Top dog. Following Nvidia’s launch of its Pascal architecture for desktop systems a few weeks ago, the power-efficient 16 nm technology is now available for notebooks as well. Asus has been one of the first manufacturers to sample the top model GeForce GTX 1080. Stage free for the 18-inch G800VI.
Asus is the right choice if you are looking for a gaming platform with a big screen and a lot of performance. Besides the SLI notebook GX800, which is equipped with water cooling, the manufacturer will also launch an 18-inch notebook with a single GPU for Nvidia's Pascal launch. It does not need the Hydro Overclocking Station and is designed to be an alternative to the popular G752.
Asus has equipped the G800 with a lot of technology to justify the high retail price. Up to 64 GB DDR4 of RAM and up to three PCIe/NVMe-SSDs in RAID 0 are just as generous as an UHD display with 3840x2160 pixels. The package is rounded off with a factory overclocked Core i7-6820HK (more on this later) and the most powerful notebook GPU currently available. The GeForce GTX 1080 is supposed to be on par with its desktop counterpart and should manage identical performance figures under optimal conditions. This article will find out whether this statement is true.
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Unfortunately, there is not much to say about the case, input devices, the emissions and the power consumption because our review unit is a prototype based on the chassis of the GX800 (including the components for the water cooling). The shown pictures are therefore not representative of the final product. On the other hand, the performance and the components – except for the panel type – of our pre-sample should be pretty meaningful. Asus does at least want to deliver a similar performance at the launch in Autumn 2016.
Like its 5.7 kg (~13 lb) 18-inch sibling GX800, the first thing you will notice after the boot is the Gaming Center with its completely new design. Not only can you configure the dedicated auxiliary keys, but also the keyboard illumination and the fan behavior via additional apps.
The most important element is the Turbo Gear option, which controls the clocks of the CPU and GPU, respectively, in different modes. The "Extreme" preset results in very high clocks. While the Core i7-6820HK is accelerated up to 3.9 GHz (default: 2.7-3.6 GHz), the video memory of the GeForce GTX 1080 reaches up to 5200 MHz (default: 5000 MHz). The core of the DirectX-12 chip runs with 1682 to 1784 instead of 1632 to 1734 MHz – hence, 50 MHz more.
The Pascal architecture was, however, designed to manage even higher clocks depending on the cooling capabilities of the system. According to the GPU-Z Render test, the GTX 1080 manages almost 1900 MHz. The core will level off at around 1800 MHz in practice (quick check with Unigine Heaven benchmark), but the results are still great compared to the Maxwell generation. The previous top model GeForce GTX 980, for example, runs at a maximum of only 1200 MHz.
We have included several screenshots (CPU, RAM, storage, …) to give you an idea of the potential hardware components of the G800.
Unlike most manufacturers, Asus does not use a Core i7-6700HQ (2.6 to 3.5 GHz, 6 MB L3-cache) for its high-end notebook, but instead, the more expensive Skylake sibling Core i7-6820HK with 8 MB L3-cache, a free multiplier as well as a 100 MHz higher base clock. The TDP is 45 watts in both cases and the integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 chip. However, the G800 does not support Optimus, so the GeForce GTX 1080 is always active. This reduces allocation problems, but also increases the power consumption.
As mentioned before, the Core i7-6820HK reaches up to 3.9 GHz in the Extreme Mode, but we can only see 3.2 GHz in multi-core scenarios (could be a result of the prototype status).
The G800 still performs very well in the CPU benchmarks. Both Cinebench R11.5 as well as Cinebench R15 see the 18-inch system ahead of the 6820HK rival MSI GT72S. The Core i7-6700HQ notebooks Alienware 17 R3 and Asus G752VY are also beaten, while the desktop processor of the Schenker XMG U726 is in the lead by a few percent.
The high system scores are mainly a result of the storage devices. Asus has equipped our model with two PCIe-SSDs (500 GB each) in a RAID-0 configuration. We are therefore not surprised by the excellent sequential results of the 18-inch notebook in CrystalDiskMark. More than 3000 MB/s (read) and 2000 MB/s (write) were not possible a couple of years ago. Typical SATA-III-SSDs are limited at 500 to 550 MB/s. Subjectively, the G800 is extremely responsive in all aspects (application launches, loading times, data transfers, boot sequence).
In our opinion, the main attraction is the GeForce GTX 1080. Just like its desktop counterpart, the GPU is manufactured in a 16-nm process, supports DirectX 12 and is equipped with 2560 shader units as well as 8 GB VRAM. Unlike the GTX 1070 (2048 shader @laptop), however, the latter is not GDDR5, but GDDR5X. The memory interface is identical at 256-bit as well.
We can see small deviations in terms of clocks. While the Founders Edition of the desktop GTX 1080 is specified with 1607 to 1733 MHz, Asus allows the GPU to run at 1632 to 1734 MHz (not including the factory overclocking).
Otherwise, the siblings are quite similar, which is also supported by our benchmarks. The GTX 1080 manages a GPU score of 21501 points in the 3DMark Fire Strike test and is therefore actually 2% faster than the desktop version (21154 points). A notebook GTX 1070 is beaten by 26%; the GTX 980 falls behind by 65% – even though the high-end Maxwell GPU only has 20% less CUDA cores. The difference compared to the very popular GTX 980M is even bigger since it is beaten by 100% in the Fire Strike test. The differences are similar in the other 3DMark versions.
Before we start to analyze the gaming performance, we want to talk about the driver. The device was shipped with the ForceWare 368.91, which was used for all synthetic benchmarks and Origin as well as Uplay games. Nvidia released ForceWare 372.53 just before we finished our measurements, so we only used it for the Steam games. Another test with 3DMark 13 and the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark did not show any performance gains, so the different driver versions should not be a problem.
Advantage of the GTX 1080(4K/High & FHD/Ultra)
-3 % vs.
GeForce GTX 1080 Desktop
+30 % vs.
GeForce GTX 1070 Notebook
+47 % vs.
GeForce GTX 980 Notebook
+113 % vs.
GeForce GTX 980M
But back to the topic: As expected, the GeForce GTX 1080 can mix up the ranking and wins the title of "most powerful Notebook GPU". 1920x1080 pixels are usually not really a challenge for the high-end GPU, and it starts to get interesting at 3K and 4K resolutions. But the 16-nm still has sufficient performance reserves in almost every game. Even very demanding games such as “The Witcher 3”, “Call of Duty Black Ops 3” or “The Division” run pretty smoothly at high details and 3840x2160 pixels. This level of performance is not possible with a GPU from the Maxwell generation. Even the GTX 980 often dropped below 35 fps in our 4K setting.
It is therefore very interesting how the GTX 1080 will affect the prices. Main rival AMD does not really have an alternative, so Nvidia can pretty much dictate the price. The GTX 1070 and the GTX 1060 will most probably sell much better. Pascal leaves a very sophisticated impression from a technological point of view. We hardly faced crashes, graphics errors or other bugs independent of the driver version. Only “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate” refused to run in fullscreen. More information about the Pascal architecture is available in our dedicated article.
At this very early stage, we do not evaluate the G800, but primarily focus on the performance aspect instead. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 is an extremely powerful notebook GPU and technically identical to its desktop counterpart. Depending on the cooling capabilities, this is also the case for the performance.
Users of the last GPU generation will be very jealous about the benchmark results. Maxwell does not stand a chance against Pascal in any benchmark. The GTX 1080 is about 50% faster than a GTX 980 and more than twice as fast as the GTX 980M. Thanks to the 16 nm architecture (previously 28 nm); neither the heat development nor the power consumption is necessarily higher. The MSI GT62VR with the GTX 1070 shows the efficiency of Pascal quite impressively.
The GeForce GTX 1080 is also one of the few notebook GPUs we would call 4K-ready. 1920x1080 pixels are absolutely no problem for the high-end chip. All 31 tested games exceeded 50 fps even with the maximum settings and multiple anti-aliasing. If you cannot get enough frames per second in UHD, you should also have a look at the SLI system in the GX800.
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.