Palit has been thinking outside the box in terms of design and functionality, we seriously do like that. The GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition is the fastest performing card we tested to date, and does so while remaining completely silent. We do need to talk about aesthetics and will do so in a separate chapter, but the design does feel a bit busy on the eyes. Regardless PALIT has a terrific product at hand with the GameRock Premium Edition. I have stated this in all my 1080 reviews, all AIB card perform roughly the same aside from a few FPS here and there. Realistically we like to advise you to focus more at features, price and aesthetics rather than performance and tweaking as again, the latter two are roughly the same for all AIB partners. Nvidia has a complete grip on the tweaking threshold these days, mainly due to the voltage limiters that kick in. It's not a bad thing as it is a great safety feature to preserve your graphics card, but it does kinda kill the fun of tweaking. In the introduction I made the punchline “Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk” for a reason, the GameRock Premium Edition + G-Panel is a bit bold, raw and brutal, it did remind me of Clint there for a second. In terms of performance and that lovely factory tweak, it's all good. And sure, obviously the card performs exceptionally good as it has a fair bit of a factory overclock already done for you, covered under its warranty. But there isn't much left for tweaking, even added voltage anything after an extra 50 MHz on the base frequency would crash. But considering the base/boost clock combo already is nearing the 2 GHz marker, I'd say you are good to go right there at that frequency spot. Remember, any 1080 comes with 8GB GDDR5X graphics memory, and that memory volume kind of makes the product more future proof + Palit tweaked that as well. We feel 8 GB models are relevant for gaming in the price category.
I already mentioned it throughout the review and in the above chapter, I am afraid this card only is going to work if you have a bit of white inside that PC of yours. E.g. a white chassis or white themed motherboard. Palit might have overdone it a bit with too much coloring; a black PCB, a mainly white cooler and then a blue accent. Personally I would have stuck towards two tone coloring. Also the GameRock logo at the backplate .. how do I put it, less would be better ? I do understand that this is a bit cultural bound though, in the Western regions less is better these days, where in the Asian regions everything is bling and as such it is difficult to find the right balance inbetween the two regions. But in a white themed PC the card could look terrific and offers a bit of customization with the LED system. Cool dibs is that back-plate with a proper vent for the GPU, none for the VRM hotspot areas though. I remain skeptical about back-plates, they potentially can trap heat and thus warm up the PCB. The GameRock reached 70~73 Degrees C with two fans, that is pretty good though. Back-plates do look much better, make the PCB more sturdy (bends less or not at all) and can protect your PCB and components from damage. Consumer demand is always decisive, and you guys clearly like graphics cards with back plates. The cooler, well you either hate or love 3-slot designs I guess. Me personally I do not mind three slot coolers, but if you have plans to go with 2-way SLI, a bit of planning might be required motherboard slots wise.
Cooling & Noise Levels
The reference design (founder editions) of the GTX 1080 are set at an offset threshold of 80 degrees C. Once the GPU gets warmer the card will clock down / lower its voltage etc to try and keep the card cooler, that's throttling and it part of the design. PALIT however throws in a cooler that manages roughly 600W of cooling performance. It is a good one alright, so good that up-to a degree or 50 on the GPU, this card remains passive and thus inaudible. Once the fans kick in, you can expect to hover at the 70 Degrees C marker, and that's with seriously demanding games combined with the massive tweak on this product. Please do note that you will need proper ventilation inside your chassis to achieve that number as a fair amount of heat is vented inside your chassis. But they shaved off a good 10 Degrees C over reference (founders). Once overclocked with added voltage we always do recommend a little more fan RPM, this does increase noise a tiny bit, but it's nothing dramatic by any standard. We did not hear any coil-noise whatsoever with the GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition + G-Panel. Talking about it, the G-Panel, I liked it. it is a very handy box you can use to monitor the temps, clocks, fan RPM etc. Position it in eye-sight and it does add value. Currently I do not yet know the price premium for this SKU model with G-Panel. You can tuck the panel away in your 5.25" drive slot (hey who uses Optical drives these days right), or place it externally. Regardless, it is a nice feature.
Any GP104 Pascal GPU and thus GP104 based graphics card is rated as having a 180 Watt TDP under full stress, our measurements back that up albeit a notch higher due to the faster clocks and thus voltage usage - we measured just under 200 Watts with regular gaming. Palit advertises the product at 200 Watts, so that is spot on. It's a tiny bot higher due to the factory tweaks this product has. Anyhow, at this performance level you are looking at a card that consumes roughly 400~450 Watts for a stressed PC in total, that is okay. We think a 500~600 Watt PSU would be sufficient and if you go with 2-way SLI say an 750 Watt power supply is recommended. It's definitely more than needed but remember - when purchasing a PSU, aim to double up in Wattage as your PSU is most efficient when it is under 50% load. Here again keep in mind we measure peak power consumption, the average power consumption is a good notch lower depending on GPU utilization. Also, if you plan to overclock the CPU/memory and/or GPU with added voltage, please do purchase a power supply with enough reserve. People often underestimate it, but if you tweak all three aforementioned variables, you can easily add 200 Watts to your peak power consumption budget as increasing voltages and clocks increases your power consumption.
Overall gaming performance
Do you really need a card as beefy as the GeForce GTX 1080 really is though? Well, that depends on a rather abstract external factor, your monitor(s) and in specific the resolution you play your games at. If you game at a resolution of 1920x1080 (Full HD) then no, not really. However, more is better and with technologies like DSR (super-sampling) and Ultra HD the raw horsepower this card offers certainly isn't distasteful. Also, with with surround gaming (three monitors) the GeForce GTX 1080 will just make a lot of sense, especially with the new simultaneous multi-projection feature build into the rendering pipeline, that probably is one of the most innovative features Nvidia has added that I have seen in a long time. From 1080p to Ultra HD the GeForce GTX 1080 hauls the proverbial toosh compared to whatever other single GPU based graphics card you can name in existence. Obviously it is the fastest kid on the block. This much performance and graphics memory helps you in Ultra HD, hefty complex anti-aliasing modes, DSR and of course the latest gaming titles. I consider this to be among the first viable single GPU solutions that allows you to game properly in Ultra HD with some very nice eye candy enabled. However, I was kinda hoping to be closer to 60 FPS on average with the GTX 1080 in Ultra HD. But that will probably take the future Big Pascal (Ti / Titan). As always, drivers wise we can't complain at all, we did not stumble into any issues. And with a single GPU there's no micro-stuttering and no multi-GPU driver issues to fight off. Performance wise, really there's not one game that won't run seriously good at the very best image quality settings. Gaming you must do with a nice 30" monitor of course, at 2560x1440/1600 or Ultra HD. Now, we can discuss the advantages of an 8 GB framebuffer, but hey, you can draw your own conclusions there. At least you won't run out of graphics memory for the years to come right? So in that respect the card is rather future proof. SLI then, we have to mention this. Starting with Pascal the primary focus for Nvidia in terms of multi-GPU setups is that they will support 2-way SLI, but really that's it and all. For those of you that want to run 3 and 4-way configuration, unless you want to breach 3Dmark records, it's not going to do anything for you int erms of value. Do not expect Nvidia to enhance drivers for it. Once last remark on performance. You will have noticed that in some games this higher clocked product is a good 10% faster where in other just a few percent. That's Nvidia's limiters at work for you. All card under very hefty load will be limited in a way more narrow bracket. Whereas games that leave enough breathing room can advance on that GPU and score better opposed to some other games.
Due to the many limiters and hardware protections Nvidia has built in all and any cards will hover roughly at or just over the 2.- to 2.1 GHz on the Boost marker. That frequency will differ per game/application. On 3DMark Firestrike for example it may hover at ~2000 MHz, while in Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) you will be closer towards 2.1 GHz. The reality is that Nvidia monitors and adapts to hardware specific loads, e.g. an application that is nearly viral like on the GPU will have the effect of the GPU protecting itself by lowering clocks and voltages. The opposite applies here as well, if a game does not try & fry that GPU, it'll clock a bit faster within the tweaked thresholds at your disposal. Tweaking is fun, but definitely more complicated anno 2016. The memory can reach 11 Gbps effectively, I have seen some card even reach 1.2 GHz/Gbps. Pascal GPUs do like their memory bandwidth though, so if you can find a high enough stable tweak, definitely go or it if you are seeking that last bit of extra performance. For the PALIT we reached a stable max of roughly 2063MHz on the boost frequency and a truly terrific effective data-rate) of 1,125 GHz on the memory. My advise, the product is tweaked so well for you already, I would not want to risk the warranty by overclocking it. You can only squeeze out a little more performance as honestly Palit did a terrific job maximizing the factory tweak for you. Straight out of the box this card offers best in class performance.
I've stated already that all card offer roughly the same performance due to the many limiters and safety restrictions that Nvidia is enforcing these days. The Palit GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition offers serious factory tweaks on both GPU core and memory (and likely a little on the power limiter as well). This resulted in the fastest GTX 1080 we have tested to date. But again within a margin that remains fairly normalized. The GameRock Premium Edition is impressive from a hardware point of view. The cooler is a little bulky I agree, the looks will be topic of debate as well. That remark is not so much for the Asia regions, but in the EU and USA most people already swayed away from the white designs. So when I need to focus in remarks, my only one would be the somewhat busy and too colored looks. But since looks are a subjective thing it'll be the last I've said of it. From all other viewpoints, the GameRock Premium Edition ticks the right boxes. It's majestic with its leading performance, the temperatures stay in the 70 Degrees C range under load, it's a completely silent card, there's no coil noise, it has proper display connectors and so on. With that 8 GB of GDDR5X memory you will purchase a product that is future proof for a while (although in the world of technology that I am afraid is a relative statement). Any GTX 1080 will bring a truckload of gaming performance towards your PC. The GameRock adds a little extra into the mix with its lovely feature set and high factory tweak. The new Pascal architecture proves its agility and the die shrink to 16 nm FiNFET shows low power consumption due to lower voltages and obviously the high clock-speeds and that GDDR5X memory offer the complete package that the GTX 1080 is. If you stick to the WQHD 2560x1440 domain this is the card that will last you years to come combined with that lovely 8 GB of graphics memory. For long-term Ultra HD usage (high FPS / GPU demanding titles) however the answer still needs to be found in two cards. But hey, if WQHD is your domain then the GeForce GTX 1080 is a rather future proof product with that proper and fast 8GB GDDR5X graphics memory.
Quite lovely I find to be that G-Panel, as simple as it is I enjoyed the functionality and ease of use as with the blink of an eye you can see the readouts in heat, RPM and clocks all in a split-second. Also I find it to be something unique and original in a fairly static GXT 1080 market. If you can agree on the design, and it's sturdy yet sizable format then theres no reason to not put the Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition with or without the G-Panel on your shortlist. It offers premium performance, and knowing Palit it'll be at a very competitive price level.
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