Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 review

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Everybody likes that GeForce GTX 1080, but the reality is that such high-end graphics cards have become too costly for many. A yeah and a half ago the GeForce GTX 970 however was a hit, a massive hit and within the same guidelines I feel that the GeForce GTX 1070 will be a tremendous success. Though Nvidia castrated the GPU a bit, the combo of the GPU with GDDR5 memory at 8 Gbps still offers plenty of horsepower. Realistically you are in the GeForce GTX 980 Ti range, and let's not forget that often the board-partner cards will be 10~20% faster as well. Now if you forget about the founders edition price-tag of $449 / 499 EURO for a second and think AIB/AIC prices, then you are looking at a $379 / 425 EURO bill for the cheaper models. So yeah that just makes a hell of a lot of sense, and you do get a full 8 GB of graphics memory as well (no puns here!). I stated it in the GeForce GTX 1080 article already, but 16 nm Pascal is working out surprisingly well for Nvidia. They have been able to clock the cards very high frequencies, and even this 1070 will boost in the 1.7~1.8 GHz domain, that's terrific.


The Pascal GP104 architecture is interesting, as in aside from a few changes in the pipeline, it looks VERY similar to Maxwell. Make no mistake there have been changes, but it shares a very similar structure. So the biggest benefit for Nvidia was 16 nm, as it allows them to drive their products to incredible clock frequencies whilst they can use less voltage, and that results in power consumption way under the 200 Watt marker. Though not that exquisite GDDR5X memory, the 1070 uses GDDR5 graphics memory, still it's effectively running at a nice data-rate of 8 Gbps which brings in a very nice memory performance boost compared to the last gen products. That fact armed with new color compression technologies effectively boosts the memory bandwidth a notch upwards compared to the GeForce GTX 970 and 980. Performance wise we really do need to compare to the GTX 970 with its 3.5 GB of effective memory, and yeah the GTX 1070 is much faster. You are looking at an order of 30 to 40% more performance, and that truly is substantial! It still is faster as a GTX 980 and roughly as fast as a 980 Ti. Next to that I have got to say, 8 GB 256-bit GDDR5 graphics memory also feels like an excellent and well-balanced amount of graphics memory anno 2016. Would you ever use 8 GB of memory? Well, not anytime soon. The largest number we ever measured as like 5 or 6 GB. But hey, who knows with titles like The Division / GTA5 and technologies like Ultra HD and / or DSR versus performance and VRAM what you find valid, or not. High up there in the enthusiast space there certainly is a market for cards like these. That makes these 8 GB models relevant for gaming. 


Value wise the GeForce GTX 1070 simply is making a lot more sense compared to the 1080. I think anyone will agree with me on that. Nvidia has been driving the prices upwards. Typically the high-end class product hovers at the 500 USD marker. Nvidia, when they released it, drove the GTX 980 to 549 USD. The GTX 1080 now starts at 599 USD with the reference Founders Edition at a massive 699 USD. For the GTX 1070 however things stay in line. When released at the time the GeForce GTX 970 was also hovering at the 379 USD domain. The cheapest AIB GeForce 1070 cards will cost roughly that price. Again though, the founders edition is more expensive at 449 USD. So like 99% of you, please just wait for the board partner cards :)


For the new 1070/1080 series Nvidia tweaked the aesthetics of the cooler a bit as you now see triangles/polygons embedded on the cooler shell, resembling the core essence 3D objects are made of, of course. Being a very expensive card they probably should have considered making it a bit more mysterious looking with a black shell, especially at with a premium for the Founders Editions. The GeForce GTX logo on top some might dislike, it surely doesn't bother me though and that see-through Plexiglass in the cooler makes it look quite nice. Overall it's just a good looking and sturdy product. We like the fact that it has a backplate though, but completely dislike the fact that it has no meshes and gaps for more ventilation on that backside. The design, as is, will trap heat. As you can see, I remain skeptical about backplates, they can trap heat and thus warm up the PCB. But the flip-side is that they do look better and can protect your PCB and components from damage. 



Cooling & Noise Levels

The cooling itself really is at the same level it was, you can't really complain about it. A bit trivial of course remains the temperature targets that Nvidia is using. The default setting for the GTX 1070 and 1080 will be, give or take, 80 degrees C, meaning these cards are allowed to run to 80 Degrees C before ramping up the fan RPM to try to keep the product cool at 80 Degrees C. Realistically in game the card will run closer to the 75 Degrees C range. Nvidia feels this is a nice balance in-between performance, power consumption and temperatures. Most of you would however prefer something a little lower. You can obviously change the temperature target of the fan RPM yourself, that will ramp up the noise levels though. But at uo-to 80 degrees C and at that level the noise levels are okay really. In idle you can barely hear the cooling solution and under stress, well you can hear some airflow and that's it.

Power Consumption

The GP104 Pascal GPU is rated as having a 150 Watt TDP under full stress, our measurements are only slightly above that at roughly 160 Watts. based upon the 1070 performance level you are looking at roughly 425~450 Watts for a stressed PC in total, that is okay. We are comfortable enough with a 600 Watt PSU, if you go with 2-way SLI, a 800~900 Watt power supply is recommended. Remember when purchasing a PSU, aim to double up in Wattage as your PSU is most efficient when it is under 50% load. Here again keep in mind we measure peak power consumption, the average power consumption is a good notch lower depending on GPU utilization. Also, if you plan to overclock the CPU/memory and/or GPU with added voltage, please do purchase a power supply with enough reserve. People often underestimate it, but if you tweak all three aforementioned variables, you can easily add 200 Watts to your peak power consumption budget as increasing voltages and clocks increases your power consumption. 

Who Would The GeForce GTX 1070 Be Best Suited For?

As always, the answer to that question is a little complex. I would say that you'll need to look at your monitor first and foremost. A GeForce GTX 1070 would be perfect for Wide Quad HD Gaming at 2560x1440. It has plenty spunk and has the graphics memory to deal with it, even with the best quality settings and some niche AA levels. After 2560x1440 I would recommend the GTX 1080 though. However, price performance wise one should also take SLI into deliberation. We'll test it at one point but two GeForce GTX 1070 cards setup in SLI might be true equilibrium for Ultra HD gamers or the ones that like to go a little dirteeh with DSR and of course the latest gaming titles. Performance wise, really there's not one game that won't run seriously good at the very best image quality settings at 2560x1440. And sure, the cool factor remains you get the advantages of an 8 GB framebuffer. As such we feel the card is rather future proof. We mentioned SLI already, but starting with Pascal the primary focus for Nvidia in terms of multi-GPU setups is that they will support 2-way SLI, but really that's it and all. For those of you that want to run 3 and 4-way configuration, it's going to be difficult but remains possible as the game needs to support and you will need to obtain a driver key from the Nvidia website. Do not expect Nvidia to enhance drivers for it, they'll just open up the floodgate and have you deal with the rest. Some of you might be disappointed about this news. Me personally, I am fine with the choice to focus on proper 2-way SLI opposed to all the arbitrary configurations that less then 0.01% of the end-users uses.



Face it, the 1080 is the card we all want but cannot afford. The next best thing is going to be the GeForce GTX 1070 and yeah, this little freaky deaky still has got plenty of ooomph under the hood. In fact, more then plenty for any PC gamer out there that plays his or her games up-to the WQHD domain and 2560x1440 ('ish). The 1070 is as such a truly nice upgrade if you come from the GeForce GTX 960/970 range, and let's face it despite being one of the best sellers ever, Nvidia won't mind forgetting about that 970. That 970 level of rendering performance is the finer threshold for upgrading though as with anything faster it will not be worth the upgrade. The new architecture proves its agility and the die shrink to 16 nm FiNFET shows low power consumption due to lower voltages and obviously the high clock-speeds and that 8 Gbps GDDR5 memory offer the product that the GTX 1070 is. Depending on street prices you can expect a 379 USD/EURO price tag if you steer away from the too expensive, Founders Editon card. But hey choices are each to its own of course. If you stick to the WHQD 2560x1440 domain this is the card that will last you a good while. For Ultra HD usage (high FPS) however the answer still needs to be found in two cards. But hey, if WHQD is your domain then the GeForce GTX 1070 is a rather future proof product with that proper 8 GB graphics memory. We have not been disappointed about overall performance, sure it is slower compared to the GeForce GTX 1080, but it's just priced so much better. The board partners will ooze out factory tweaked products that might run 10~20% faster, and that's where things get even better of course. The Founders Edition itself then, it's a great card that rocks hard and does so while hardly making any noise and stays at OK temperatures. You will be hovering at that familiar 80 degrees C under heavy load though. Armed with some new features like SMP (Simultaneous Multi-Projection) the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 is a great graphics card that will have no problem rendering away hard in the toughest PC games with grand image quality settings. For display output options you are covered for years to come as well. Price wise of course I said enough. Wrapping things up, the GeForce GTX 1070 is going to be a terrific choice for the ones that game in the the 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 resolution domain. The 1070 series will not have the extra bite that its big brother the 1080 offers but, with such a price difference, value for money wise this card is going to be the no-brainer. I am talking about board partner cards though as the 449 for the founders editions remains steep. Overall we think that the 1070 is looking good from all viewpoints, it is a little beast with a growl and bite for the Full HD and WQHD gamers combined with the proper image quality settings and a graphics memory reserve to even go a little crazy. Highly recommended and we cannot wait to see what the board partners will release!

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