EVGA GTX 1080 FTW review: The most powerful graphics card in the world, made better

This is the GeForce GTX 1080 you’ve been waiting for.

Ashes of the Singularity and DX12

Between the bolted-on DirectX 12 support in Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider and the inherent limitations in testing Windows Store apps—which don’t support overlays or benchmarking tools like FRAPS—there’s only a single game with a stellar DX12 implementation to test: Ashes of the Singularity, running on Oxide’s custom Nitrous engine.

Beyond being a refreshingly fun throwback inspired by classic real-time strategy games, AoTS was an early flag-bearer for DirectX 12, and the performance gains AoTS offers in DX12 over DX11 are eye-opening—at least on Radeon cards. The Fury X even manages to come within spitting distance of the GTX 1080 when it’s running DX12!

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AoTS ’s DX12 implementation makes heavy use of asynchronous compute features, which are supported by dedicated hardware in Radeon GPUs, but not GTX 900-series Nvidia cards. In fact, the software pre-emption workaround that Maxwell-based Nvidia cards use to mimic the async compute capabilities tank performance so hard that Oxide’s game is coded to ignore async compute when it detects a GeForce GPU. Those cards actually perform worse when running AoTS in DX12 despite the large gains shown by AMD cards.

That’s not true with GTX 10-series cards, which see humble gains in DX12 compared to DX11 even with async compute ostensibly still disabled.

The EVGA GTX 1080 FTW’s impressive cooling solution and out-of-the-box overclock doesn’t do much to compensate for Nvidia’s ho-hum DX12 showing, but it is enough to increase average frame rates by a few frames per second over the Founders Edition, both at stock clocks and overclocked. And even with Radeon’s async compute advantage, the GTX 1080 GPU’s overwhelming power gives it the performance lead across the board, even when the Fury X is using DX12. That gap widens significantly when all cards are running in DX11.

Next page: Synthetic benchmarks.

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Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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