Card Layout and Photos
The last time Nvidia truly changed their reference cooler design was back with the introduction of the GTX 780. They did add some black touches all the way to the blacked out Titan X. For the GTX 1080 though they did change things up a little. The overall design is similar. It has the same layout, metal design, and the window that gives you a look inside of the cooler. But this time around the outside shroud has an angular design. When I first saw leaked images I wasn’t really sure of it. Now that I have it in hand I can say I like it more but I do still prefer the older simpler design, but that is about par for the course as I like simple and clean designs with just about everything.
Even with the new shroud design it doesn’t look like much changed inside of the cooler. The fan design, for example, is exactly the same. It is designed to pull air in from the side of the card, and then push it at a right angle out across the heatsinks to the left and right of the fan. It has the aluminum cap on the center to match the metal fan shroud and the design does highlight the fan with black all the way around it as well as a machined lip around the edge as well. The GTX 180 logo is down on the end and rather than painting it black like the GTX 980 Ti they put chromed letters inside. The acrylic window does help us see that the heatsinks are still blacked out. The window has a little of the angular shape to match the rest of the cooler. The design also has two small windows above and below the window that look similar to break vents on a supercar.
Like all reference designs, the Founders Edition’s fan shroud covers the entire top and bottom edges to keep the air inside blowing at least mostly out of the rear of your case. Cards with aftermarket coolers are able to cool a lot better because they just let air go out wherever they want. That isn’t a big deal with cases that have great cooling, but in tighter builds you can’t afford to have that heat being added into the case. That said the design does have a small vent on the end of the card that faces inside of your case. This is a second heatsink that sits to the right of the fan. It is much smaller, but it helps add to the cooling efficiency of the cooler at the expense of a little heat venting into your case. On the top edge of the GTX 1080, Nvidia did keep the Geforce GTX logo. It is still backlit and it still glows bright green. I was really hoping that this would be the generation that they added RGB lighting to this logo, we know a lot of the aftermarket cards are already doing it. I love having it on the card, but I know a lot of people, myself included, would be a lot more likely to keep them lit if they could match the glowing logo to the color theme of their case.
Around on the back of the GTX 1080 they did keep the sharp backplate from the GTX 980. They dropped the small removable panel and replaced it with a removable panel that is more than half of the backplate. This opens up more airflow when it's needed. The backplate doesn’t have any venting on It but they did put in groves for styling as well as the Nvidia logo and the full GeForce GTX 1080 logo as well.
Up under the all metal fan shroud and backplate we Nvidia is hiding a blacked out PCB as well. The layout is similar to past designs with the GPU over to the left and VRAM chips for the GTX 1080’s 8 gigs of memory positioned around the Pascal chip. Down at the right edge, we can also see that the PCB is designed to have an 8 pin power cable facing out the end where the current layout faces out of the top. I can’t tell if this is in addition to the current power configuration or if it is just designed to have either option. The cooler itself with the shroud off shows us just how much room the heatsink over the GPU and memory takes up. Around the fan, there is a lip that helps blow the air directly over the heatsink as well. The smaller heatsink down at the end almost looks cut off from the airflow and it doesn’t have a vapor chamber or anything attached keeping the design simple.
For display connections, the GTX 1080 sticks with the same setup that most new cards have. You get one DVI connection up on the top row. Then the bottom row has three full sized Display Port connections with a single HDMI in there as well. The endplate has triangle shaped vent holes covering just about any open space to help the cooler push as much air out the back of the case as possible.
For power, the GTX 1080 Founders Edition requires just a single 8-pin power connection up on the top edge. This is a big of a change compared to past cards. The GTX 980, for example, had two 6-pins for its reference design and it had a 165 Watt TDP. The GTX 1080 has a higher TDP at 180 Watts and it just uses the single port. This does still leave room for aftermarket cards to add another connector for a little extra overclocking power, though.
So the GTX 1080 does still have two SLI bridge connections up on top even though Nvidia has officially announced that it only supports dual SLI. They have decided to use the dual ports to up the bandwidth when using their new High Bandwidth bridges by using both connections together. The new bridges look amazing and add a run at 650MHz compared to the old 400MHz of the old bridges. They also mention that some older bridges, specifically the ones with built in lighting should also support the new high bandwidth mode as well.
For comparison purposes, I did bring out the GTX 980Ti to compare how the new cooler looks compared to the old design. They are the same length and same width. The backlit logo up looks a lot more packed in with the new design. Beyond that, I covered all of the other differences earlier on.