The GeForce GTX 10 Series is still going strong, even 16 months after its release. In May of 2016, NVIDIA released the first cards of its newest consumer GPU line built around its Pascal microarchitecture. Pascal was a pretty solid leap for the company, making use of a 16nm fabrication process, lower power consumption, improved memory performance, and exceptionally-high clock speeds. The high end GTX 1080 and Titan X (Pascal) cards also made use of a new memory format known as GDDR5X, which allowed for a faster memory interface compared to “regular” GDDR5 while being comparable to, yet cheaper than, High Bandwidth Memory (featured in AMD’s R9 Fury cards and now HBM2 in the Vega cards). This year, NVIDIA rounded off the top-end of the Pascal product line with the ultra-enthusiast GTX 1080 Ti and the new Titan Xp, the fastest consumer GPUs ever produced to date.
While some people suggested that there would be an intermediate refresh of the Pascal cards under a new numbering system prior to the release of the next major architecture, this turned out not to be the case. NVIDIA did, however, refresh their GTX 1080 cards with newer 2017 models that featured faster GDDR5X, clocked in at 11 Gbps.
The bottom line is, though, that with the newly refreshed GTX 1080 cards and the flagship GTX 1080 Ti and Titan Xp (both of which also feature 11 Gbps GDDR5X), NVIDIA has had no reason to push out an intermediate line of cards. Pascal still remains the best choice when it comes to raw power and energy efficiency and AMD’s lackluster release of their new RX Vega cards only served to reinforce this fact. The RX Vega 64 (AMD’s current top offering in the gaming space) manages to trade blows with the GTX 1080 quite well, but overall falls about 10% short of the GTX 1080 in terms of overall performance. Additionally, Vega 64 has a TDP of 295 watts, which is considerably more than the 180 watts of the GTX 1080. Round that all off with a higher asking price since Vega can only be bought from after-market sellers now and the picture for AMD in the enthusiast space looks pretty grim.
While rumors suggested at one point that NVIDIA’s newest architecture, referred to as Volta, might make a late-2017 debut, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang has said that gamers shouldn’t expect to see Volta-based GTX cards this year. It’s possible that rumors of a late-2017 NVIDIA launch were based on the assumption that RX Vega would offer a strong enough competition to force NVIDIA’s hand. Ultimately, this just wasn’t the case. Pascal is still going strong and does incredibly well in the high-end space.
No release date for Volta gaming cards has been announced yet, but if I had to guess I’d say we might see them sometime around March of 2018 (given that the GTX 1080 Ti, the penultimate GTX 10 Series card, made its debut in March of 2017). These new cards might be called the GTX 20 Series (e.g. GTX 2080), to show more of a major generational improvement rather than a smaller, incremental one which might be implied if they kept with the current numbering scheme and called them the GTX 11 Series (e.g. GTX 1180). Ultimately, that’s up to the marketing team, so there’s really no reason to speculate on that.
At any rate, if you’re looking to pick up a new GPU, don’t play the waiting game or you’ll always be waiting for the next big thing. NVIDIA has some great offerings on the high end starting with the GTX 1070, but if you’re wanting something a bit more mainstream, AMD’s RX 580 and 570 offer plenty of performance for your money in the 1080p to 1440p space!