Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 benchmarks: good for 4K, great for high-fps 1440p

The GeForce GTX 1080 was the first Pascal generation Nvidia card to hit the market, offering a significant performance boost over the previous Maxwell era along with a host of new features and technologies. Today, it remains one of the best graphics cards for PC gaming at high resolutions, particularly 1440p and 4K, and also does well with high refresh rate monitors and VR. However, it does come at a higher price than the GTX 1070 Ti and it has lost its place at the top of Nvidia’s GTX rostrum to the GTX 1080 Ti… to say nothing of the new RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti. The RTX 2070 is also a key competitor, given that the new graphics card offers RTX features and slightly better levels of performance for only a slightly higher price.

We’ll be looking at benchmark results from nine games released in the past five years in order to give you a good idea of what sort of performance you should expect when the GTX 1080 is paired with a suitable processor when using very high or ultra settings. We don’t tend to recommend anything faster than a GTX 1070 for 1080p gaming – CPU becomes the bottleneck and you’re leaving GPU performance on the table here. But if you are gaming at 1080p with a 1080 on a high refresh rate display, we’d recommend you pair it with an Intel Core i7 8700K to get the highest frame-rates possible.

For this benchmark roundup, we’ll compare the GTX 1080 to the GTX 1070 Ti and GTX 1080 Ti; we’ll also throw in AMD’s top-end GPUs, the Vega 56 and Vega 64. Towards the end of the page, we’ll also show you how the GTX 1080 compares to past generations of Nvidia cards and the entire Nvidia GeForce 10-series series, including the lower-end models, so you can get a better sense of the power on display here.

Each game benchmark uses our in-house system, comprised of a YouTube video with synchronised telemetry below. Click on the video to start playback, and you can watch how each card handles the scene in real-time. You can add or remove different cards from the comparison, as well as change between 1440p and 4K resolutions to match your needs. (This is only available on the desktop version of Eurogamer at present; apologies to mobile users.)

For example, if you had a 4K monitor you could choose to only select the 4K results, whereas if you had the GTX 1080 already and were thinking about a monitor, you could see how performance differs between 1440p and 4K. As well as the live stats, there’s also a summary further down of how each card does on average throughout the scene.

As well as the average frame-rate, you can also mouse over different cards of the graph to see best and worst results – the best one per cent, the best five percent, the worst five per cent, the worst one per cent – which can be helpful to see how the cards handle the easiest or toughest parts of each scene. As well as seeing the frame-rates for each of these figures, you can also click on the barchart to swap between frame-rates and relative performance – and the latter may well prove more useful in comparing performance..

This benchmarking system is unique to Digital Foundry and offers as much or as little data as you want. For more information, you can see how the Digital Foundry benchmarking system works right here. Now that we’ve covered the preamble, let’s fire up some benchmarks!

First up we have Assassin’s Creed Unity, a 2014 title that shows off the grandeur and chaos of Revolution-era Paris. The GTX 1080 is eight per cent ahead of the GTX 1070 Ti here, and a solid 12 per cent ahead of AMD’s best card, the Vega 64. However, the GTX 1080 Ti shows its dominance with a result that’s 22 per cent ahead of the GTX 1080. At 4K, the GTX 1080 delivers a ‘cinematic’ frame-rate of 33fps, suggesting that a G-Sync display may be required for a suitably smooth experience. Also note the wide performance variance with AMD – Radeon hardware struggles whenever depth of field is rendered.

Ashes of the Singularity, released in 2016, is another tough challenge for most cards at its extreme preset. Variance in the benchmark between runs can be significant, explaining why our 1070 Ti result is actually higher than 1080 here at 1440p – when in truth, they perform much the same. Meanwhile, the Vega 64 beats the GTX 1080 by six per cent at 1440p and less than one per cent at 4K. Regardless, both the GTX 1080 and Vega 64 deliver more than 60 frames per second at 4K, which is a strong result.

Next up in our alphabetical tour of modern video games comes Battlefield 1 from 2016. The game lacks a built-in benchmark feature, so we’re using a tank driving scene that sports a small amount of close-range explosions that momentarily tank performance. That means that the frame-time spikes can be safely disregarded, but it still gives us a good idea of the performance you can expect. The Vega 64 leads the GTX 1080 here, by around nine per cent at 1440p and four per cent at 4K. Regardless, the 61 frames per second that the GTX 1080 gets at 4K is totally playable.

Crysis 3 from 2013 is our oldest benchmark, but far from our easiest. As we go through the train-bound benchmark, the GTX 1080 leads the Vega 64 by 12 per cent and the GTX 1070 Ti by around nine per cent at both 1440p and 4K. However, only the GTX 1080 Ti is able to turn in a near-60fps result at 4K, with an average frame-rate of just 54fps. One day, perhaps we’ll have a GPU capable of running Crysis flawlessly at ultra HD.

Ubisoft’s 2016 release, The Division, comes in DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 flavours and a handy integrated benchmark. We’re using the DirectX 11 version here, which is faster for Nvidia users than the DX12 renderer, and a touch slower for Radeon users. However, the top-tier AMD card still performs well, with the Vega 64 at the top of the pile, the GTX 1080 a few frames behind and the GTX 1070 Ti a few more frames behind. That remains true at both 1440p and 4K, suggesting that a Vega 64 card might be worth considering if The Division is your jam.

Early 2016 saw the release of Far Cry Primal, a stone age interim between the main series releases of Far Cry 4 and Far Cry 5. The GTX 1080 and Vega 64 are within a frame of each other at 1440p, although the AMD card pulls ahead by a little over one frame per second at 4K. Regardless, there’s little to separate the two cards in performance. Meanwhile, the GTX 1080 Ti continues to impress, with a 23 per cent lead over the GTX 1080 at 1440p and 26 per cent at 4K.

Now we’ve reached the most challenging (and most recent) section of our benchmark suite. Ghost Recon Wildlands offers an extreme workload at its ultra preset, and you can see even the GTX 1080 Ti barely manages to hit 60 frames per second at 1440p. The GTX 1080 sits 19 per cent behind the 1080 Ti at 1440p, but a few frames ahead of the Vega 64. At 4K, performance regresses to a console level at just 30 frames per second for the GTX 1080. We recommend turning down some settings if you’re gaming at 4K, or investing in a G-Sync monitor to smooth out any frame-rate variation.

Action hero Lara Croft continued her origin story in 2016 game Rise of the Tomb Raider, which includes a cool three-part integrated benchmark in its settings menu. We’re using the DX12 render path here and the game runs a little better on Nvidia hardware, with the GTX 1080 leading the Vega 64 by three per cent at 1440p and a little less at 4K. At almost 50 frames per second, the game is quite playable at 4K without sacrificing too many detail settings.

We conclude our game roundup with 2015 title The Witcher 3, one of the most popular games of its time. We saw extremely similar results for the Vega 56 and GTX 1070 Ti, and there’s just a two to three per cent lead for the GTX 1080 compared to the Vega 64 at both resolutions we tested. However, only the GTX 1080 Ti is able to eclipse the elusive 60 frame per second barrier at 4K at ultra settings. The AMD cards have genuine stutter issues during our test runs here, while Nvidia is more stable overall.

In this special benchmark, we’ve got the GTX 1080 stacked up against its historical predecessors, all the way back to the 700 series which debuted in 2013. It’s worth noting that we’ve replaced the usual resolution controls to the right of the video with generational controls, allowing you to compare within or between the Pascal, Maxwell and Kepler cards included here.

We’ll conclude with a comparison of the entire Nvidia Pascal lineup, where the GTX 1080 is closer in performance to the GTX 1070 Ti than the GTX 1080 Ti.

With that, we’ve completed our tour of the GTX 1080’s benchmark results. We hope you’ve found this article helpful!

In the meantime, why not check out our full review of the GTX 1080.

Now that you’ve seen the benchmarks for one card, why not check out see which GPUs we recommend? Click through to see Digital Foundry’s updated selections for the best graphics cards and for the best gaming monitors of 2018.

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