EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 GAMING Review: Dialing-In On Performance

EVGA's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 GAMING Dials-In On Gaming Performance

Soon after NVIDIA's Founder’s Edition GeForce GTX 1080 Ti hit the scene, board partners readied custom cards, like the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 GAMING with iCX technology we’ll be showing you here. We have already taken a look at a powerful behemoth from Gigabyte, and MSI chimed in recently as well. Today’s combatant from EVGA, though slightly more tame in terms of clock speeds, may just be the most attractive to the data junkies and tweakers among you.

EVGA’s iCX technology is interesting for a few reasons. It incorporates a plethora of additional sensors onto the card, along with a protection circuit, in addition to a highly-optimized heatsink and fans, to offer users far more information about their cards and keep them cool too. The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 with iCX technology is customizable as well, thanks to RBG lighting and EVGA’s excellent Precision XOC tuning utility.

There’s a lot to cover here, so we won’t beat around the proverbial bush. Check out the card’s specs below, and then we’ll dig into the details and see how she performs...
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EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 GAMING w/ iCX
Specifications & Features
Graphics Processing GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Core Clock Boost: 1670 MHz / Base: 1556 MHz
Memory Clock 11016 MHz
Memory Size 11 GB
Memory Type GDDR5X
Memory Bus 352 bit
Output Dual-link DVI-D x 1
HDMI-2.0b x 1 (Max Resolution: 4096x2160 @60 Hz)
Display Port-1.4 x 3 (Max Resolution: 7680x4320 @60 Hz)
Digital max resolution 7680x4320
Card size H=4.66" L=10.6"
Recommended PSU 600W
Power Connectors 6 pin + 8 pin
Pricing $749 - Find It At Amazon

The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Gaming with iCX technology has a completely new look in comparison to other EVGA-built GPUs, and features what looks like metal webbing for its fan shroud.

Although it has a dual-fan design like previous-gen ACX-equipped EVGA graphics cards, the underlying heatsinks and baseplate on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Gaming with iCX are very different. EVGA claims it created iCX to offer enthusiasts “piece of mind gaming,” by providing a better understanding of their card’s operation and vital signs.

In addition to better, more efficient cooling, EVGA’s iCX technology includes temperature monitoring on key components (not solely the GPU), interaction with other devices, a built-in power protection circuit, and enhanced overclocking capabilities.
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On iCX-equipped cards, there are 9 additional sensors and a microcontroller unit integrated in the PCB, plus the sensor built-into the GPU, for 10 in total. To date, high-end graphics cards have been using a single sensor in the GPU to determine a card’s temperature, but because GPUs have gotten more efficient and less power hungry over the years, they may not be the hottest running component on a graphics card any longer, and as such, may not be the best indicator of overall card temperature.

The sensors on EVGA’s iCX cards are distributed throughout the memory and components in the voltage regulation circuitry on the front and back of the cards. Readings from the sensors can be displayed in EVGA’s XOC utility (included in the hardware monitor section) and are used to present data to end users and ultimately determine the fan speeds.
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The fans on iCX cards are controlled asynchronously now as well. If the GPU is getting warm, the GPU fan will spin up; same for the VRM/memory fan. Since there are additional sensors on board, it’s no longer the GPU temp alone that determines fan speed. The fan curves for the individual cooling fans can also be tweaked manually, for those that like to tinker or want to keep certain components running cooler than stock. Controlling the fans asynchronously can also potentially reduce noise output. Two fans spinning at the same speed, creating similar tones and frequencies, will tend to double the perceived noise output. When running fans asynchronously, however, the louder of the two fans will tend to drown out the quieter one.

The cooler on iCX cards has also been optimized in quite a number of ways. Both base and back-plates on the cards are die-cast and form-fitted to make contact with vital components. Thermal pads are installed where necessary as well. There are also pin fins in strategic areas of the baseplate, where there is clearance, to increase surface area and cooling capacity.

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The card's heatsinks and heat-pipes got some special treatment too. Some of the heatsink fins are L-shaped to make better contact with the heat-pipes, and they’re positioned to allow 50% more air to pass through as well. Holes in the fins allow air to flow through them too, so there is less bounce-back from air hitting the base-plate and re-bounding back up through the heatsink. Ultimately, the iCX cooler is able to better cool all of the components on the card.

In addition to all of the new sensors and optimized cooler, EVGA has integrated a safety fuse on iCX cards as well, to add another layer of protection. Should too much power be pumped into the card for whatever reason, the fuse will blow and protect vital components. The card will not function when the fuse blows, but it’s a quick repair that EVGA can turn around in a short time.

Like other high-end EVGA graphics cards, all of the LED lighting on the iCX-branded cards is RGB and fully customizable. If you look at the back of the card, it too has been redesigned. The backplate is two pieces now, and has thermal pads to better cool the components on the backside of the PCB.

The GPU and memory frequencies on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Gaming with iCX technology are tweaked versus NVIDIA’s Founder’s Edition cards. The GPU’s base and boost clocks are 1556 MHz and 1670 MHz, respectively, and its GDDR5X memory runs at an effective 11 GHz.
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Outputs on the card are similar to other EVGA GeForce GTX 1080s, and consist of a DVI output, three full-sized DP outputs, and an HDMI output. And there are dual power connectors onboard, one 6-pin and one 8-pin, though the TDP is still in-line with other 1080 Ti cards.
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EVGA includes a handful of goodies with the card too. Along with the GPU itself, EVGA includes a driver disc, a basic lit pack, a poster, and a couple of “EVGA Enthusiast Built” decals -- nothing earthshattering, but fun additions nonetheless.

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