Overclocking Showdown – the RTX 2080 vs. the GTX 1080 Ti

Overclocking with Precision X1

Overclocking with EVGA’s Precision X1 

Precision X1 is still in beta and yet it offers these features which implement all of the capabilities of GPU Boost 4.0.

EVGA Precision X1 Key Features:

  • Brand new GUI that is faster and easier to use.
  • Real-Time wattage monitoring (on supported EVGA graphics cards).
  • Full support for GeForce RTX graphics cards (GTX support coming soon)
  • RGB LED Control supporting graphics cards and/or NVLink Bridge.
  • LED Sync that syncs with other EVGA RGB components.
  • Dynamically set independent voltage/frequency points for ultimate control.
  • New OC Scanner for finding the best stable overclock.
  • On-Screen-Display (OSD) shows your system vitals at a glance.
  • GPU Clock, Memory Clock and Voltage Control.
  • Custom fan control and fan curve.
  • Profiling system allowing up to 10 profiles with hotkey.
  • In game screenshot function.

Precision X1 uses an integrated scanner that is vastly improved over Precision XOC for Pascal.  The new OC Scanner adjusts the entire frequency curve, at every single voltage/frequency point, and it gives an overclocking “score”. The score is the average of every single voltage/frequency curve.

Above is the maximum score the Precision X1 scan could achieve.  Note that we set the power and temperature targets to maximum and also moved the voltage slider to maximum – that “120” score is the offset.  It passed.  Just hit ‘Apply’ and the overclock is set in about 20 minutes.  Of course, we didn’t stop there but wanted to see if we could get a higher manual overclock.  Read on.

UI (User Interface)

There are several modes which even allow you fine control over setting fan speeds – even to setting their speeds individually.  However, we are going to concentrate on overclocking and primarily on the automatic scanner.

Manual Mode

Although the Precision X1 scan worked to give us a 120 score which translates to a +120 MHz offset with a steady boost of 2025 MHz, we tried for higher.  But first we wanted to test out the performance by running at default running with looped Heaven 4.0.  We got a boost of 1875 MHz and 84.6 FPS in the benchmark.

Next we set the Power Target and the Temperature Target to maximum, and we continued to loop Heaven.  Notice that Boost 4.0 is now up to 1890 MHz and the score improves to 85.1 FPS.

Next we run the automatic scan with stock voltage and get a score of +107 with a Boost of 2010 and get 88.5 FPS in our benchmark.

So we tried a manual scan next and added 120 MHz offset to the core but left our voltage at default.  We get an identical score to the automatic scan.

Next, we run the automatic scan with maximum voltage and see that our score has increased from 107 to 120 and we hit a boost of 2025 MHz with an increased score to 89 FPS. During the automatic scan, it never crashes to desktop or locks up, but if an unstable clock is set, it resets itself and moves on.  It’s a great time saver over manually overclocking.

Now we overclock manually to our highest stable maximum core frequency.  We managed +160 MHz offset with or without the voltage increased, but it turned out to be unstable in just a few games so we dropped our clocks back to a +140 MHz offset as stable across our entire benchmark suite.What a surprise! – our manual overclock of +140 MHz offset matches the automatic scan of 120 score that Precision 1X achieved.  In some cases the score is not identical to the offset, and a higher manual offset needs to be used to match the Precision X1’s score.

The Precision X1’s overclock scanner adjusts the entire curve, at every single voltage/frequency point, so the results may vary from setting it manually. The score is the average of every single voltage/frequency curve that the scan tests during its approximately 20 minute run.

After the manual overclock is set, hit “Test” to make sure the overclock is stable.   We passed at +160 MHz, and were stable for most of our games, but not all.

We overclocked the GDDR6 memory next and got 620 MHz offset which was stable for most of our games.  Overclocking the memory also gives some performance gains and our maxed out Heaven 4.0 benchmark managed 92.5 FPS with the core boosting to 2040 MHz.Our manual overclock turned out to be unstable in a few games, so we settled on a final conservative overclock of +140 MHz offset to the core and +590 MHz offset to the memory for a solid RTX 2080 overclock with a steady Boost 4.0 of at least 2025 MHz.

At maximum overclock, temperatures peaked at around 81 degrees with no throttling, and noise was never an issue with the dual-fan RTX 2080 Ti FE.  In contrast the GTX 1080 Ti FE’s fan would ramp up noticeably as temperatures increased, and it is a louder card since it is a blower design.

We are unsure if our maximum overclock of +160 MHz offset to the core is actually unstable or if there are some driver issues at play with the new Turing card.  In particular, we noticed that Total War: Warhammer II has issues with running it’s benchmark and there is a huge hitch at the beginning; Rainbow 6: Siege repeats a second or two of the benchmark at its beginning so the reported minimums are unreliable (we used Fraps); and Grand Theft Auto V also has some issues running its benchmark that we didn’t see with the GTX 1080 Ti.

Overall our impressions of Precision X1 are excellent regarding its ability to automatically test and set a very decent overclock quickly.  However, it is beta software and there still are some rough edges.  It rarely locked up but it doesn’t always save its settings after a reboot, so the user needs to check the settings each time they start or restart Windows.  One feature we would love to have added as an update to Precision X1 is an automatic scanner to overclock the GDDR6.

Overclocking the GTX 1080 Ti

We overclocked the GTX 1080 Ti last in our review versus the overclocked Titan Xp.  “We were able to add 150 MHz to the core and a 500 MHz offset to the memory … with the result that we reached a steady 1999 MHz core and 6000 MHz (12000 MHz) memory clocks.” 

Time and electromigration have not been particularly kind to our GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition.  It has been our primary test and gaming card for two years and it can no longer achieve the same overclock.  Our current stable overclock allows for +135 MHz offset to the core and +350 MHz offset to be added to the memory with its unlocked core voltage maxed out.

We are pitting a moderately overclocked GTX 1080 Ti FE against an overclocked RTX 2080 FE to see how well each of them scale in games, and to compare relative gains made from overclocking each card.  There are faster GTX 1080 Tis which overclock better, and also better overclocking RTX 2080s.

This evaluation should give a rough idea of how well these Turing and Pascal GPUs scale with overclocking and how they compare with each other, especially considering that they are in a similar price range.

Let’s check the performance results of 36 games with our games at stock and overclocked speeds using the Founders Editions of the RTX 2080 versus the GTX 1080 Ti.