This week PC component manufacturer extraordinaire EVGA will be opening up pre-orders for their variants of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX flagship, and have wisely decided to divulge a little more information on these monstrous new graphics cards. Taken alongside the information revealed earlier this month detailing the proprietary iCX cooling and sensor technology being leveraged to reach the highest overclocks and levels of stability, it gives us the clearest picture yet of the now imminent EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti lineup going into April.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition GAMING
One step up from the NVIDIA Founders Edition, the GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition GAMING will likely be the bread-and-butter for gamers who favour the brand and need exceptional performance. It chiefly varies from the Founders Edition by virtue of higher base and boost clock frequencies, 1556/1670 MHz respectively compared with 1480/1582 MHz on the Founders Edition, and use of iCX cooling. As a result it should see a pretty solid baseline performance boost over the reference design.
The iCX cooler in use is a dual-fan top-down design which differs significantly from the blower model on the Founders Edition. In theory it should allow for better GPU and component temperatures than the reference equivalent whilst also generating less noise, but could also require better general case airflow to operate optimally. Also present is the backplate, a premium feature of NVIDIA's Founders Edition that makes a welcome return with EVGA's designs.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 GAMING
Further up the food chain is the GTX 1080 Ti SC2 GAMING SKU, a design which on the face of it appears to be quite similar to the SC Black Edition. Both have identical Base and Boost clock speeds (1556/1670 MHz) and a dual-fan iCX cooler bolted on to the front; baseline performance therefore should be pretty much identical.
The SC2 GAMING differs through the integration of iCX Technology, EVGA's latest generation of sensor and monitoring capability integrated into their high-end designs most suited to overclocking. Nine sensors placed around the card monitor critical temperatures - most notably for GPU, VRM and RAM - and will dynamically adjust fan speeds to direct airflow over the components most in need. This functionality requires asynchronous control of the fans, a feature that is atypical in cooler design.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 GAMING
The cremé de la cremé of EVGA's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti lineup is the FTW3 GAMING, and it's almost a species apart. Rather than take many of its cues from the Founders Edition, the FTW3 GAMING re-engineers the design to deliver more power, greater cooling and better sensor data to facilitate higher overclocks.
At a baseline the performance improvement over the SC2 GAMING is deceptively small; only a slim 13MHz advance has been made in base and boost clocks, pushing it to 1569/1683 MHz. However the card is equipped with two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors (rather than 8+6-pin) and a 10+2 phase design, ensuring that it can both be fed more power and keep it even stable well beyond the usual 250W limit.
Cooling has also been improved with the introduction of a 3-fan iCX cooler that has integrated the iCX sensor technology. It would be unsurprising to see waterblocks for this model in particular start to appear, leveraging even higher cooling potential for those who need it and with the deep pockets necessary.
The final major addition to the card which proves its overclocking chops is a dual-BIOS design. Excellent for troubleshooting overclocks, it will be a real boon for those wanting to push the card to the limit.
One last twist is the inclusion of RGB LED lighting on the cooler shroud. Some will prefer the simplicity of the white LEDs on both SC2 GAMING and SC Black Edition GAMING, but you can be sure that there's an audience for full RGB lighting somewhere out there.
Pre-orders for the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti family begin tomorrow (March 28th) on EVGA.com, and although guidance hasn't been issued are nonetheless likely to be priced higher than the $699 MSRP of the Founders Edition. More detailed information can be found at the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti family page.