Today we will be reviewing our first ASUS GPU in the Pascal line, believe it or not! We will start out with their current 1080 flagship, the ROG Strix Gaming GTX 1080 OC. The ROG Strix series promises to be highly overclocked out of the box with its DirectCU III cooler, and has some fully customizeable RGB LED’s on it as well some pretty good looks. Let’s take a gander at some details and see what changes ASUS has made and how they shake out.
Below are basic specifications from the ASUS website. This specific model, the OC version, comes in at a blistering 1759 MHz base clock, with a rated boost of 1898 MHz…in the real world, well, at least my world (read: test environment), the card boosted and stayed 2012 MHz throughout the testing. You can get a bit more out of it when using the OC Mode through their ASUS GPU Tweak II software raising it another ~30 MHz. The GDDR5X memory comes in at 1251 MHz or 10010 MHz effective offering 320.2 GB/s bandwidth across its 256-bit bus.
There are a total of five outputs to connect to your monitor(s) on this card. A single DVI-D, 2x HDMI (2.0), and 2x DisplayPorts (1.4). The card supports a total resolution of 8K or 7680×4320. Required to power the 180W+ TDP card are a 6-Pin and 8-Pin PCIe power plugs. For most systems we would recommend a quality 550W power supply for single card operations.
One thing worth noting here is the size of the card. The DirectCU III cooler is a dual slot cooling solution, so no trouble there, but its length is 11.73″… nearly a foot. Make sure you have the room for it in your case.
|ASUS ROG Strix Gaming GTX 1080 OC|
|Graphics Engine||NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1080|
|Bus Standard||PCI Express x16 3.0|
|Video Memory||GDDR5X 8GB|
*Retail goods are with default Gaming Mode, OC Mode can be adjusted with one click on GPU Tweak II
|Memory Clock||10010 MHz|
|Resolution||Digital Max: 7680 x 4320|
|DVI Output : Yes x 1 (Native) (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 2 (Native) (HDMI 2.0)
Display Port : Yes x 2 (Native) (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
|Power consumption (W) / Power Connectors||180W+ / 6-pin x 1, 8-pin x1|
|DirectX / OpenGL Version Support||DX12_1 / Open GL 4.5|
|Card Dimensions (mm)||298 x 134 x 40 mm (11.73″ x 5.28″ x 1.57″)|
ASUS has always done well with their aftermarket cooling solutions and the DirectCU III with Direct-GPU contact heatpipes looks to be another winner. It has a total of five heatpipes making direct contact with the GPU core to help get the heat away from the GPU. ASUS states it achieves up to 30% cooler gaming performance over the Founders Edition cards with this setup.
Part of that performance is due to their patented Triple Wing-Blad 0db fans. The wing-blade design is said to deliver maximum airflow and improved static pressure. All this while operating much quieter, 3x they say, than the reference blowers. The fans also have the ever popular 0db mode where they do not start to spin until a certain temperature (~60 °C). So all the while you at your desktop doing basic tasks, the fans stay off… completely silent.
Supplementing the control you already have with fans on the heatsink, ASUS has placed some GPU-controlled fan headers on the card as well. We can use these headers to connect to other system fans to bring a better balance to the system temperatures. This is a pretty unique addition, and I can see its value, but my personal preference is to let the board work its magic and adjust through there. Its also additional cable management to consider sticking out the back of the card.
Being part of the ROG Strix line, one knows that you are not working with the reference power bits. In this case, the ASUS ROG Strix Gaming GTX 1080 has an 8+2 phase Super Alloy Power II VRM. These premium alloy components help increase reliability and efficiency while reducing power loss and achieving thermal levels “50% cooler than previous designs.” The ten total phases and pumped power bits will easily provide good clean power to the card.
Last but not least is the Aura RGB lighting. The DirectCU III cooler has LEDs around the top and bottom of each fan as well as lighting up the large ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) symbol on the backplate. You can control these LEDs through the Aura GPU software.
For more details, please see the website.
Below is a, well, fuzzy screenshot of GPU-Z. Its what you get I suppose when you take the print-screen from a 4K monitor, ha! That aside, we can see the typical GTX 1080 specs here. A back end of 64 ROPs, 160 TMUs, and 2560 Shaders. Micron GDDRX5 ICs sitting on a 256-bit bus. Yep, sure is a 1080!
Retail Packaging and Accessories
In the gallery below, we see the retail packaging and accessories. Never anything too special on these boxes, but the Strix has picture of the card inside, the model, and some rainbow graphic designs seemingly noting the Auru lighting/RGB ability of the card. The back shows a few features, specs, and requirements for the video card.
When you open the box, you are greeted by another box! This box has the Strix name in white letters with a red background, reminding you of the product inside and its pedigree. After opening it, you then see where the accessories are stored. Lifting that up, you are then seeing the card sitting in its form fitting foam. Last but not least, the accessory stack.
Meet the ASUS ROG Strix Gaming GTX 1080
Our first look at the card shows it is a pretty basic black theme. The shroud has sharp lines around its three fans giving the card a pretty aggressive look. Being all black/grey, well outside of the stickers on the fan hub which are theme agnostic white, the card can easily find its way into most any theme. The LEDs are the eyebrows above and below each of the fans which is where you will be able to meld this card into your build theme even better.
The back side of the card does have a nice looking backplate with a full RGB LED ASUS ROG symbol sitting just below the power connectors. It is a dual slot cooling solution so there isn’t much worry there (compared to a three slot monster). Again, you will need to consider length as this card is 11.73″ (~298mm).
A Closer Look
In looking at the outputs available, ASUS has put one DVI-D (no analog), 2x HDMI ports (1.4b), and two DisplayPorts (2.0). You are able to connect two VR sets with the two HDMI, or one set and one to a TV. What this configuration does eliminate however, is the ability to run three G-Sync monitors in surround as it requires three DisplayPort connections.
In order to power the card, you will need both a 6-Pin and 8-Pin PCIe power plug. This allows a total of 300W to be sent to the card between all sources.
Taking off the DirectCU III heatsink shows one heck of a modified board. One of the first things I see is the 8+2 phase Super Alloy II power bits taking up almost the full height of the card just to the right of the Micron GDDR5X memory chips. The good news is the power bits, which really need to make contact with the heatsink, are doing so by way of a thermal pad… so we are set there. Nothing too cool to see on the back with the backplate removed except for the black PCB.
The base of the DirectCU III heatsink is shown in the next picture with its five direct contact heatpipes clearly visible. There was plenty of thermal paste on the heatsink for more than adequate coverage. The memory, I should say part of it, is cooled by a the aluminum “L” shaped piece. It covers part of some of the memory (that wasn’t a typo), meaning not all memory IC’s are covered and those that are covered are not fully covered. While memory doesn’t tend to get hot, I would have liked to have seen complete coverage. It won’t hold anything back really, so there isn’t a worry.
The next two shots show a close up of the Micron GDDRX5 memory, and the GP104 core used to power the GTX 1080.
Last but not least, that super sexy 8+2 Phase VRM!
Monitoring/Overclocking Software – GPUTweak 2 and VGA Aura
ASUS does have their own monitoring and overclocking software in its GPUTweak 2 application. This software allows you to see the status of the card from its current clocks speeds, temperature, and fan speed among other things. In Beginners mode, you can one touch overclock to its built in OC Mode for a slight jump in clocks. When using Professional mode, you have granular control over the core, memory, power limit, core voltage, and the fan via sliders. This is where you will do you overclocking.
Outside of controlling the GPU’s performance and thermals, there is also XSplit Gamecaster integration for ease of streaming your games. Or you can install the Aura GPU software to gain control over any RGB LED enabled cards right through GPUTweak 2. A pretty handy and lightweight application.
Here are some pictures of it once I swapped it out into the daily driver for the Pushing the Limits section:
|GPU Test System|
|CPU||Intel 6700K @ Stock (for the motherboard – 4.2 GHz)|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme|
|RAM||2×8 GB DDR4 GSkill Ripjaws4 @ 3000 MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35 V|
|Graphics Card||ASUS ROG Strix Gaming GTX 1080 OC
Stock (Gaming Mode) : Core -1759 MHz, 2012 MHz (Actual Boost), / 1251 MHz Memory
Overclocked: Core – 1844 MHz, 2101 MHz (Actual Boost) / 1353 MHz Memory
|Storage||OCZ RD400 (512GB)|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64 (Fully Updated)|
|Digital Multimeter, Kill-A-Watt|
Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution (settings also carry over to 2560 x 1440 and Surround/Eyefinity testing if applicable).
All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings, with game benchmarks at noted settings:
- 3DMark Fire Strike – Extreme, default setting.
- 3DMark Time Spy – Default
- Unigine Valley Benchmark v1.0 – 1080p, DX11, Ultra Quality, 8x AA, Full Screen
- Unigine Heaven (HWbot) – Extreme setting
- Crysis 3 – Very High settings with 8xMSAA/16xAF (2nd level when you procure and use the Crossbow to get across the level and kill the Helicopter)
- Metro:LL – DX11, Very High, 16xAF, Motion Blur – Normal, SSAA Enabled, DX11 Tessellation – Very High, Advanced PhysX – Disabled, Scene D6
- Dirt: Rally – 1080p, 8x MSAA, everything on Ultra that can be, enable Advanced Blending
- Grand Theft Auto V – 1080p, high settings (see article below for details).
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – 1080p, everything Ultra that can be (Lighting quality High), FXAA and Camera + Object Blur, DOF/OIT/Tessellation enabled.
- Rise of the Tomb Raider – 1080p, SSAA 4X, VSync Off, DirectX 12 On, Very High Preset
- The Division – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
- Far Cry: Primal – 1080p, Ultra Preset, VSync Off
- Ashes of the Singularity – 1080p, DX12, Crazy Preset
More details found in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures
GPU’s Used for Comparison:
Getting into the performance side of the card, we are seeing it is just as fast if not a little bit faster than the last 1080 I reviewed a couple of months back. This makes sense since the boost clocks were nearly the same. So about the only difference we see here are from drivers and run variance.
Same thing goes for the games. The stock boost clocks were the same so what we see here are simple driver differences over the other 1080. In these titles, even in Crysis 3, we are seeing FPS hit nearly 70 FPS in that title, while almost hitting 100 FPS in Dirt: Rally and 90 FPS in Metro: Last Light. These games used to be hard on a card just a couple year back… now look!
In these modern titles The ASUS ROG Strix Gaming GTX 1080 OC has no issues plowing through these titles either.
And on to our most challenging, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Ashes of the Singularity. Here it still manages 67 and 65 FPS respectively. In another great looking game, The Division, the ROG Strix 1080 manages 104 FPS.
2560×1440 and 4K UHD Results
So what happens when you go up in resolution? The card keeps on pumping out frames people. Only in Crysis 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are we below 60 FPS here. Otherwise everything is well over that number or very close to it (in the case of AOTS at 58 FPS).
4K you say? Why not?! In this set of testing, not one title managed to reach that magic 60 FPS threshold many hold dear. But this is the closest card to do so, in the 1080, an aftermarket overclocked version like the ROG Strix helps with its factory overclock. One thing to note is we typically do not need the levels of Anti-Aliasing we are running our games at when using 4K UHD resolution. So many of these titles could easily reach that 60 FPS with just a few settings turned down. I know I ran several titles with just 2xMSAA instead of 4x/8x and couldn’t tell a difference due to the pixel density of running 4K UHD on a 27″ monitor. But I really think our first true 4K 60 FPS card is going to be the 1080Ti… OK, second if you count the Titan XP, right?!
Regardless, some very good results here with this overclocked 1080 doing the driving.
Pushing the Limits
In this edition of Pushing the Limits, I found again that we are topped out on the core with this one right at the 2101 where I landed. Much above that and I cannot get through some benchmarks or games and its starts to throttle and hit the power limit. That said, I was able to push the memory on up and break 1400 MHz (11,200 MHz effective). Since this GPU is going to take over daily driver duties, I strapped into the 6950X system and ran it against Time Spy again. This time we yielded a score of 8,292 versus the other system… thanks to the cores on the Broadwell-E chip and an increase in memory.
The card overclocked well, but, really wanted to have more headroom in it. I found I was hitting the power limit while overclocking, without even touching the voltage (not that you can adjust it much). That is a bit disappointing for this level card. Still though, it ended up where most others do, so it certainly isn’t a slouch!
Temperatures and Power Consumption
Temperatures fall right in line with what we have come to expect on Pascal cards and what these board partners seem to settle on fan curve wise. Temperatures on this card peaked at 70 °C during my testing while overclocked and 69 °C while at stock speeds. The Direct CU III cooler and its fans did a great job at keeping things cool and quiet, even when pushing on the card a bit. This card was a bit more audible than the other MSI 1080 sporting the Twin FrozR cooler, but again, it is very quiet on load.
These power consumption numbers I still have a tough time believing with how much performance we are seeing out of these cards today. When overclocked, the card peaked at 322W at the wall during Fire Strike Extreme. Its just amazes me that we can use a quality 550W unit and run this card and most any CPU overclocked and still have plenty of headroom. I like this green movement!
ASUS has put their twist on NVIDIA’s mighty GTX 1080 and the iteration we are looking at here, the ROG Strix GTX 1080 OC, really brought to the table superior cooling with its DirectCU III cooler, and a great VRM section to help drive the card to its limits. The look of the cooler is theme-agnostic in its black/grey coloring, and will rely on the RGB LEDs around the fans and the ROG symbol around back to match your theme’s color if you choose. We know its a looker and we know it performs very well out of the box with its hefty core overclock.
The only concern I have with the card is the power limit gets triggered pretty easily. In that, I didn’t get a chance to touch voltage before I was already hitting the power limit. I wish there was a lot more headroom available. That coupled with the little bit of voltage it gives you, one should see another 25-50 MHz out of the card. Or, if you are feeling saucy (and voiding the warranty at your own risk), you can find a good BIOS out there for it which should help unleash the beast inside.
Pricing on this unit currently sits at $679.99 at Newegg.com. This is towards the higher end of the air cooled GTX 1080’s, competing with the formidable Zotac AMP! Edition, MSI Gaming Z, and the EVGA FTW. The former two are clocked slightly higher, while the later is slightly lower. It’s a tough market up there, but ASUS has come through with an overall great looking card, vastly improved from the Founders Edition, and one of the fastest out of the box. I don’t have any hesitations in giving this card the Overclockers.com approved stamp!
– Joe Shields (Earthdog).