Cranking GDDR5X Memory Up to 11GHz

Last month EVGA announced that they were going to allow customers that purchased the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 ($629.99) and SC2 ($569.99) models to upgrade the clock speed on the GDDR5X memory from 10GHz to 11GHz if they wanted to. EVGA released the new BIOS versions as an optional free performance upgrade for existing card owners, which is pretty awesome. By going from 10GHz to 11 GHz on the GDDR5X, the memory bandwidth on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 goes from 320.3 GB/s up to 352.3 GB/s. This 10% increase in memory clock speed and bandwidth won't give you 10% better performance, but it should give a measurable improvement in most all 3D applications. Free performance improvements are hard to beat! EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 11Ghz Memory The only downside to this BIOS update is that not all cards are going to be stable with these new higher memory clock speeds. The  EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 and SC2 came with the first generation of GDDR5X memory whereas the newer cards that come at 11 GHz use the second generation of GDDR5X memory that is better optimized for higher clock frequencies. EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 11GHz Memory Once you download the proper BIOS update for your card the BIOS update procedure is simple and takes just seconds. Once you run the .EXE file for either the primary or secondary BIOS that you want to Flash you wait for it to finish and then restart the system. EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 11GHz Memory We flashed the BIOS on our EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 iCX graphics card (part number 08G-P4-6686-KR) and by doing so we went from BIOS version 86.04.3B.40.80 to BIOS version 86.04.3B.41.81. The main thing that you are looking for here is that the GDDR5X memory clock went from 1251MHz (10,000 MHz effective) to 1376MHz (11,000 effective). If the math on the effective clock rates is confusing it is likely because you are forgetting that one of the new features of GDDR5x memory is that uses quad data rate (QDR). Now that we know how EVGA is letting gamers get a free performance upgrade and how to do it, let's take a look at some benchmarks numbers!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used as we switched over to a new system in April 2017 when Windows 10 Creators Update was released. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit version 1703 and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.  There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago. Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X99 Platform

The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS X99-E-10G WS motherboard with BIOS 0603  that came out on 03/15/2017. We went with the Intel Core i7-6950X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform and overclocked it up to 4.0GHz on all cores. The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory kit we used was a 64GB kit (4x16GB) and while it is rated at 3600MHz we actually ran it at 3333MHz at 1.30V with 16-16-16-30 1T memory timings. The Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair RM1000x power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements. Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
The Intel X99 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor Intel Core i7-6950X
Motherboard
ASUS X99-E-10G WS
Memory
64GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3600MHz DDR4
Video Card Various
Solid-State Drive Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB
Cooling Corsair Hydro H115i
Power Supply Corsair RM1000x
Case HighSpeed PC Top Deck Tech Station
Operating System Windows 10 64-bit
Monitor ASUS PB287Q 28" 4K
  Let's move on to the Battlefield 1 benchmark results!

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 (also known as BF1) is the fifteenth installment in the Battlefield Series developed by DICE and published by EA. The game is set during World War I. It was released world wide on October 21, 2016. The singleplayer campaign of Battlefield 1 takes place across six different "War Stories" which revolve around different people in different aspects of the Great War in campaigns such as the Italian Alps and the deserts of Arabia. We benchmark in Through Mud and Blood, which is the second mission in singleplayer campaign. Taking place late in the war, the player assumes the role of Danny Edwards, a British recruit joining the crew of a Mark V Landship named Black Bess as their new tank driver. New to the war and inexperienced in driving the unreliable vehicle, Edwards is given a trial by fire with his first mission: punch through the German line at Cambrai with a broken tank and a crew that has no trust in him. BF1 Through Mud and Blood Battlefield 1 features the Frostbite 3 game engine and has very good graphics with tons of destructibles. Maps also now feature dynamic weather systems, affecting combat in various ways; for example, The St. Quentin Scar can either start as a clear, sunny day, a dark, foggy day, or in the middle of a rainstorm, and switch between them during the round. Battlefield 1 Video Card Settings Battlefield 1 Advanced Video Card Settings We tested BF1 at 1920 x 1080 with the 'Ultra' graphics quality preset in DX12 with the GPU Memory Restriction turned off. We also disabled VSync. Benchmark Results:  In Battlefield 1 we saw the average FPS on 1080P go from 120.7 to 125.7, which is an increase of 4% thanks to the 10% increase in memory clock speed on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 video card. With the screen resolution increased to 2560x1440 we saw another 4% increase as the average FPS went from 91.1 to 94.7. Not a huge increase, but a 4% increase from a quick BIOS flash on the graphics card is a simple and free solution. 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing stealth video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Set in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, Mankind Divided features the return of Adam Jensen from the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with new technology and body augmentations. The game was released on August 23rd, 2016 for PC users. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Train Station Deus Ex: Mankind Divided uses a heavily modified version of the Glacier 2 engine that has been tweaked so much that they are now calling it the Dawn game engine. We took a look at GPU performance using the 'High' image quality preset with MSAA and VSync turned off. We picked to run just 'High' image quality settings due to how tough this game title is to render and we feel that most gamers will try to target this setting.   Benchmark Results: Here we found that we got a 7% increase at 1080P and a a 3% increase at 1440P thanks to the new 11GHz GDDR5 clocks on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW graphics card. 

Gears of War 4

Gears of War is a video game franchise created and originally owned by Epic Games, developed and managed by The Coalition, and owned and published by Microsoft Studios. The series focuses on the conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent & the Swarm. Gears of War 4 was released on October 11, 2016 for the PC and is an interesting game title in the sense that it must be run on Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. It uses the DirectX 12 API with features like async compute and tiled resources. Gears of War 4 Screenshot Microsoft and the developer (The Coalition) have worked hard to make the PC port not suck and have placed over 30 graphics cards settings in the option menu with over 100-plus options that you can adjust. We are using the ultra image quality preset with VSync turned off. Gears of War 4 Graphics Options Gears of War 4 Graphics Options Gears of War 4 comes with a built-in benchmark that appears to be pretty decent and shows the average minimum framerate (bottom 5%) in the results. This is the benchmark that we ran on our graphics cards with Ultra image quality settings to see how they would perform.   1440P Benchmark Results: We got a 5% increase in the average frame rate at 1080P and a 3% increase at 1440P in Gears of War 4. 

Grand Theft Auto V

GTAV Grand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest PC games, was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015.  Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013 and the city of Los Santos.  It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. GTA5-settings GTA5-settings2 In Grand Theft Auto V we set the game to run with no MSAA with 16x AF and high image quality settings as we didn't want the GPU to bottleneck the system too bad, but wanted a setup that your average gamer would actually play on. We used the games built-in benchmark utility to have at least one game we used that could be compared to your setup at home. We averaged all the five of the default benchmark runs and omitted both the minimum and maximum values as those results are garbage due to major inconsistencies.   Benchmark Results: In GTAV we got 1% increase at 1080P (likely getting CPU limited with the mild image quality settings) and then a 4% gain at 1440P on the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 graphics card.  

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands is an open world tactical shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Paris. It is the tenth installment in the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon franchise and is the first Ghost Recon game to feature an open world environment. The game moves away from the futuristic setting introduced in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and instead feature a setting similar to the original Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. Ubisoft described it as one of the biggest open world games that they have ever published, with the game world including a wide variety of environments such as mountains, forests, deserts and salt flats. A modified version of the AnvilNext game engine was used.  The game was released on March 7, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Ghost Recon Wildlands Image Quality Settings Ghost Recon Wildlands Image Quality Settings Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands was benchmarked with high image quality settings with Temporal AA and 4x AF. V-Sync and the framerate limit were both disabled and we used the game titles built-in game benchmark.   1080P Benchmark Results: Ghost Recon Wildlands showed that the 1GHz increase in GDDR5X effective clock speeds got us 3% more performance at 1080P and 4% more at 1440P! We aren't sure why the minimum frame rate jumped up so high with the faster memory at 1080P and not 1440P, but we repeated the benchmark three times and it was consistently higher! 

3DMark Time Spy - DX12

3DMark Time Spy just recently came out and it is the latest and greatest DirectX 12 benchmark test for gaming PCs running Windows 10. This DirectX 12 Feature Level 11_0 benchmark utilizes a pure DirectX 12 game engine that supports features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading! The developers opted to use DirectX 12 Feature Level 11_0 to ensuring wide compatibility with DirectX 11 hardware through DirectX 12 drivers. 3DMark Time Spy With DirectX 12 on Windows 10, game developers can significantly improve the multi-thread scaling and hardware utilization of their titles to draw more objects, textures and effects for your viewing enjoyment. 3DMark Fire Strike is a great high-end DirectX 11 benchmark test, but doesn't really show off what new graphics cards can do on a DirectX 12 game title that will have much more going on while you are playing. 3DMark Time Spy Settings We ran 3DMark Time Spy with the standard settings and got the following results: In this DX12 benchmark we see that moving up to 11GHz GDDR5X clock speeds from 10GHz on the GeForce GTX 1080 got us an extra 2.7% performance boost in the overall score and 3.0% in the GPU score. 

VRMark

VRMark is a relatively new benchmark aimed at those that might be thinking about buying an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift and knowing what hardware will give them the best VR gaming experience. VRMark includes two VR benchmark tests that run on your monitor, no headset required, or on a connected HMD. At the end of each test, you'll see whether your PC is VR ready, and if not, how far it falls short.

The Orange Room benchmark shows the impressive level of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If your PC passes this test, it's ready for the two most popular VR systems available today. The orange room rendering resolution is 2264 x 1348, which is 1132 x 1348 per eye and the target desktop frame rate is 109 FPS.
Benchmark Results: The GeForce GTX 1080 easily scores over 109 FPS on this benchmark, but we'll still take the 2% performance boost for free.  The Blue Room is designed to be a more intense test with a rendering resolution of 5012 x 2880 (5K) and the goal is for a desktop PC to maintain a consistent frame rate of 109 FPS or above without dropping frames to pass this test. Benchmark Results: Moving up to 11GHz memory on the GeForce GTX 1080 won't get us to the 109 FPS performance threshold, but we'll take the extra 2.7% performance boost. 

SuperPosition Benchmark

UNIGINE introduced the Superposition Benchmark in April 2017 and it contains a benchmark based on the UNIGINE 2 Engine that is pretty tough on modern graphics cards. We ran the SuperPosition Benchmark performance test with the 1080P High preset. In the new SuperPosition benchmark we got an increase of 3.8% in the overall score and our average frame rate!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

If you happen to have an EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 or SC2 video card we highly suggest giving the new BIOS versions that they released a try. EVGA is giving you a free performance boost and its awesome to see EVGA doing something like this. Since these cards have a dual BIOS design there is very slim chance that you'll end up bricking your card. Owners of the other EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 cards might be a little upset that they can't get this BIOS, but at least some people are getting it. EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 We saw a solid 3-4% average performance gain across the games and synthetic benchmarks by running the new BIOS that puts the 8GB of GDDR5X memory at 11GHz effective clock speeds. That isn't a significant performance increase that you can feel in every game title, but it helps increase the minimum frame rates that you encounter and should give you a smoother and better gaming experience. The only downside to this BIOS is that there is no guarantee of stability and this is an optional BIOS that gamers can try out. If it doesn't work then you can simply flash the card back to the original BIOS. Our EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 ($629.9 shipped) ran most games fine, but we did have some stability issues in two of the roughly 25 game titles that we tried on it over the past several weeks. The worst issue was in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided where the faster memory prevented the scenes from being properly rendered. Other than that we ran across some flickering issues in GTAV and that was it. All other games that we played worked without issue and when we let EVGA know of our stability issues we were informed that our card is the first that they have seen with stability issues. Go figure right? No big deal as we can always roll back to the old BIOS version! Hopefully you have a better idea of the GeForce GTX 1080 with 10GHz GDDR5X memory and how the newer models perform with 11GHz GDDR5X memory.