ASUS GeForce RTX 3070 Noctua OC review

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Final words and conclusion

Final words

The Noctua OC edition of the ASUS GeForce RTX 3070 does exactly what it needs to do. It is silent, very much so, and does not need any LCS for that. However I am going to bust some myths here, yes it is extremely silent, but the more premium cards from the MSI and ASUSes out there are also very silent. Think MSI's TWiNFrozer and ASUS STRIX. So in that respect, the Noctua card makes little sense relative to the price premium. Where it does make sense is the overall quality and brand preference. In silent BIOS mode this card is more silent than silent :) And of course, many of us have been hoping for a long time now to see a Noctua cooler graphics card. You don't buy this product for the aesthetics though; I guess what I am saying is that the 4.3 slots caught everybody by surprise. When we focus back at game performance realistically we are looking at performance differentials of 2% performance running up to maybe 4% in the more GPU stressed situation (measured from founder edition as baseline). The card however does shine once you start to tweak it as there you'll be able to hit close to 2100 MHz on the boost frequency. Albeit a subjective statement, the card is rather unique on the eyes, not everybody will appreciate the brown/beige, it doesn't another me the slightest bit though. Nice to see is a dual BIOS, which is handy as a fail-save as well as switching and choosing between the most silent and OC mode. Unfortunately, the OC BIOS mode does not yield a significant performance differential at all, so my advice is to leave it at default (silent). Why 3070 instead of 3070 Ti ? Well, that remains a question to be answered by ASUS, but we expect is has everything to do with chip shortages, and a call had to be made. I mean this 500 USD card correctly can be spotted for 1200 USD. That's how fucked up the market still is. 


Ultimately everything and anything it's all about gaming price, performance, and, of course, rendering quality. Of course, the GeForce RTX 3070 is a product that meets all these factors in a proper way, while we do feel the RTX 3080 offers more value for money, the RTX 3070 simply is more reachable for a bigger crowd (money-wise). This card is capable of running games at 4K, it will serve best at WQHD and extremely GPU bound games. At Full HD you'll be quite often bottlenecked and CPU limited as again, this is 2080 Ti level performance. Performance-wise we can safely state that for future gaming this is a true Quad HD graphics card that is very Ultra HD capable with the current games. But whether or not you use traditional rendering or games that can be ray-traced and manage DLSS, this combo comes together in that WQHD and UHD resolution. DX-R ray-tracing and Tensor performance; the RTX 30 series has received new Tensor and RT cores. So don't let the actual RT and Tensor core count confuse you. They're located close inside that rendering engine, they became more efficient and that shows. If we look at an RTX 2080 with Port Royale, we will hit almost 30 FPS. The RTX 3070 passes that at over 38 FPS. Tensor cores are harder to measure, but overall from what we have seen, it's all in good balance, better than the 2000 series for sure. Overall though, the GeForce RTX 3070 starts to make sense starting at a Quad HD resolution (2560x1440) being ultra HD capable, it is that simple. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 will make you trigger happy at close to 50 FPS in UHD resolutions with the very best graphics settings. As always, comparing apples and oranges, the performance results vary here and there as each architecture offers advantages and disadvantages in certain game render workloads. Compared to the other 3070 cards we have tested we have to admit, it paints a very similar picture with a few % performance differentials throughout the lineup tested.


Cooling & noise levels

I think we said it all, the card in the silent BIOS mode is just that, silent and can not be heard. The lowest we can measure is 29~30 DBa and the card did not pass that value. The performance offers marginally better perf, but at the cost of slightly worsened acoustics at 33~34 DBA; which is still very silent. Leave it at default (silent BIOS mode) as that's what you're buying this product for. At silent BIOS mode your items under load will hover at 62~63 degrees, and with perf mode that goes down to 57 degrees C. All excellent values. 




In the previous paragraph, I already mentioned this; your heat output and energy consumption are always closely related to each other as (graphics) processors and heat can be perceived as a 1:1 state, 200 Watts in (consumption) often equals 200 Watts of heat as output. This is the basis of TDP. NVIDIA is listing their TGP (not TDP) at 220 Watts, which is okay for a graphics card in the year 2020. The Noctua OC at defaults has a little more power allowance, we measure the power draw at gaming load to be ~240 Watt. When you open up the power limiter that would be 271 Watts.


The card tweaks well. At defaults, the GPU hits the power limiter pretty much constantly, so that's your first and quickest option to tweak. You get 12% extra on the card's default power budget. The clock frequency can take a good 115 MHz extra on the boost frequency as well. Apply these two and you'll see the GPU boost clock hovering in the 2060~2100 domain (frequencies vary per game title as they are dynamic). The memory could be tweaked to 16 Gbps, so all in all these are terrific values bringing 8% additional performance on stringent GPU situation, measured from founder edition level performance. 


High-end graphics cards follow a formula that's been tried and implemented over and over again, look at the STRIX series which have been an ongoing success with very few changes. Choosing a vendor these days; you do base on aesthetics, cooling performance, and, in 2021, availability, as performance for most cards is essentially the same. With that in mind, I seem to appreciate more and more what ASUS tried to accomplish with the Noctua Edition RTX 3070, it's something else, a different approach, and we like that. It really is one of the quietest high-end graphics cards on the market, however at the cost of a massive 4.3-slot form factor paired with two high-quality but brown/beige fans. The end result is a virtually silent product in its default configuration. The exceptionally low noise levels allow this product to be a notch more expensive. The RTX 3070 Noctua OC originally had an MSRP of $830, that however already is a $330 premium over the NVIDIA-specified MSRP of $500. Pricing and actual availability will remain to be the biggest hurdle, we looked and found this product selling for 1250 EUR, and that's just a massive no-go zone. The acoustic and temperature performance both are grand, the looks however trivial, the performance is as expected. Overall, if you think from an audiophile point of view, the product has a lot of merits. But again, there are lots of premium products out there that perform close in acoustics with looks to match. Perhaps in the future next to the DUAL, TUF, and STRIX lines we'll see other cards based on an ASUS Noctua line, devoted to those demanding extremely low noise operation. And this conclusion needs to end there. The release of the Noctua 3070 is more of a trial than something for the masses. The release creates a bit of marketing hype and if you're lucky you'll find one in etail. However future designs and gauging the interest of the public with a Noctua series is what this release likely is all about. Recommended for those interested in true silent operation.

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- Hilbert, LOAD"*",8,1.


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