Best GTX 1080 Aftermarket Cards
The GeForce GTX 1080 by NVIDIA is one of the fastest and hardest working GPUs available, even in 2018. The performance you can get from this GPU is one of the absolute best in the business, only outperformed by its successor - the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti. For gaming, multi-monitor setups, 4K, or VR, there are very few scenarios that the GTX 1080 can not impress even the most hard-to-please enthusiasts.
A little about the GTX 1080
Launched in Mid 2016, the card supports DirectX 12.0, operates at a frequency of 1607 MHz. NVIDIA has placed 8,192 MB GDDR5X memory (connected using a 256-bit memory interface) on board. The GPU is operating at a frequency of 1607 MHz, which can be (and typically is) boosted, and the memory is running at 1251 MHz. Being a dual-slot card, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 draws power from 1x 8-pin power connectors, with power draw rated at 180 W maximum. Stock model display outputs include: 1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 3x DisplayPort. The GeForce GTX 1080 is connected to the rest of the system using a standard PCI-Express 3.0 x16 interface. The card measures 267 mm in length, and features a dual-slot cooling solution.
Possibly the best value, performance graphics card of 2018/19?
With very few options that can compete with this card in terms of price and performance, this is one of the best options to get into 4K and VR gaming whilst on a somewhat budget! Do yourself a favor, and throw your favorite game or VR app up against a GTX 1080 and prepare to be impressed.
With a large number of variants, overclocks, and cooling options available in 2018/19 from different manufacturers, it's hard not to find a GTX 1080 that suits any needs perfectly. Below we will take you through the best aftermarket GTX 1080 card based on different buying preferences, whether it be a quiet GTX 1080, or the best factory overclocked GTX 1080 or the best AIO cooled version of this high-powered graphics card. Enjoy!
Best GTX 1080 Aftermarket Card of 2018/19
The GTX 1080 has a number of amazing options from every current GPU manufacturer. Choosing one to represent them all as the best over all should have been more difficult, but ASUS made it easy this year. Continuing their top-rated ROG Strix line, is the GTX 1080 ROG Strix edtion. This card is a winner in almost every category, from performance to looks, the ROG Strix pleases in every aspect.
To start with, this certainly isn't the cheapest card. With the ROG Strix, you get what you pay for and with this card you get impressive cooling with triple fans, great VRM components as well as big chunky heatsinks to drive temperartures down and overclocks up.
This card has four different factory overclock modes, with the base version displayed above hitting 1733 MHz out of the box. The OC version gets all the way up to 1935 MHz in Boot Clock OC mode for superb frame rates. The card itself has a black shroud, three cooling fans (DirectCU III with 0dB fan technology and ASUS's patented wing-blade fans), as well as ASUS FanConnect technology, allowing for targeted supplemental cooling, and dual 4-pin PWM GPU-controlled headers.
It comes equipped with Aura RGB Lightning on both the shroud and the backplate, which can sync with motherboard and other peripherals to form a harmonized aura. ASUS bundle GPU Tweak II software with the GPU, which makes overclocking easier and more visual than ever, while still retaining advanced options for us seasoned overclockers.
This is the best all-round, air cooled GTX 1080 to get in 2018/19, period. If you want maximum performance, the only cards we would recommend over this model is one with an AIO cooling solution, such as the EVGA Hybrid GTX 1080.
Best Factory Overclocked GTX 1080 Card
One of the things that makes the GTX 1080 line of graphic cards so attractive is the high overclocking range that the majority of them enjoy. Getting the absolute most performance out of your GPU is something that many of us go to lengths to accomplish, and for 2018, the best choice is the Zotac AMP! Extreme edition.
Right out of the gate, this Zotac card comes with a bumped up clock speed of 1771Mhz, and a factory OC available out of the box that hits 1911Mhz. The GPU achieves this by using Zotac's IceStorm and Carbon ExoArmor technology. This system features full metal protection with a metal front shroud, and metal wraparound covering a wide-array aluminum fin stack. With five variably configured copper heatpipes to wick heat from the die, and 'Freeze' technology, which allows for automatic starting and stopping of fans depending on heat, lower fan noise, and extended overall fan life, the cooling design gives a wide threshold for overclocking.
The card also features the all new SPECTRA lighting system which allows you to customize the cards look with a color to match your system or system lighting using the all new, redesigned FireStorm utility. There are 8 brightness levels, four different lighting modes, and backplate lighting, this card can not only push the speed limits of this GPU line, but looks great doing it. The card is 4K and VR ready, features the standard 256-bit 8Gb of GDDR5X memory, and requires a PCI express 3.0 slot, and 2x 8-pin PCI express power connectors. Not for the light of heart, or low PSU systems!
Quietest Air Cooled GTX 1080 Card
There is a certain beauty to low or no-noise PCs. Using water cooling, high-quality fans, and special heatsink arrays to build a quiet PC can be a fun, or necessary endeavour for custom builders. Finding a good high-end GPU that will also perform without significant ambient noise can be a challenge, but the Palit Jetstream edition GTX 1080 is a perfect solution.
The revolutionary Palit JetStream series of graphics cards features advanced innovative cooling called '0Db Tech'. The 0Db tech can keep your GPU running silently when the temperature load is 50 Celsius or below. When under a heavy load, the dual fan design offers double the typical cooling performance, and combined with the dual 10cm smart fans, heat is effectively drawn away from the hot spots more efficiently.
The still capable NVIDIA Pascal architecture features power efficiency, gaming experiences and latest gaming technologies, the Palit GeForce GTX 1080 JetStream series guarantee gamers cutting-edge performance and a explosive new gaming experience without the typical noise pollution included with high-end GPUs. Palit also includes RGB lighting, dual BIOS for overclockers, and Thunder Master software suite to boost performance and monitor GPU information.
Another GTX 1080 known for their impressive silent performance is the MSI Gaming X, which we would recommend just as much as the Jetstream as the quietest GTX 1080 AIB cards. Another great liquid cooled option that runs very silent is the EVGA FTW Hybrid card.
When you need something quiet, but don't want to sacrifice raw power, the Palit Jetstream or MSI Gaming X are the top choices for you.
Best GTX 1080 Aftermarket Brand (For Customer Service)
There is little worse than having the perfect system put together, then have a failure or defect come up. It's in situations like this, that the customer service available from your GPU manufacturer can be of utmost importance.
For 2018/19, we have chosen EVGA as our top pick for customer service in the GTX 1080 line. Above and beyond their top-notch build quality, EVGA offers a full 3 year warranty on their GTX 1080 lineup and countless examples of them going above and beyond in customer satisfaction.
Our favorite 1080 card from EVGA, the GTX 1080 SC Gaming, features EVGA's renowned ACX 3.0 cooling and their Pascal generation graphics processor (which before Turing was the most advanced gaming GPU ever created). This GPU still delivers industry-leading performance, even in 2018/19. The cooling from the ACX 3.0 design features 'SHP 2.0', which gives increased heat pipes and copper contact area for cooler operation, and optimized fan curve for even quieter gaming. Of course, ACX 3.0 coolers also feature optimized swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.
It's nice to know that there is a top-tier option for power and performance, that doesn't require a sacrifice in customer service.
Best Value GTX 1080 Card
Finding the right card to name as the best value option can be tricky, because this is not the 'cheapest card' category. We need to look at all of the various factors involved, because the cheapest card with zero frills is typically not the best value, if a $20 bump in price can nab you a solid factory OC, lighting, better cooling, or other features that may be important to your build.
For 2018 and into 2019, we have named the MSI Gaming X edition as our best value GTX 1080 card. Not only does this aftermarket card often have rebates and instant coupons available, regularly making the price <$500, the features it comes equipped with are very respectable.
The Gaming X comes equipped with MSI's innovative TORX 2.0 fan technology, which uses double ball bearings for longevity and responsiveness, and generates 22% more air pressure for added performance and less noise during high-load use. It sports a stock clock rate of 1607MHz on the GPU, with a max factory boosted speed of 1847MHz. It has customizable lighting, MSI's premium thermal compound, and their advanced Zero Frozr technology.
As far as the 2018 lineup of GTX 1080s, the MSI Gaming X is definitely the best overall value for price, performance, and features.
Best Reference GTX 1080 Card
Sometimes there is a specific need for a stock GPU with no aftermarket enhancements or upgrades. This can be the case when deploying a large number of PCs for enterprise use, or for benchmark and testing purposes. Or perhaps you are building a SFF PC and need a blower style cooler typically found only on reference cards.
When it comes down to picking a reference GTX 1080, the choice here comes down to manufacturer. Every mainstream GPU manufacturer puts out a reference model GPU when AMD or Nvidia releases a new model or chipset, and there is (hypothetically) no difference between them, besides build quality, vendor support and the silicon lottery.
This year, we have chosen the EVGA Founders Edition GTX 1080 as the best reference of the year. EVGA has a rock solid history of quality, so you know you are getting top notch equipment. EVGA also backs up their GPUs with one of the best warranties and customer support in the business, making this a perfect choice in this category.
Best GTX 1080 with Dual BIOS
GPU BIOS is something that has gained a lot more notice and use in the last decade. This previously little-known piece of the GPU whole was largely unnecessary info for all but manufacturers. These days, however, not only is your video BIOS something worth mentioning, a lot of cards come equipped with dual BIOS for testing, over clocking, and safety back-ups. The reference GTX 1080 only features a single BIOS chip, although are a number of aftermarket cards that feature two BIOS chips - which is extremely handy and a great safety net for those looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their GTX 1080.
For this year, we have chosen the Palit GameRock edition GTX 1080 as the best dual-BIOS card for 2018/19.
Palit's 'GameRock' series is pretty new, and specially designed for enthusiast gamers who desire to have the ultimate gaming experience. The GameRock series provides the best gaming features with their Thunder Master software, the best thermal solution with a copper heatplate and heatpipes, and the best graphics card quality (RGB lighting, and solid metal backplate).
They also include the impressive and highly useful DrMOS technology along with a dual BIOS, that allows you to switch between a default and overclocking modes.
Best AIO Liquid Cooled GTX 1080 Card
There are a few great AIO water cooled GTX 1080 aftermarket cards to choose from nowadays, from the likes of Gigabyte, EVGA, MSI and Zotac.
Firstly there is the MSI Sea Hawk EK X, which sports a 8+2 PCB, maximum PL of 330W and a rock-solid EK water block - helping keep the GTX 1080 nice and cool.
Secondly, the Gigabyte Waterforce is a card that drives impressively good scores, with one reddit user experiencing 35 degree idle temps and at 100% load the card didn’t pass 55 degrees Celsius. In addition, GPU clocks were easily overclocked to 2126 MHz and memory clock to 10498 MHz - seriously impressive performance from a aftermarket GTX 1080 card.
Our favourite card however is the EVGA FTW Hybrid, as it comes in at the cheapest of the three but still delivers great cooling and performance - and for when/if the card were ever to go wrong, you are backed up and supported by EVGA’s fantastic customer support who won’t turn their back on you. For purely peace of mind whilst gaming at still insane speeds, EVGA’s FTW Hybrid is our pick for the best AIO liquid cooled GTX 1080 card for 2018/19.