ASUS GTX 1080 Strix Gaming 8 GB Review 41

ASUS GTX 1080 Strix Gaming 8 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The ASUS STRIX GTX 1080 Gaming OC is available online for $679 - but it is out of stock at the moment.
  • Large overclock out of the box
  • Fans turn off in idle
  • Quiet
  • Good performance increase over reference
  • Two fan headers for case fans
  • Temperatures below 80°C - no throttling
  • Power efficient
  • 8 GB VRAM
  • Backplate included
  • Customizable RGB lighting
  • New NVIDIA technologies: Ansel, FastSync, HEVC Video, and VR
  • SLI improved beyond 4K 60 FPS
  • HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4
  • High price
  • 10% reduced efficiency vs. reference design
  • Board power limit increase is kinda small
  • Memory not overclocked
  • DVI output no longer includes analog VGA signals
Today, we have the ASUS GTX 1080 STRIX Gaming OC on our test bench, and while its name is long, the card does come with a bunch of interesting new features that help set it apart from the competition. It's also priced more moderately than the Founders Edition while still offering all the improvements of a custom design.

Out of the box, the card comes overclocked to a base clock of 1785 MHz versus the 1607 MHz on the reference design. This translates into an average clock of 1998 MHz versus the 1783 MHz on NVIDIA's reference design after Boost 3.0 is applied, and it looks as though ASUS's card is, thus, the highest clocked card out of the first round of custom-board designs, achieving 8% additional performance when averaged over our benchmark suite. This makes the card 33% faster than the GTX 1070 reference and 47% faster than GTX 970 SLI! AMD's fastest, the Fury X, is out of the game, almost 50% slower. ASUS did not overclock their memory chips, which could have yielded a little bit of easy extra performance as we've seen all GDDR5X chips so far reach around 1400 MHz - a few MHz above 1251 MHz should have been no problem.

Most people have without a doubt been waiting for custom designs to see if their coolers will offer better capabilities than the NVIDIA reference design heatsink, which looks good, but fails to keep the card from running at its full potential due to throttling beyond 82°C. The new ASUS heatsink does a great job here. It keeps the card below 70°C even during heavy gaming while its fans are much quieter than on the reference. While not as quiet as the MSI Gaming X we tested earlier this week, the noise levels are quite good. ASUS has also included the idle-fan-off feature we love so much since it provides a perfect noise-free experience during desktop work, Internet browsing, and even light gaming. A high-quality backplate with controllable RGB lighting rounds off their cooling configuration. Unlike previous ASUS cards which came with some sort of red highlight, the cooler is now held in plain black and gray, relying on RGB lighting for color. So now, you can prefectly match the graphics card's color to your case's theme.

Just like on the reference design, power efficiency is amazing, with huge improvements over the Maxwell architecture that is already highly efficient in the first place. However, it looks as though ASUS traded some efficiency for more performance, which isn't unreasonable. Compared to the reference design, we see about 30 W more power draw in gaming, which is less than on other custom variants we reviewed so far because ASUS has set the board power limit to 200 W only, which I find a bit low given the 8+6 power inputs can handle at least 300 W. Such an approach would have provided extra headroom for Boost 3.0 to boost higher for longer while ensuring overclocks don't run into the power limit.

Another novelty on the ASUS STRIX is that ASUS has replaced one of the three DP outputs of the reference design with an HDMI port. This brings the number of HDMI outputs to two, which, according to ASUS, was done to let people connect a VR headset and a TV at the same time, or two VR headsets. On the other hand, it does mean that you can no longer run three G-Sync monitors in surround (G-Sync requires DisplayPort, adapters won't work). Given both of these configurations are very rare, I have no opinion on which configuration is better; feel free to share your thoughts on it in the comments section of this review.

ASUS has also added two fan headers on their card, which can be used with case fans to run them at the same speed as the graphics card. They include the idle-fan-off feature too, so this should be a simple way to reduce the noise levels of your system - case fans stopped while not gaming and overall heat output is low. Once you start gaming and the graphics card starts putting out heat, the case fans will start turning as well to ensure hot air goes out of your case; I like it.

Currently, the ASUS GTX 1080 STRIX Gaming OC retails at $679, which is roughly in the middle of the cards we reviewed so far (MSI Gaming $719, Gigabyte G1 Gaming $649). I find that price not to be unreasonable given the large OC out of the box and the added features. Still, it's not anywhere close to the MSRP price of $599 NVIDIA announced so proudly, though it's a step in the right direction. Since the Founders Edition is $699, the ASUS STRIX should be a no-brainer for everyone who's looking for more value than the FE. The card comes with a decent overclock out of the box, the cooler is much better than on the FE, idle-fan off is included, and there are RGB LEDs and two extra fan headers.
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