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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 review: The most badass graphics card ever created

Brad Chacos | May 18, 2016
Hail to the new king of graphics cards, baby.

Ansel’s a driver-level tool, and games will need to explicitly code in support for it. On the plus side, doing so takes minimal effort—Nvidia says The Witness’s Ansel support required 40 lines of code, while Witcher 3’s integration took 150 lines. The company also plans to offer Ansel for Maxwell-based GeForce 700- and 900-series graphics cards. Look for The Division, The Witness, Lawbreakers, Witcher 3, Paragon, Unreal Tournament, Obduction, No Man’s Sky, and Fortnite to roll out Ansel support in the coming months.

How Fast Sync fixes latency and tearing

The GeForce GTX 1080 has a big problem: It’s almost too powerful, at least for the popular e-sports titles with modest visual demands. Running Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, or Dota 2 on a modern high-end graphics card can mean your hardware’s pumping out hundreds of frames per second, blowing away the refresh rates of most monitors.

That puts gamers in a pickle. The disparity between the monitor’s refresh rate and the extreme frame output can create screen tearing, a nasty artifact introduced when your monitor’s showing results from numerous frames at once. But enabling V-sync to fix the issue adds high latency to the game as it essentially tells the entire engine to slow down, and high latency in the fast-paced world of e-sports can put you at a serious competitive disadvantage.

gtx 1080 fast sync

The new Fast Sync option in the GTX 1080 aims to solve both problems by separating the rendering and displays stages of the graphics process. Because V-sync isn’t enabled, the game engine spits out frames at full speed—which prevents latency issues—and the graphics card uses flip logic to determine which frames to scan to the display in full, eliminating screen tearing.

Some excess frames will be cast aside to maintain smooth frame pacing, Nvidia’s Tom Peterson says, but remember that Fast Sync’s made for games where the frame rendering rate output far exceeds the refresh rate of your monitor. In fact, enabling Fast Sync in games with standard frame rates could theoretically introduce stuttering. So yeah, don’t do that.

The results seem impressive. Here are Nvidia-supplied latency measurements tested with CS:GO.

gtx 1080 fast sync latency

Look for Fast Sync to expand beyond Pascal-based graphics cards in the future. “Expect [GPU support] to be fairly broad,” says Peterson.

GPU Boost 3.0

Nvidia’s rolling out a potentially killer new overclocking addition in the GTX 1080, dubbed GPU Boost 3.0.

The previous methods of overclocking are still supported, but GPU Boost 3.0 adds the ability to customize clock frequency offsets for individual voltage points in order to eke out every tiny little bit of overclocking headroom, rather than forcing you to use the same clock speed offset across the board. Overclocking tools will scan for your GPU’s theoretical maximum clock at numerous voltage points, then apply a custom V/F curve to match your specific card’s capabilities. It takes all the guesswork out of overclocking, letting you crank performance to 11 with minimal hassle.

 

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