The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has come strutting into town as the fastest single-GPU around.It can rightly be viewed as a comparative bargain. The lower fee is a major attraction for this 11GB, 3,584-shader range topper, yet what really makes GTX 1080 Ti intriguing is that it won't be restricted to a Founders Edition guise. Nvidia's reference cooler serves a purpose, but our initial review revealed that it struggles to tame the underlying GPU, and in the hands of AIC partners the GTX 1080 Ti should be able to further extend its performance lead.
Nvidia is allowing partners to build their own cards, and Inno3D has been quick off the mark with a design showcasing its iChill X3 cooling solution. Chances are that it improves upon the FE's thermals and hence offers more sustained performance through higher frequencies.
To find out how fast a custom-cooled variant will go, we've been able to spend some quality time with a very early sample of Inno3D's iChill GeForce GTX 1080 Ti X3.This monster card measures 302mm in length, stands 111mm tall, occupies the best part of three slots and tips the scales at 1,188g.
It looks and feels like a tank. And so it should as this here beastie isn't designed for your Nan to play Peggle, no ma'am, it's a no-holds-barred solution geared strictly for enthusiast gamers who appreciate high framerates and extreme resolutions, or preferably both.
Compared to the Founders Edition Inno3D has made one more change to the chard, namely the addition of a DVI port. It wasn't present yet on our test sample, however Inno3D has stated that this was the only difference between our sample and retail cards. However, after our initial test we requested another production sample that is identical to retail cards. Besides slightly differently tuned cooling the performance was exactly the same.
The sharp price is always a strong point of Inno3D - once again this manufacturer has released the cheapest option by far. Of course this means that you shouldn't expect features like extensive RGB lighting. A simple LED that changes colors when the GPU temperature rises is present on top of the card, while the lighting on the fans is only white.
Given that our review sample is an early pre-production model and uses the reference PCB, it's worth pointing out a few elements that will differ on final retail units. Inno3D has confirmed that the fans on the production run are configured so that the outer two switch off when core temperature drops below 46ºC and the central fan turns off when the temperature falls to 44ºC. The central fan on our review sample continues to spin at all times, albeit at a very low speed when idle, but retail units will be practically silent when the GPU isn't stressed.
There will also be a change with regards to outputs. Our review sample is equipped with Nvidia's default selection of three DisplayPort 1.4 and a single HDMI 2.0, emanating from the reference board, but Inno3D is adding DVI-D to all retail units. The card is also backed by a three-year warranty, but that's enough preamble, let's get to the benchmarks and see if this custom GTX 1080 Ti can make Titan X look like an expensive children's toy.
Inno3D's design also combines a memory heatsink that makes solid contact with the new-fangled GDDR5X memory. Such concentration on cooling is rewarded by the iChill increasing the FE's clocks from 1,481/1,582MHz to 1,607/1,721MHz. That FE card throttles quite quickly in the bit-tech test rig; Inno3D believes its cooling is sufficient to maintain a high boost speed at all times, thus differentiating its performance handsomely.
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