaneously, but you should expect noticeable temperature and noise increases in that case.

This GPU is likely the most overclock-able on our list. It can reach performance (and power consumption) levels that are, in a word, bonkers. It draws 250-275 watts out of the box, but can easily exceed 350 watts when pushed to its limits. Make sure your power supply is up to the task if you elect to flirt with the Dark Side that hard.

Like most every other monster-grade 1080 Ti card, this one is huge and expensive; it’s currently $745 used or $1,382 new on Amazon. It’s also extra-long, so you’ll need a sufficiently big case. Tbh, the high new-in-box price is really the only thing keeping it out of our top three.

+Pros
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Stays cool, rarely throttles
  • HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI output options
-Cons
  • Uses a lot of power when overclocked
  • Bulky and expensive
6

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Mini

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Zotac is a lesser-known but not unheard of player in the GPU scene. If you’re down to sacrifice a little bit of performance to save $200 to $300 (or if you just don’t want a video card the size of a car), the Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Mini might be for you.

Key Features

  • Powerful Pascal architecture
  • VR ready
  • Lots of FPS even at 4K

Specifications

  • VRAM: 8GB GDDR5X
  • Memory interface: 256-bit
  • Power Consumption: 180W
  • Base frequency: 1620MHz
  • Boost frequency: 1759MHz

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Mini Review

This GPU almost dethroned the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition for our “Best Value” spot. Like, it was super close. For one thing, this one is way smaller—about ⅔ the size of most of the other cards on our list—which is nice for people with small PC cases or bad backs.

It is the least powerful card here, but not by a huge margin; we think its advantages outweigh its relatively lower performance. It can still maintain 60FPS on a single 4K display all day long (for most games), and that’s plenty for all but the most die-hard graphical fidelity aficionados.

It’s worth noting that all Zotac GPUs come with 3-year warranties, which is the longest term we’ve seen for video cards, and that Zotac offers the same warranty on certified refurbished units. Considering you can get a refurbished GTX 1080 Mini for $500, that’s amazing.

The GTX 1080 Mini has two significant drawbacks: it’s loud, and it gets terribly inefficient if you decide to use two of them.

With SLI setups, the second GPU is considered reasonably efficient by modern standards if it operates at 80-90% of its capacity, but we’ve found several reports of the 1080 Mini losing 30% or more of its power when used in pairs. The reason for the sharp drop is unclear, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a 2-card rig.

+Pros
  • Way smaller than many 1080 Ti cards
  • Nice extended warranty
  • More affordable than comparable GPUs
-Cons
  • Loud
  • Lackluster SLI performance

1080 Ti Video: Card Buying Guide

Iono about you, but GPUs are my least favorite PC components to shop for. It can be really hard to translate all the technical jargon into easily understandable language that will tell you anything useful about how the card will perform in your particular system, even if you’re relatively tech-savvy.

Many of us won’t have a clear idea of a GPU’s performance until we unwrap it and plug it into our PCs, at which point it’s often impossible to return it.

ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI

In our buying guides, we usually break down several fairly specific considerations for a given product. However, GPUs are so complicated and there’s so much heated debate around every tiny little facet of them that we could easily spend 10,000 words on the subject if we stuck to the usual format.

This time around, we’re going to zoom way out and take a broader approach. We’ll do our best to demystify the GPU shopping process and help you gain a clearer understanding of how to evaluate them without getting bogged down by acronyms. Our only goal here is to offer some guidance on why you might (or might not) want to choose a 1080 Ti card over a different generation.

Why Choose a 1080 Ti Card Over Any Other Generation?

Broadly speaking, anytime you scour the internet for GPUs you’re going to find representatives from three generations: the newest/hottest one and the two that preceded it.

Each generation targets different markets, and the basic division of classes is always the same; the newest generation is for gamers who want the best and are willing to pay for it, the oldest generation is for gamers on a budget, and the second-oldest generation represents a happy medium.

NVIDIA Titan RTX

Right now, 1080 Ti video cards occupy that middle spot. Top-tier 1080 cards hover somewhere around $1,000 to $1,400, the brand-new NVIDIA Titan RTX (2080 generation) card starts at $2,500, and older (980) cards can be found for $300 or so. With such a huge range of prices, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re giving up with each generation.

Unsurprisingly, the GPU market is fueled primarily by hype. Much (but not all) of it is just that—marketing. Nobody needs the newest, most powerful GPU to play PC games and have a good time.

You only need a $2,500 video card if you want the absolute highest-end experience possible; that’s a legitimate desire to have, but diminishing returns are a thing, and in terms of a GPU’s ability to run any given game, the difference between a 1080 card and a 2080 card is negligible.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 TI

A “second-oldest” GPU—the 1080 Ti series, in this case— it’s one of the best graphics cards for gaming, so it’s a good choice for gamers who want the most value for their dollars in the long run, and for those willing to settle for great (as opposed to phenomenal) performance. Video cards are crazy expensive when they first come out, but the price drops quickly over time.

It’s not uncommon to see prices fall 25% or more within one year of release. It’s also true that in 2019, PC gaming technology is evolving more slowly with each new generation. In many ways, graphics are about as good as they’re ever going to get, at least until someone invents a fundamentally different and new form of technology.

If you buy a 1080 Ti card today, it will almost certainly still be able to run the newest games five years from now—even longer, if you’re willing to settle for medium and eventually low settings. Older 980-series cards can still do alright today, but they’re starting to show their age, and the $500 to $1,000 you might save by living that far in the past is probably less money than you’ll save in the long run by ponying up more for a 1080 card now.

Inno3D GTX 1080 Ti

That being said, if you just can’t swing $750 or more for a GPU right now, we understand. We’ve got some wisdom to share about the best graphics cards under $300, the best graphics cards under $200, and the best graphics cards under $150.

In this writer’s opinion, a 1080 Ti is still the best choice for most gamers. You’ll get pretty graphics and 60+ frames in 95% of games, 95% of the time, at a medium price point. Add a third-party extended warranty for $20 or so and your rig will be future-proof for a good long while.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the hottest 1080 Ti questions gamers are currently searching for, along with our answers to them.

What can a 1080 Ti do?

The short answer to this question is: almost everything. Most 1080 Ti cards can handle single 4K displays, a majority of VR games, and multi-monitor ultrawide/1440 setups. 1080 Ti cards are a few years old now, but they’re definitely still a luxury class of GPU. Only gamers who insist on going all-in with multiple 5K displays or something similarly crazy (we use that word as a term of endearment) will need the latest and greatest 2080 cards.

What’s the best 1080 Ti graphics card?

“Best” is a highly contextual term. Do you want the single most powerful 1080 Ti card in existence, the cheapest one on a per-MHz basis, or some sort of balance between the two? We invite you to read through the six excellent 1080 Ti cards we’ve rounded up in this article; we’ve done our best to find something for everyone.

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

What is the best 1080 Ti card for overclocking?

The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, both of which we covered in this guide, are made to be overclocked. The MSI card is capable of being cranked to borderline absurd levels, while the EVGA card is built to make overclocking easy and safe if you’ve never done it before. In either case, please overclock responsibly.


Conclusion

In 2019, 1080 Ti GPUs are the fine wines of the video card market. They can be compared to a, uh… 1914 sauvignon blanc from… Italy? Look, I don’t know wine, okay? The point is, a great GPU is one that’s been around long enough to prove itself without being so old that it’s obsolete. 1080 Ti cards are definitely in their prime right now, and buying one today would be a solid choice for most gamers who have some cash to spend.


Sources:

  1. What is a GPU, IT Pro
  2. Steven Melendez, The Purpose of a Graphics Card, Chron
  3. How Graphics Cards Work, HowStuffWorks
  4. Tim Harcourt, What is GPU Rendering, Escape Technology, March 24th, 2016
  5. Steve Eschweiler, Benefits of a GPU Dedicated Server, Hivelocity
  6. Graphics Processing Unit, Wikipedia
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