The hotly anticipated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 is now official, marking a major leap in performance and efficiency with the introduction of the new Pascal architecture. How major? Take the ultra beefy and expensive Titan X graphics card from last year, slice its power demands from 250W to 180W, cut its price from $999 to $599, and then throw in a bit more performance on top. Virtual reality and multi-monitor gaming have also been foremost concerns in Nvidia's Pascal development, and the graphics company has a super cool new technology to make both better, called simultaneous multi-projection.
In Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's words, "The GeForce GTX 1080 is almost irresponsible amounts of performance." Claiming twice the VR performance and three times the power efficiency of the Titan X, what Nvidia is doing with its new GTX 1000 series is bringing yesteryear's insane high end into 2016's mainstream. In fact, the more significant GPU announced today might well be the GTX 1070, a $379 card that also outperforms the Titan X. Built on a 16nm FinFET process, these Pascal GPUs are evidently extraordinarily efficient, and once they start trickling down into more affordable models, they promise to unlock VR gaming for a much wider audience.
The GTX 980, the graphics card that's most often recommended as a good baseline specification for a VR-capable PC, is immediately going to be pushed down in price. Not coincidentally, there are some discount deals on GTX 980 Ti cards this weekend.
The simultaneous multi-projection tech that's part of Pascal shouldn't be overlooked. Its main purpose is to correct all the distortions that arise when using dual- or triple-monitor setups, turning your display array into a true window unto a 3D world. I saw a gorgeous triple-display rig at Acer's stand at Computex last year, showing off The Witcher 3 — but only the middle monitor's images looked beautiful, with the two peripheral ones suffering from horrible warping. It was a known issue then, mostly because the game didn't support the wild 10,320 x 1,440 resolution, but Nvidia is wisely addressing the issue directly now. The company knows the primary reasons to buy its top-end GPUs will be multi-display and VR rigs.
Conscious of the need to provide more power-intensive applications to fuel demand for its GPUs, Nvidia has also unveiled a VR Funhouse experience, which showcases its various VRWorks software development tools. VR Funhouse is compatible with the HTC Vive and will soon be made available through the Steam store, integrating visual, audio, and touch technologies that Nvidia has developed for creating more immersive VR content. And if all that wasn't enough, there's now a new Ansel in-game photography tool, which adds visual filters, 360-degree captures, and a whole lot more to the traditional screenshot tool.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 will be available from May 27th at a retail price of $599. A so-called founders edition, featuring speed-binned chips (i.e. the ones that outperform the base spec the most and offer the most overclocking headroom), will be sold by Nvidia for $699. The GTX 1070 follows two weeks later, on June 10th, at a price of $379 from Nvidia's partners or $449 for the founders edition.