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ASUS ROG Strix 1080 Review: Certified Monster

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NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 graphics cards are probably the fastest GPUs in the market right now, and is the defacto choice for hardcore gamers that want the very best. It’s not surprising then that the resulting cards from hardware manufacturers have been impressive to say the least – the Pascal architecture that powers the newest generation of NVIDIA GPUs is probably the best that we’ve ever seen, capable of driving insane graphics and VR for people lucky enough to have the spare cash for these bad boys.

And just like clockwork, ASUS has also released their own interpretation of GTX 1080 – the ROG Strix 1080. While there’s already no question of the card’s performance, ASUS has added quite a few new features to their beast of a GPU that should differentiate them from the crowd.

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Since the ROG Strix 1080 is the top dog in the Pascal family of GPUs (eclipsed only by the new Titan X), it’s not surprising that it takes up a lot of space in a gaming rig. At a total length of 11.73 inches (or 29.8 cm) it’s certainly one of the biggest GPU’s we’ve ever used, but it’s still a hair shorter than Zotac’s own 1080 offering. The card’s overall size mean that it takes up two PCI-E slots, so you’ll have to account for that if ever you decide to buy it.

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As far asthetics go, the new card looks boss. The card sports a very aggressive design aesthetic, which uses “wing-blade” fans and angular lines on the front. ASUS pretty much built the new card up from the group up around the GPU, along with their cooling solution, dubbed DirectCU III. The triple fan setup is complimented by heatpipes that contact the GPU directly for better heat dissipation under full loads. The cooling solution on the ROG Strix 1080 is good enough that the triple fans won’t kick in until the GPU’s temperature hits 60 degrees Celcius, which ensures silent operation. You can also connect the fans of your chassis to your GPU as well via the two 4-pin GPU-controlled headers for better thermal control.

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The ROG Strix 1080 also has Aura RGB lighting on the shroud and backplate, which can be customized and synchronized with any component that supports it. That means that your motherboard, GPU, keyboard and mouse can potentially have the same color scheme that you choose while you’re gaming.

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ASUS has deviated from the normal 1 HDMI and 3 DisplayPort setup of other card manufacturers. The ROG Strix 1080 has two HDMI ports, two DisplayPorts and a single DVI port on the back. This setup favors VR headset owners, since you can connect both a VR headset AND a monitor to the card at the same time. Up to four displays can be driven by the card at any given time, making it perfect for crazy, multi-monitor setups.

The ROG Strix 1080 has a TDP of 180 watts, and ASUS recommends a power supply of around 600 watts or higher for this card. The card needs an 8 pin and 6 pin connector for power.

Before we dive into the card’s performance, let’s talk numbers. Specifically, the base clock speeds of a regular NVIDIA Founder’s Edition GTX 1080 compared to the ROG Strix 1080. If you didn’t know, each manufacturer tries to differentiate their offering from the base, reference model that NVIDIA provides by increasing the clock speeds of the GPU and the memory, which in turn increases its performance output – at least enough that you’d go with their card over NVIDIA’s (or the competition).

NVIDIA’s Founder’s Edition GTX 1080 has a base clock of 1607MHz, and a boost clock of 1733. The ROG Strix 1080 on the other hand, has a default clock of 1759 MHz and a boost clock of 1898MHz. If that wasn’t crazy enough, if you download and run GPU Tweak II with the card, you can get baseclocks of 1784MHz and boost clocks of 1936MHz. That’s instant, easy overclocking for better performance and the card has a little more headroom if you want to push things a little further yourself through manual overclocking.

On to benchmarks. We ran the ROG Strix 1080 through a couple of games, namely Doom, Battlefield 4 (the Battlefield 1 beta sadly was over when we received the card) and The Division. All of the games had their graphics set to the highest possible settings with V-Sync off, though the resolution was only full HD (1920 x 1080) since we don’t have access to a 4K monitor yet. Here’s the rest of the hardware:

  • Intel Core i5 6400 processor
  • ASUS B150 Pro Gaming/Aura motherboard
  • 8GB DDR4 Memory
  • 256GB SSD storage

Alright. Here are the numbers: for Doom, the test rig managed to get a healty FPS average of 194FPS, with a high of 201 FPS and a low of 167 FPS. The Division got an average of 95 FPS, with a high of 140 FPS and a low of 54 FPS. Finally, Battlefield 4 got an average of 71 FPS, with a low of 34 FPS and a max of 108 FPS. Those numbers is proof that there’s still a lot of headroom left in the ROG Strix 1080 for 4K gaming.

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Verdict: a little too powerful if you don’t have a 4K display

The only thing you won’t like with the card is the price – at Php 42,290, the ROG Strix 1080 commands quite a hefty price – enough to build you an awesome gaming PC with a lower Pascal-equipped card like the GTX 1060. Is the card worth it? Well, if you already have or are planning to get either a 4K display or a VR headset like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re looking to stay firmly planted in 1080P gaming, then give this one a pass and get a cheaper card like the GTX 1070 or the GTX 1060.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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