Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti OC /£ 756 inc VAT
While the world’s supply of reasonably priced graphics cards appears to have been carted off to the great cryptocurrency mine in the cloud, there still seems to be a reasonable stock of GTX 1080 Ti GPUs lurking in the shops. They might not provide the same bang per buck as Radeon RX 580 cards for currency mining, but they’re capable of playing games at 4K, and that’s what counts in Custom PC. We’ve already been blown away by the Founders Edition version of the card, and now Asus has sent us its ROG Strix version.
It’s a massive slab. Its 298mm length makes it almost a foot long (30mm longer than the Founder’s Edition), and we had to carefully insert it at an angle in our NZXT H440 test rig to avoid hitting the drive bays. Its depth also stretches further than the average graphics card. The new Strix cooler makes use of a large 40mm metal heatsink under the fan shroud, which looks huge when you view the card from the top down.
Asus describes it as a 2.5-slot card, but it’s effectively a three-slot card – it’s not as if you’ll be able to use the third slot that it covers, after all, although you’ll at least get a little breathing space between the cards in an SLI setup. There’s also a chunky metal backplate on the back, plus a pair of 8-pin PCI-E power sockets, compared to one 8-pin socket and one 6-pin socket on the Founders Edition. The card feels seriously big and weighty in your hand.
On top of the heatsink are three large fans, which only spin up when they’re needed, making the card effectively silent when you’re not gaming, or using the GPU for any other task. The fans are also surrounded by slits through which RGB LEDs shine, along with a glowing Strix logo on the backplate and an illuminated Republic of Gamers logo on the top edge. By default, the card cycles through a rainbow of colours, but you can set the LEDs to perform various colour sequences and effects in Asus’ software. Get it right, and you end up with a classy-looking card that can match the rest of your PC’s internal colour scheme.
The connection options are slightly different to the Founders Edition as well. You get two HDMI 2b ports, rather than just one, which could be handy for VR setups, enabling you to plug in a headset and TV at the same time. You also get two DisplayPort sockets, rather than three on Founders Edition, as well as the interesting inclusion of a DVI-DL output on the bottom right for older monitors.
Two versions of the Strix card are available – a stock version and an overclocked one. We’re reviewing the OC version; like most Asus review samples, this turned up with its top overclocked mode enabled, rather than the standard Gaming mode.
Retail versions will have the gaming mode enabled by default, but it’s easy to change it to the OC mode in Asus’ software. We’ve conducted our testing in the OC mode, to gauge the full performance potential of the card.
In this mode, the GPU runs at a 1594MHz base clock, with a 1708MHz boost frequency, up from 1569MHz base clock and 1683MHz boost clock in the Gaming mode. As a point of comparison, the Founders Edition only has a 1480MHz base clock and a 1582MHz boost clock, so the Strix card in OC mode gives you a substantial 114MHz boost.
That 1708MHz OC mode boost figure is a conservative quote too, especially with so much cooling (and extra power) on offer – the GPU was happily boosting to 1961MHz and staying there in most of our game tests. The memory also gets a small tweak, running at 11100MHz in OC mode,
although it drops down to the stock clock speed of 11010MHz in Gaming mode.
The extra clock speed made a decent difference to the Strix’s speed compared with the Founders Edition, generally increasing the minimum frame rate by 2-3fps. It’s not a massive boost, but it’s a welcome one. The extra clock cycles were most obviously beneficial in Doom at 4K, where the Strix’s minimum frame rate jumped up by 7fps to a phenomenal 82fps.
Disappointingly, this clock boost wasn’t enough to let the Strix pull ahead in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided though. Bizarrely, the Strix card was also slower than the Founders Edition in Crysis 3 at 4K, although the card wasn’t throttling at all during testing – this result is more likely to be down to the difference in drivers we used to test the cards.
What really impressed us about the Strix card, though, wasn’t so much its frame rates, but the efficiency of the cooler. It remained supremely quiet throughout testing, with the GPU core temperature topping out at 69°C. You can barely hear the fans spin up when they kick into action, or when they speed up. You might need a colossal heatsink and room for three fans to achieve this feat, but it works.
With two 8-pin power connectors and a massive cooler at our disposal, we figured there would probably be some extra headroom for overclocking the card further, and we were right. We upped the power limit to 120 per cent in MSI Afterburner, and found we could settle on the memory running at 6005MHz (12010MHz effective) and add another 85MHz to the GPU clock, while still maintaining stability in games. This overclock gave us another small performance boost and, remarkably, the cooler was still quiet, with the GPU core temperature topping out at 70°C.
That’s a good result, but it’s also worth remembering that while the Founders Edition’s stock clock speeds are much lower, it was also overclockable to a similar level as the Strix card. The GPU might be hotter, and the cooler a bit louder, but the raw overclocked performance results are very similar.
Asus’ ROG Strix GTX 1080 Ti is a great piece of engineering. It looks fantastic, it keeps an overclocked top-end GPU cool and it’s practically inaudible. In addition, you also get a guaranteed overclock, and you only need to enable the OC mode in Asus’ software to get a decent boost that the card can easily handle. The only potential issues are the card’s immense size, and its price. You’ll need to check your case’s graphics card clearance before purchasing, and also make sure that you don’t want to use the two expansion slots below your top 16x slot.
At the time of going to press, the Strix GTX 1080 Ti OC was going for £756 inc VAT on while Palit Founders Edition cards are going for £650 inc VAT from the same retailer. That’s a hefty markup for an air-cooled graphics card, although the cooler is really good. www.overclockers.co.uk,
Comparatively, though, Overclockers will also sell you a KFA GTX 1080 Ti with a full-cover EKWB waterblock fitted to it for £762 – you’ll need a water-cooling loop to use it, but that’s £6 more than the price Asus thinks it can charge for the Strix card. To be fair to Asus, though, there are plenty of other third-party GTX 1080 Ti cards in the same price bracket. While it may be a little overpriced, however, the Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti OC is fast, well-built, goodlooking and supremely quiet. If you can afford it then buy it.