GDC 2017: NVIDIA’s New GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is a VR Beast

by Anshel Sag • February 28th, 2017

As many of you already know, NVIDIA is one of the leading purveyors of graphics cards which are heavily used for VR. In fact, NVIDIA is the go-to solution for the majority of users, so it is always a good day when the company launches a new graphics card. This is especially true when they launch a brand new high-end graphics card. The new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is the new top dog within NVIDIA’s lineup of graphics cards and is designed to be the fastest card that the company has offered to date. Yes, that includes the GeForce GTX Titan X Pascal, the fastest and most sought after graphics card.

The specs for the GPU itself are:

  • 12 Billion transistors
  • 1.6 GHz Boost clockpeed, 2 GHz Overclock
  • 3584 CUDA Cores (same as Titan X Pascal)
  • 352-bit memory bus (384-bit on Titan X Pascal)
  • 11 Gbps memory speed (10 Gbps on Titan X Pascal)
  • 11 GB of RAM (12 GB on Titan X Pascal)
  • 250 Watt TDP (Same as GTX Titan X Pascal)

The expectation is that the GTX 1080 Ti will be 35 percent faster on average than a GTX 1080, according to NVIDIA, which should mean that it will outperform the GTX Titan X Pascal in gaming and VR. The GTX 1080 Ti will ship in March and be available for $699. NVIDIA also killed the DVI port on the new GTX 1080 Ti, which won’t really be missed. It has three DisplayPort connectors and one HDMI connector, allowing for three monitor display configurations with an HDMI, which is what I’m running at home right now.

In addition to the new GPU, NVIDIA is also announcing support for VR Works inside of Unity including support for VR SLI, Multi-Res Shading, Lens Match Shading and SPS. Thanks to the VRWorks features on NVIDIA’s GPUs, benchmarks like Basemark’s VR Score saw as much as a 40% performance uplift. Also, in addition to announcing support for Unity and VR benchmarks, NVIDIA is introducing their own tool to measure VR quality called FCAT VR. This tool is built on their frame capturing technology which seeks to discover real world performance and actual frames displayed to the headset. They’ve also introduced an advanced data analysis tool with FCAT data analyzer to allow anyone to analyze a game or application’s behavior.

While we don’t exactly know how much faster it will be than the Titan X Pascal, the expectation is that it will be faster and significantly faster than the GTX 1080. This is a good thing because it means that VR developers can really start to look at enabling eye candy features in their applications and that we can start to think about possibly increasing the resolution of VR HMDs down the road as well. There are already higher resolution displays out there and graphics cards like the GTX 1080 Ti are going to be critical to enabling those high resolutions at acceptable frame rates.

Disclosure: My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or had provided research, analysis, advising, and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including NVIDIA and others. I do not hold any equity positions with any companies cited.

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  • MuscleMan

    Nvidia rules, AMD drools. Lisa Su = unemployment line.

    Getting a 1080 Ti next week for my Vive.

    • Get Schwifty!

      I think for 2-D gaming these will make a real difference, I really can’t see them making huge differences with VR games *yet* as 1080’s pretty much eat up everything out there except for the silly VR Funhouse Nvidia makes to try to get you to buy two 1080’s… 1080Ti’s definitely will add a year of future proofing in though.

      • Ben

        Are you not using the Oculus Debug tool for super sampling?

      • 1droidfan

        Future proofing is nice but also being able to turn up super-sampling. The detail is noticeably higher when SS is 1.5 or above.

        • koenshaku

          Especially in games that don’t many graphics settings. Using advanced settings add-on in steam VR to apply SS to every app makes a world of a difference at the cost of performance though.

      • koenshaku

        Yeah? Try turning raw data to epic settings and watch fps reprojection happen. The 1080 Titan X can only currently handle epic settings without minimum reprojection. I will be waiting to see how AMD cards perform and make a decision from there, since no VR games support SLI currently.

        • Nicholas

          Raw Data supports SLI I believe – both my 1080s ramp up on the load and temp graphs when I played it through a week ago (I think I had it running smoothly at epic settings – will check again tonight).

          • koenshaku

            Interesting, last I checked it did not and hardocp reported reprojection at those settings on a 1080..

          • Nicholas

            There’s no mention of it by the developer, but that’s what I’m seeing on my rig. There is still the odd reprojection stutter when things get really busy, but it’s very rare. If I increase the SS a notch or two, I can hear both my cards attempting to take off and it turns into reprojection stutterfest!

          • koenshaku

            I see, well I heard support was supposed to be in the unreal 4 engine it’s just that developers have been sleeping at the wheel. maybe there is some compatibility in it now just not optimized. Either way I will likely grab TI i dunno if I will wait on AMD.

  • dan bryant

    Interested in a strix 1080ti
    It will be a beast that’s for sure
    Running a 980ti at the moment which does the job but this looks great
    Not sure if my wallet agrees 🤔

  • JMB

    It will be interesting to see, just how well nVidia will follow suit on their claim of proper VR SLI integration and how it scales.

    Because then I will have to decide between getting another TitanXP for SLI, or just two 1080Ti which might turn out cheaper, if nVidia doesn’t lower the Titan’s MRSP.

    • 1droidfan

      If you read the GDC presentations on VR SLI its only about a 30% speedup. The issue is latency, and that both eyes have to be ready to flip at the same moment they always end up waiting to some degree. So the fill rate performance is offset by these issues, making it nothing near a 100% speedup.

  • if they offered a nice upgrade for 980 ti owners i would be happier…

    • Anshel Sag

      EVGA has a 90 day step-up program.

  • Xron

    Article writter you should fix, boost is up to 1.6Gh’z and Oc to 2Ghz. We do not know base clock yet.
    And yea, this card might be awesome for VR.

    • Anshel Sag

      Thanks

  • Nicholas

    A “VR beast”…if anything released for VR actually bothered to use the features.

    Definitely a marked improvement on the 1080 if the benchmarks are accurate, although I’m sure the 1080 will tide me over until Volta arrives (and probably beyond).

    • Mo Last

      whats volta?

      • Nicholas

        The next GPU architecture from nVidia after Pascal (i.e. possibly a future GTX 11×0 line of cards)

        • 1droidfan

          Is the chip architecture different or does is just support 3D memory?

          • Nicholas

            Both, if the rumors are to be believed.

  • 1droidfan

    I will put one of these in my new system I am planning on in August, but I see no reason to pay extra to get in on the first wave. My 980Ti is still performing adequately.

    • Yeah, but this is TEN80. That’s one more better than your NINE80!

    • Mr. DeLaura

      Im selling both my Strix 980 TI’s for 1 Strix 1080 TI

  • Ben

    As a Titan X Pascal owner for the past few months I’d like to warn my fellow VR brethren that you should not expect to run the new 1080 Ti without water cooling. The thermal throttling on my card was hilariously severe until I attached an ekwb sink.

    • 1droidfan

      Were you running a reference device or one of the aftermarket solutions for cooling? Non-standard MSI, Gigabyte and Asus cards tend to run about 10 degrees cooler under load.

      • Ben

        I was running a reference device. Actually, I was kind of under the impression that for the Titan X Pascal that was the only option… I had to order it directly from Nvidia.

        • 1droidfan

          Well It may be possible to increase your case cooling to help it.

  • elev8d

    I would have preferred a configuration with 2 HDMI ports… I use an HDMI for a large 4K TV and for an HTC Vive. I wonder if EVGA will release a VR edition with a drivebay HDMI solution. I like having an HDMI on the front of my PC for VR.

    • 1droidfan

      There must be some technical reason this is not easy or cheap, not many cards have duel HDMI ports. Right now I run a DVI to HDMI adapter for my TV when I VR, but it loses the audio.

      • elev8d

        So I just looked into this… apparently the next generation of VR headsets will be switching from HDMI to DisplayPort because HDMI does not have enough bandwidth.
        HDMI 2.0 can provide 18Gbps of bandwidth, support 4K resolutions and 60Hz.
        DisplayPort 1.4 can transmit up to 32.4Gbs bandwidth, much more than HDMI’s 18Gbps limitation. This allows a higher resolution of 8K at 60Hz with 10-bit color HDR or 4K at 120Hz to be viewed.

    • Anshel Sag

      You can always turn a DP into an HDMI.