Gigabyte is known for having quite a few different tiers and even more models within those different tiers. The Windforce 3X OC is one designed for those seeking a different cooling solution that’s within the middle of their two-fan and their more extreme, overclocking-oriented offerings. Equipped with three 90mm fans, the Windforce 3X OC can meet 1771MHz while gaming with far more ease than you’d think. This GPU from Gigabyte converges form with function to provide a surprisingly powerful experience with a fan setup that won’t break your hearing or make you feel like you’re in a datacenter. Today we’re going to explore what kind of performance the Windforce 3X OC is actually capable of compared to the stock GTX 1080 experience. Is this GPU worth it when there are so many other brands and even different GTX 1080 varieties within Gigabyte’s own inventory.
GIGABYTE strikes back with the Windforce 3X design
And this particular design, while not necessarily very inspired, does provide practical benefits even if it isn’t at the top of their heap. The design is relatively good looking with LED’s that are more subtle though that do provide a nice accent. The angular motif is nice, though perhaps overall a bit too “gamer” centric. It is. though, far more subdued than their Extreme Gaming version. Behind the mask is a thick and purposeful looking heatsink.
Under the metal shroud are three heatpipes that make direct contact with the GPU. The heatsink itself is cooled by three 90mm fans that they say are 3D active fans, in that notches on the fan blades and a triangle edge are designed to help direct airflow towards the heatsink. This design is supposed to provide better cooling and help the fans be quieter. They’re made of a lightweight, more flexible plastic material than usual. They seem high quality and like they’d last for some time.
Around back we have a nice looking, sturdy metal backplate. But as always, those are more for show than anything else. It does look nice and helps to keep a clean appearance throughout though. The power connector is equipped with an LED that indicates the status of its power delivery. If it’s blinking, then your power supply is no good and isn’t up to snuff. If it’s stable, then the light will be off. If the power is disconnected, then you’ll see a steady light as if it were a road sign, beckoning you to plug-in. That move helps with troubleshooting, because sometimes you may find yourself unable to boot, or perhaps the screen just isn’t being rendered. So this is a good way to help simplify one step. Is it plugged in?
As with all Gigabyte GPUs, and all other components they make, the Windforce 3X is designed with durability in mind. They use “ultra durable” materials for the chokes, capacitors and the PCB. That PCB is an 8+2 power phase board, a healthy improvement over the founders edition. Hopefully this equates to a bit more overclocking headroom. That is made easier by the use of their included utility, which opens up explicit control of the frequency of the memory and the GPU clock.
GPU Xtreme Engine is actually a pretty good tool, all things considered. You have options for voltages, frequency and there’s even an included slider to hit a certain power target or a temperature target. It’s full featured and competitive with the likes of EVGA and MSIs solutions. With a Gigabyte GPU you can select different profiles embedded in the BIOS, from the factory OC to a more economical mode with less voltage and a less aggressive fan curve. Xtreme Engine is also the gateway to control the LED’s onboard, so it’s almost necessary unless you want a continual rolling spectrum effect, which isn’t altogether annoying.
So the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Windforce 3X OC is attractive looking and seems to be well endowed with a proper cooling system, so let’s test and see where this stands, in the normal mode of operation, the “Gaming mode”, against the competition.