You’ll be excused if you missed it in the excitement of the big Battlefield 1 reveal, but Friday had another reveal that’s going to be huge for PC gamers: Nvidia’s GTX 1080 video cards.
If you wanted to get the most powerful card on the market today, and money was no object, you’d be looking at the Nvidia Titan X. At well over $1000 in many cases, that card alone would buy you a full, gaming-ready computer. Even the 980 Ti is still over $600.
If you can stand to wait a few weeks or a month, though, you’ll be able to get that kind of power without having to sell crucial internal organs.
I’m going to get into the numbers below, but in short, this new generation offers up a huge performance jump for a much lower price while using significantly less power to deliver those awesome graphics. The top end card, the GTX 1080, debuts on May 27 for $599, while the next card down, the GTX 1070, which is still more powerful than the $1000+ Titan X, has a suggested price of $379.
Here are some numbers to go with that graph, culled from Reddit:
The GTX 1080 processes 9 TFLOPS at 180 Watts versus the Titan X clocking in at 6.6 TFLOPS at 250 Watts. The 1070 processes 6.5 TFLOPS, putting it roughly equal to the Titan X and 980 Ti for something like a third of the price of the former.
Some of the new tech that comes along with this new line of cards, running on the Pascal architecture, will go a long way in helping usher in virtual reality tech, making it much more affordable to pull reasonable performance on the headsets. The tech, called Simultaneous Multi-Projection, makes it easier to simulate multiple viewpoints of the same scene at once. Nvidia showed this off in a multi-monitor scenario in addition to virtual reality.
With VR as it is right now, the card has to render a scene and then tweak it so that it looks right to the person wearing the goggles. In this process, a bunch of the stuff it spent all that time rendering is cut off and invisible to the user. With this new tech, the lost material is massively cut down by rendering smaller areas and stitching them together. Nvidia says that the performance increase you get from this can be as much as 40 to 80 percent.
Whether you already have your hands on a headset or are too skeptical/broke to bother yet, it looks like this new generation of video cards might be what takes VR from “possible” to “easy.” If you’re simply not interested in that whole segment of gaming, the chipset is going to offer up a very tempting power-to-price ratio that’s going to make it tough to resist. I just upgraded to a GTX970 last March, and I’m already chomping at the bit to get my hands on a 1070.