EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2 review: A ferocious graphics card with a radical cooler

Fire-breathing performance, damn cold temperatures.

At a Glance
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2

    PCWorld Rating
    $739.99 MSRP $749.99
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    on Amazon
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Our test system, Division benchmarks

We tested EVGA’s GTX 1080 Ti SC2 on PCWorld’s dedicated graphics card benchmark system. Our testbed’s loaded with high-end components to avoid bottlenecks in other parts of the system and show unfettered graphics performance. At least, theoretically. We’ll get to that later.

  • Intel’s Core i7-5960X with a Corsair Hydro Series H100i closed-loop water cooler ($120 on Amazon).
  • An Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard ($230 on Amazon for an updated version).
  • Corsair’s Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory ($130 on Amazon), and 1,200-watt AX1200i power supply ($310 on Amazon).
  • A 480GB Intel 730 series SSD ($280 on Amazon).
  • Phanteks’ Enthoo Evolv ATX case ($190 on Amazon).
  • Windows 10 Pro ($158 on Amazon).

Naturally, we’re comparing the EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2 against Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition ($700 on Amazon). We already know that the GTX 1080 Ti stomps all rivals, but we’re also including benchmarks from the Founders Edition GTX 1080 ($500 on Amazon) and GTX 1070 ($380 on Amazon) for reference. AMD hasn’t had a competitive enthusiast-class graphics card since Nvidia’s GTX 10-series launched in mid-2016, and it won’t until Radeon Vega hits the streets sometime before the end of June.

All cards are tested with default fan profiles and out-of-the-box clock speeds.

Each game’s tested using its in-game benchmark at the mentioned graphics presets, with V-sync, frame rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled. This card is so powerful that we’re limiting our testing to 4K and 2560x1440 resolution.

The Division

The Division, a gorgeous third-person shooter/RPG that mixes elements of Destiny and Gears of War, kicks things off with Ubisoft’s new Snowdrop engine. We test the game in DirectX 11 mode; The Division recently rolled out an update that adds DirectX 12 support, but the performance is virtually identical to the DX11 results.

division Brad Chacos/IDG

The EVGA card pushes a few more frames per second than the stock GTX 1080 Ti here, with a wider gap as resolution increases. It pulls ahead by roughly 6.5 percent at 4K, but just 4.5 percent at 1440p.

Next page: Hitman

At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating
    $739.99 MSRP $749.99
    View
    on Amazon

    The GTX 1080 Ti SC2 uses EVGA's revolutionary iCX cooling technology to make the most potent consumer graphics card in the world even better. It's cool, quiet, and powerful.

    Pros

    • Incredible gaming performance, even at 4K
    • EVGA's iCX cooling keeps temperatures and noise low
    • Smaller than other custom GTX 1080 Ti cards

    Cons

    • Shroud design may be divisive
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